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Veronica Franco - Global Public Library
POEMS
AND
SELECTED
LETTERS
A Series
Margaret
Albert
Edited
by
L. King and
Rabil)
Jr.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES
HENRICUS
Declamation
CORNELIUS
AGRIPPA
on the Nobility and Preeminence
EDITED
BY ALBERT
LAURA
RABIL,
of the Female Sex
JR
CERETA
Collected Letters
EDITED
BY DIANA
TULLIA
ROBIN
D'ARAGONA
Dialogue on the Infinity
EDITED
BY RINALDINA
RUSSELL
CECILIA
Autobiography
EDITED
BRUCE
MERRY
FERRAZZI
of an Aspiring Saint
BY ANNE
JACOBSON
MODERATA
The Worth
EDITED
of Love
AND
SCHUTTE
FONTE
0/ Women
BY VIRGINIA
ANTONIA
COX
PULCI
Florentine Drama for Convent and Festival
EDITED
ANNA
BY JAMES
MARIA
WYATT
COOK
VAN SCHURMAN
Whether a Christian Woman Should Be Educated
and Other Writings from Her Intellectual Circle
EDITED
BY JOYCE
L
IRWIN
Veronica
Franco
POEM:S
AND
SELE,CTED
LETTE]~S
Edited
an d Tran slat e d
by
Ann Ro sa lin d Jones
and Margaret F. Ro sen tb al
THE
UNIVERSITY
OF
Cl-IICAGO
Cb ica go & London
PRESS
Ann Rosalind Jones is Esther Cloudman Dunn Professor of
Comparative Literature at Smith College. She is the author of The Currency 0/
Eros: WOJ1zen)s
Love Lyric in Europe) 1540-1620.
Margaret F Rosentbal is associate professor of Italian at the
University of Southern California. She is the author of The Honest Courtesan:
VeronicaFranco)Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice)published by
the University of Chicago Press.
The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637
The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London
© 1998 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 1998
07 06 05 04 03 02 01 00 99
2345
ISBN:
0-226-25986-2 (cloth)
-0 (paper)
ISBN: 0-226-25987
The Italian text of Franco's poetry is reproduced from Rime) by Veronica
Franco, edited by Stefano Bianchi (Milan: Gruppo Ugo Mursia, 1995)
with the permission of the publisher.
This translation was supported by generous grants from the National
Endowment for the Humanities and from the Mellon Foundation.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Franco, Veronica, 1546-1591.
[Selections. English & Italian. 1998]
Poems and selected letters / Veronica Franco ; edited and
translated by Ann Rosalind J ones and Margaret F. Rosenthal.
p.
em. - (The other voice in early modern Europe)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-226-25986-2 (cloth : alk. paper). - ISBN 0-226-25987-0
(pbk. : alk. paper)
I. Jones, Ann Rosalind. II. Rosenthal, Margaret F. III. Title.
IV. Series.
1998
PQ4623.F6A613
98-25551
851' .4-dc21
CIP
§ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the
American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence
for Printed Library Materials, ANSI 239.48-1992.
of Paper
For our daughters, Anne and Anna
CONTENTS
Introduction
zx
The Ho n or c d Courtesan
Introduction:
Veronica
to the Series
Franco) Familiar Letters
Various People
23
Poems
in Ter:a Rzma
285
Bibliography
Index
295
47
1
to
THE
IN
EARLY
INTRODUCTION
OTIIER
VOICE
MODERr~
TO
EUROPE
THE
SERIES
MargaretL. King andAlbert Rabil)Jr.
THE OLD VOICE AND THE OTHER VOICE
n western Europe and the United States women are nearing equality in
the professions, in business, and in politics. Most enjoy access to education, reproductive rights, and autonomy in financial affairs. Issues vital to
women are on the public agenda: equal pay, child care, domestic abuse,
breast cancer research, and curricular revision with an eye to the inclusion
of women.
These recent achievements have their origins in things women (and
some male supporters) said for the first time about six hundred years ago.
Theirs is the" other voice," in contradistinction to the "first voice," the
voice of the educated men who created Western culture. Coincident with
a general reshaping of European culture in the period 1300 to 1700
(called the Renaissance or early modern period), questions of female
equality and opportunity ere raised that still resound and are still unresolved.
The "other voice" emerged against the backdrop of a three-thousandyear history of misogyny-the hatred of women-rooted
in the civilizations related to Western culture: Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Christian.
Misogyny inherited from these traditions pervaded the intellectual, medical, legal, religious, and social systems that developed during the European Middle Ages.
The following pages describe the misogynistic tradition inherited by
early modern Europeans, and the new tradition which the "other voice"
called into being to challenge reigning assumptions. This review should
serve as a framework for the understanding of the texts published in the series "The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe." Introductions specific to
each text and author follow this essay in all the volumes of the series.
I
zx
x
Editors}
Introduction
THE MISOGYNIST
to the Series
TRADITION,
500 B.C.E.-1500
C.E.
Embedded in the philosophical and medical theories of the ancient Greeks
were perceptions of the female as inferior to the male in both mind and
body. Similarly, the structure of civil legislation inherited from the ancient
Romans was biased against women, and the views on women developed by
Christian thinkers out of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament were negative and disabling. Literary works composed in the vernacular language of ordinary people, and widely recited or read, conveyed these
negative assumptions. The social networks within which most women
lived-those of the family and the institutions of the Roman Catholic
church-were shaped by this misogynist tradition and sharply limited the
areas in which women might act in and upon the world.
GREEK PHILOSOPHY
AND FEMALE NATURE
Greek biology assumed
that women were inferior to men and defined them merely as childbearers
and housekeepers. This view was authoritatively expressed in the works of
the philosopher Aristotle.
Aristotle thought in dualities. He considered action superior to inaction, form (the inner design or structure of any object) superior to matter,
completion to incompletion, possession to deprivation. In each of these
dualities, he associated the male principle with the superior quality and the
female with the inferior. "The male principle in nature," he argued, "is
associated with active, formative and perfected characteristics, while the
female is passive, material and deprived, desiring the male in order to
become complete." 1 Men are always identified with virile qualities, such as
judgment, courage, and stamina; women with their opposites-irrationality, cowardice, and weakness.
The masculine principle was considered to be superior even in the
womb. Man's semen, Aristotle believed, created the form of a new human
creature, while the female body contributed only matter. (The existence of
the ovum, and the other facts of human embryology, were not established
until the seventeenth century.) Although the later Greek physician Galen
believed that there was a female component in generation, contributed by
"female semen," the followers of both Aristotle and Galen saw the male role
in human generation as more active and more important.
In the Aristotelian view, the male principle sought always to reproduce
itself. The creation of a female was always a mistake, therefore, resulting
from an imperfect act of generation. Every female born was considered a
"defective" or "mutilated" male (as Aristotle's terminology has variously
been translated), a "monstrosity" of nature.e
1. Aristotle, Pbvsics, 1.9 192a20-4, in The Complete Works
rev. Oxford translation, 2 vols. (Princeton, 1984), 1:328.
2. Aristotle, Generation
0/Anunals,
0/Anstotle,
2.3 737a27-8 (Barnes, 1:1144).
ed. Jonathan Barnes,
The Other
Voice in Early Modern
Europe
For Greek theorists, the biology of males and females was the key to
their psychology. The female was softer and more docile, more apt to be despondent, querulous, and deceitful. Being incomplete, moreover, she
craved sexual fulfillment in intercourse with a male. The male was intellectual, active, and in control of his passions.
