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sabato 12 aprile 2014

Letteratura inglese - Henry Howard - Spring (traduzione)

La dolce stagione, che porta boccioli e fiori,
ha rivestito di verde la collina e anche la valle.
L’usignolo canta con le sue piume nuove;
la tortora al suo compagno ha raccontato la sua storia.
L’estate è giunta, poiché ogni ramoscello ora spunta.
Il cervo ha appeso le sue vecchie corna allo steccato;
Il coniglio si toglie la sua veste invernale nel boschetto;
Il pesce nuota con nuove squame rimediate/riparate;
La vipera si toglie la sua pelle;
La rondine veloce insegue le piccole mosche;
L’ape indaffarata ora produce il suo miele;
L’inverno che era la sofferenza dei fiori ora è passato.
       E così vedo che tra queste cose piacevoli

       Ogni preoccupazione viene meno; e nonostante ciò nasce il mio dolore.

Letteratura inglese - John Donne - A Valediction Forbidding Mourning (analysis/analisi)

·         “Valediction” means “to say farewell”[1]. It comes from the Latin word “Vale dicere”
·         “Forbidding” means “proibire”
·         “Mourning” means “pianto, dolore (per una persona cara)”. It comes from to morn[2]
This poem comes from a collection entitled Songs and sonnets, which was published in 1663, after Donne’s death.
Most of the poems in this collection, however, circulated in manuscript during Donne’s life.
The poem was written before Donne’s departure[3] from France in 1611. It begins with an analogy signalled by the word “as” in line 1 and the word “so” in line 5: throw this analogy Donne tells his wife that their parting must not involve a show of extravagant grief, but a silent melting from one another[4].
In the first stanza Donne compares their parting to the death of virtuous men which is so imperceptible that the watchers at the bedside[5] are unable to say when the last breath[6] is taken.
In line 5 he says that there shouldn’t be any show of private feeling at their parting; there should be no tear-floods or sigh-tempests[7]. He thinks that their love is something secret and that it would be profaned if other people were to hear about it.
·         “Moving of th’ earth” stands for “earthquakes”[8]
·         “trepidation of the spheres” refers to “the libration or oscillation of heavenly spheres which communicates[9] itself to all the smaller spheres starting from the ninth (9TH)”. This is a theory which was added to the Ptolemaic system by an Arab astronomer in about 950 A.D. . The system of Ptolemy was a theory stating that the Earth lay at the centre of the Universe with the Sun and all the planets revolving around it. This theory remained undisputed until the Copernican system was published in 1543. The Copernican system stated that the Earth and all the other planets rotated around the Sun. Copernicus was a Polish astronomer who lived between the 15TH and the 16TH century. Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer, mathematician and philosopher who lived in the second century A.D. . The theory of the oscillation of the spheres was added to the Ptolemaic system in order to account for[10] certain phenomena especially the precession of the equinoxes, that is the slightly earlier occurrence[11] of the equinoxes, which are the two occasions that day and night are of equal length[12].
In the third stanza Donne states that earthquakes cause terror and perplexity while the much greater movement of the heavenly spheres (= sfere celesti) is regarded as a natural occurrence and doesn’t upset anybody.
Through this scientific parallel[13] Donne suggests that their separation should be as unnoticed as the oscillation of the heavenly spheres. He also indicates that the parting of ordinary lovers is similar to an earthquake.
In the fourth stanza he says that lovers of a dull sublunary kind know nothing beyond physical love and they cannot reconcile themselves to parting because for their bodily separation is absolute[14].
“To reconcile oneself to” means “to resign oneself to”[15].
In the final line of this stanza, “elemented” means “bodily separation removes those elements of which their love is made”.
In the fifth stanza, in using the term “sublunary” when referring to other lovers, Donne suggests that their love is subjected to change and decay and he implies[16] that he and his beloved share this constancy and permanence found above the Moon.
Their love has been so purified to such a degree that they themselves are unable to comprehend it. For them loss of physical contact is much less important.
In the sixth stanza they form a single being[17] sharing a single soul: their unity is not to be broken by their parting. Rather as the gap[18] between their bodies widens[19] as they move away from one another their shared soul extends itself like gold beaten out into gold leaf[20]. In using this image, Donne gives the love he shares with his wife the beauty and value of gold.
In the seventh stanza Donne says that they do not share a single soul, than their individual souls are firmly[21] linked together like the legs/feet of a pair of compasses. Donne tells his wife that her soul, which is like the fixed foot[22] is not impelled to move[23] until he moves/he does so.
In the eight stanza, although the fixed foot seats in the centre when the outer leg draws a circle, it turns about as though watching and straining[24] to keep in contact and it draws itself up straight again when the outer leg completes its circle and returns to the centre. The firmness of the fixed foot[25] represents the constancy and fidelity of Donne’s beloved, which enable him[26] to love her with constancy and make him go back[27] to her every time he has too trouble away from her.



