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English translation of the text of C. Monteverdi’s madrigal Ohime ch’io cado (1624)

October 30, 2007

Ohimé ch`io cado

Alas for me, I tumble down, alas for me,
my foot slips again
just as it did before.
and my lost
and withering hope
must I
once again water
with fresh tears.

Of this old passion
I again feel
in my heart,
now that a beautiful face has broken,
as well as the loved glances
the hard enamel of these icy thoughts
with which I, the unfortunate
have armed myself.

I was fool enough to think
I should have a sure shield
against the naked archer.
and yet I who am so warrior-like,
what a coward I am
I will not endure
the enticing blow
of a single glance.

O immortal champion
I am angry how so weak
You are fleeing;
like an enchanted man who has lost his way
in glass armour, you have led me
disloyal one against a sword
made of hard diamond.

How powerfully punishes
tyrannous love the daring
of a rebellious soul,
a kind word. a serene face, a charming wonderment
can tie again
a liberated heart.

Eyes, beauteous eyes if for you
virtue has always been fair,
and mercy true
Oh, do not deny me
the glance and the laughter;
so that my prison
on such a beautiful ground
should become a paradise.

trans. Maria Steiner
CD booklet, Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Madrigals
Hungaroton 1988 HCD 12952

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. fran permalink
    October 19, 2009 6:52 pm

    wonderful translation! I am Italian and I wouldn’t be able to write such a good translation into modern italian, let alone into English. thanks for publishing it here.
    ‘Alma rubella’ into ‘ rebellious soul’ must be a stroke of genius. I would have thought rubella would translate into ‘shy’ (rubella = red). thanks

  2. Veronique permalink
    December 1, 2009 8:37 pm

    Ohh, thank you so much! It really helped me out. The thing about this madrigal is that’s even nicer to sing it than just listening to it. I’ve studied Latin for a few years now, and that combined with your translation really helped me to understand the poem. Thanks so much again!

    • December 2, 2009 7:45 am

      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found the post helpful. However, the translation isn’t mine, I’ve just posted it.

  3. Coin permalink
    February 20, 2012 5:16 am

    fran you I agree with you. Rubella means “red” in rappresentation of shyness. good translation.

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