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Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo Libretto
English Translation

Prologue

 
Chorus
O Lord holy, and true,
that of the world has command:
O Lord holy, and strong,
tamer of death,
giver of life;
supreme infinite goodness:
to you Lord, to you
glory, and praise be given;
to you greatest Lord, supreme and worthy,
be eternal glory, and everlasting reign.
 

Proem

 
Awareness and Prudence, Young Men,
 
Awareness
You who seem in appearance to be a sensible and prudent young man, tell me please, how does this mortal Life seem to you, that men prize so much? How do you understand it? I desire your opinion: for I too would live in a way that, when it comes to an end, I do not find myself, as happens to many, deceived by false hope.
 
Prudence
I cannot fully satisfy your desire, because my unripe years have not brought me to see much on this subject: yet as I have been able to sense from afar and through what I have learned from wise men who have examined it with perceptive eyes; it seems to me that it is a show and appearance of vanity; a fine clothing that covers the deformity of the feeble body: and a grassy meadow that hides in its green herbage the poisonous snake. And you, what would you say it was?
 
Awareness
I am still unskilled but I would say it was a narrow field but full of hard stones: a leafy wood, but full of sharp thorns: a shady hill, but full of high rocks, and, in short, a great forest, but full of forest beasts.
 
Prudence
I would call it a vale of weeping: a fountain without thoughts: a river swollen with tears: and a sea stormy with misery.
 
Awareness
I again, if I am sensible, find that this life of ours is like a bubble in the water, that suddenly disappears: like vapour in the air, that is quickly lost: and like the flower that in the hedge wilts in a moment.
 
Prudence
I liken it to an old house threatened with ruin: to a high tower built on sand: to a tree with many branches, but without roots.
 
Awareness
To me it seems a ship without a rudder: old age without a stick: a horse without a bridle: and a blind man without a guide.
 
Prudence
I compare it to order disordered: to quietness disquieted: to weariness that is useless: to health that is unhealthy: and to wealth that is poor.
 
Awareness
Say then that it is beauty deformed: honour dishonoured: ambition anxious: height precipitous: and nobility obscure.
 
Prudence
Add that it is a sack with a hole: a vessel that is empty: a mirror that is stained: and a window that is broken.
 
Awareness
Do not miss out that it is a golden hook with bait: a sharp thorn-bush that pricks: a bitter apple that disgusts: and a cup of wine that makes drunk.
 
Prudence
In fact it is a journey full of snares: a city full of discord: a kingdom divided: a principate that is a tyranny: and a pilgrimage that is troublesome.
 
Awareness
Say too that it is a castle in the air: a ship in the middle of the sea: a cloud against the sun: and a wind that passes and turns not.
 
Prudence
Agree and say that it is a dark whirlpool, where many sink: a narrow sea, where many are in danger: an ocean without harbour, where one sails at great risk.
 
 
Awareness
Consider that it is a cavern of snakes: a cave of thieves: a grotto of murderers: and a refuge of malefactors.
 
Prudence
Do you not see that it is a town square full of rumours: a winding street full of errors: and an old wall full of cracks.
 
Awareness
Call it, then, a yoke that is not pleasant: a weight that is not light: and a chain that is strong.
 
Prudence
Or really it is pitch that is daubed: mud that sticks: and dust that blinds.
 
Awareness
Surely it is a desert of sand: a wilderness that is terrible: a country uninhabited.
 
Prudence
Do you not think that it changes like the moon?
That it passes by like a courier? That it turns like a wheel?
 
Awareness
And yet it is clear that it is a city of blood: a lusting of the flesh: a pleasing of the eyes: and pride of heart.
 
Prudence
Certainly call it a love of fools: a desire of the
wicked: pleasure of the impassioned.
 
Awareness
Name it a table that is poor: a cistern that is cracked: a bed that is hard: and a chest that is empty.
 
Prudence
Liken it to a Siren that sings: to a harlot that sports: to a magician that charms.
 
