SiStan ChapLee

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trees are tough (2)

[16: 20]

Qual semplice bambin mirar non osa
Dove insolite larve habbia presenti,
O come pave ne la notte ombrosa
Imaginando pur mostri e portenti,
Tal huom temea d'estrania horribil cosa,
Non conoscendo pur quel ch'ei paventi;
Se non che 'l timor forse a' sensi finge
Maggior prodigio di chimera o sfinge.

As a naive kid does not dare to look
Where he makes out strange apparitions,
Or as he trembles in a shadowy night
Imagining monsters and phenomena,
So did the men fear some alien horror
While not even knowing what it was --
Unless fear itself showed to their senses
Marvels greater than a chimera or sphinx.

Psychological horror was one of the trademarks of Tasso's poetry: suggesting, often by means of sounds, without describing in detail the source of that creepy feeling. The English term "alien" well renders both meanings of the Italian adjective estraneo (here in the outdated feminine form estrania), especially as used by Tasso.