[1] Dire addio
[2] Essere in lutto per …
[3] partenza
[4] la loro separazione non deve comportare uno spettacolo di dolore stravagante, ma una fusione silenziosa tra l’uno e l’altra
[5] persone al capezzale
[6] respiro
[7] Nessuna inondazione di lacrime né tempeste di sospiri
[8] terremoti
[9] che si comunica
[10] al fine di spiegare
[11] Il verificarsi leggermente prima
[12] di ugual durata
[13] confronto
[14] significa tutto
[15] rassegnarsi a/accettare
[16] sottintende
[17] un unico essere
[18] divario
[19] si allarga
[20] come l’oro che viene battuto fino a diventare una lamina sottile
[21] saldamente
[22] piede fisso
[23] non  è spinto a muoversi
[24] e si stesse sforzando
[25] la fermezza del piede fisso
[26] gli consente
[27] farlo tornare

Letteratura inglese - John Milton - On his blindness (analisi + traduzione)

·         Blindness = cecità
·         Ere = before
Quando considero come la mia luce si spegne,
prima della metà dei miei giorni, in questo mondo scuro e vasto,
e che quell’unico dono che è la morte da nascondere
ospitata in me inutile, penso alla mia anima più incline
a servire con ciò il mio creatore, e presento
il vero conto, per timore che lui, tornando, mi rimproveri.
“Esige Dio un lavoro quotidiano, anche da chi non ha più la vista?”
chiedo ingenuamente; ma la Pazienza, per prevenire
quel mormorio, presto risponde: “Dio non ha bisogno
né del lavoro dell’uomo né dei suoi particolari doni; coloro
che portano meglio il suo docile giogo, lo servono meglio; la sua
condizione è regale – migliaia (di angeli) ai suoi ordini corrono
per terra e per mare senza sosta:
servono Dio anche coloro che semplicemente stanno in piedi e aspettano.

·         spent” stands for “gone/finished forever”
·         “talent” refers to Milton’s talent as a poet and writer. “Talent” also recalls the parable of the talents in Matthew’s gospel[1]. This parable tells Christians that at the end of their life they will be required to give an account to God of how they used their gifts in serving him in this world.
Milton is afraid that he will be reproached by God if he doesn’t use his talent as a poet even though he is now blind.
·         “useless”: Milton is blind so he can no long use his talent
·         “account”: at the end of their lives Christians will be required to give an account of how they used their gifts
·         “day-labour” echoes another parable, the one of the labourers[2] in the vineyard of God. All the labourers, in this parable, receive the same wage at the end of the day no matter when[3] they started to work.
The word “labour” obviously refers to work in the service of God because of this referents to the parable in the gospel
·         “light” stands for “sight”
·         “fondly” means “foolishly”[4]
·         “who best bear his mild yoke” refers to “those who follow God’s Commandments[5]”. So the best way to serve God is to follow his Commandments.
·         “thousands” (of angels): the idea is that God has thousands of angels who are ready to serve him, some act as messengers (they run all over the world to carry out his orders), others just stand by him and adore him.