Awareness
Hold it as sorrow that laughs: laughter that weeps: content that laments.
 
Prudence
And I, to tell you its name, say that it is a deceitful life: a dead life: a death that breathes:
and a Hell for the living.
 
Awareness
And I conclude that this miserable life is nothing else but a funeral procession of living bodies: a most rapid race for death: and a noble appearance for the worms.
 
Prudence
And in fact to this Worldly Life all titles can be given, and more unworthy names, that all agree are best.
 
Awareness
Now tell me, if it is so, whence does it arise that many hold it in such esteem, and enjoy it so much that they would wish never to die?
 
Prudence
This arises because sins have obscured their view, and placed a veil over their eyes so that they cannot understand the truth of things: and so taking false for true and bad for good they are deluded amid their errors: and then death comes and takes them where they find they have in their hands nothing but wind, or rather torments, and punishment.
 
Awareness
Indeed how very unhappy are men who live in this way, for they sleep soundly in mistaking such danger. O how well they would do if some time they should wake up from so mortal a lethargy!
 
Prudence
O what, O what salvation there would be for all people if they would start to consider beyond the outward appearance, the miseries and imperfections of this deceiving life! For by being too fond of its false beauties, it comes to an end (a terrible thing) and disappears in the sorrows of Hell, and in the cruel arms of death.
 
Awareness
O what happiness there would be for everyone if they rose from the senses to where Intellect is! And would see that not riches, not Pleasure, not honour content the heart in this life, but only good that is found with God: and they would discover that Time flies in the winking of an eye: and with true Counsel they would learn that this little light of life passes in a moment: that the Body with its senses always worries the Soul for love of the mire. That Paradise shines over their heads. That Hell burns under their feet. That the World deludes and deceives, and Life entices and kills. And that in fact whatever fights bravely on earth against the insults of temptations of the enemy, wins eternal and glorious crowns in Heaven.
 
Prudence
Most true. For knowledge and understanding of what is due from you is most important, depending on that sum of all things; from which it follows that some have taken this into consideration. And see that now in this place there will be represented a living and wonderful example that will show our conclusions to be true: and the same things will be seen to happen as is shown figuratively as human people, while with new and strange images they will delight, at the same time will serve as an idea in which each one will be able to see and form a picture in the heart, in which he will clearly recognise that this Life, this World, these earthly grandeurs are truly dust, smoke and shadow: and finally that there is nothing else that is firm or great but virtue, the grace of God, and the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. But see an old man comes to start the matter. Let us give place and leave.
 
 
 
Awareness
So let us do.

 

Act I

 
Scene 1
 
Time
Time, time flies,
life comes to nothing;
and already I seem to hear
the last trumpet, saying:
Come out of the grave
scattered ashes and bones;
rise, souls, again,
take now your bodies;
come and tell the truth,
if it was a better idea
to serve the vain world
or the King of Heaven above?
Let everyone hear,
open the eyes and understand
that this life is a wind,
that flies away in a moment;
today it comes,
tomorrow it dies;
today it appears,
tomorrow it disappears;
so let each one try,
while they have time,
to leave whatever is in the World,
however pleasing in itself;
and work with hands, work with the heart,
because the fruit of good works is honour.
 
 
Scene 2
 
Chorus
This mortal life,
to fly, has taken wing:
and with such hurried steps
as pursuing winds and arrows.
 
 
Quickly the day, and swiftly
runs to night: and at a stroke
summer disappears, and winter
in an instant goes to eternity.
 
Time that does not last
wears us out and limits us:
alas how in a moment
Heaven gives life and the wind takes it away!
 
But life that is short,
the wise man should not hate;
for a short time
brings us to the harbour we desire.
 
 
Scene 3
 
Intellect
Every heart loves good,
no-one wants to suffer pains:
so a thousand desires,
so a thousand sighs,
and laughter, together with grief
are felt by all.
And I that so love the good,
from the depth of my heart call,
alas, who can satisfy
these eager wishes of mine?
Riches? No, no,
they cannot satisfy me:
honour? But what does it give me
if it makes me want more?
Pleasure? But what does it delight me.
if it gives me new thirst?
One thing I should wish,
that alone can satisfy my feelings:
I should wish in my heart
to have that good that holds all other in itself:

 

Act II

 
Scene 1
 
Chorus
Bless the Lord for he is good.
 
