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Friday, September 16, 2016

Whatcha gonna do now, Tancred? (2)

[16: 34]

Era il prence Tancredi intanto sorto
A seppellir la sua diletta amica,
E bench'in volto sia languido e smorto
E mal atto a portar elmo o lorìca,
Ma dapoi che 'l timor degli altri ha scorto
Ei non ricusa il rischio o la fatica;
Ch'il cor vivace il suo vigor trasfonde
Al corpo sì che par ch'esso n'abonde.

Prince Tancred meanwhile was devoting
Himself to burying her beloved friend. (*)
Although his face looks very pale and weak
And he can scarcely wear any armour,
As soon as he perceives the others' fear (**)
He does not refuse either risk or toil --
His hot heart conveys in fact its energy
To the body and makes it seem stronger. (***)

(*) Clorinda, who has become a "friend," or sister in faith, to him after her baptism. We also recall that Tancred is a historical personage, while Clorinda is not.
(**) Before the enchanted forest, that makes it impossible to provide the wood they need for the siege devices.
(***) Tasso's interest in physical, biological, psychological phenomena is well documented by his long poem Il Mondo Creato, on which he was working in practically the same period as he wrote these lines in Gerusalemme Conquistata. But it had always been a typical attitude of his; these remarks on Tancred's psychosomatology had already been made many years before in Gerusalemme Liberata. It is worth noticing that, in Homer's poems, warriors get suddenly stronger because of a direct action from a god, or more often a goddess, rather than their own psyches -- though, of course, we can interpret the gods in this key nowadays.