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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Trees are tough (8)

[16: 30]

O quanti appaion mostri armati in guarda
De gli alti merli, e 'n che terribil faccia!
De' quai con occhi biechi altri il riguarda,
E dibattendo l'arme altri minaccia.
Fugge egli al fine, e ben la fuga è tarda,
Qual di leon che si ritiri in caccia;
Ma pur è fuga, e pur gli scote il petto
Timor, sin a quell'hora ignoto affetto.

How many armed monsters appear, watching
The high battlements with frightening faces!
Some look at him with sinister eyes, while
Others threaten him by shaking their weapons. (*)
He flees in the end, and quite slowly so,
Like a chased lion who withdraws gradually,
But he flees nonetheless, his heart shaken
By fear -- a feeling unknown up till now.

(*) Dante's devils were armed with whips, hooked poles, or swords, though not the devils watching the walls of the City of Dis. Here bows, crossbows, and spears seem to be meant; maybe catapults, too -- and guns and cannons? When Tasso wrote these lines, the first forts had already been built in America.