These psychological polarities derived from the theory that the universe consisted of four elements (earth, fire, air, and water), expressed in
human bodies as four "humors" (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and
phlegm) considered respectively dry, hot, damp, and cold, and corresponding to mental states ("melancholic," "choleric," "sanguine," "phlegmatic"). In this schematization, the male, sharing the principles of earth
and fire, was dry and hot; the Iemale, sharing the principles of air and
water, was cold and damp.
Female psychology was further affected by her dominant organ, the
uterus (womb), bystera in Greek. The passions generated by the womb
made women lustful, deceitful, talkative, irrational, indeed-when
these
affects were in excess-"hysterical."
Aristotle's biology also had social and political consequences. If the
male principle was superior and the female inferior, then in the household,
as in the state, men should rule and women must be subordinate. That hierarchy did not rule out the companionship of husband and wife, whose
cooperation was necessary for the welfare of children and the preservation
of property. Such mutuality supported male preeminence.
Aristotle's teacher, Plato, suggested a different possibility: that men
and women might possess the same virtues. The setting for this proposal is
the imaginary and ideal Republic that Plato sketches in his dialogue of that
name. Here, for a privileged elite capable of leading wisely, all distinctions
of class and wealth dissolve, as do consequently those of gender. Without
households or property, as Plato constructs his ideal society, there is no
need for the subordination of women. Women may, therefore, be educated
to the same level as men to assume leadership responsibilities. Plato's Republic remained imaginary, however. In real societies, the subordination of
women remained the norm and the prescription.
The views of women inherited from the Greek philosophical tradition
became the basis for medieval thought. In the thirteenth century, the
supreme scholastic philosopher Thomas Aquinas, among others, still
echoed Aristotle's views of human reproduction, of male and female personalities, and of the preeminent male role in the social hierarchy.
ROMAN LAW AND THE FEMALE CONDITION.
Roman law, like Greek
philosophy, underlay medieval thought and shaped medieval society. The
ancient belief that adult, property-owning men should administer households and make decisions affecting the community at large is the very fulcrum of Roman law.
Xl
Xll
Editors}
Introduction
to the Series
Around 450 B.C.E., during Rome's Republican era, the community's
customary law was recorded (legendarily) on the Twelve Tables, erected in
the city's central forum. It was later elaborated by professional jurists
whose activity increased in the imperial era, when much new legislation, especially on issues affecting family and inheritance, was passed. This growing, changing body of laws was eventually codified in the Corpus of Civil
Law under the direction of the emperor Justinian, generations after the empire ceased to be ruled from Rome. That Corpus) read and commented
upon by medieval scholars from the eleventh century on, inspired the legal
systems of most of the cities and kingdoms of Europe.
Laws regarding dowries, divorce, and inheritance most pertain to
women. Since those laws aimed to maintain and preserve property, the
women concerned were those from the property-owning minority. Their
subordination to male family members points to the even greater subordination of lower-class and slave women, about whom the laws speak little.
In the early Republic, the paterfamilias) "father of the family," possessed patria potestas, "paternal power." The term pater. "father," in both
these cases does not necessarily mean biological father, but householder.
The father was the person who owned the household's property and, indeed, its human members. The paterfamilias had absolute power-including the power, rarely exercised, of life or death-over his wife, his children,
and his slaves, as much as over his cattle.
Male children could be "emancipated," an act that granted legal autonomy and the right to own property. Males over the age of fourteen could
be emancipated by a special grant from the father, or automatically by their
father's death. But females never could be emancipated; instead, they
passed from the authority of their father to a husband or, if widowed or orphaned while still unmarried, to a guardian or tutor.
Marriage under its traditional form placed the woman under her husband's authority, or manus. He could divorce her on grounds of adultery,
drinking wine, or stealing from the household, but she could not divorce
him. She could possess no property in her own right, nor bequeath any to
her children upon her death. When her husband died, the household property passed not to her but to his male heirs. And when her father died, she
had no claim to any family inheritance, which was directed to her brothers
or more remote male relatives. The effect of these laws was to exclude
women from civil society, itself based on property ownership.
In the later Republican and Imperial periods, these rules were significantly modified. Women rarely married according to the traditional form,
but according to the form of "free" marriage. That practice allowed a
woman to remain under her father's authority, to possess property given
her by her father (most frequently the "dowry," recoverable from the husband's household in the event of his death), and to inherit from her father.
The Other
Voice in Early Modern
Europe
She could also bequeath property to her own children and divorce her husband, just as he could divorce her.
Despite this greater freedom, women still suffered enormous disability under Roman law. Heirs could belong only to the father's side, never the
mother's. Moreover, although she could bequeath her property to her children, she could not establish a line of succession in doing so. A woman was
"the beginning and end of her own family," growled the jurist Ulpian.
Moreover, women could play no public role. They could not hold public
office, represent anyone in a legal case, or even witness a will. Women had
only a private existence, and no public personality.
The dowry system, the guardian, women's limited ability to transmit
wealth, and their total political disability are all features of Roman law
adopted, although modified according to local customary laws, by the medieval communities of western Europe.
CHRISTIAN
DOCTRINE AND \\?OMEN'S PLACE. The Hebrew Bible and
the Christian New Testament authorized later writers to limit women to the
realm of the family and to burden them with the guilt of original sin. The
passages most fruitful for this purpose were the creation narratives in Genesis and sentences from the Epistles defining women's role within the
Christian family and community.
Each of the first two chapters of Genesis contains a creation narrative.
In the first "God created man in his own irnage, in the image of God he
created him; male and female he created them" (NRSV, Genesis 1:27). In
the second, God created Eve from Adam's db (2:21-23). Christian theologians relied principally on Genesis 2 for their understanding of the relation
between man and woman, interpreting the creation of Eve from Adam as
proof of her subordination to him.
The creation story in Genesis 2 leads to that of the temptations in Genesis 3: of Eve by the wily serpent, and of Adam by Eve. As read by Christian theologians from Tertullian to Thomas Aquinas, the narrative made
Eve responsible for the Fall and its consequences. She instigated the act;
she deceived her husband; she suffered the greater punishment. Her disobedience made it necessary for Jesus to be incarnated and to die on the
cross. From the pulpit, moralists and preachers for centuries conveyed to
women the guilt that they bore for original sin.
The Epistles offered advice to early Christians on building communities of the faithful. Among the matters to be regulated was the place of
women. Paul offered views favorable to worn en in Galatians 3:28: "There
is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither
male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Paul also referred to
women as his coworkers and placed them on a par with himself and his
male coworkers (Philippians 4:2-3; Romans 16: 1-3; 1 Corinthians 16:19).
Elsewhere Paul limited women's possibilities: "But I want you to under-
XZlZ
XlV
Editors}
Introduction
to the Series
stand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3).
Biblical passages by later writers (though attributed to Paul) enjoined
women to forego jewels, expensive clothes, and elaborate coiffures; and
they forbade women to "teach or have authority over men," telling them to
"learn in silence with all submissiveness" as is proper for one responsible
for sin, consoling them however with the thought that they would be saved
through childbearing (1 Timothy 2:9-15). Other texts among the later
Epistles defined women as the weaker sex, and emphasized their subordination to their husbands (1 Peter 3:7; Colossians 3: 18; Ephesians 5 :22-23).
These passages from the New Testament became the arsenal employed
by theologians of the early church to transmit negative attitudes toward
women to medieval Christian culture-above
all, Tertullian ("On the Apparel of Women"), Jerome (Against [ouinian), and Augustine (The Literal
Meaning of Genesisi.
THE IMAGE OF WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL LITERATURE. The philosophical,
legal, and religious traditions born in antiquity formed the basis of the medieval intellectual synthesis wrought by trained thinkers, mostly clerics,
writing in Latin and based largely in universities. The vernacular literary
tradition that developed alongside the learned tradition also spoke about
female nature and women's roles. Medieval stories, poems, and epics were
infused with misogyny. They portrayed most women as lustful and deceitful, while praising good housekeepers and loyal wives, or replicas of the
Virgin Mary, or the female saints and martyrs.
