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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.