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In giri or lunghi, or scarsi, or doppi, or soli

Source:  Pigna, n.d. (link gives details of modern edition)

In giri or lunghi, or scarsi, or doppi, or soli
or alti, or bassi, netta voce sgorga:
e con silenzio e strepito la ingorga
il vostro augel, perché a me morte involi.
Così la notte non con sciocchi voli,
ma con canti leggiadri, fa ch’io sorga
da la quiete orba di tempo e scorga
ne le tenebre mie vostri due soli.
Prendea da voi, mentre correva il giorno,
modi dolci da usar: da voi maestra
del concento che i cor ne disacerba.
Tacendo voi, de le stelle al ritorno,
seco provar solea se gli era destra
l’arte imparata, e lo stil anco serba

In ornaments, now long, now short, now double, now single,
now high, now low, the pure voice flows:
and with silence and clamour it muffles
your bird, because it sends me death.
Thus the night, not with foolish flights,
but with pleasant songs makes me rise
from the quiet sphere of time and perceives
in my darkness your two suns [eyes].
I took from you, while the day passed,
sweet modes to use: from you, the mistress
of harmony that disembitters the heart.
You being silent from the [appearance of the] stars to the return [of the sun],
with them I used to try to show that I had
learned the skilful art, and also cherished the style.

This text, for Lucrezia Bendidio, is addressed to her by a captive nightingale.  A note to the poem, appended by its editor, Giambattista Guarini, reads 'Rende la cagione perché quel lusignolo cantasse, mostrando che per quanto durava il giorno notasse i modi con che la donna cantava, e poi s’essercitasse la notte, quando era fuori del cospetto di lei, per veder se sapesse bene imitarla'; 'This gives the reason why the nightingale sang, showing that during the day it took note of the ways in which the lady sang, and then practised at night, when it was out of her sight, to see if it knew well how to imitate her'. Its description of ornaments predates Guarini's own 'Gorga di cantatrice' by at least six years. 


Written by Laurie Stras.

Last updated 04 October, 2002.

The views expressed on this page are those of the author and not of the University of Southampton.