There is an exception in the movement of "courtly love" that evolved
in southern France from the twelfth century. Courtly love was the erotic
love between a nobleman and noblewoman, the latter usually superior in
social rank. It was always adulterous. From the conventions of courtly love
derive modern Western notions of romantic love. The phenomenon has
had an impact disproportionate to its size, for it affected only a tiny elite,
and very few women. The exaltation of the female lover probably does not
reflect a higher evaluation of women, or a step toward their sexual liberation. More likely it gives expression to the social and sexual tensions besetting the knightly class at a specific historical juncture.
The literary fashion of courtly love was on the wane by the thirteenth
century, when the widely read Romance 0/ the Rose was composed in
French by two authors of significantly different dispositions. Guillaume de
Lorris composed the initial four thousand verses around 1235, and jean de
Meun added about seventeen thousand verses-more than four times the
original-around
1265.
The fragment composed by Guillaume de Lorris stands squarely in the
courtly love tradition. Here the poet, in a dream, is admitted into a walled
garden where he finds a magic fountain in which a rosebush is reflected.
The Other
Voice
in Early
Modern
Europe
He longs to pick one rose but the thorns around it prevent his doing so,
even as he is wounded by arrows from the God of Love, whose commands
he agrees to obey. The remainder of this part of the poem recounts the
poet's unsuccessful efforts to pluck the rose.
The longer part of the Romance by Jean de Meun also describes a
dream. But here allegorical characters give long didactic speeches, providing a social satire on a variety of themes, l ncluding those pertaining to
women. Love is an anxious and tormented state, the poem explains,
women are greedy and manipulative, marriage is miserable, beautiful
women are lustful, ugly ones cease to please, and a chaste woman is as rare
as a black swan.
Shortly after Jean de Meun completed The Romance of the Rose)
Matheolus penned his Lamentations) a long Latin diatribe against marriage
translated into French about a century later. 'The Lamentations sum up medieval attitudes toward women, and they provoked the important response
by Christine de Pizan in her Book of the City of Ladies.
In 1355, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote II Corbaccio,another antifeminist
manifesto, though ironically by an author whose other works pioneered
new directions in Renaissance thought. The former husband of his lover
appears to Boccaccio, condemning his unmoderated lust and detailing the
defects of women. Boccaccio concedes at the end "how much men naturally surpass women in nobility"3 and is cured of his desires.
WOMEN'S ROLES: THE FAMILY. The negative perceptions of women expressed in the intellectual tradition are also implicit in the actual roles that
women played in European society. Assigned to subordinate positions in
the household and the church, they were barred from significant participation in public life.
Medieval European households, like those in antiquity and in nonWestern civilizations, were headed by males. It was the male serf, or peasant, feudal lord, town merchant, or citizen who was polled or taxed or who
succeeded to an inheritance or had any acknowledged public role, although his wife or widow could stand on a temporary basis as a surrogate
for him. From about 1100, the position of property-holding males was enhanced further. Inheritance was confined to the male, or agnate, line-with
depressing consequences for women.
A wife never fully belonged to her husband's family or a daughter to
her father's family. She left her father's house young to marry whomever her
parents chose. Her dowry was managed by her husband and normally
passed to her children by him at her death.
A married woman's life was occupied nearly constantly with cycles of
3. Giovanni Boccaccio, The Corbacczo or The Labyrznth
Cassell (Binghamton, N.Y.; rev. paper ed., 1993), 71.
0/ Love)
trans. and ed. Anthony K.
xv
XVl
Editors)
Introduction
to the Series
pregnancy, childbearing, and lactation. Women bore children through all
the years of their fertility, and many died in childbirth before the end of that
term. They also bore responsibility for raising young children up to six or
seven. That responsibility was shared in the propertied classes, since it was
common for a wet nurse to take over the job of breastfeeding, and servants
took over other chores.
Women trained their daughters in the household responsibilities appropriate to their status, nearly always in tasks associated with textiles:
spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidering. Their sons were sent out of the
house as apprentices or students, or their training was assumed by fathers
in later childhood and adolescence. On the death of her husband, a
woman's children became the responsibility of his family. She generally did
not take "his" children with her to a new marriage or back to her father's
house, except sometimes in artisan classes.
Women also worked. Rural peasants performed farm chores, merchant wives often practiced their husbands' trades, the unmarried daughters of the urban poor worked as servants or prostitutes. All wives produced or embellished textiles and did the housekeeping, while wealthy
ones managed servants. These labors were unpaid or poorly paid, but often
contributed substantially to family wealth.
WOMEN'S ROLES: THE CHURCH. Membership in a household, whether
a father's or a husband's, meant for women a lifelong subordination to others. In western Europe, the Roman Catholic church offered an alternative
to the career of wife and mother. A woman could enter a convent parallel
in function to the monasteries for men that evolved in the early Christian
centuries.
In the convent, a woman pledged herself to a celibate life, lived according to strict community rules, and worshiped daily. Often the convent
offered training in Latin, allowing some women to become considerable
scholars and authors, as well as scribes, artists, and musicians. For women
who chose the conventual life, the benefits could be enormous, but for numerous others placed in convents by paternal choice, the life could be restrictive and burdensome.
The conventual life declined as an alternative for women as the modern age approached. Reformed monastic institutions resisted responsibility
for related female orders. The church increasingly restricted female institutionallife by insisting on closer male supervision.
Women often sought other options. Some joined the communities of
laywomen that sprang up spontaneously in the thirteenth century in the
urban zones of western Europe, especially in Flanders and Italy. Some
joined the heretical movements flourishing in late medieval Christendom,
whose anticlerical and often antifamily positions particularly appealed to
women. In these communities, some women were acclaimed as "holy
The Other
Voice
in Early
Modern
Eu ro p e
women" or "saints," while others often were condemned as frauds or
heretics.
Though the options offered to women by the church were sometimes
less than satisfactory, sometimes they were richly rewarding. After 1520,
the convent remained an option only in Roman Catholic territories. Protestantism engendered an ideal of marriage as a heroic endeavor, and appeared to place husband and wife on a more equal footing. Sermons and
treatises, however, still called for female subordination and obedience.
THE OTHER
VOICE,
1300-1700
Misogyny was so long established in European culture when the modern
era opened that to dismantle it was a monumental labor. The process began
as part of a larger cultural movement that entailed the critical reexamination of ideas inherited from the ancient and rnedieval past. The humanists
launched that critical reexamination.
THE HUMANIST FOUNDATION Originating in Italy in the fourteenth century, humanism quickly became the dominant intellectual movement in
Europe. Spreading in the sixteenth century from Italy to the rest of Europe, it fueled the literary, scientific, and philosophica] movements of the
era, and laid the basis for the eighteenth -century Enlightenment.
Humanists regarded the scholastic philosophy of medieval universities
as out of touch with the realities of urban life. They found in the rhetorical
discourse of classical Rome a language adapted to civic life and public
speech. They learned to read, speak, and write classical Latin, and eventually classical Greek. They founded schools to teach others to do so, establishing the pattern for elementary and secondary education for the next
three hundred years.
In the service of complex government bureaucracies, humanists employed their skills to write eloquent letters, deliver public orations, and formulate public policy. They developed new scripts for copying manuscripts
and used the new printing press for the dissemination of texts, for which
they created methods of critical editing.
Humanism was a movement led by men who accepted the evaluation
of women in ancient texts and generally shared the misogynist perceptions
of their culture. (Female humanists, as will be seen, did not.) Yet humanism also opened the door to the critique of the misogynist tradition. By calling authors, texts, and ideas into question, it made possible the fundamental rereading of the whole intellectual tradition that was required in order
to free women from cultural prejudice and social subordination.
