Sí è debile il filo a cui s'attene (Bartolomeo Tromboncino)

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  • (Posted 2021-09-25)  CPDL #65877:    (four-part) (Solo-voice, lute)    
Editor: Andreas Stenberg (submitted 2021-09-25).   Score information: A4 (landscape), 24 pages, 1.68 MB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: A double edition: diplomatic and practical scores of four-part setting. Diplomatic- (Italian tablature), semi-diplomatic (French tablature) and raw transcript of solo-voice and lute arrangement by F. Bossinensis. MXL file contains practical edition only.

General Information

Title: Sí è debile il filo a cui s’attene
Composer: Bartolomeo Tromboncino
Lyricist: Francesco Petrarca
Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularMadrigal

Language: Italian
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1507 in Frottole libro 7, no. 15, p. 14
    2nd published: 1509 in Tenori e contrabassi intabulati col sopran, libro primo (Francisco Bossinensis), no. 5
    3rd published: 1510 in Canzoni nove con alcune scelte ... (Antico), no. 34
Description: A frottola.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Italian.png Italian text

Francesco Petrarca: Canzone No. 37 in vita Madonna Laura (stanzas 1-2)

Sí è debile il filo a cui s’attene
la gravosa mia vita
che, s’altri non l’aita,
ella fia tosto di suo corso a riva;
però che dopo l’empia dipartita5
che dal dolce mio bene
feci, sol una spene
è stato infin a qui cagion ch’io viva,
dicendo: Perché priva
sia de l’amata vista,10
mantienti, anima trista;
che sai s’a miglior tempo ancho ritorni
et a piú lieti giorni,
o se ’l perduto ben mai si racquista?
Questa speranza mi sostenne un tempo:15
or vien mancando, et troppo in lei m’attempo.

Il tempo passa, et l’ore son sí pronte
a fornire il vïaggio,
ch’assai spacio non aggio
pur a pensar com’io corro a la morte:20
a pena spunta in orïente un raggio
di sol, ch’a l’altro monte
de l’adverso orizonte
giunto il vedrai per vie lunghe et distorte.
Le vite son sí corte,25
sí gravi i corpi et frali
degli uomini mortali,
che quando io mi ritrovo dal bel viso
cotanto esser diviso,
col desio non possendo mover l’ali,30
poco m’avanza del conforto usato,
né so quant’io mi viva in questo stato.

English.png English translation

By S.A.Kline

The thread on which my heavy life hangs
is worn so thin,
that if no one supports it
it will soon have arrived at its end:
for after I had suffered the cruel parting
from my sweet good
only one hope
remained that gave reason for living,
saying: ‘Since you are deprived
of the beloved sight,
endure, sad spirit:
Who knows if better times will not return
and more joyful days,
and the good you have lost be regained?
This hope sustained me for a time:
but now it fails I spend too much time on it.

Time passes and the hours are so quick
to complete their journey,
that I have no space
even to think how I race towards death.
A ray of sunlight has hardly appeared
in the east before you see it strike a high peak
on the opposite horizon,
by a long curving path.
Life is so short,
the bodies of mortal men
so burdensome and weak,
that when I recall how I am separated
from that lovely face,
unable to move the wings of my desire,
my usual solace is of little help,
and how long can I live in such a state.

Translation is © Copyright 2002 A. S. Kline, All Rights Reserved
The translation may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.