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Passan vostri triomphi e vostre pompe,
Passan le signorie, passano i regni;
Ogni cosa mortal temp’interrompe;
E ritolta a men buon, non da à piu degni:
E non pur quel di fuor il tempo solve,
Ma le vostr’eloquentie e i vostri ingegni.
Cosi fuggend’, il mondo seco volve;
Ne mai si posa ne s’arest’ o torna,
Fin che v’ha ricondotti in poca polve.
Your triumphs and your pomp transpire,
The nobility passes and kingdoms crumble,
Time brings low all mortal things;
And what he reaps from those less good, he does not pass to those more worthy:
And not only the superficial things are laid waste by time,
But also your eloquence and works of genius.
Thus sped along, the world moves with him;
He takes no time to rest; neither does he stop nor turn from his appointed course,
Until in the end he has transformed you back to your essence: a bit of dust.
–Francesco Petrarca, Trionfo del Tempo (The Triumph of Time), v. 112-120 (S.H. transl.) (ca. 1352)
Listen to Orlando di Lasso’s setting of Petrarcha’s Passan vostri triomphi e vostre pompe (Your triumphs and pomp transpire) from Trionfo del Tempo (vv. 112-120) as a madrigal for 11 voices, a masterpiece of the late polyphonic tradition, here in a purely instrumental performance.
And listen here for a vocal performance by the Orlando di Lasso Ensemble.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”