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Bell’angioletta, or quale è bella imago

Source:   Tasso, 1593; modern edition, Tasso/Basile, 1994

Bell’angioletta, or quale è bella imago
di coprir degna il dolce avorio e terso
del vostro volto, del color cosperso
che rende il cielo in sul mattin più vago?
Qual la potrà formar maestro o mago
c’a voi convenga, o qual novo e diverso
abito ammira l’Indo o ’l Franco o ’l Perso
che d’onorarsi in voi non sembri vago?
Nullo; ma come suole in selva o ’n scena
Palla mostrarsi o Citerea succinta
e segnar l’orme co’ coturni d’oro,
tal voi con fronte lucida e serena
duce vi fate d’amoroso coro,
e bella è più qual da voi meno è vinta.

Beautiful little angel, now such is the beautiful image
that deigns to cover the sweet and polished ivory
of your face, sprinkled with the color
that makes the sky above the morning more lovely?
What could a master or a sorceror make
which would suit you, oh what new and diverse
clothing would India admire, or France, or Persia
which, honoured by you, would not become beautiful?
None; but like Pallas, or Venus customarily shows herself on stage or in a forest,
treading her step with golden slippers,
so you, with a luminous and serene brow,
make yourself the leader of the amorous chorus,
and most beautiful is she who is least vanquished by you.

This text describes Leonora Sanvitale leading the company of a Ferrarese mascherata.


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.