 
Scene 2
 
Counsel
Our life on earth
is no other than war:
for harsh enemies are round us
night and day:
and with art and deceit
they often make us fall:
the World makes itself fair
with glass and tinsel:
the flesh with bad works
covers the worms within:
and this life still
gilds its ashes.
So let the one chosen as a soldier
arm his brow and breast;
take the mail-coat of faith,
and come to the battle
for every man, who has given himself to God
must needs be tempted:
but happy he who grapples
with his enemy and wins,
for his prize will be
in Heaven a sceptre and crown.
 
 
Scene 3
 
Chorus
O what great errors and darkness
cast shadow on human minds!
O in what great abysses lie
hearts ever deluded!
 
Why through mud, and dust
does man’s heart so eagerly
go in search of joy,
that Heaven only holds?
 
See, O desirous minds,
the limpid springs of Heaven
and leave the most impure World’s
muddy waters.
 
What enchantment, what fascination
attacks and holds the heart,
that it takes poison for food
and gives death to the soul?
 
 
Scene 4 – Pleasure, with Two Companions, Body, and Soul
 
Pleasure
He who wants joy, who desires
to taste jests and pleasure
while time calls.
Come, come and enjoy,
cast aside your troubles.
Run and be joyful with us.
 
The little birds
sing on the trees:
the simple fish
dart through the streams,
and invite to pleasure
with many things.
 
The grassy meadows laugh
that have coloured clothing;
the woods and shady groves
are happy and make festival:
every flowered hill
invites to merriment.
 
Body
To these sounds and songs,
Soul, I feel myself moved
like a leaf in the wind.
 
Soul
How do you so quickly change?
Be strong and do not fear,
this is false pleasure.
 
Pleasure, and companions
O songs, O laughter, O pleasant loves,
fresh waters, soft meadows, serene breezes,
pleasing harmonies, that delight hearts,
banquets, suppers and tasty dinners,
fair clothing, and delightful scents,
triumphs and festival full of merriment,
delight, taste, joy and pleasure,
blessed the soul that can enjoy them.
 
Soul
I do not believe it, no, no!
I know your deceits:
all your things
that look delightful
in the end are all bitter.
Blessed the soul that knows how to do without.
 
Pleasure, and companions
Chase away the thoughts
so disturbed, sad and black.
Open, open your breast
to pleasure and to delight.
Open, open your heart
 to joy and to love,
sweet delight
that makes glad the breast,
tender ardour
that makes the heart rejoice.
 
Soul
Away, away, false Sirens,
full of fraud and deceits,
the end of your singing
is always full of weeping:
every delight is short:
but the following affliction never ends.
 
Pleasure, and companions
Since it is not pleasing to you
our cheerful company,
we shall take our way
where others may desire:
for to have content
they will come in hundreds.
 
 
Scene 5 – Body, and Soul, and Heaven’s Reply
 
Body
I do not know if it was good
to leave aside such pleasure as the World holds.
 
Soul
I will ask Heaven
which never hides the truth.
We shall see what it answers.
Does the wise man love worldly pleasure, or flee?
 
(Reply: Flee)
 
What thing is the man who seeks and seeks in vain?
 
(Reply: Vain)
 
Who gives death to the heart with displeasure?
 
(Reply: Pleasure)
 
How does he obtain life who life does love?
 
(Reply: Love)
 
Love of the world’s beauties, or of God?
 
(Reply: God)
 
Then he will die who desires pleasure, truly?
 
(Reply: Truly)
 
Now what Heaven has said
see, I put together for you,
flee vain pleasure, love God truly.
 
