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Friday, May 27, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (1)

[16:2]

Sorgea in ombrosa valle alta foresta
Incontra 'l sol ch'a l'orizzonte ascende;
E spargea d'ogni intorno ombra funesta,
Foltissima di piante antiche, horrende;
E luce dubbia e scolorita e mesta
V'havea ne l'ora che più 'l sole risplende,
Quale in nubilo ciel talhor si vede
Se 'l dì a la notte o s'ella al dì succede.

In a shady valley a high(*) forest lay
In the direction of the rising sun,
Which spread dismal shadows all around,
Thick with very ancient and horrid trees;
An uncertain, and faded, and sad light 
It cast even when the sun shone brightest,
As it can be seen in a cloudy sky
In the hours halfway between day and night.

(*) The adjective alta might also mean "deep" if it is taken in a Latinizing sense, as is often the case with Tasso. If the forest is set east of Jerusalem, it should lie immediately beyond Getsemani.