Wednesday, October 01, 2014



Thanks very much to Karl Maurer for introducing me to a Latin poem, "Ad Nubes," attributed to Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), and for allowing his translation of the poem to appear here.
Children of Neptune, O
    moist Clouds, that in your flying column run
where South-winds blindly pull you,
    it’s from your thundery hearts that Juppiter,
booming, sends horrid lightning        5
    at an uncouth race that has raised its head
against Gods, or defiled
    old groves with sacrilegious hands. That’s why
sky roars, and lightning flashes!
    But you more quietly send fruit-bearing rain        10
to thirsty fields. With moisture
    you feed fat happy crops. You add fine saps
to thirsty vines that soon
    will be libations lifted in new cups!
Unless you pour us deep        15
    long rain, the arid Earth will not produce
her grasses and her flowers.
    The trees bereft of leaves begin to wither,
and bodies, weak from longing
    for you, now only languish, barely able        20
to draw their feeble breath.
    O whether Atlas’ piny peaks detain you
or Scythia’s side, or whether
    you play upon the Ocean’s boundless plain,
O send your stormy children!        25
    Sprinkle dews on the breast of your too hot
mother Earth, dewy Clouds;
    pour them upon your Pius Maximus.
Although he governs peoples,
    he will not scorn your gifts. At last        30
to exhausted living creatures,
    we beg you, give a rest, with soaking dew.
The Latin:
Neptuni genus, humidae
    Nubes, quae volucri curritis agmine
Qua caeci rapiunt Noti:
    E vestro gremio cum sonitu horrida
Mittit fulmina Juppiter,        5
    Si quando in Superos gens fera verticem
Tollit, si veteres manu
    Lucos sacrilega polluit. Hinc tonat
Arx caeli, hinc micat ignibus
    Crebris. Vos placidae frugiferos agris        10
Imbres mittitis, et sata
    Laeta humore alitis. Vos sitientibus
Succos vitibus additis,
    Mox libanda novis munera poculis.
Vos largas pluviae nisi        15
    Effundatis opes, gramina non humus,
Non flores dabit arida.
    Arescunt viduae frondibus arbores.
Vestri languida corpora
    Ex desiderio vix animas suo        20
Languentes retinent sinu.
    Vos in pinifero vertice, seu tenet
Atlas, seu Scythiae latus,
    Seu vasto oceani luditis aequore,
Foetus imbriferos date.        25
    Rores in gremium spargite torridae
Matris munera, roscidae
    Nubes; vestro Pio fundite Maximo;
Quanquam gentibus imperat,
    Non haec vestra PIUS munera negliget.        30
Tandem O vos requiem date
    Fessis irriguo rore animantibus.
Luigi Poma, "Apocrifi tassiani," in Franco Gavazzeni and Guglielmo Gorni, edd., Le tradizioni del testo. Studi di letteratura italiana offerti a Domenico De Robertis (Milano: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1993), pp. 201-208 (non vidi), disputes Tasso's authorship of this poem.

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