 
Scene 6 – Guardian Angel, Soul, Body, and Chorus
 
Guardian Angel
Strongest warriors,
who have proud enemies
chased away,
the Lord has sent me here
that in every brave enterprise
your heart will be comforted.
Another fight remains for you
wearying and troublesome,
but do not for a moment fear,
for I have joined you here.
And in every strange event
I will hold out to you my hand.
 
Chorus
Some tame the proud,
some triumph over haughty people,
but above every warrior
is the brave man who conquers his flattering senses.
 
 
Scene 7 – World, and Worldly Life, Body and Soul, Guardian Angel, Chorus
 
World
I am, I am the World,
that abounds in grandeur:
and my wonderful arm
in every part I stretch:
mine are all treasures,
all silver and gold.
Great riches,
famous things of beauty,
worthy princedoms,
powerful kingdoms:
to him who would serve me
and come where I want,
with much delight for him,
I promise great things.
 
Body
Soul, I hear great things,
if World is telling the truth,
I would change my mind.
 
Soul
I too am thinking
if together I could
serve the World and God.
 
Guardian Angel
You cannot have two hearts
and serve two Lords,
for one rules in one way,
the other has opposite laws;
serve only
the powerful Lord God.
 
World
What the earth has,
what the sea girdles and holds,
and where Heaven stretches,
all is under me:
I bring together all in my bosom
and I give it to whom I want.
 
Worldly Life
I am dear life
so pleasing to you.
Fair, lovely and charming,
cheerful, and confident,
that give readily
whatever I have of what is fair and good:
if you want to serve
the World that you see,
I will give you with love
the flower of my life.
I will give you long days,
and with cheerfulness:
do you stand waiting
when years run by?
When the hair grows white
and life is over?
 
Guardian Angel
Whoever attends well, it is not
all gold that glitters:
serve now
God, while it is allowed you:
for tomorrow, who knows
what will happen to you?
Soul, to the ardent enemy
answer with ardour.
 
Soul
I who bear with me
the image of the King,
I, made with honour,
like my Maker,
what have I to do with the World,
that passes, and falls to the bottom?
 
World
Look at my aspect,
I give what I promise:
 take present good,
live cheerfully.
 
Soul
I that am spirit, and mind,
that last eternally,
what have I to do with life
that soon is gone?
 
World
You would do well
if you argued no more.
 
Guardian Angel
This wicked ingrate
is covered in mud!
This false and lascivious creature
is death, that seems alive!
Now come, and see the World
and what life and the World is.
Strip this wicked one and see
what your heart does not believe.
 
Body
Take off this guise,
I want to see you.
 
World
Alas, the angelic strength
how does it act with force upon me?
 
Body
O how the world is
all poor and ugly!
I know you well by these rags,
no more, no more again do you deceive me.
 
Chorus
O wretched lovers,
who to the World give your hearts,
see how vile
is that which seemed to you fine:
and how sad the fate
to embrace what leads to death.
 
Guardian Angel
Strip that one too.
 
Worldly Life
Ah me, I would not have that.
 
Body
Alas, wretched fate!
Then is life death?
Then is human life
death reclothed?
 
Guardian Angel
Now you have discovered
deception covered over,
with contemptuous hand
chase her far away.
 
Soul, and Body together
Away, away, deceiving World,
away, away, fleeting Life,
go and find fools
whose eyes are dazzled:
O what cloud and shadow
obstructs mortal eyes!
 
 
Scene 8 - Guardian Angel, Soul and Body: and Angels in Heaven, that opens.
 
Guardian Angel
To the brave conqueror
honour is due,
honour that is prepared
in Heaven, that makes him blessed:
so now from the earth
that you have conquered in war
turn your heart and regard,
and direct your steps to Paradise.
 
Angels in Heaven, that opens
Come, beloved, to Heaven,
come blessed ones,
for these fair abodes
were made for you above the stars:
leave aside now the earth
where there is perpetual war:
leap up to Heaven in glorious flight,
where is peace and repose,
where without any veil
is seen the King of Heaven.
 
