SiStan ChapLee

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 3: 306-387

Did you ever sit beside
a sparkling spring
tired and thinking about
He who sprays water
[310] out of the cold core
pushing it so as not to
let it lie and stop?
from what warehouses?
and towards what goal
does it run? and why are
rivers and seas unextinguishable?
Outgrown outcomes
of that vibratory Voice
that wooed the waters.
[320] You readers of rotten
and brand new papers
remember the roaring
sound of that thunder,
Let hydor be gathered!”
and mind the Immortal.
Waters had to hurry
to occupy the oceans
then relax relieved
and stop searching for
[330] an end to their erring.
Therefore rivers reach
the sea but room remains—
because borders were
appointed to aquae
by the kindest of Kings.
His parliament passed
a bill with no rebellions
of Nature: Let the violent
sea have certain contours.
[340] Otherwise the water
would flagitiously flood
all lower lands and leave
not even the emerging
lands alone for the benefit
of worn-out wretched Man.
When under thunderbolts
and the rage of ruakh
it crashes against coasts
and lifts liquid mountains,
[350] as soon as it perceives
sand, its fury subsides
into foam, those fortresses
fall, waters withdraw.
Is there anything weaker
or smaller than sand?
Is there anything stronger
and prouder than thalassa?
Yet sand will stop sea.
And won’t we worship
[360] He who used the sand
to stop the sea?
He himself told us this.
What other obstacle
or earthly authority could
prevent the Red Sea
from invading Egypt
that lies lower, and
would end like Atlantis?
One Red Indian sea would
[370] issue without hydraulic
efforts of engineers.
The sovereign Sesostris
who yoked kings
like horses or oxen
to drag his dragon fly
after preying peoples—
such Sesostris, I say,
the terror of Thrace
sitting sublime during
[380] the Pharaoh Pride—
he dreamed to adjoin
India’s and Eritrea’s seas
to his own basins
but he soon stopped
lest his land
be flooded: the fear
that also chilled Cyrus.

(to be continued on Mar. 6)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Look who it is! (3)

[8: 27]

Di santo sdegno il pio guerrier si tinse
Nel volto, e gli rispose: - Iniquo ed empio,
Quel Tancredi son io che 'l ferro cinse
Per Cristo, e feo de' turchi horrido scempio,
E 'n sua virtude i suoi rubbelli vinse,
Com'hor dimostrerò con chiaro essempio;
Ché da l'ira del Ciel ministra eletta
È questa man, di giusta e pia vendetta -.

The Christian knight then burned with holy
Indignation, and cried, "Ungodly felon!
I am that Tancred who girded the sword
For Christ, and horribly slaughtered Turks
Defeating those who rebel against Him,
As I will now show again most obviously!
For this hand of mine has been chosen
By God to perform His righteous vengeance!"

In Gerusalemme Conquistata, Tasso deletes an octave (see GL 7: 33) in which he explained who Armida's spokesperson was: a certain Rambald of Gascony, one of the Crusaders who had fallen into her trap and followed her away from the Christian camp. In GC, the omission of this detail gives the episode a more symbolical, universal scope. It must also be remembered that Tancred was among the very few knights -- together with Godfrey of Bouillon -- who had not fallen in love with her.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Look who it is! (2)

[8: 26, the mysterious knight speaks to Tancred]

- O tu che (siasi fortuna o voglia)
Al paese fatal d'Armida arrive,
Pensi indarno fuggire. Or l'harme spoglia
Fra verdi mirti e pallidette olive,
Et entra pur ne la guardata soglia,
Con queste leggi, ch'ella altrui prescrive:
Senza contrasto ella qui impera e regge,
Sol liberando chi servirla elegge -.

"O you who, led by Fortune or decision, (*)
Has come to Armida's fatal(**) territory,
You cannot flee. Now strip of your armor
Among green myrtles and pale olive trees, (***)
And feel free to cross this guarded gate,
Just, following the laws decreed by her:
Unopposed she here dominates and reigns (****)
And frees those only who accept to serve her."

