Monday, February 07, 2011

Ship of State

My galley, chargèd with forgetfulness
Thomas Wyatt

My galley, chargèd with forgetfulness,
Thorough sharp seas in winter nights doth pass
'Tween rock and rock; and eke mine en'my, alas,
That is my lord, steereth with cruelness;
And every owre a thought in readiness,
As though that death were light in such a case.
An endless wind doth tear the sail apace
Of forced sighs and trusty fearfulness.
A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain,
Hath done the weared cords great hinderance;
Wreathèd with error and eke with ignorance.
The stars be hid that led me to this pain;
Drownèd is Reason that should me comfort,
And I remain despairing of the port.

Wyatt's poem is a translated version of Petrarch's Canzionere 189:

Passa la nave mia colma d'oblio
per aspro mare, a mezza notte il verno,
enfra Scilla et Caribdi; et al governo
siede 'l signore, anzi 'l nimico mio.

A ciascun remo un penser pronto et rio
che la tempesta e 'l fin par ch'abbi a scherno;
la vela rompe un vento humido eterno
di sospir', di speranze, et di desio.

Pioggia di lagrimar, nebbia di sdegni
bagna et rallenta le già stanche sarte,
che son d'error con ignorantia attorto.

Celansi i duo mei dolci usati segni;
morta fra l'onde è la ragion et l'arte,
tal ch'incomincio a desperar del porto.

Which is a reworking of Horace (Odes, Book I, Ode 14):

O nauis, referent in mare te noui
fluctus. O quid agis? Fortiter occupa
portum. Nonne uides ut
nudum remigio latus,

et malus celeri saucius Africo 5
antemnaque gemant ac sine funibus
uix durare carinae
possint imperiosius

aequor? Non tibi sunt integra lintea,
non di, quos iterum pressa uoces malo.
Quamuis Pontica pinus,
siluae filia nobilis,

iactes et genus et nomen inutile:
nil pictis timidus nauita puppibus
fidit. Tu, nisi uentis
debes ludibrium, caue.

Nuper sollicitum quae mihi taedium,
nunc desiderium curaque non leuis,
interfusa nitentis
uites aequora Cycladas.

All three are very critical of the navigators of the ship of state: Horace laments the ship itself, begging it to find harbor and get repairs, while Petrarch and Wyatt despair as sailors.

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