ABC WEDNESDAY and we're already up to letter 'M'.
Monteverdi, who was born in the sixteenth century, wrote Madrigals. I found this translation of one of them and I have taken the liberty of versifying it. I have done this because I was conscious of the fact that there was a link between Monteverdi's words and the lyrics of modern songs bewailing lost love. I have always tended to think of shepherds as 'rough peasants' but many of them, though un-schooled, may have been very sensitive souls. I may be far off Monteverdi's mark, but I hope I've captured a little of the spirit of this old old song.
Direct Translation by Charles Marshall.
Heavy, the weight of the day.
And the beach leaves scorched and curled.
The roots dug deep in the soil
To find a watery world.
He found the shade of a pine,
Where all his sheep lay sleeping,
And he took from its sheath his knife
Which was always in his keeping.
He cut her name in the bark,
That name meaning so much to him,
But the pain of a lover-left
Almost threatened to undo him.
Deep he cut with the knife,
Till the sap ran like his tears;
He carved the words she had said
Which would torture him for years.
The day began to cool,
But white-hot remained his ardor.
The day sank like a stone,
But the stone of his heart was harder.
The night breeze cooled his cheeks
And the black of night descended.
The sheep must be taken home,
For the long sad day had ended.
The clefts from his knife in the tree
Were no longer seen with his eyes,
But his fingers traced their lines
And he wept for all sad goodbyes.