This is a Petrarchan sonnet: it is composed of two quatrains and two tercets. “But” is the turning point / volta. In a Petrarchan sonnet it occurs at the beginning of line 9; here it occurs in the middle of line 8: the volta is anticipated here because it acts out[6] the way in which Patience intervenes to stop the poet’s complaints. The turning point reflects the quickness with which Patience answers the question of the poet.
The syntax
The poem begins with a secondary clause, while the main clause only appear in line 8. The overall[7] syntax is “When I consider how my light is spent, I fondly ask”, in other words “When I think how blind I am, I foolishly ask”.
The poem begins with a secondary clause introduced by “when” and followed by a number of secondary clauses and it is not until the beginning of line 8 that we find the main clause: it is called suspended syntax.
There are latinate words such as “spent” that means “spento”, “talent”, “labour”. “Dark” and “wide” should be before the noun.
In this sonnet Milton uses many devices that he uses in Paradise Lost (for example Patience is personified). The sonnet is actually composed of a question and an answer: the octave is Milton’s question, while the sestet is the Patience’s answer which begins half way through line 6 and reflects the haste[8] with which Patience stops the poet’s complaint with her answer.




[1] vangelo
[2] operai
[3] Indipendentemente da quando
[4] scioccamente
[5] mind yoke
[6] ci mostra
[7] generale
[8] fretta

Letteratura inglese - John Milton - Paradise lost (analisi versi 1-75 + traduzione 51-75)

The Verse
The Verse is a statement which Milton added to the second printing of Paradise Lost: this statement was probably written because of complaints from readers about the fact that the poem was not written in heroic couplets[1] (rhymed iambic pentameters).
·         measure = metro
·         adjunct =aggiunta
·         rhyme being no = poiché la rima non è
·         of prime note = di primaria importanza
·         as have also long since our best English tragedies = come hanno anche fatto molto tempo fa le nostre migliori tragedie inglesi
·         trivial = triviale
·         delight = delizia/gioia
·         “which” refers to “delight”
·         apt numbers = un numero di versi
·         the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another” = “il senso si completa di verso in verso (enjambment or run-on line
·         neglet = trascuranza
·         set = posto/stabilito
·         bondage = legame
·         troublesome = fastidioso
·         This = Il fatto di

