[Milton-L] The TeaM: Phoenix, Saudi Arabia

Bob Blair bblair48 at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 21 22:49:49 EDT 2011


Rinascente:  The English word that immediately came to my mind is 'transcendent'.  Is that close to Tasso's meaning?

Bob Blair

--- On Tue, 7/19/11, Dario Rivarossa <dario.rivarossa at gmail.com> wrote:

> From: Dario Rivarossa <dario.rivarossa at gmail.com>
> Subject: [Milton-L] The TeaM: Phoenix, Saudi Arabia
> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
> Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 10:32 PM
> Or a te mi rivolgo, e tu supremo
> Fra gli altri onore avrai ne gli alti carmi,
> Immortal, rinascente, unico augello.
> 
> _____Torquato Tasso, Il Mondo Creato 5.1278-1280
> 
> I now address you, and you will receive
> The greatest honors in this high song,
> You immortal, rebirthing [*], unique bird.
> 
> Starting from these verses in the fifth Part, about the
> fifth day of
> Creation, a “long poem within the long poem” begins,
> wholly dedicated
> to the legendary phoenix. It will take some 350 verses i.e.
> like two
> cantos in the Divine Comedy. The main reason being quite
> clear, as the
> phoenix is a traditional symbol of Christ, dying and
> resurrecting;
> already v. 1280 leaves little room to doubts, in case.
> But, since the “short long poem” develops for so many
> verses, it
> becomes much more than a bare list of symbols. Just the
> main events in
> the life of the “unique bird” show in fact a
> relationship to the Son’s
> saga: Tasso will moreover display all of his skills in
> describing
> fantastic Eastern landscapes etc. Maybe he also needed a
> lyrical pause
> after writing down hundreds of de-structured pages without
> a “hero.”
> 
> As far as PL is concerned, it is worth noticing that, even
> though the
> bird is called the Arabian phoenix, Arabia is the place
> where it [**]
> goes in order to die, once in one thousand [***] years, but
> it has its
> homeland on a mysterious plateau in the far, far East,
> sharing the
> most common features of Eden. It is not called “Eden,”
> though, and it
> shows no trace of any former human inhabitant. In Part 7,
> Tasso will
> wonder where Adam’s paradise could have been; he presents
> a lot of
> conjectures, then quits.
> 
> In the following chapters we will be briefly examining some
> peculiar
> passages in the story of the phoenix.
> 
> 
> [*] How to translate the simple Italian adjective
> “rinascente” proved
> a tough nut to crack. It literally means “going to be
> born again
> (after dying),” but a brief word was needed, nor could I
> choose “born
> again” because it currently conveys a completely
> different idea. It
> could then be rendered as “ever-again-born,” or the
> like, but that
> would suggest sort of a reincarnation, whereas the Italian
> word
> alludes to Jesus’ resurrection, i.e. not the process of
> undergoing a
> repetition of one's life, but acquiring a supernatural
> condition, as
> Tasso explains in vv. 1292-1297. “Reviving” seemed too
> weak to me: it
> was important to keep the image of birth. And
> “(re)nascent” means
> something else. I finally opted for a (not brand new)
> neologism. But
> maybe it proves awkward here. Replies will be welcome.
> 
> [**] Maybe it would be more correct to address the bird as
> “he,” as
> people do with the pets they love, and especially because
> of its
> Christological symbol. The problem is, “phoenix” in
> Italian is a
> feminine word, so that Tasso writes “ella” (she) etc.,
> not because the
> bird is a female one (it is said to be beyond any sex) but
> just for
> syntactical reasons. So, I will cling to “it.”
> 
> [***] Instead of 500, as it is generally assumed by most
> poets.
> 
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