[Milton-L] The TeaM: I Love NY

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Wed Dec 22 01:11:09 EST 2010

Sono città del suo valor superbe,
E di bellezza e d’arte varie e d’opre
Maravigliose, e di edifici eccelsi,
Od onorate pur di gloria antica,
Che dal nascer del giorno al sol cadente,
E talor anco insin che gira intorno
La fredda notte il suo stellato carro,
Empion di turba lieta e di festante
Piazze, campi, teatri adorni e logge,
Ove a’ diletti vari intende e passa
L’ore del dì fugaci e le notturne
Lunghe ed algenti; e nel volar del tempo
Pur se medesima volontaria inganna.

_____Torquato Tasso, Il Mondo Creato 3.1-13

There’re cities proud of being of value,
And rich in beauty, art, and magnificent
With works and highest buildings,
Or honored because of ancient glory,
Which – from sun dawn to sunset,
And sometimes as long as cold Night
Drives her starry cart around –
Fill with happy and joyful crowd
Squares, grounds, adorned theaters, arcades:
There they take to fun and spend
The fleeting hours of day, and night,
Long and chilly; and as time flies by
They voluntarily themselves deceive.

An Italian saying reads: “Chi disprezza, compra”. Something like,
“Despiser: buyer”. Tasso does his best to convince us that life in a
big city is sinful and disgusting. But in describing it he achieves
the peak of poetry. It is a side effect that occurs quite often in Il
Mondo Creato; an unintentional admission that the poet likes what he
tries to refuse. Exactly as it will happen with Milton, in fact, who
according to his sharp reader William Blake “was on devil’s side”.
These verses, moreover, are specifically interesting because they are
the first description, in Italian “high” poetry, of life in a modern
city, with jobs and entertainment lasting all day and all night long.
In vv. 22 ff the layabouts admire sort of a disco dancer. So, c’mon, a
very enjoyable page.
In PL the maximum tribute to London will be: “As one who long in
populous city pent, / Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air”,
9.445-446. Not to speak of Blake. The two Britons were ready to
revalue Satan: not the Big City. Tasso, indirectly, did. (He was fond
of Naples, even though it was not his homeland. And right in Naples
Milton will have the opportunity to read Il Mondo Creato.)

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Holiday break. Both columns, Paradise Drawn and The TeaM, will restart
in the first week of January.

to all of you!


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