[Milton-L] The TeaM: Velvet Revolution

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Wed Jun 1 01:44:57 EDT 2011

Però che Dio quando creò primiero
Tanti animali, e sì distinti e vari
E d’opere e di moto e di sembianti,
Altri a servirne gli produsse in terra
Per uso umano e ubedienti al nostro
Placido impero, e talor grave e aspro.
Per Sua grandezza e per Sua gloria ancora
Alcuni altri produsse, e ’n lor dimostra
Quella, che fa gran cose, arte divina
E divina virtù, che presso e lunge
Più e men chiaramente risplende.

_____Torquato Tasso, Il Mondo Creato 5.565-575

Because God, when He first created
So many animals, and so different
In their works and movements and look,
Some He made as our subjects on earth,
To human purposes, obedient to our
Peaceful or sometimes heavy command.
To his own greatness and glory
Others He made, in them to show
His great-things-doing divine art
And divine power, which far and near
More or less clearly shines.

The last line (v. 575) sums up Dante, Paradiso 1.2-3; but the context
is quite different. We can here enjoy one more fine example of Tasso’s
“velvet revolution”. The starting issue was the existence of big
beasts which seem useless to human purposes and even dangerous to us.
His solution is shocking, though we way miss it after five centuries:
not every creature – he says – has been assigned by God to our
service. There’s some greater purpose across the universe. A seminal
“biocentric” standpoint, instead of the traditional anthropocentric
one. To be noticed, also, that the human domination on Earth is seen
as not always nice and peaceful.
And, among those untamable beasts--- meet Moby Dick (vv. 590-593):

Ma le navi da’ pesci in mar sommerse,
Anzi da un pesce solo il fero assalto
Fatto a mille superbe armate navi,
Favola non fu già, né scherzo o gioco.

Yes, the ships sunk by fish in the open sea,
By just one fish, indeed, the fierce attack
Against thousand superb armed ships,
Was no fairy tale, nor a joke nor play.

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