But now rise, rise out of the depths
our speech emerge from the waves!
us look upwards, up towards the sky,
will see the shore wonderfully adorned:
salt, drawn by the waves, nearly hardens
white marble, and like deep-red stone
beautiful coral glows in the air,
formerly was soft grass underwater;
among the shells, the hard pearl
white; and on the sandy waste
the gold, and like most precious gems
stones are painted in many colors.
--Torquato Tasso, Creation of the World, Day Five, 652-663
Sunday, March 27, 2016
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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?
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.
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.
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?
"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, . . .
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