Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (9)

[16: 83, again the Muslim prisoner speaking]

Non v'ha chi sentinelle o guardie faccia
Fra tante schiere, o chi si cinga intorno;
Ma si vanta ciascuno, ciascun minaccia
A' Franchi morte e vergognoso scorno.
Copron le squadre la deserta faccia
De l'ampia terra ovunque appare il giorno,
E 'l gran numero par d'horrida turba
A quelle arene egual ch'Austro perturba.

"No one, over there among so many armies, is on sentry-duty or stands guard, nor does anyone keep ready with a sword; (*) but everyone boasts, everyone threatens death and a shameful defeat to the Franks. The squads cover the desert surface of the wide land everywhere the daylight is spread, and the great number of people in that horrid crowd seems to match the grains of sand whirled by the wind."

(*) Now, disorganized armies do exist, and "the enemy" is, by definition, weaker than "us"; but the first two lines in this description are 'frankly' ridiculous.