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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (8)

[16: 9, Wizard Ismen conjuring devils]

Prendete in guardia questa selva e queste
Piante, che numerate a voi consegno.
Com'è il corpo de l'alma albergo e veste
Hor sia de' nudi spirti il duro legno,
Onde il Franco ne fugga, o almen s'arreste
Ne' primi colpi, e tema il fero sdegno -.
Disse; e quelle, ch'aggiunse, horribil note,
Lingua, s'empia non è, ridir non pote.

"Be the guardians of this forest, of these
Trees that now I mark(*) and entrust to you.
As the body is the soul's home and dress,
So be the hard wood for you, naked spirits,
Thus making the Franks flee, or at least stop
After the first blows, afraid of your wrath,"
He said; and the frightful notes he added
No tongue other than ungodly can repeat. (**)

(*) Literally "number," that suggests both a magic effect reaching the trees one by one and the use of numbers like in esoteric formulas. It is a technical term, and so is note in line 7, that follows the Latin word notae (signs, marks, stains) while also hinting at a chant (musical notes), whence the very term "en-chant-ment" comes.
(**) The poet does not report such "notes" partly because it would be ungodly to do so and partly because, probably, he does not know them. In fact, the evocation made by Wizard Ismen draws on classical sources rather than on actual magic formulas, which "sounded" quite different.