Lines 1-17
Line 1 to 49 are the prologue of Book 1, while the action of the poem starts in line 50.
The prologue makes it clear that the subject-matter[2] is taken from the first chapters of the Genesis. The subject-matter is man’s first disobedience in eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and his consequent fall and all the woes[3] it brought into the world.
Milton begins his poem by stating his subject (line 1 to 3), he then invokes his muse (line 4 to 23) to help him carry out his purpose, which is to justify the ways of God to men (lines 24 to 26). This form of opening was established in epic poetry by Homer followed by Virgil: in the Iliad Homer asks the muse to sing of Achilles and all the woes that his wrath caused to Greece, and in the Odyssey Homer asks his Muse to sing of the wonderings[4] of Odysseus.
Virgil begins his Aeneid with the words “Arms and the man I sing”.
The epic poet also invoked the muse at intervals when he had something important to narrate.
Milton invokes his Muse again in Book VII when he has completed half of his poem and is going to start the second half.
Milton’s muse is not one of the 9 muses of classical poets, it is the inspirer of sacred song and prophecy; it is the Muse of divine inspiration, the Muse who inspired the poets and prophets of Israel. In ancient tradition the classical gods were invoked under different names and at various sanctuaries. Milton follows this tradition in his invocation of the Muse: he first invokes his Muse as inspirer of Moses and then as haunting[5] the water of Siloah.
In his 40 days and nights when he was alone on Mount Sinai, Moses received the 10 Commandments and also learnt the secrets that he then revealed in the Book of Genesis. Siloah is a stream[6] that flows[7] beneath[8] Mount Sion on which stood the temple containing the Ark of the Covenant[9], the sign of God’s presence with his people. In the waters of Siloah’s pool Jesus healed[10] a blind man: after anointing[11] him with clay and spittle[12] he told him to go and wash his eyes there.
In the Prologue to Book I two mountains of revelation are set before us: Mount Sinai, where Moses received a special revelation, and Mount Sion where God was present among his people.
Lines 17-50
After the invocation to the muse of Sinai and of Sion, Milton turns to pray to the Holy Spirit. There’s a contrast between the tone and the rhythm of the first 16 lines and the tone and the rhythm of the prayer that follows: the first 16 lines are a very long sentence with suspended verbs, culminating in Milton’s aspiration to pursue[13] “things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhyme” to deal with a very high subject.
He asks his muse to lead him higher than classical poets because his subject is higher than theirs.
The prayer to the Holy Spirit is characterised by briefer[14] clauses and simpler syntax. In the first 16 lines the tone is daring[15] and very confident while in the prayer to the Holy Spirit it is very humble[16].
The invocation to a muse is the epic poet’s way of declaring that the subject of his poem is very important and also true: he’s not going to make things up[17], he’s just going to relate what the Muse revealed to him so he is speaking with an authority higher than his own.
Milton follows his classical ancestors not only in the immediate introduction of the subject of the poem, but also in his grammatical structure, which is highly Latinate[18]: the most notorious/famous feature of the style of Paradise Lost is its Latinity. Milton’s sentences are characterised by long or short main-clauses followed or preceded by long chains of dependent clauses: this can be seen at the beginning of the poem and also in lines 27 to 32.
The prologue to the poem begins in a simple way, but then the sense is developed by subordination of clauses and the use of conjunctions, adverbs or prepositions and relative pronouns.
The main verb of the first sentence doesn’t appear until line 6. This device is called reversal/inversion of the normal English word order. Milton often uses it to emphasise specific words, phrases or even sentences. In the first line of the poem it enables him to place the subject of the main sentence, which is the theme of the poem, at the beginning.[19] Another example of the use of inversion for emphasise is seen in line 44.
Paradise Lost is also highly Latinized in the use of words: we find expression like “mortal taste”, “the infernal serpent”, “empious war”.
There is a liking for periphrasis, for example “the oracle of God” (called that for the temple which stands on Mount Sion)”, “the mother of mankind” (for Eve) and “The Most High” (for God).
“What time his pride” (line 36) is a translation of the Latin expression quo tempore.
The Latin style of the adjective placed after the noun that it qualifies is exemplified in line 43 by “battle proud”.
Milton, however, also follows the Italian structure first adjective-noun-second adjective quite often. An example of this occurs in his prayer to the Holy Spirit (line 18) “th’ upright heart and pure”: “upright” is the first adjective, “heart” is the noun and “pure” is the second adjective.
The sounds Milton uses in this passage are mainly harsh[20] sounds which denote the enormity of Satan’s crime and punishment like for example in “hearled headlong”, with its alliteration of the h-sound, and “hideous ruin and combustion”. There is also an onomatopoeia, for example in line 21 “sat’st brooding on the vast abyss” where it gives the sense of[21] a prolonged deep meditation.
In Milton’s time, intellectuals spoke Latin, thought in Latin and wrote private notes and letters in Latin. After the execution of Charles I in 1649, Milton was appointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues by the Council of State: this position was the equivalent of that of a Foreign Ministry. His job was to prepare and translate into Latin all the dispatches to and from foreign governments.