A DIFFERENT CITY. The other voice first appeared when, after so many
centuries, the accumulation of misogynist concepts evoked a response
from a capable female defender, Christine de Pizano Introducing her Book
xvii
XVIII
Editors)
Introduction
to the Series
0/the City o/Ladies (1405), she described how she was affected by reading
Matheolus's Lamentations: "Just the sight of this book ... made me wonder how it happened that so many different men ... are so inclined to express both in speaking and in their treatises and writings so many wicked
insults about women and their behavior."4 These statements impelled her
to detest herself "and the entire feminine sex, as though we were monstrosities in nature."5
The remainder of the Book 0/the City 0/Ladies presents a justification
of the female sex and a vision of an ideal community of women. A pioneer,
she has not only received the misogynist message, but she rejects it. From
the fourteenth to seventeenth century, a huge body of literature accumulated that responded to the dominant tradition.
The result was a literary explosion consisting of works by both men
and women, in Latin and in vernacular languages: works enumerating the
achievements of notable women; works rebutting the main accusations
made against women; works arguing for the equal education of men and
women; works defining and redefining women's proper role in the family,
at court, and in public; and works describing women's lives and experiences. Recent monographs and articles have begun to hint at the great
range of this phenomenon, involving probably several thousand titles. The
protofeminism of these "other voices" constitute a significant fraction of
the literary product of the early modern era.
THE CATALOG UES. Around 1365, the same Boccaccio whose Corbaccio
rehearses the usual charges against female nature wrote another work, Concerning Famous Women. A humanist treatise drawing on classical texts, it
praised 106 notable women-100 of them from pagan Greek and Roman
antiquity, and 6 from the religious and cultural tradition since antiquityand helped make all readers aware of a sex normally condemned or forgotten. Boccaccio's outlook, nevertheless, was misogynist, for it singled out
for praise those women who possessed the traditional virtues of chastity, silence, and obedience. Women who were active in the public realm, for example, rulers and warriors, were depicted as suffering terrible punishments
for entering into the masculine sphere. Women were his subject, but Boccaccio's standard remained male.
Christine de Pizan's Book 0/ the City 0/ Ladies contains a second catalogue, one responding specifically to Boccaccio's. Where Boccaccio portrays female virtue as exceptional, she depicts it as universal. Many women
in history were leaders, or remained chaste despite the lascivious approaches of men, or were visionaries and brave martyrs.
4. Christine de Pizan, The Book 0/the City of Ladies, trans. Earl Jeffrey Richards; foreword by
Marina Warner (New York, 1982), 1.1.1., pp. 3-4.
5. Ibid., 1.1.1-2, p. 5.
The Other
Voice in Early Modern
E'urope
The work of Boccaccio inspired a series of catalogues of illustrious
women of the biblical, classical, Christian, and local past: works by Alvaro
de Luna, Jacopo Filippo Foresti (1497), Brantome, Pierre Le Moyne,
Pietro Paolo de Ribera (who listed 845 figures), and many others. Whatever their embedded prejudices, these catalogues of illustrious women
drove home to the public the possibility of female excellence.
THE DEBATE. At the same time, many questions remained: Could a
woman be virtuous? Could she perform noteworthy deeds? Was she even,
strictly speaking, of the same human species as men? These questions
were debated over four centuries, in French, German, Italian, Spanish,
and English, by authors male and female, among Catholics, Protestants,
and Jews, in ponderous volumes and breezy pamphlets. The whole literary phenomenon has been called the querelle des femmes) the "woman
question."
The opening volley of this battle occurred in the first years of the fifteenth century, in a literary debate sparked by Christine de Pizano She exchanged letters critical of Jean de Meun's contribution to the Romance of
the Rose with two French humanists and royal secretaries, Jean de Montreuil and Gontier Col. When the matter became public, Jean Gerson, one
of Europe's leading theologians, supported de Pizan's arguments against
de Meun, for the moment silencing the opposition.
The debate resurfaced repeatedly over the next two hundred years.
The Triumph of Women (1438) by Juan Rodriguez de la Camara (or Juan
Rodriguez del Padron) struck a new' note by presenting arguments for the
superiority of women to men. The Champion of Women (1440-42) by Martin Le Franc addresses once again the misogynist claims of The Romance of
the Rose) and offers counterevidence of female virtue and achievement.
A cameo of the debate on WOITlenis included in The Courtier, one of
the most read books of the era, published by the Italian Baldassare Castiglione in 1528 and immediately translated into other European vernaculars. The Courtier depicts a series of evenings at the court of the Duke of
Urbino in which many men and some women of the highest social stratum
amuse themselves by discussing a range of literary and social issues. The
"woman question" is a pervasive theme throughout, and the third of its
four books is devoted entirely to that issue.
In a verbal duel, Gasparo Pallavicino and Giuliano de' Medici present
the main claims of the two traditions-the
prevailing misogynist one, and
the newly emerging alternative one ..Gasparo argues the innate inferiority
of women and their inclination to vice. Only in bearing children do they
profit the world. Giuliano counters that women share the same spiritual
and mental capacities as men and may excel in wisdom and action. Men
and women are of the same essence: just as no stone can be more perfectly
a stone than another, so no human being can be more perfectly human than
XIX
xx
Editors)
Introduction
to the Series
others, whether male or female. It was an astonishing assertion, boldly
made to an audience as large as all Europe.
THE TREATISES.
Humanism provided the materials for a positive
counterconcept to the misogyny embedded in scholastic philosophy and
law, and inherited from the Greek, Roman, and Christian pasts. A series of
humanist treatises on marriage and family, on education and deportment,
and on the nature of women helped construct these new perspectives.
The works by Francesco Barbaro and Leon Battista Alberti, respectively On Marriage (1415) and On the Family (1434-37), far from defending female equality, reasserted women's responsibilities for rearing
children and managing the housekeeping while being obedient, chaste,
and silent. Nevertheless, they served the cause of reexamining the issue of
women's nature by placing domestic issues at the center of scholarly concern and reopening the pertinent classical texts. In addition, Barbaro emphasized the companionate nature of marriage and the importance of a
wife's spiritual and mental qualities for the well-being of the family.
These themes reappear in later humanist works on marriage and the
education of women by Juan Luis Vives and Erasmus. Both were moderately sympathetic to the condition of women, without reaching beyond the
usual masculine prescriptions for female behavior.
An outlook more favorable to women characterizes the nearly unknown work In Praise 0/ Women (ca. 1487) by the Italian humanist Bartolommeo Goggio. In addition to providing a catalogue of illustrious
women, Goggio argued that male and female are the same in essence, but
that women (reworking from quite a new angle the Adam and Eve narrative) are actually superior. In the same vein, the Italian humanist Mario
Equicola asserted the spiritual equality of men and women in On Women
(1501). In 1525, Galeazzo Flavio Capra (or Capella) published his work On
the Excellence and Dignity 0/ Women. This humanist tradition of treatises
defending the worthiness of women culminates in the work of Henricus
Cornelius Agrippa, On the Nobility and Preeminence 0/the Female Sex. No
work by a male humanist more succinctly or explicitly presents the case for
female dignity.
THE WITCH BOOKS. While humanists grappled with the issues pertaining to women and family, other learned men turned their attention to
what they perceived as a very great problem: witches. Witch-hunting manuals, explorations of the witch phenomenon, and even defenses of witches
are not at first glance pertinent to the tradition of the other voice. But they
do relate in this way: most accused witches were women. The hostility
aroused by supposed witch activity is comparable to the hostility aroused
by women. The evil deeds the victims of the hunt were charged with were
exaggerations of the vices to which, many believed, all women were prone.
