TORQUATO TASSO

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Qual musico gentil

Source:   Gerusalemme liberata, Canto XVI/43-47

Settings:  Wert, VIIIa5, 1586

Qual musico gentil prima che chiara
altamente la voce al canto snodi,
al’armonia gli animi altrui prepara
con dolci ricercate in bassi modi,
così costei, che nella doglia amara
già tutti non oblia l’arte e le frodi,
fa di sospir breve concento in prima
per dispor l’alma in cui le voci imprima.

Poi cominciò: “Non aspettar ch’io preghi,
crudel, te, come amante amante deve.
Tai fumm’ un tempo; or se tal esser neghi,
e di ciò la memoria anco t’è greve,
come nemico almen ascolta: i preghi
d’un nemico talor l’altro riceve.
Ben quel ch’io chieggio è tal che darlo puoi
e integri conservar gli sdegni tuoi.

Se m’odii, e in ciò diletto alcun tu senti,
non te’n vengo a privar: godi pur d’esso.
Giusto a te pare e siasi. Anch’io le genti
cristiane odiai, no’l nego, odiai te stesso.
Nacqui pagana, usai vari argomenti
che per me fosse il vostro imperio opresso;
te perseguii, te presi, e te lontano
da l’arme trassi in loco ignoto e strano

Aggiungi a quest’ ancor quel ch’a maggiore
onta tu rechi ed a maggior tuo danno:
t’ingannai, t’allettai nel nostro amore;
empia lusinga certo, iniqu’ inganno,
lasciarsi corre il virginal suo fiore,
far de le sue bellezze altrui tiranno,
quelle ch’a mille antichi in premio sono
negate, offrire a novo amante in dono!

Sia questa pur tra le mie frodi, e vaglia
sì di tante mio colpe in te ‘l difetto
che tu quinci ti parta e non ti caglia
di questo albergo tuo già sì diletto.
Vattene, passa il mar, pugna, travaglia,
struggi la fede nostra: anch’io t’affretto.
che dico nostra? ah non più mia! fedele
sono a te solo, idolo mio crudele.

 
Like a graceful musician, before unfolding
the voice in high and clear song,
prepares the mood of the others (listeners)
with sweet improvisation in low registers,
thus, she, who even in bitter sorrow
forgot none of the arts and deceptions,
made first a brief harmony of sighs
to make receptive the soul her voice should impress.

Then she began: “Do not expect that I implore you,
cruel one, as a lover should a lover.
Thus we were once; now if you deny having been such,
and even the memory of it is heavy for you,
as an enemy at least, listen: the prayers
of an enemy, sometimes, the other receives.
That which I ask is such that you can give it
and maintain your disdain intact.

If you hate me, and in that you feel some pleasure,
I will not deprive you: enjoy it.
If it is right for you, then so be it. I also hated
Christian people, nor do I deny that I hated you the same.
I was born pagan, I used many plots
that through me would bring down your empire;
I tracked you, I took you and brought you far
from your army in a strange, unknown place.

Added to this, that which greatly increases
the shame you bear, and increases your injury:
I deceived you, I allured you into our love;
wicked enticement certainly, evil deceit,
to let her virginal flower be taken,
to make another the tyrant of her beauty,
that which was denied to a thousand old lovers,
to offer as a gift to a new lover!

Add this as well to all my frauds, and let
these many faults of mine give you the reason
to leave, and not care to go
from a place once so delightful to you.
Go then, cross the sea, fight and labour,
struggle for our faith: I also urge you.
What do I say, ‘our’? Ah no longer mine! Faithful
I am to you alone, my cruel idol.
 

 

 

Written by Laurie Stras.

Last updated 28 February, 2002.

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