 
Scene 9 - Chorus
 
One of the  Chorus
After brief toils
to be able from cold and ice
to leap up blessed, to Heaven,
to the everlasting honours
from the World, full of evils,
is the possible lot of mortals.
 
Chorus
Is the possible lot of mortals.
 
Two of the Chorus  
After trials
man, frail and beggared
but a friend to virtue
to be able to leap up on high, where
there are immortal riches
is the possible lot of mortals.
 
Chorus
From earthly abysses,
Where death reigns,
To be able to leap up, perchance,
To the highest eternal kingdoms
That have no other equals,
Is the possible lot of mortals.
To love eternal good,
To leap up to Heaven above,
To flee the evils of the World
Is the possible fate of mortals

 

Act III

 
Scene 1
 
Sinfonia
 
Intellect
Leap up then to Heaven,
for in Heaven God is seen,
the heart’s rich reward.
 
Counsel
Then flee Hell,
where every evil dwells,
where is the immortal worm.
 
Intellect
Leap up then to Heaven,
where songs are heard
of the angels and of the saints.
 
Counsel
Then flee Hell,
where the voices are heard
of the cruel angels.
 
Chorus
The helmsman avoids the destructive
proud storm of the sea,
but rather must one avoid
the scorn and anger of Heaven.
 
Intellect
In Heaven there is always cheerfulness,
in Heaven there is always light,
that shines eternally.
 
Counsel
Hell is fear,
Hell is sorrow,
darkness, and horror.
 
Intellect
In Heaven are riches,
in Heaven are treasures
and everlasting honours.
 
Counsel
In Hell always
there is misery and shame,
disgrace and poverty.
 
Intellect
In Heaven are palaces
made of stones of gold,
wonderfully wrought.
 
Chorus
Some seek out always
precious gems:
but rather they should seek out
the rare gems of Heaven.
 
Counsel
Hell holds
caves and grottos
where night dwells.
 
Intellect
In Heaven is spring,
that
Paradise flowers
and perfumes eternally.
 
Counsel
In the depth is winter,
the foulness and stench
of abominable odour.
 
 
Scene 2 – Counsel, Damned Souls, and the Mouth of Hell opens.
Intellect, Soul, and Body
 
Counsel
You that are below,
what torments you more?
What is it in Hell?
 
Damned Souls
The fire, the eternal fire,
cruel, cruel sin,
for which has condemned us
the judge on high
to fire, to eternal fire.
 
 
Scene 3 – Intellect, Blessed Souls in Heaven, which opens, and Hell which closes.
Counsel, Soul, and Body.
 
Intellect
Souls who rejoice in Heaven,
which prize in Heaven do you hold
the nobler and more worthy?
 
Blessed Souls
Eternal, eternal reign:
O reign, reign eternal:
O highest good above,
that never misses its mark:
eternal, eternal reign.
 
Soul, Intellect, Counsel, Body, together. Heaven is open.
O great wonder!
O grave error!
That mortal man
of such evil
that lasts for ever
takes so little care!
 
O great wonder!
O grave error!
That mortal man
for the immortal reign
that lasts eternally
foolishly takes no care!
 
 
Scene 4 – Counsel, Damned Souls, and Hell opens again.
Intellect, Soul, Body, and Heaven open
 
Counsel
Unlucky souls,
raise your proud voices
what fate has been yours?
 
Damned Souls
Eternal, eternal death.
Alas! That is our lot:
death that never dies
buried in sorrow.
Harsh, painful and strong,
eternal, eternal death.
 
 
Scene 5 – Intellect, Blessed Souls, in Heaven open: Chorus, Soul, and Body:
Hell closes again
 
Intellect
Souls blessed and fair,
up there above the stars,
what is it that pleases you most?
 
Blessed Souls
Eternal, eternal life:
life that lives and reigns,
sweet, celestial and worthy,
always, always pleasing.
Eternal, eternal life.
 
Chorus
O great wonder!
O grave error!
That mortal man
for such evil
that lasts for ever
takes so little care!
 
