SiStan ChapLee

Friday, December 2, 2016

The ancestor of NSA (5)

[16: 62, Godfrey speaks]

Scenderan (se fia d'uopo) incontra gli empi
Angeli amici da' stellanti chiostri,
A' quai non son l'hore prescritte o i tempi,
Com' a noi tutti et a' nemici nostri.
Liberarem la città sacra e i tempi,
E cadranno d'Egitto i feri mostri;
E fia di varie genti e d'una terra
Vittoria integra in glorïosa guerra.

"Against the impious, if needed, there will
Come friendly angels from the starry courts(*) --
To whom hours and times are not prescribed
As they are to us all and our enemies. (**)
We will free the Holy City and temples,
And the fierce monsters of Egypt (***) will fall;
And out of many peoples and one land
Full victory will rise in a glorious war."

(*) Literally "cloisters," a metaphor often used by Tasso.
(**) The angels will be able to intervene at any time, and immediately so, not needing to prepare equipments, etc. The predicament of humans is hard and tiring, to whatever religion they belong.
(***) The umbrella concept of "paganism" makes Tasso shamelessly mix up Islam and the religion of Ancient Egypt. He deals more diffusely with the monsters/gods of Egypt in his long poem Il Mondo Creato, on which he was working at the same time as he edited the Jerusalem-poem. This octave, anyway, provides a fine example of Baroque imagery and rhetoric.