(*) With an echo from Dante, Inferno 32: 76.
(**) The adjective fatale may also imply "enchanted" since fata means "fairy."
(***) The symbols respectively of love (Venus) and wisdom and/or war (Minerva). Armida in fact is a seducer, a witch/wiccan like Circe, and a warrior at the same time. In the corresponding stanza in Gerusalemme Liberata (7: 32) the text was completely different: ". . . and hold out your hands as a prisoner to her ties."
(****) Ironically quoting Dante, Inferno 1: 127. The last two lines too were completely different in GL, but also included a quotation from the Divine Comedy: "Do not hope you will be able to look at the sky again [Inferno 3: 85] / even after many years have passed and you have grown old."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 3: 223-305

by ilT; colors by Selkis

If what moved waters
was God’s gloss-o-logic
why looking for alternative
reasons for their rush
in the soil or stars?
Yet many minds flicker
like light on liquids.
[230] Some consider as a cause
the supreme sphere
or the errant estrellas,
the ones whose light
is closer and conquers
in mortal matters.
Or moonbeams obliquely
influencing, or straightforward;
or, the full moon fills
the waters with billows
[240] and vice versa by waning;
or, by cosmic sympathy
sea imitates sky—that’s
substantially the same.
Some see the winds as
the wigglers of waves
in their turnings.
Some sources describe
the sea as a sentient
animal that alternately
[250] pumps/plugs water
by breathing and things.
Or, like in a bugging bed
Neptune cannot nap
therefore he tosses about
with hoarse curses
in his war-weary realm,
and tosses above all
near the North Pole
where mighty mountains
[260] are hidden in ice
compressed and collapsing.
The icy Azov swamp
hardened by Aquilo
lies higher and thence
flows into Euxinus
that goes to Aegean;
but this by bouncing
re-enters Euxinus, and
this re-turns to Azov.
[270] Flux and reflux forever.
Aristotle more subtly
sees the sea as unbalanced,
one region rising
one lip lowering.
Out of Hercules’ edge
with presumed pillars
and conjectured gates
the Mediterranean moves
from plate to plate
[280] and with varied visages
introduces himself
between beaches.
The divine Master indeed
made it polymorphous
round, stretched, square,
like a cone, a cross,
with portentous pots,
see the Tyrrhenian Sea
parking in Parthenope:
[290] a Champagne chalice.
Whatever the sea’s shape
may be, it never naps
either with good weather
or with stormy shadows
even if silence escorts
the moon. In my opinion
the cause is not cosmos
nor the lunar light
not even the uneven
[300] blowing in the wind
nor the abysmal bottom.
The Cause was the Cry
that swung sky and sea
(whence the waves
go and then go back).

(to be continued on Feb. 28)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Look who it is! (1)

Tancred hesitates. He smells a trap, and moreover, he has to hurry to go back to the camp for the 'second round' of the duel with Argantes.

[8: 25]

Alfin là dove ne l'herboso prato
Il curvo ponte si congiunge e posa
Ritiene il passo, e par quasi turbato,
Né segue la sua scorta insidïosa.
Ma dal castello un cavaliero armato
Già con sembianza uscìa fera e sdegnosa,
C'havendo ne la destra il ferro ignudo
Parlava in atto minaccioso e crudo:
. . .

Finally, there in the green meadow
On which the bowing bridge's end rests
He stops, and a little puzzled and alarmed,
He does not follow his escort(*) inside.
But already out of the castle came
An armed knight in a fierce countenance
With an unsheathed sword in his hand,
Who in a threatening tone said, (**)
. . .

(*) The self-styled messenger of Prince Bohemond.
(**) Episodes like this appeared several times in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, but always in a jolly, parodistic atmosphere, quite differently from here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Beware of strangers (3)

[8: 23]

Suona il corriero in arrivando il corno,
E tosto giù calar si vede un ponte;
- Qui, se latin sei tu, puoi far soggiorno
Hor che 'l sol cade, insin ch'egli sormonte,
Ché questo loco, e non è il terzo giorno,
Acquistò (dice) de' Carnuti il conte -.
Mira il loco il guerrier, che d'ogni parte
Inespugnabil fanno il sito e l'arte.

As soon as they reach their destination, the messenger plays his horn and a bridge is drawn dawn. "Here," he tells Tancred, "if you are a Latin [ = European, Christian], you can lodge now that the sun is setting, until it rises tomorrow morning. In fact, not more than three days ago the place has been conquered by the Count of Carnutes." The knight watches the castle, that both nature and technique make impregnable.

In the parallel text in Gerusalemme Liberata (7: 29) the owner of the castle was said to be "the Count of Cosenza," in southern Italy, who however was a merely fictional character. It doesn't make a great difference since, as we will find out soon, the true owner is somebody else.
The Carnutes, an ancient people of Gaul, can hardly be expected to have survived -- as a distinct people -- up to the 11th century. Tasso obviously means the Count of some territory in northern France, maybe Orléans. Readers of comic books will recall the "Forest of Carnutes" in Asterix's adventures as the place where the druids held their meetings. The hint at Carnutes in these lines might even work as an alarm bell for Tancred because druids were considered followers of black magic and servants of the devil like all heathen priests (Celtic religions would 'become' the peak of wisdom etc. not sooner than in the 19th century). Too late.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 3: 140-222