The connection between the witch accusation and the hatred of
The Other
Voice in Early Modern
Eu ro p e
women is explicit in the notorious witch-hunting manual, The Harnmer of
Witches (1486), by two Dominican inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacob
Sprenger. Here the inconstancy, deceitfulness, and lustfulness traditionally
associated with women are depicted in exaggerated form as the core features of witch behavior. These inclined women to make a bargain with the
devil-sealed by sexual intercourse--by which they acquired unholy powers. Such bizarre claims, far from being re-jected by rational men, were
broadcast by intellectuals. The German Ulrich Molitur, the Frenchman
Nicolas Remy, the Italian Stefano C;uazzo coolly informed the public of
sinister orgies and midnight pacts with the devil. The celebrated French jurist, historian, and political philosopher Jean Bodin argued that, because
women were especially prone to diabolism, regular legal procedures could
properly be suspended in order to try those accused of this "exceptional
crime."
A few experts, such as the physician Johann Weyer, a student of
Agrippa's, raised their voices in protest. In 1563, Weyer explained the
witch phenomenon thus, without discarding belief in diabolism: the devil
deluded foolish old women afflicted by melancholia, causing them to believe that they had magical powers. His rational skepticism, which had
good credibility in the community of the learned, worked to revise the conventional views of women and witchcraft.
WOMEN'S
WORKS. To the many categories of works produced on the
question of women's worth must be added nearly all works written by
women. A woman writing was in herself a statement of women's claim to
dignity.
Only a few women wrote anything prior to the dawn of the modern
era, for three reasons. First, they rarely received the education that would
enable them to write. Second, they were not admitted to the public rolesas administrator, bureaucrat, lawyer or notary, university professor-in
which they might gain knowledge of the kinds of things the literate public
thought worth writing about. Third, the culture imposed silence upon
women, considering speaking out a form of unchastity. Given these conditions, it is remarkable that any women wrote. Those who did before the
fourteenth century were almost always nuns or religious women whose isolation made their pronouncements more acceptable.
From the fourteenth century on, the volume of women's writings
increased. Women continued to write devotional literature, although not
always as cloistered nuns. They also wrote diaries, often intended as keepsakes for their children; books of advice to their sons and daughters; letters
to family members and friends; and family memoirs, in a few cases elaborate enough to be considered histories.
A few women wrote works directly concerning the "woman question,"
and some of these, such as the humanists Isotta N ogarola, Cassandra
I
XXI
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Editors)
Introduction
to the Series
Fedele, Laura Cereta, and Olimpia Morata, were highly trained. A few
were professional writers, living by the income of their pen: the very first
among them Christine de Pizan, noteworthy in this context as in so many
others. In addition to The Book 0/ the City 0/ Ladies and her critiques of
The Romance 0/ the Rose) she wrote The Treasure 0/ the City 0/Ladies (a
guide to social decorum for women), an advice book for her son, much
courtly verse, and a full-scale history of the reign of King Charles V of
France.
WOMEN PATRONS. Women who did not themselves write but encouraged others to do so boosted the development of an alternative tradition. Highly placed women patrons supported authors, artists, musicians,
poets, and learned men. Such patrons, drawn mostly from the Italian elites
and the courts of northern Europe, figure disproportionately as the dedicatees of the important works of early feminism.
For a start, it might be noted that the catalogues of Boccaccio and
Alvaro de Luna were dedicated to the Florentine noblewoman Andrea
Acciaiuoli and to Dona Maria, first wife of King Juan II of Castile, while the
French translation of Boccaccio's work was commissioned by Anne of
Brittany, wife of King Charles VIII of France. The humanist treatises of
Goggio, Equicola, Vives, and Agrippa were dedicated, respectively, to
Eleanora of Aragon, wife of Ercole I d'Este, duke of Ferrara; to Margherita
Cantelma of Mantua; to Catherine of Aragon, wife of King Henry VIII of
England; and to Margaret, duchess of Austria and regent of the Netherlands. As late as 1696, Mary Astell's Serious Proposal to the Ladies)for the
Advancement o/Their True and Greatest Interest was dedicated to Princess
Ann of Denmark.
These authors presumed that their efforts would be welcome to female
patrons, or they may have written at the bidding of those patrons. Silent
themselves, perhaps even unresponsive, these loftily placed women helped
shape the tradition of the other voice.
THE ISSUES. The literary forms and patterns in which the tradition of
the other voice presented itself have now been sketched. It remains to highlight the major issues about which this tradition crystallizes. In brief, there
are four problems to which our authors return again and again, in plays and
catalogues, in verse and in letters, in treatises and dialogues, in every language: the problem of chastity, the problem of power, the problem of
speech, and the problem of knowledge. Of these the greatest, preconditioning the others, is the problem of chastity.
THE PROBLEM OF CHASTITY. In traditional European culture, as in
those of antiquity and others around the globe, chastity was perceived as
woman's quintessential virtue-in contrast to courage, or generosity, or
leadership, or rationality, seen as virtues characteristic of men. Opponents
of women charged them with insatiable lust. Women themselves and their
The Other
'!oice in Early Modern
Europe
defenders-without
disputing the validity of the standard-responded
that women were capable of chastity.
The requirement of chastity kept women at home, silenced them, isolated them, left them in ignorance. It was the source of all other impediments. Why was it so important to the society of men, of whom chastity was
not required, and who, more often than not, considered it their right to violate the chastity of any woman they encountered?
Female chastity ensured the continuity of the male-headed household.
If a man's wife was not chaste, he could not be sure of the legitimacy of his
offspring. If they were not his, and they acquired his property, it was not
his household, but some other man's, that had endured. Ifhis daughter was
not chaste, she could not be transferred to another man's household as his
wife, and he was dishonored.
The whole system of the integrity of the household and the transmission of property was bound up in fernale chastity. Such a requirement pertained only to property-owning classes, of course. Poor women could not
expect to maintain their chastity, least of all if they were in contact with
high-status men to whom all women but those of their own household were
prey.
In Catholic Europe, the requirernent of chastity was further buttressed
by moral and religious imperatives. Original sin was inextricably linked
with the sexual act. Virginity was seen as heroic virtue, far more impressive
than, say, the avoidance of idleness or greed ..Monasticism, the cultural institution that dominated medieval Europe for centuries, was grounded in
the renunciation of the flesh. The Catholic reform of the eleventh century
imposed a similar standard on all the clergy, and a heightened awareness of
sexual requirements on all the laity. Although men were asked to be chaste,
female unchastity was much worse: it led to the devil, as Eve had led
mankind to sin.
To such requirements, women and their defenders protested their innocence. Following the example of holy women who had escaped the requirements of family and sought the religious life, some women began to
conceive of female communities as alternatives both to family and to the
cloister. Christine de Pizan's city of ladies was such a community. Moderata Fonte and Mary Astell envisioned others. The luxurious salons of the
French precieuses of the seventeenth century, or the comfortable English
drawing rooms of the next, may have been born of the same impulse. Here
women might not only escape, if briefly, the subordinate position that life
in the family entailed, but they might make claims to power, exercise their
capacity for speech, and display their knowledge.
THE PROBLEM OF POWER Women were excluded from power: the
whole cultural tradition insisted upon it. Only men were citizens, only men
bore arms, only men could be chiefs or lords or kings. There were excep-
XXlZZ
xxiv
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Introduction
to the
Series
tions that did not disprove the rule, when wives or widows or mothers took
the place of men, awaiting their return or the maturation of a male heir. A
woman who attempted to rule in her own right was perceived as an anomaly, a monster, at once a deformed woman and an insufficient male, sexually confused and, consequently, unsafe.
