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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The counsel of Nicaea (4)

[8: 9.7 - 10.8]

Tancredi intanto ove Fortuna il tira
Lunge da lei, per lei seguir, s'aggira.

Egli seguendo le vestigia impresse,
Lunge se 'n gì da la città vicina,
Ma quivi da le piante horride e spesse
Nera e folta così l'ombra dechina
Che più non pò raffigurar tra esse
L'orme novelle, e 'n dubbio oltre camina;
Porgendo intorno pur l'orecchie intente
Se calpestio, se romor d'arme ei sente.

Tancred meanwhile, drawn by Fortune,
Roams far from her while trying to follow her. (*)
By keeping following the track she left,
He wandered away from the near city, (**)
But there the horrid and thick trees (***)
Cast such black and dense shadows
That he can no longer identify
The track, and advances hesitantly,
Attentively listening in order to
Hear footsteps or the sound of arms.

(*) According to the printed text. But there was an interesting Freudian slip in the manuscript: Tancred roams far from her while trying to shun her (fuggir). It must be recalled that he does not even know the identity of the woman who had secretly sent for him. He might erroneously think that it is about Clorinda (see last line); and yet, in the very first version of the text, something makes him try to avoid a meeting.
(**) Jerusalem
(***) A hint at Dante's "dark forest" (see Inferno 1: 5), that in fact was fictionally placed in the environs of Jerusalem, though Dante did not explain how he ended up there. Tasso, in writing a long poem set precisely in Jerusalem, could describe the "actual" forest.