Lady Summerisle (strange_complex) wrote in linguaphiles,
Lady Summerisle

Help needed with Renaissance Italian

Hi all! I am wondering if there is anyone out there who can help me with the lyrics of a Palestrina madrigal which I am trying to translate. I am competent to a roughly intermediate level in modern Italian, but several of the words and constructions used in this madrigal don't seem to have survived into the modern language, so my dictionary can't help and I've reached an impasse with it.

The Italian lyrics are as follows:

La cruda mia nemica
Del mio dolor si pasce
E si nutrica:
Perchè tal’hor sì pia
La veggio al mio languire
Che parmi udirla dire:
Spera ch’in breve finirà il tormento.
E poscia in un momento
Veggendomi contento
Mi si mostra sì ria
Ch’ancide il fior de la speranza mia;
Ond’è forza ch’io dica:
La cruda mia nemica
Del mio dolor si pasce
E si nutrica.

And my attempt to translate them into English looks like this so far:

My cruel enemy
Grazes on my pain
And feeds herself:
Because such ???? [piare = chirp?]
I see her to my to languish (???)
Which ??? me to hear her say (???)
Hope that soon the torment will finish.
And then in a moment
Seeing me content
She shows me how she laughs (?)
Which kills the flower of my hope;
So that it is [by?] force that I say:
My cruel enemy
Grazes on my pain
And feeds herself.

I copied the Italian lyrics from a printed score, which can be seen on p. 63 of this iPaper. It's possible I've made errors with things like accents and spellings in the transcription, but I double-checked everything pretty hard. In particular, the 'sì' in the phrases 'sì pia' and 'sì ria' very definitely does have a down-accent on the i, suggesting that it is not a pronoun or an 'if', but some form of 'yes'-type word. In fact, I Googled for similar phrases, and came up with a 16th-century poem by somebody called Tansillo that begins "D'invidia e D'amor Figlia sì Ria". But alas there was no translation of it, so I still don't know what to do with that construction.

As for the rest, I'm happy enough with the first three lines and most of the second half, but lines 4 to 6 ('Perchè...' to '...dire:') are the bit I've really got stuck with. Most of what I've put in my 'translation' there is little more than my attempts to parse each individual word - I can't get any overall sense out of these lines at all. The final translation doesn't need to be particularly polished or poetic or anything - I just want something fairly literal which will help me understand the madrigal.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!

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