SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Voglio di vita uscir, voglio che cadano
Quest’ossa in polve e queste membra in cenere,
E che i singulti miei tra l’ombre vadano.
Già che quel piè ch’ingemma l’herbe tenere
Sempre fugge da me, ne lo tratengono
I laci, hoimè, del bel fanciul di Venere.
Vo che gl’abissi il mio cordoglio vedano,
E l’aspro mio martir le furie piangano,
E che i dannati al mio tormento cedano.
A Dio crudel, gl’orgogli tuoi rimangono
A incrudelir con gl’altri. A te rinunzio,
Ne vo più che mie speme in te si frangono.
S’apre la tomba, il mio morir t’annuntio.
Una lacrima spargi, et alfin donami
Di tua tarda pietade un solo nuntio,
E s’amando t’offesi, homai perdonami.
I wish to leave this life, I wish that
My bones would turn to powder and my limbs to ashes,
So that my cries would be lost among the shadows.
Since those feet which trod the fresh grass
Flee always from me; nor are they constrained,
Alas, by the chains of the son of Venus.
I want the depths to see my pain,
The Furies to cry for my hard suffering,
And the damned to know of my torment.
Farewell, cruel love, let your pride remain
To torment others; I renounce you,
No more will you confound my hopes.
The tomb opens up: my death draws near.
Let fall a single tear and at long last give me
A solitary sign of your belated pity,
And if my love gave you offense, forgive me!
–Anonymous 16th cen. Italian Madrigal (S.H. transl.)
The text of this madrigal was historically attributed to Claudio Monteverdi himself, but that is doubtful, and the lines clearly are a blank-verse adaptation from a famous passage in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso.
Listen to the setting by Claudio Monteverdi taken from Il Lamento d’Olimpia in two performances, first a modern one sung by Emma Kirkby and second a more traditional Baroque countertenor version sung by Marco Longhini.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
Ratio of money spent by Britons on prostitution to that spent on hairdressing:
A German scientist was testing an anti-stupidity pill.
A Twitter spokesperson conceded that a “Frat House”–themed office party “was in poor taste at best.”
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“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.”