The association of such images with women who held or sought power
explains some otherwise odd features of early modern culture. Queen Elizabeth I of England, one of the few women to hold full regal authority in European history, played with such male/ female images-positive ones, of
course-in representing herself to her subjects. She was a prince, and
manly, even though she was female. She was also (she claimed) virginal, a
condition absolutely essential if she was to avoid the attacks of her opponents. Catherine de' Medici, who ruled France as widow and regent for her
sons, also adopted such imagery in defining her position. She chose as one
symbol the figure of Artemisia, an androgynous ancient warrior-heroine,
who combined a female persona with masculine powers.
Power in a woman, without such sexual imagery, seems to have been
indigestible by the culture. A rare note was struck by the Englishman Sir
Thomas Elyot in his Defence of Good Women (1540), justifying both
women's participation in civic life and their prowess in arms. The old tune
was sung by the Scots reformer John Knox in his First Blast of the Trumpet
against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558), for whom rule by
women, defects in nature, was a hideous contradiction in terms.
The confused sexuality of the imagery of female potency was not reserved for rulers. Any woman who excelled was likely to be called an Amazon, recalling the self-mutilated warrior women of antiquity who repudiated all men, gave up their sons, and raised only their daughters. She was
often said to have "exceeded her sex," or to have possessed "masculine
virtue" -as the very fact of conspicuous excellence conferred masculinity,
even on the female subject. The catalogues of notable women often showed
those female heroes dressed in armor, armed to the teeth, like men. Amazonian heroines romp through the epics of the age-Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1532), Spenser's Faerie Queene (1590-1609). Excellence in a woman
was perceived as a claim for power, and power was reserved for the masculine realm. A woman who possessed either was masculinized, and lost
title to her own female identity.
THE PROBLEM OF SPEECH. Just as power had a sexual dimension when
it was claimed by women, so did speech. A good woman spoke little. Excessive speech was an indication of unchastity. By speech women seduced
men. Eve had lured Adam into sin by her speech. Accused witches were
commonly accused of having spoken abusively, or irrationally, or simply
too much. As enlightened a figure as Francesco Barbaro insisted on silence
in a woman, which he linked to her perfect unanimity with her husband's
The Other
1loice
in Early Modern
Europe
will and her unblemished virtue (her chastity). Another Italian humanist,
Leonardo Bruni, in advising a noblewoman on her studies, barred her not
from speech, but from public speaking. That was reserved for men.
Related to the problem of speech was that of costume, another, if
silent, form of self-expression. Assigned the task of pleasing men as their
primary occupation, elite women often tended to elaborate costume, hairdressing, and the use of cosmetics. Clergy and secular moralists alike condemned these practices. The appropriate function of costume and adornment was to announce the status of a woman's husband or father. Any
further indulgence in adornment was akin to unchastity.
THE PROBLEM OF KNOWLEDGE
'When the Italian noblewoman Isotta
N ogarola had begun to attain a reputation as a humanist, she was accused
of incest -a telling instance of the association of learning in women with
unchastity. That chilling association inclined any woman who was educated to deny that she was, or to make exaggerated claims of heroic
chastity.
If educated women were pursued with suspicions of sexual misconduct, women seeking an education faced an even more daunting obstacle:
the assumption that women were by nature incapable of learning, that reason was a particularly masculine ability. Just as they proclaimed their
chastity, women and their defenders insisted upon their capacity for learning. The major work by a male writer on female education-On the Education 0/a Christian Woman) by Juan Luis Vives (1523)-granted female
capacity for intellection, but argued still that a woman's whole education
was to be shaped around the requirement of chastity and a future within
the household. Female writers of the following generations-Marie
de
Gournay in France, Anna Maria van Schurman in Holland, Mary Astell in
England-began to envision other possibilities.
The pioneers of female education were the Italian women humanists
who managed to attain a Latin literacy and knowledge of classical and
Christian literature equivalent to that of prominent men. Their works implicitly and explicitly raise questions about women's social roles, defining
problems that beset women attempting to break out of the cultural limits
that had bound them. Like Christine de Pizan who achieved an advanced
education through her father's tutoring and her own devices, their bold
questioning makes clear the importance of training. Only when women
were educated to the same standard as male leaders would they be able to
raise that other voice and insist on their dignity as human beings morally,
intellectually, and legally equal to men.
THE OTHER VOICE. The other voice, a voice of protest, was mostly female, but also male. It spoke in the vernaculars and in Latin, in treatises
and dialogues, plays and poetry, letters and diaries and pamphlets. It battered at the wall of misogynist beliefs that encircled women and raised a
xxv
XXVl
Editors)
Introduction
to the Series
banner announcing its claims. The female was equal (or even superior) to
the male in essential nature-moral, spiritual, intellectual. Women were capable of higher education, of holding positions of power and influence in
the public realm, and of speaking and writing persuasively. The last bastion
of masculine supremacy, centered on the notions of a woman's primary
domestic responsibility and the requirement of female chastity, was not as
yet assaulted-although
visions of productive female communities as alternatives to the family indicated an awareness of the problem.
During the period 1300 to 1700, the other voice remained only a voice,
and one only dimly heard. It did not result-yet-in
an alteration of social
patterns. Indeed, to this day, they have not entirely been altered. Yet the
call for justice issued as long as six centuries ago by those writing in the tradition of the other voice must be recognized as the source and origin of the
mature feminist tradition and of the realignment of social institutions accomplished in the modern age.
e would like to thank the volume editors in this series, who responded with many suggestions to an earlier draft of this introduction, making it a collaborative enterprise. Many of their suggestions and
criticisms have resulted in revisions of this introduction, though we remain
responsible for the final product.
W
PROJECTED
TITLES
IN THE SERIES
Cassandra Fedele, Letters and Orations) edited and translated by
Diana Robin
Lucrezia Marinella, The Nobility and Excellence a/Women) edited and
translated by Anne Dunhill
Arcangela Tarabotti, Paternal Tyranny) edited and translated by
Letizia Panizza
INTRODUCTIC)N:
THE
HONORED
THE OTHER
C01JRTESAN
VOICE
eronica Franco was a poet who articulated her pro-woman views in
poems and letters usually written in a tactful, courteous style. She was
not an explicitly feminist essayist or polemicist, But her frank eroticism and
her impressive eloquence set her apart from the chaste, silent woman prescribed in Renaissance gender ideology, and her sympathy for women, individually and collectively, links her to two of her Venetian contemporaries,
Lucrezia Marinella and Moderata Fonte. In contrast to the prose works of
these two writers, Franco's Ter:e rime (Poems in Terza Rima) 1575) dramatize her connections with men and her skill in sexual and rhetorical contests with them. It is in this context that she presents protofeminist arguments in sometimes oblique, sometimes openly defiant language.
All of Franco's literary production was inflected by her position as a
cortigiana onesta, an "honored courtesan." She made her living by arranging to have sexual relations, for a high fee, with the elite of Venice and the
many kinds of travelers-merchants,
ambassadors, even kings-who
passed through the city. To succeed as a courtesan, a woman needed to be
beautiful, sophisticated in her dress and manners, and an elegant, cultivated conversationalist. If she demonstrated her intellectual powers by
writing and publishing poetry and prose, so much the better. Franco became a writer by allying herself with distinguished men at the center of her
city's culture, particularly in the informal meetings of a literary salon at the
home of Domenico Venier, the oldest member of a distinguished patrician
family and a former Venetian senator, in the 1570s and 1580s. 1 Through
V
1. On Venier's salon, see Margaret F. Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan. Veronica Franco, Citizen and WYlter In Sixteentb-Century Venlce (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992),
89-94, 150-60, 177-80; and Martha Feldman, City Culture and the Madrigal at Venice
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995),83-106.