O great wonder!
O grave error!
That mortal man
for the immortal reign
that lasts for ever
takes no care!
 
 
Scene 6 - Counsel, Damned Souls, and Hell opens.
Intellect, Soul, Body, and Heaven open
 
Counsel
Souls, the pain and loss
that so afflicts you,
must it never end?
 
Damned Souls
Never, never, never.
O everlasting woe
that never ends!
Never, never, never.
 
 
Scene 7 – Intellect, Blessed Souls, Hell closes again.
Counsel, Soul, and Body
 
Intellect
Souls, will your glory
in eternal memory
last for ever?
 
Blessed Souls
Yes, for ever, for ever, for ever.
It will last for ever
and will never end:
and perpetually enduring
will last for ever, for ever.
 
Intellect, Counsel, Soul, Body, together
Let each one always do right
for death hurries on:
love God, who is the Lord,
flee the deceiving World;
and when you have erred
for your sin
with pure faith
seek your payment:
Do good works and amend your life,
for on only a moment the Eternal hangs.
 
Soul and Body together
As the thirsting hart
runs to the desired fountain,
so we desire and long
to rise to Heaven with you on that steep way
and praise the great Lord.
 
 
Scene 8 - Angels, and Blessed Souls in Heaven:
 
Soul, Body, Intellect, and Counsel all together
Glory be to God on high
who lives for ever:
to the high and great Lord
be everlasting honour.
 
Blessed Souls, and Angels
Let us all all the world
and with happy song
let us sing, let us sing in joy
God’s praises and glorious deeds.
 
 
Scene 9 – Blessed Souls, Angels, Soul, Body, Intellect, Counsel, Chorus and the
whole multitude together.
O Lord holy, and true
that of the world has command:
O Lord holy, and strong,
tamer of death, giver of life;
supreme infinite goodness:
to you Lord, to you
glory, and praise be given;
to you greatest Lord,
supreme and worthy,
be eternal glory, and everlasting reign.
 
Intellect
You who are listening,
why do you not rejoice?
No longer, no longer pensive:
all happy and joyful.
With festivity let us rejoice,
let us sing in rejoicing,
flee far from grief:
festivity, festivity for all.
 
The whole multitude together
Thanks, hymns, praises and rejoicing of love
sings the tongue and answers the heart.
 
Soul
Let every tongue every heart
give praise to my Lord
who raises poor souls
from earth to the stars.
I beg you, beloved souls,
choose to do good.
As from the angry snake,
flee from sin:
and return happy to your dwellings,
and with you carry
this my record:
that he who serves God shall have the eternal kingdom.
 
Chorus
Let everyone take it, take it to heart,
that hours are quick to fly:
and everyone must leave aside
all good that is of the world.
In this the fleeting world deceives us
for every good comes from God:
and for holy and good works
there come in answer in Heaven sceptres and crowns.
 
 
FESTIVITY
The whole multitude together
Highest starry cloisters,
where the blessed dwell,
moon, sun, shining stars,
make in Heaven sweet music;
let all the world be full
of cheerfulness and harmony.
 
Ritornello

 
King of the world and great lords
rejoice with choruses,
each sex, every age,
women and men, sing
with boys and girls
cheerful, fair songs.
 
Ritornello

 
With harps, lyres, organs and trumpets,
let the air and earth and sea resound,
the graceful breezes, the joyful sound
carry away through the whole world
and playing let the heart
feel the joys of love.
 
Ritornello

 
You who faithfully love God,
just people, holy men,
give eternal thanks to God,
scatter lilies and roses together,
and with lilies and with roses,
eternal and glorious praises.
 
Ritornello

 
You celestial hierarchies
make new melodies:
lo another new star
all bright, all fair
flies splendid to Heaven,
for it shines eternally.
 
Ritornello

 
Join together good angels,
join together in songs and music:
and here below earth still,
happy the while, bears flowers,
with song and with laughter
rejoice in answer to Paradise.
 
PRAISE TO GOD