In the night of the tomb, thou who consoled me, Give me back Mount Posilipo and the Italian sea, The flower which pleased so my desolate heart, And the trellis where the grape vine unites with the rose.
Duncan's "the black sun of the Melencolia" follows Nerval's emphases in "le Soleil noir de la Melancolie," while Blaser's "a melancholy black sun" is both less specific and more "ordinary." Similarly, Duncan offers a literal translation of "tombeau" in the fifth line as "tomb, " whereas Blaser renders it as "death." In the sixth line, Duncan reproduces "le Pausilippe et la mer d'Italie" as "Mount Posilipo and the Italian Sea," in contrast to Blaser's "the high hill above the Mediterranean." Duncan also maintains the entire set of mythical and historical allusions contained in the opposing pairs of Amor and Phoebus, Lusignan and Biron.
name Posilipo that was so important to Nerval and the term the Sea?
Altogether more sinister is the friendship between Maltravers and the Italian boy Raffaelle Carotenuto (= 'the one held dearly or affectionately') in Posilipo
, near Naples, an area then notorious for its homosexual circles and one visited by Falkner on company business (for further discussion see my World's Classics edition, 1991, pp.