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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (2)

[16: 3]

Ma quando parte il sol, tosto ivi adombra
Notte, nube, caligine et horrore
Dal monte che sovrasta, e gli occhi ingombra
D'oscuritate, e di spavento il core;
Né mai greggia od armento a l'acque, a l'ombra
Guida bifolco mai, guida pastore,
Né v'entra peregrin, se non smarrito,
Ma lunge passa, e la dimostra a dito.

But as soon as the sun leaves, the shadow
Comes of night, cloud, darkness, and horror
From the dominating mountain, (*) filling
The eyes with darkness, the heart with fear;
To these waters and shades no flock or herd
Is ever led by farmers or shepherds (**)

And no pilgrims enter here, except lost, (***)
But walk farther, and point at the forest. (****)

(*) A 'general' one, or Mount Sion itself, since the forest lies east of it.
(**) Unattended woods were often used as pastures.
(***) A clear hint at Dante. Especially in Medieval Italy the lands between towns were covered with forests, that were very dangerous because of wolves and bandits; in fact, people usually traveled in convoy. That explains Dante's fear (Inferno 1: 6) when he suddenly realizes he is alone in a dark forest (v. 10).
(****) As a marvel, a haunted place. Horror descriptions are one of Tasso's specific traits in Italian literature.