Tirsi morir volea

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General information

One of Guarini's poems (Madrigali 151), the erotic Tirsi morir volea, recounting the amorous encounter of a shepherd and a nymph, was set to music as a madrigal more often than any other pastoral poem of the era. The ensembles singing the madrigals of that time consisted of noble men and women or educated burghers. In particular in the Ferrarese and Mantuan courts Guarini's poem was immediately set to music, which created a hype that not many composers could resist. The other famous poet at the Ferrarese court Torquato Tasso could not resist making his own version of this very popular theme (Rime per Lucretia Bendidio 378), which was set to music by a.o Luca Marenzio: Nel dolce seno.

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Text and translations

Italian.png Italian text

Tirsi morir volea,
Gl'occhi mirando di colei ch'adora;
Quand'ella, che di lui non meno ardea,
Gli disse: "Ahimè, ben mio,
Deh, non morir ancora,
Che teco bramo di morir anch'io."
Frenò Tirsi il desio,
Ch'ebbe di pur sua vit'allor finire;
E sentea morte,e non poter morire.
E mentr'il guardo suo fisso tenea
Ne' begl'occhi divini
E'l nettare amoroso indi bevea,
La bella Ninfa sua, che già vicini
Sentea i messi d'Amore,
Disse, con occhi languidi e tremanti:
"Mori, cor mio, ch'io moro."
Cui rispose il Pastore:
"Ed io, mia vita, moro."

Cosi moriro i fortunati amanti
Di morte si soave e si gradita,
Che per anco morir tornaro in vita.

English.png English translation

Thyrsis desired death,
looking into the eyes of the girl he adored,
when she, who burned no less for him,
said to him, "Alas, my dear,
oh, do not die yet,
for I desire to die with you."
Thyrsis reined in his desire
to end his life alone;
but he felt death in not being able to die.
And while he kept his gaze fixed on those
beautiful divine eyes
and drank the amorous nectar,
his beautiful nymph, who felt
love's beckonings drawing nigh,
said with languid and trembling eyes,
"Die, my heart, for I die."
The shepherd answered her,
"And I, my life, die."

So the fortunate lovers died so sweet and
welcome a death,
that they returned to life to die again.

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