Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



The secret lover

I’d rather die
than have my woes revealed.
Oh, the deadly disgrace!
The more my eyes admire her beautiful face
the more I shut my mouth and hide my desire;
an illness is hushed up if there’s no cure.
All that can been seen is a hapless man
and death coming from so beautiful a sky.
Often I gaze on my beautiful woman
and she gives me a pitying look,
almost as if to say:
"Reveal yourself, you martyr",
she knows how I suffer and burn with love.

But I’d rather die
than have my woes revealed.

When a cold frost comes
the grass bows down its languid head,
but when the sun appears
it grows lush and verdant over the ground:
so I, if fear freezes my heart,
gain strength when she appears.

But I’d rather die
than have my woes revealed.

Ah, throw down your mighty bow and arrows,
Cupid, and stop shooting me!
If not for my sake
do it for your own honour, proud god,
because there’s no glory for a valiant warrior
in killing one who is already close to death.

English translation by Paul Archer of the text of L'amante segreto
by Barbara Strozzi (active 1619-1677).

L’amante segreto

Voglio, voglio morire,
piuttosto ch'il mio mal venga a scoprire.
Oh, disgrazia fatale!
Quanto più miran gl'occhi il suo bel volto
più tien la bocca il mio desir sepolto;
chi rimedio non ha taccia il suo male.
Non resti di mirar chi non ha sorte,
né può da sì bel ciel venir la morte.
La bella donna mia sovente miro
ed ella a me volge pietoso il guardo,
quasi che voglia dire:
"Palesa il tuo martire"
ché ben s'accorge che mi struggo e ardo.

Ma io voglio morire
piuttosto ch'il mio mal venga a scoprire.

L'erbetta, ch'al cader di fredda brina
languida il capo inchina,
all'apparir del sole
lieta verdeggia più di quel che suole:
tal io, s'alcun timor mi gela il core,
all'apparir di lei prendo vigore.

Ma io voglio morire
piuttosto ch'il mio mal venga a scoprire.

Deh, getta l'arco poderoso e l'armi,
Amor, e lascia omai di saettarmi!
Se non per amor mio
fallo per onor tuo, superbo dio,
perché gloria non è d'un guerrier forte
uccider un che sta vicino a morte.

Copyright notice. The translation is provided as an aid to musicians and audiences. Publication of the translation in print or digital formats is expressly forbidden unless permission from the author has been first obtained and acknowledgement of authorship is duly made. Permission will usually be granted so please contact Paul Archer with details of how you wish to make use of the translation.

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Translations of early music texts.

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