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Three Cantos (Ur-Cantos)

Catullus villa

A Draft of XXX Cantos I-XXX

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Eleven New Cantos XXXI-XLI

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Fifth Decad of Cantos XLII-LI

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Cantos LII to LXXI (China and Adams)

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The Italian Cantos: LXXII-LXXIII

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The Pisan Cantos LXXIV-LXXXIV

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Rock Drill: LXXXV-XCV

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Thrones: Cantos XCVI-CIX

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Drafts & Fragments CX-CXVII

DL001167

rsz sordello

 

Sordello

 

Pound, Ezra. "Troubadours - Their Sorts and Conditions" 

"Dante and Browning have created so much interest in Sordello that it may not be amiss to give the brief account of him as it stands in a manuscript in the Ambrosian library in Milan. ‘Lo Sordels si fo di Mantovana. Sordello was of Mantuan territory of Sirier (this would hardly seem to be Goito), son of a poor cavalier who had name Sier Escort (Browning’s El Corte), and he delighted himself in chançons, to learn and to make them. And he mingled with the good men of the court. And he learned all that he could and he made coblas and sirventes. And he came thence to the court of St. Bonifaci, and the Count honoured him much. And he fell in love with the wife of the Count, in the form of pleasure (a forma de solatz), and she with him. (The Palma of Browning’s poem and the Cunizza of Dante’s.) And it befell that the Count stood ill with her brothers. And thus he estranged himself from her and from Sier Sceillme Sier Albrics. And thus her brothers caused her to be stolen from the Count by Sier Sordello and the latter came to stop with them. And he (Sordello) stayed a long time with them in great happiness, and then he went into Proensa where he received great honours for all the good men and from the Count and from the Countess who gave him a good castle and a wife of gentle birth.’ (Browning with perfect right alters this ending to suit his own purpose)” (LE 97).

 

 The meeting with Sordello. Dante AlighieriPurgatory VI ll.58-87. Trans. Mark Musa.

Ma vedi un'anima che, posta

sola soletta, inverso noi riguarda:

quella ne 'nsegnerà la via più tosta". 

But see that spirit stationed over there,

All by himself, the one who looks at us;

he will show us the quickest way to go."

58

 

 

 

 

Venimmo a lei: o anima lombarda,

come ti stavi altera e disdegnosa

e nel mover de li occhi onesta e tarda! 

We made our way toward him. (O Lombard soul,

how stately and disdainful you appeared,

what majesty was in your steady gaze!)

 

 


63

Ella non ci dicea alcuna cosa,

ma lasciavane gir, solo sguardando

a guisa di leon quando si posa. 

He did not say a word to us, but let

us keep on moving up towards him, while he

was watching like a couchant lion on guard.

 

 

 


66

Pur Virgilio si trasse a lei, pregando

che ne mostrasse la miglior salita;

e quella non rispuose al suo dimando,

But Virgil went straight up to him and asked

directions for the best way to ascend.

The shade ignored the question put to him,

 

 

 

69

ma di nostro paese e de la vita

ci 'nchiese; e 'l dolce duca incominciava

"Mantua...", e l'ombra, tutta in sé romita

asking of us, instead, where we were born

and who we were. My gentle guide began:

“Mantua…” And the other, until then

 

 

 

72

surse ver' lui del loco ove pria stava,

dicendo: "O Mantoano, io son Sordello

de la tua terra!"; e l'un l'altro abbracciava. 

all self-absorbed, sprang to his feet and came

toward him: “O Mantuan, I am Sordello

of your own town” – and the two shades embraced.

 

 


75

Ahi serva Italia, di dolore ostello,

nave sanza nocchiere in gran tempesta,

non donna di province, ma bordello! 

(Ah, slavish Italy, the home of grief,

ship without pilot caught in a raging storm,

no queen of provinces – whorehouse of shame!

 

 


78

Quell'anima gentil fu così presta,

sol per lo dolce suon de la sua terra,

di fare al cittadin suo quivi festa; 

How quick that noble soul was to respond

to the mere sound of his sweet city’s name,

by welcoming his fellow citizen – 

 

 

81

e ora in te non stanno sanza guerra

li vivi tuoi, e l'un l'altro si rode

di quei ch'un muro e una fossa serra. 

while now, no one within your bounds knows rest

from war, and those enclosed by the same wall

and moat, even they are at each other’s throats!

 

 

84

Cerca, misera, intorno da le prode

le tue marine, e poi ti guarda in seno,

s'alcuna parte in te di pace gode. 

O wretched Italy, search all your coasts,

probe to your very center: can you find

within you any part that is at peace?

 

 

87

 

 

References

 

Alighieri, Dante. Divina Commedia. Purgatorio VI ll. 58-85. The Cantos Project: General Sources. Web. 

Alighieri, Dante. The Portable Dante. Trans. Mark Musa. New York: Penguin, 1995. Print.

Pound, Ezra. "Troubadours - Their Sorts and Conditions." Literary Essays. New York: New Directions, 1968. 94-108. Print.