by Selkis + ilT

Now, if naturally
water goes downwards
and lies at sea level,
is any God needed?
Its nature was enough
without that command
that ruptured its rest
making it move ’n’ move.
Yet solely the sound
of Vishnu’s voice
[150] who created it, could
make it also mobile
almost as eternally
as heaven on high.
Its nature is a norm
of long-living Logos
who fixes its fluxes.
Here however it moves
shaken by the skies
yielding ground to Gea
[160] and her territory.
It follows influences
mainly the moon’s
which wanders white—
every six hours.
Rising moon means
that the sea shores
are invaded by waves
that partly spread over
lands, until Luna reaches
[170] the sky’s summit;
then, when she sets
the sea diminishes
cringes and uncovers
the coasts from foam.
The sea sparkles back
and swells its waves
invading the inland
when the moon makes
for the other hemisphere
[180] and shines to Skiapodes.
Again the sea sits down
and hums humbly
as if shunning shores
when Luna is launched
eastwards to our eyes.
Not all water however
follows the same laws
in its flux and reflux:
oftener in Taormina
[190] and in Euboea seven
times a day it tides
to the extent that an ex
Politician passed away
looking for such laws
and blamed the abysses
for their idiosyncrasy.
Three times a day
does Charybdis chew chew
next to Scyllas nest.
[200] There are other seas
which within one month
will swell twice
and squat twice;
and Ethiopians even
lack ebbs and flows;
and below another Pole
with no Bears and beers
our sailors cross a sea
of perpetual peace.
[210] All-encompassing Ocean
chases away by elbowing
both torrents and rivers
so that they apparently
flee fleets and harbors
and gallop uphill,
so horrible is Ocean’s
roaring power;
while Liguria, Italy,
and the port of Pisa
[220] (whose University
promotes progress)
have just faint flows.

(to be continued on Feb. 21)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Beware of strangers (2)

[8: 22]

Quegli italico parla: - Hor là m'invio
Ove m'ha Boemondo in fretta sospinto -.
Tancredi il segue, e del sermon natìo
Conosce il suono e crede al parlar finto.
Giungono al fin dove nel lago il rio
Già s'impaluda, et un castel n'è cinto,
Ne la stagion che 'l sol par che s'immerga
Ne l'ampio nido ove la notte alberga.

The man(*) explains, in Italian, "I am going to a place where Bohemond(**) just hurried me." Tancred follows him, [happy in] recognizing the sound of his own language and trusting those deceitful words. They finally reach the area where the river turns into a swamp by flowing into the lake, (***) and it surrounds a castle; it is the hour in which the Sun seems to be diving into the wide environment(****) where he spends the nights.

(*) The messenger.
(**) One of the Christian leaders in the I Crusade. See some historical data here.
(***) The Dead Sea. Coming from Dante are both the verb impaludarsi (Inferno 20: 80) and, a little below, the word stagione meant as the day time, the hour, not as "season."
(****) The sea. Literally, "the nest."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Beware of strangers (1)

[8: 21]

Partesi, e mentre va per dubbio calle
Sente un corso appressar che più s'avanza;
Et al fine spuntar d'angusta valle
Vede huom che di corriero havea sembianza:
Scotea mobile sferza, e a le spalle
Pendea il corno su 'l fianco, a nostra usanza.
Chiede Tancredi a lui per quale strada
Al campo de' christiani indi si vada.

He goes; while following an uncertain
Path, he hears running steps approaching,
Finally out a narrow valley there came
A man whose apparel was a courier's:
He shook a crop and over his shoulder
Carried a horn as is wont in our country. (*)
Tancred asked him about the best way
To go back to the Christian camp.

(*) Italy. Tancred himself was an Italian, not only in this fiction but historically.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 3: 80-139

by Selkis + ilT, The Magic Trio

Who said, “Let sublunary
waters gather and
dry soil surface!”
They did. Suddenly
the under-heaven humor
gathered where due
and earth emerged.
He denominated it “dry”
while the wide waters
were shown as “sea.”
[90] As a cerulean canvas
tensile over a theater
draws back on both sides
and reveals underneath
statues pillars and temples,
when those waters withdrew
landscapes appeared
and hills and Himalaya
hidden until then.
The whispering sea
[100] refreshed Atlas’ feet;
Taurus Parnassus Athos
(sort of Alexander’s
Rushmore) rushed out
as well as the Apennines.
Down from Dolomites
did creeks creep,
reechoing rivers
waved with waves,
Rios snaked slowly,
[110] streams steamed.
God’s word wanted
waters to hasten
from the first steps
according to his command:
no stillness allowed
by the holy order
for idleness spoils
the swampy waters
that then exhale
[120] heavy vapors thus
upsetting the sky
and tainting the air
while storing viscid
food in its sticky slime
to poor people.
Swift water however
everywhere it goes
feeds us fittingly
and gives its gems:
[130] gold and silver fish
and liquid crystal
to extinguish thirst.
Healthier still if
breaking thru rocks
towards the sun
it runs and improves
as Adonai’s ancilla
remembering about
her Trainer’s tone.

