TEMPRO LA CETRA ... I TUNE THE ZITHER ...
Giambattista Marino trans. Brian Cole
Tempro la cetra, e per cantar gli onori
di Marte alzo talor lo stil e i carmi.
Ma invan la tento e impossibil parmi
ch'ella già mai risoni altro ch'amore.

Così pur tra l'arene e pur tra' fiori
note amorose Amor torna a dettarmi,
né vuol ch'io prend' ancora a cantar d'armi,
se non di quelle, ond'egli impiaga i cori.

Or umil plettro a i rozzi accenti indegni,
Musa, qual dianzi, accorda, in fin ch'al canto
de la tromba sublime il Ciel ti degni.

Riede a i teneri scherzi, e dolce intanto
lo Dio guerrier, temprando i feri sdegni,
in grembo a Citerea dorma al tuo canto.
I tune the zither, and to sing the praise
of Mars at times the style of the songs I raise.
But in vain I try, I cannot rise above,
and it will never sound except for love.

In this way on the sands and 'mid the blooms
Amor dictates to me only amorous tunes,
he does not wish me to sing of other arms
than those with which his target hearts he harms.

With your humble plectrum, stranger to rough noise,
O Muse, tune up your music as before,
let Heaven adorn you with the trumpet's voice.

Begin with delicate notes, so that the God of War
in Aphrodite's lap his sleep enjoys,
lulled by your song, having tamed the blaring horn.


Click here for a German translation by Bertram Kottmann.



Trans. copyright © Brian Cole 2007

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