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The little cicada sings

The little cicada sings
When the sun is at its most searing
And dies singing, not feeling its heat.

I sing, and I live,
And yet feel in my heart
A greater heat than he.
My fate would have it so,
If I could die singing,
O how happy I would be.

Orpheus can move wicked Hell;
He weeps, he implores, he sighs,
And beseeches pity with the sound of his lyre.

I weep and implore
A heartless fair lady
Too resistant to loving me.
My fate would have it so,
If I could die singing,
O how happy I would be.

English translation by Paul Archer of the text of Canta la cicaletta by Stefano Landi (1587-1639). See the copyright notice below.

Canta la cicaletta

Canta la cicaletta
Quand'è 'l Sol più cocente,
E si more cantando e non lo sente.

Io canto, e vivo,
E pur sento nel core
Di lei caldo maggiore.
Così vuole il mio fato,
S'io morissi cantando,
O me beato.

Muove Orfeo l'empia Dite;
Piange, prega e sospira
Et impetra pietate al suon di lira.

Io piango e prego
Una crudele e bella,
D'amor troppo rubella.
Così vuole il mio fato,
S'io morissi cantando,
O me beato.

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.

For more translations into English of early music texts, go to:
Translations of early music texts.

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