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Friday, June 10, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (5)

[16: 6]

Così credeasi, et habitante alcuno
Del fero bosco mai ramo non svelse;
Ma i Franchi l'atterrâr perch'ei sol uno
Materia diede lor per l'opre eccelse.
Hor qui se 'n venne il mago a l'aër bruno
E de la notte alto silentio ei scelse,
Di quella, dico, che primier successe;
E suo cerchio formovvi, e i segni impresse.

The inhabitants believed so, and no one
Ever cut one branch of that fierce forest --
But the Crusaders did, as only it(*) could
Provide the wood for the siege engines.
Now the wizard(**) came here at twilight
Choosing the deep silence of night,
The night that immediately followed; (***) he
Drew a circle and engraved the fit signs. (****)

(*) The unusual phrase sol uno comes from Dante, Inferno 2: 3; another hint at the "dark forest" par excellence.
(**) Ismen
(***) After the adventurous destruction of the siege engines of the Crusaders.
(****) Again for the first time in Italian literature, among the big authors at least, an evocation of devils will be carefully described. Its details may look like 'commonplace' to us, but it was not so back then. It was Tasso himself indeed who made readers, from Renaissance on, familiar with this kind of black magic scenery.