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I especially love the second movement.

 

Lamento della ninfa is the 18th piece from Monteverdi’s eighth book of madrigals (Madrigali guerrieri ed amorosi, 1638). The three male voices narrate the story and offer empathy to the nymph while she is lamenting over her abandonment. This movement of the madrigal is a beautiful example for Phrygian progression with the ostinato of its bass line in four descending notes all the way through. The inner turmoil and sorrow of the nymph is mirrored in the music by the melodic and harmonic dissonances.

 

Text: Ottavio Rinuccini

Part I: Non havea Febo ancora (TTB)
Part II: Amor, dicea (STTB)
Part III: Si, tra sdegnosi pianti (TTB)

*****

Original text:

Non havea Febo ancora
recato al mondo il dì
ch’una donzella fuora
del proprio albergo uscì.

Sul pallidetto volto
scorgease il suo dolor,
spesso gli venia sciolto
un gran sospir dal cor.

Sì calpestando fiori,
errava hor qua, hor là,
i suoi perduti amori
così piangendo va:

“Amor,” dicea, il ciel
mirando il piè fermò
“dove, dov’è la fé
che ‘l traditor giurò?

Fa che ritorni il mio
amor com’ei pur fu,
o tu m’ancidi, ch’io
non mi tormenti più.”

Miserella, ah più no,
tanto gel soffrir non può.

“Non vo’ più che i sospiri
se non lontan da me,
no, no, che i suoi martiri
più non dirammi, affé!

Perché di lui mi struggo
tutt’orgoglioso sta,
che sì, che sì se ‘l fuggo
ancor mi pregherà?

Se ciglio ha più sereno
colei che ‘l mio non è,
già non rinchiude in seno
Amor si bella fé.

Né mai si dolci baci
da quella bocca havrai,
né più soavi; ah, taci,
taci, che troppo il sai.”

Sì tra sdegnosi pianti
spargea le voci al ciel;
così ne’ cori amanti
mesce Amor fiamma e gel.

Translation (by Massimo Ossi, slightly edited):

Phoebus had not yet
brought daylight to the world
when a damsel
came out of her dwelling.

Her suffering was plain
on her face,
and frequently she let
great sighs loose from her heart.

Thus trampling the flowers,
she wandered here and there,
and her lost love
she thus wept:

“Love,” she said, stopping
to look at the heavens,
“where, where is the faith
that the traitor swore to me?

Let my love return
as he was,
or else kill me, so that I
may no longer torment myself.”

Poor wretch, alas, nol longer
can she suffer such scorn.

“I don’t want him to sigh
except away from me,
I no longer want him
to confide his sufferings in me.

Because I suffer for him,
he is proud;
will he beseech me
if I flee from him?

She may have a more serene
brow than mine,
but even Love’s breast
does not harbor such beautiful constancy.

Never will he have such sweet kisses
from that mouth,
nor softer – be still,
be still, that he knows all too well.

Thus among scornful weeping
she scattered her laments to the sky;
thus in lovers’ hearts
Love mixes flame and ice.

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