Sunday, March 27, 2016

An Easter Affirmation from Tasso

But now rise, rise out of the depths 
—may our speech emerge from the waves!
Let us look upwards, up towards the sky,
we will see the shore wonderfully adorned: 
the salt, drawn by the waves, nearly hardens
into white marble, and like deep-red stone
the beautiful coral glows in the air,
which formerly was soft grass underwater;
and among the shells, the hard pearl
shines white; and on the sandy waste
flames the gold, and like most precious gems
some stones are painted in many colors.
    --Torquato Tasso, Creation of the World, Day Five, 652-663


Dario Rivarossa said...

Is it maybe the first time that the creation of fish and birds is seen (as here by you in the wake of Tasso) as a symbol of respectively death and resurrection?

Carter Kaplan said...

I was thinking at this point in the poem Tasso's attention turning from his voyage under the sea to a walk in the open air was a sort of re-birth.

Dario Rivarossa said...

Actually it sounds like that, in the lines you quoted. But, in general, he loved the sea (his favorite place was Naples): it was not the symbol of "the dark side" as it would be in Herman Melville, and Victor Hugo as well.

Carter Kaplan said...


It seems here the effect is built upon the objects of the sea as viewed in the transformative light of the clear air. He does seem to underscore the distinction. Whether this is simply a pleasant effect, or something deeper, I don't know. I'll have to see what he is talking about in the earlier lines. Maybe it is simply a pleasant affirmation that goes no further than what we seen in these lines. Tasso can be very pleasant, can't he?

Dario Rivarossa ilTassista said...

"Yes, he can."
In lines 707 ff he adds:

I now reascend from the sea depths,
and from those black, gloomy gulfs
the beautiful Truth, who is brighter than
any gem boasted by Arabia or India,
the beautiful Truth, who seemed to lie
there underwater, I bring to light, . . .