Line 51-75
Nove volte lo spazio che misura il giorno e la notte per i mortali giacque sconfitto con la sua orrida ciurma rotolando nel golfo di fuoco travolto sebbene immortale. Ma la sua condanna gli riservava altra pena, poiché ora il pensiero sia della felicità perduta, e della pena interminabile lo tormenta; getta intorno i suoi sguardi funesti che videro immensa afflizione e sgomento commisto a inflessibile orgoglio e odio tenace. Per quanto è dato agli angeli di vedere, egli vede subito la sua spaventosa situazione (luogo), desolato (waste) ed aspro/impervio, una prigione orribile simile ad una grande fornace in fiamme da tutte le parti. Tuttavia da quelle fiamme non giunse alcuna luce, ma piuttosto un’oscurità trasparente[22] che serviva solo a rivelare visioni di dolore, immagini di sventura, regioni di sofferenza, ombre di angoscia, dove la pace ed il riposo non possono mai dimorare, dove non giunge mai la speranza che a tutti (gli uomini), ma torture senza fine affliggono gli angeli caduti e un diluvio di fuoco alimentato dallo zolfo che brucia perenne senza mai consumarsi. La giustizia eterna aveva preparato un simile luogo a quei ribelli (angeli), qui aveva decretato la loro prigione nella totale oscurità fuori dal Paradiso, aveva stabilito la loro dimora tanto lontano da Dio e dalla luce del Paradiso quanta era la distanza dal centro dell’Universo fino alla sfera più esterna (tanto lontano da Dio e dalla luce del Paradiso quanto tre volte[23] la distanza dal centro dell’Universo fino alla sua sfera più esterna. Com’era diverso dal luogo da cui erano caduti.
·         “Nine times”: the rebel angels fall for nine days and then they lie on the fiery gulf for another nine days. Milton was inspired by Hesiod Theogony, in which the poet describes the fall of the Titans after their defeat by the gods of Olympus (the rebel angels fall for as many days as the Titans after they had been defeated by the gods of Olympus).
·         “Doom”: here refers to the judgement which was passed on Satan
·         “baleful” means “full of Evel”, it means “malevolent”, but also “full of suffering”
·         “as far as angels ken” stands for “as far as angels can see (verb)” or “as far as angels’ range of vision[24] (adjective)”
·         “utter” means “nella totale oscurità” or “nella totale oscurità  fuori dal Paradiso”
·         “situation” here stands for “place”
·         “yet from those flames no light”: it was a popular belief that the flames of Hell gave no light. This expression is also based on the idea that the damned are prevented from seeing God, who is light. There’s no light in Hell because God is not there, God can’t be seen by those who are in Hell.
·         “darkness visible” is an oxymoron. Milton means not absolute darkness, but a gloom[25] which both conceals[26] and reveals objects. It is this kind of darkness which enables Satan to see the “sights of woe” (scene di angoscia) in Hell.
·         “to discover” stands for “to reveal”
·         “hope never comes that comes to all”: this expression echoes Dante’s expression “Abandon all hope, ye[27] who enter here” which is placed over the gates[28] of Hell. Hope comes to all human beings but it never comes to hell-dwellers (those who are in Hell).
·         “urges” stands for “afflicts”
·         “utter darkness” means both “complete darkness” and “outer darkness”.  Milton often combines the everyday use of a word with a more learned[29] meaning derived from its etymology.
·         Line 73-74: the distance of Hell from Heaven is three times the distance from the Earth, which is at the centre of the Universe, to its outermost sphere[30]. Milton uses the image of a Ptolemaic Universe, which is composed of ten concentric spheres: the Earth is placed at the centre of this kind of Universe/Ptolemaic cosmos.
·         From line 27 to 75 Milton summarizes the rebellion of Satan and his defeat[31] and then moves to the beginning of the action of his poem with Satan and the other fallen angels lying on the fire gulf for nine days.
In the first 75 lines Milton states the subject, he invokes the muse, he then turns to a prayer to the Holy Spirit, after which he summarises Satan’s rebellion and defeat and then begins the poem with the fall of the rebel angels.



[1] Distici eroici
[2] oggetto
[3] pene
[4] viaggi
[5] ossessionante
[6] corso d’acqua
[7] scorre
[8] sotto
[9] Arca dell’Alleanza
[10] guarì
[11]aver unto (con l’olio santo)
[12] argilla e saliva
[13] perseguire
[14] brevi
[15] audace
[16] full of humility (umile)
[17] to invent things
[18] latineggiante
[19] Significa che Milton non pone, come sarebbe usuale, il soggetto all’inizio della frase
[20] duri
[21] dà l’idea di
[22] che lascia intravvedere le cose
[23] thrice
[24] campo visivo
[25] buio
[26] to conceal = celare
[27] voi
[28] cancelli
[29] colto
[30] sfera più esterna
[31] sconfitta