(to be continued on Feb. 14)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Now back to Tancred (2)

[8: 20]

Però cruccioso incontra Amor si sdegna
Che sperata gli nieghi alta ventura;
E se la donna sua d'ingiuria indegna
Offesa fia, farne vendetta ei giura.
Di rivolgersi al campo al fin s'ingegna
Per la più breve strada e la più secura,
Però che già vicino è 'l dì prescritto
Che pugnar dee co 'l messaggier d'Eggitto.

Therefore, he gets angry with Love who
Denies him the good fortune he hoped;
But, if the woman he loves has fallen
Prey to some injury, he will avenge her.
He finally tries to go back to the camp
Along the speediest and safest way
Since the day now approaches in which
He must fight with the messenger of Egypt. (*)

(*) Argantes. A lot of time ago (the time in this blog, not 'real' time), Tancred's duel with Argantes had been interrupted because both were seriously wounded; the fight would be resumed after some days. But as we will immediately see, Tancred won't succeed in reaching the Christian encampment in time; and his absence, that will make him fail to keep his word and break the rules of chivalry, will have heavy consequences.
After the insertion of the new episode of the five rivers, this section of Gerusalemme Conquistata catches up back with the plot of Gerusalemme Liberata (7: 26). Just, Tasso here modifies the wording by calling Argantes "the messenger of Egypt" because he first appeared in the story in that role, bringing a peace proposal from the Sultan of Cairo. In GL he was defined "the Egyptian knight," not simply a "messenger," but this is no longer true because Argantes in GC becomes the son of the King (Emir) of Jerusalem.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

When Tasso said, "Poker!"

This wonderful selection of Torquato Tasso's Dialogues (ed. by Ettore Mazzali, Turin: Einaudi, 1976, pages 382 divided in two volumes), belonging to the latest part of the poet's life, includes:

* Il messaggiero on angels and "demons" in the original Greek sense of the word, plus an appendix on human messengers / ambassadors, and politics in general. Tasso introduces to us the "spirit" who used to talk to him when he was in prison, but after all, he himself realizes that it was only a cultural workshop taking place in his own mind. Anyway, the Neo-Platonic views on demons he expressed here were accused of heresy;
* Il padre di famiglia on the duties of the perfect husband, father, and landowner;
* Il Malpiglio secondo on the endless number of, and the endless differences between philosophical schools;
* Il Cataneo overo de gli idoli on the use of heathen mythology in Christian literature; when Tasso finally states that it is illicit, he lies shamelessly;
* La Molza on the best definition of love;
* Il Gonzaga secondo on games, especially with cards; with a hint at the modern Theory of Games;
* Il Cataneo overo de le conclusioni amorose on the origin of love and, consequently, on the meaning of destiny, fate, fortune, and chance -- that turns out to be the true subject of the whole dialogue;
* Il Minturno on the essence of beauty, with interesting critical remarks about Ariosto's Orlando Furioso;
* Discorso dell'arte del dialogo, precisely a "discourse on the art of dialogue," whose master is considered Plato with his works midway between dialectics and poetry.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Now back to Tancred (1)

[8: 19]

Tancredi, in guisa d'huom ch'ad altro intenda,
Di vano amore acceso e del suo zelo,
A pena rimirò come discenda
Dal primo il fonte che somiglia il cielo,
E come ciascun altro indi risplenda
Con onda hora di foco et hor di gelo;
E se gustò de le fontane, ei bebbe
Tanto del rio che le sue fiamme accrebbe.

Tancred, like a man who does not care, (*)
Burning with vain love and his own zeal,
Scarcely noticed how out of the first
Spring there flowed the sky-like river,
And how all other streams shone out of it
With waves now like fire, now like ice;
If he enjoyed those springs, he drank just
So much as to increase his inner flames. (**)

(*) The Italian wording recalls Dante, see Purgatorio 9: 64. Tancred's love is "vain" not because it is silly, but because the woman he is chasing is not Clorinda as he thinks.
(**) The last two lines are not very clear. As it appears in the manuscript, Tasso also tried different phrasings, but none proved very satisfying. Moreover, magic springs whose waters made people burn with love did exist in the poems of chivalry (see Boiardo, Ariosto), but the pattern applies quite awkwardly to these Tassean rivers.