2
Introduction
Venier's protection and her own determination, Franco published texts in
which she defended herself individually against attacks by a male poet of
Venice. But, in a genuinely feminist mode, she also wrote to protect fellow
courtesans against mistreatment by men and to criticize the subordination
of women in general.
To understand Franco's feminism, her reader needs to see it operating
in her life and to see her filtering and shaping that life in her writing. In
both spheres, she was an energetic champion of women, concerned about
the welfare of her fellow courtesans and of women in general in the Serenissima (most serene Republic). In the introductory biography that follows,
we indicate specific letters and poems by Franco that illuminate her social
life and aspirations.
BIOGRAPHY
Veronica Franco was born in 1546 in Venice into a family who were cittadini originari, native-born citizens who belonged by hereditary right to a
professional caste that made up the government bureaucracy and were
also members of the powerful confraternities, religious societies that organized private charities and commissioned opulent scuole (schools) in
which they met to pray, socialize, and make decisions-' We know the
names of Veronica's immediate family: her father was Francesco Franco
and her mother Paola Fracassa. Paola had been a courtesan herself and
her name appears together with Veronica's in the Catalogue 0/All the Principal and most Honored Courtesans a/Venice (1565), a listing of the names,
addresses, and fees of well-known prostitutes in the city} Paola is listed as
a go-between for her daughter, which meant that it was to her that Veronica's clients were expected to pay the fee her daughter charged.
What exactly was a courtesan? The most neutral word in mid-sixteenth -century Italy for a woman who made her living by selling her sexual
services was meretrice, for which an English equivalent would be "prosti2. For the earliest biography of Veronica Franco, see Giuseppe Tassini, Veronzca Franco Celebre poetessa e cortigiana del secolo XVI (Venice: Fontana, 1874; reprinted Venice: Alfieri,
1969). More recent biographical information is available in Alvise Zorzi, Cortzgiana veneziana:
Veronzca Franco e t suoi poeti (Milan: Camunia, 1986); Marcella Diberti Leigh, Veronica
Franco Donna) poetessa e cortzgzana del Rznasczmento (Ivrea: Priuli and Verlucca, 1988). On
the czttadznz orzgznari of Venice, see Brian Pullan, Rzch and Poor zn Renaissance Venzce The
Soczal Instztution 0/ a Catholzc State) 1580 to 1620 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1971),100-105; Robert Finlay, Politics in Renaissance Venzce (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1980),45-47.
3. If Catalogo dz tutte le prtnctpali et pu: honorate corttgtane dz Venezia (1565), reproduced in
Rita Casagrande di Villaviera, Le Cortzgiane ucneziane del Cznquecento (Milan: Longanesi,
1968).
The Honored
Courtesan
tute." A word used to insult such wornen, because it described the poorest
class and most morally condemned category of sex worker, was puttana, in
English, "whore." Cortigiana-" courtesan" --had a different meaning. It
was derived from cortigiano, meaning a man who served at court, so it had
connotations of splendor and technical or at least bureaucratic expertise.
The addition of onesta meant "honored" rather than "honest," that is, privileged, wealthy, recognized. At times, especially in Rome, cortigiana was
used simply to mean "prostitute," while the Venetian authorities, publishing edicts to control the costume and public behavior of courtesans, often
used the term meretrice sumptuosa (luxury prostitute). 4 The categories
blur. But it was in the interest of a wornan aiming for the heights of this profession to insist on the high-cultural accomplishments that separated her
from poorer, less educated, more vulnerable women in the sex trade. The
cortigiana lived splendidly, she had an intellectual life, she played music
and knew the literature of Greece and Rome as well as of the present, she
mingled with thinkers, writers, and artists. Franco was remarkably successful at advertising these accomplishments, intended to attract elite
clients and to raise her above less educated women selling sex. But what
makes her interesting is that although she was by necessity an individualist
making her own way, she also thought in a "we plural" mode about women.
As a courtesan, she wrote about the situation of women who shared her
profession, and beyond that, she wrote about the situation of women in
general.
Following women's common practice of making wills when they became pregnant to provide against the possibility of death in childbirth,
Franco left two wills. Both show a practical economic concern for women
like herself. The first, from 1564, when she was eighteen, indicates that she
was pregnant for the first time that year: "retrovandomi maxime graveda"
(being in the final term of my pregnancyl.P In this will she left money for a
dowry for the child should she be a girl, to her women servants, and to
poor, unmarried Venetian girls eligible for the charitable system run by the
confraternities, through which they could be chosen as recipients of
dowries.v In her second will, dated 1570, Franco showed the same concern
for the women of her city. She left money for the marriages of two Venetian girls otherwise unprovided for, but added the condition that if her executors found two prostitutes who wanted "to leave their wicked life by
4. For the Roman vocabulary, see Elizabeth Cohen, "'Courtesans' and 'Whores': Words and
Behavior in Roman Streets," Women IS Studies 19, no. 2 (1991),201-8.
5. For a transcription of Franco's two testaments and for a discussion of their content, see
Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan, 111-15 (transcription :1 and 74-84.
6. On the dowry ballotting system, see Pullan, Rzch and Poor tn Renazssance Venice, 85, 169,
184-86, and 189-92.
3
4
Introduction
marrying or entering a convent,"? they should be the beneficiaries of this
money.
Veronica was the only daughter among the family's three sons, to
whom her wills show she was very attached. Sometime in the early 1560s
she entered into what was probably an arranged marriage with a doctor,
Paolo Panizza, but she separated from him not long afterward. In her 1564
will she asked for the return of her dowry, which suggests that she was already living apart from her husband. Of her six children, three of whom
died in infancy, none were Paolo's, as her wills make clear. One of the fathers was a Venetian nobleman, Andrea Tron, and another was Jacomo di
Baballi, a wealthy merchant of Ragusa (Dubrovnik). For most of her life,
she supported herself and a large household of children, tutors, and servants.
Franco's Lettere familiari a diversi (Familiar Letters to Various People)
1580) reveal very little about her last years, but two legal documents and a
petition clarify her economic situation in her middle and late thirties. The
record of her 1580 trial by the Venetian Inquisition shows that she was accused of practicing magical incantations. Her own defense, the help ofVenier, and the predisposition of the Inquisitor freed her from the charges.f
But the episode must have damaged her reputation, adding to the financial
difficulties she mentions in her draft petition to the Venetian council. In
this request, she explains her poverty as the result of her flight from Venice
during the plague years of 1575-77, her ensuing loss of many possessions
through theft, and her decision to take on the additional burden of raising
her nephews. Her tax declaration for 1582, when she was in her middle
thirties, states that she was living in the neighborhood of Venice near the
church of San Samuele, where the poorest Venetian prostitutes had their
homes."
Even in these lean years, however, she was still concerned about the
welfare and honor of women of the city. She offered her help to the mother
of a young woman whom she wanted to see marry properly rather than become a courtesan (Familiar Letters) 22). And in her draft to the Venetian
council (1577) she proposed that the government found a new kind of
home for women who, because they were already married or the mothers
7. For a transcription of the second testament, see Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan, 113-15.
8. On the Inquisition trial and Alberto Bolognetti, the Inquisitor presiding in the case against
Veronica Franco, see Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan, 168-77. See also Alessandra Schiavon, "Per la biografia di Veronica Franco: Nuovi documenti," Attz dcll'lstituto Veneto dt
Scicnze, Lettere ed Artz 137 0978-79): 243-56; Alvise Zorzi, Cortzgiana ueneziana, 145-53;
Marisa Milani, "'L'incanto' di Veronica Franco," Giornale stonco della letteratura italiana 262,
no.518 (1985):250-63.
