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Friday, January 6, 2017

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (6)

[77.5-8 and 79, the spy answers Vafrino's questions]

- Nacqui in Cirene appresso il verde Eggitto,
E 'n Grecia fui lunga stagion captivo;
E da l'antica Gaza hor ne venìa,
D'uno essercito a l'altro amica spia.

. . .

Me (disse) l'Admiraglio a questo affanno
Co' suoi doni ha sospinto e con promesse,
Perché brama saper s'ardire havranno
I Franchi d'aspettarlo ov'ei s'appresse
O se, spiegate pur le vele, andranno
Dove è chi fila in aspettando, e tesse:
A riveder ciascun la donna e i figli,
Già stanco de la guerra e de' perigli -.

"I was born in Cyrene(*) near green Egypt, and have long been a captive in Greece; (**) from the ancient Gaza(***) I was now coming as a friendly spy from one army to the other. [. . . ] The Commander(****) pushed me to such a distress with his gifts and promises, since he wishes to learn whether the Franks will dare wait for him if he intervenes, or, after unfurling their sails, will go back to those who spin and weave while waiting for them -- to see again, each one, his own wife and children, as already tired of the war and its dangers."

(*) In Libya.
(**) The Byzantine Empire.
(***) Gaza has always provided the geographical and strategic link between Egypt and the Holy Land.
(****) Emiren, the head of the army -- fictionally, not historically -- sent by the Sultan of Egypt to help the Muslims under siege in Jerusalem. Though entering the stage quite late, Emiren will prove one of the main military leaders in the final phase of the poem.