Sei sonetti alchemici da un codice della Biblioteca LaurenzianaTranscribed by Massimo Marra, with English versions by Carlo Borriello.
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SEI SONETTI ALCHEMICI DA UN CODICE DELLA BIBLIOTECA LAURENZIANA
The following six medieval sonnets, taken from Codex Riccardianus N. 946 available in the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence, were published for the first time in 1930 in a pamphlet edited by M. Mazzoni, bearing the title Sonetti Alchemici - Ermetici di Frate Elia e Cecco D’Ascoli, published by Società Editrice Toscana.
Voi pellegrini che andate in romitaso
ENGLISH:O ye pilgrims
going to hermitage,
in search of the excellent science,
your servant travels with it:
she looks like a white monk
to the unheeding ones.
But the King of the universal space,
he dresses his folk with golden drapes
and, mad and wise, he fought against it;
he makes his sergeant angrily white
and he is so good to the one killing him
that he lightens the dark house and,
with sadness, he makes him young again.
The man who does this is very bold: like
the one in the fourth circle of the hell,
martyr under the soil.
Io son la vera luce a diradare
ENGLISH:I am the true light of the supreme alchemy,
I dissipate the darkness
engulfing unrefined souls,
I am the one that truly
shows what men can do with the art.
I am the one that takes out
from poverty and restraints
the men who want to use me.
with the art, the rule and the way,
with its righteous aim, with his cooking,
I dissolve the body, then I remake it,
free from its matter, and then I model it,
always bearing in mind the poisonous purpose.
I take out from its matter and I give form
coagulating with fire and with rule.
If you understood well what I’ve just explained to you,
you would never forget it.
- 3 - Geber
Quest’è la pietra magna benedetta
ENGLISH:This is the great, blessed stone
about which spoke Hermes and Gratianus,
Elit, Rosir, Pandolphus and Hortolanus,
and Pythagoras with all his sect.
It does not give in to neither kindness,
nor beauty, nor human being;
if a men waits for its grace,
he doth hope in vain.
This special grace, coming from God,
is: eating simple food and leading a simple life,
because it dwells in a little house.
O you looking at the painted symbol,
stay happy and content yourself to know
how far your arrow can go.
Be happy in God’s love,
and do not try to know what you have not to know !
Questa è la pietra che si va cercando
ENGLISH:This is the stone
the alchemists are looking for,
following every path;
but only the ones with a sincere soul,
not the sophistic ones.
I want to ban the latter,
because they are all deceivers
and they do not know their mistakes;
setting traps, they go everywhere.
Using sulphur and mercury, I practise the art
every time I want.
And with the arsenic, the third,
soaking them with the harmoniac salt,
I will make them one,
making them rot and then calcining them.
And lo! A body creates itself: the perfect elixir;
I speak the truth, God be blessed!
- 5 -
O alchimisti ingrati, incredula gente
ENGLISH:O ye ungrateful alchemists, more doubtful
than Thomas, you use sophisms but nobody
believes in the truth you are showing,
even if it is before you.
Bring your mind to the heart, because, as Christ says,
more blessed will be the one who will not touch
with his finger the grievous wound.
This is the stone so shining
about wich spoke the great Turba,
showing itself to the wise.
Surely the pretty Rose deals
with the writings of that companion,
if speaking in an obscure manner to everyone.
Join the sun with the moon,
understand my words and
continue with our mercury.
Intendi e nota ben quel ch’io ti dico ;
ENGLISH:Understand and pay attention to what I say to you:
The soul does not join but with its body,
when it is extracted without body;
this is the truth, o dear friend!
If you join an element with its enemy,
you are striving in vain,
you waste your time,
because the other is not its brother,
and so your work is not worth a brass farthing.
But when it joins with its friend,
they unite themselves
in the lion’s womb that you know.
Then you can touch yourself under the navel
and you can say: "Of course I am a master and nobody else is worth a worm!"
This I swear: you could get the perfect Elixir and
so you could fight the Muslims.
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