9. For a transcription of Veronica Franco's tax declaration, see Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan, 115.
The Honored
Courtesan
of children, were ineligible for the shelters already in place, the Casa delle
Zitelle (House for Unmarried Maidens), which accepted only unmarried
girls, and the Convertite (Home for 'XTomenPenitents), which required a
vow of chastity. 10 Although Franco also hoped for a substantial state salary
for administering this home, her recognition that women needed a different kind of refuge was practical and compassionate. Her death at forty-five
ended a life that had included a decade of sumptuous wealth but also many
difficulties, dangers, and losses.
Franco's intellectual life began with sharing her brothers' education by
private tutors, an unusual opportunity for girls unless there was a father in
the household actively encouraging his daughters to study. (Fewer than 4
percent of Venetian women had any public schooling in the 1580s and only
10 to 12 percent were literate, in contrast to men, of whom 30 percent were
basically literate.I-! She continued her education, as her letters show, by
mixing with learned men, writers, and painters, whom she met in various
social circumstances (Letters 17, 21). In the 157Os, she captured the interest of Domenico Venier, an adviser to many women writers, including Tullia d'Aragona and Moderata Fonte, and a generous reader and protector
to Franco, and she became a frequent visitor to the literary salon at Ca Venier, the Venier palace (Letters 6,31,41,47,49).
By her mid-twenties, she
was known as a poet, writing sonnets and requesting them from other poets
for anthologies assembled to commemorate men of the Venetian elite. For
example, after the death in 1575 of the military hero Estore Martinengo,
she wrote a letter (39) asking a fello\1vVenetian, probably Venier, to compose tributes in sonnet form for a collection 0 f poems she had been asked
to put together in Martinengo's honor. In the 1570s she was receiving intellectuals and artists at her own house in informal get -togethers (Letters 9
and 13).
Franco both represents and transforms her life in the poems she collected for her first book, Poems in Terza Rima. Her engagement with male
patrons, both as a courtesan and a member of the Venier circle, is dramatized by the fact that she always addresses her poems to a particular man,
from whom she requests a response. Franco is extremely forthright about
her profession. From her first poem in the collection (Capitolo2), she celebrates her sexual expertise, promises to satisfy her interlocutor's desires,
and affirms the erotic pleasure that courtesans bring to their clients. This
10. On the Casa, see Monica Chojnacka, "Wornen, Charity, and Community in Early Modern
Venice: The Casa delle Zitelle," Renaissance (}uarterly 51 (Spring 1998): 68-91. For Franco's
petition for the Casa del Soccorso, see Giuseppe Ellero, Arcbuno IRE· lnuentan difondz antichz deglz ospedalt e luogbi pit di Venezza (Venice: 1984-87),225-26.
11. For these figures and for female literacy in general in this period, see Paul F. C:;rendler,
Schoolzng in Renaissance Italy: Literacy and Learning, ]300-1600 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1989),87-102.
5
6
Introduction
frankness justifies her in challenging the literary poses adopted by male
poets who repeat the idealizing cliches of Petrarchan poetry: its praises of
a reserved, unattainable woman, rarely represented as speaking in her own
voice. The public literary self Franco created by offering alternatives to
masculine discourse is most fully and dramatically staged in Capitola 16, in
which she defends herself against insults penned by Maffio Venier, a
nephew of Domenico Venier. The literary context of this duel gave Franco
a rhetorical power of which she took full advantage: her mock-military
challenge to Maffio's authority and her triumphant dismissal of his capacities as poet and decency as a man were more possible in the pages of a
poetic collection than they could have been in the everyday interactions
between a courtesan and her more socially powerful clients.
Franco's Familiar Letters likewise use literary form to shape a representation of the courtesan's life for a public audience. The letters have biographical value; they show her in a variety of daily activities-playing
music, sitting for a portrait, organizing a dinner party (Letters 9, 21, 13),
even asking for the loan of a wheelchair after a domestic accident (44). She
writes as a mother on two occasions, congratulating a noblewoman on the
birth of her son (16) and apologizing for not writing to a friend because her
own sons have been sick with smallpox (39). The letters also comment on
events and situations represented in the poems, so that reading the two together is highly informative. But at the same time, these letters inform us
about Franco's public literary activities and the image she wished to project. She sends her poems to a writer she admires, probably Domenico Venier, to request help in revising them (6,41,49), as many male writers of
the period also did. In letters to a fellow Venetian and to the painter Tintoretto (17, 21), she declares her enthusiasm for the intellectual discussions
that occur in "the academies of talented men." And her longer, most polished letters show her writing as an exemplary moralist, giving advice to a
patrician male friend (4, 17) and to a woman friend who is thinking of making her daughter into a courtesan (22). In this way, as in her poems, Franco
adopts a position of public authority that calls attention to her education,
her rhetorical skill, and the solidarity she feels with women.
SOURCES
Franco shaped her poetry and prose in response to the literary experimentation in which the writers of the Venier ridotto (salon) were engaged. One
of their great interests was the recovery and analysis of medieval vernacular poetry, which had been more or less banished in Pietro Bembo's influential treatise, Essays on the Common Language (1525). Bembo had praised
the Petrarchan sonnet as a model verse form and recommended a dignified, emotionally restrained style based on ancient Roman rhetoric and the
T h e H 0 nor ed C 0 U rt e 5 an
Tuscan writers of the fourteenth century. Rather than follow these norms
exclusively, the Venier group also focused on the capitolo, a verse form used
by thirteenth-century Provencal poets for literary debate. This was a poem
of variable length, written in eleven -syllable verse. It had been resuscitated
by early-sixteenth-century satirists such as Francesco Berni, Luigi Grazzini (II Lasca), and Giovanni Gelli, who had given it a colloquial force and
informality very different from the decorous norm recommended by
Bembo. One use of the capito 10was the tenzone, a poetic debate in which
one poet answers another's poem in a cornbative dialogue. This proposta/risposta (challenge/response) pattern was of particular interest to
Domenico Venier, who, although he never appears by name in Franco's
capito li, is often invoked as a literary counselor in them (5, 18, 23, 24).
Franco sharpens and foregrounds the proposta/risposta element of the tenzone in the outrageously amusing capitoli in which she equates her sexual
prowess as a courtesan and her verbal prowess as a poet with the armed
battle of a duel (13, 16), a playful use of the form that is unique to her. But
her Capitolo 16 also picks up the potential seriousness of the debate implicit in the tenzone. In this poem, a fierce and persuasive response to three
obscene poems written against her in Venetian dialect by Maffio Venier, the
quality of direct address, that is, the dramatization of speech from the poet
to an interlocutor, is evidence of her engagernent with actual rather than
imagined readers: with the person to whom the capitolo is written (Maffio
Venier), with the Ca Venier audience, and with Venetian readers beyond
the Venier circle. The tenzonc form was designed precisely for this kind of
public debate, and Franco used its traditional subject matter-the
attack
on specific people and on poetic practice-to
defend herself against Maffie's attempt to humiliate her in public.
In addition to Dante's Commedia (Divine Comedy) and the myths collected in Ovid's Metamorphoses, a major source for Franco's capitoli was
the Venier group's project of translating and writing commentary on the
themes, figures of speech, and rhetoric of ancient Roman elegy-that is,
love poetry. First, the return to the Latin elegists Catullus, Ovid, Propertius, and Tibullus provided the basis for Franco's adaptation to a female
voice of their first-person laments about infidelity, jealousy, and loss. Second, Ovid's Heroides, letters attributed to such classical heroines as Sappho and Dido in which the male author ventriloquizes the complaints of
abandoned women to their lovers, provided Franco with an epistolary
model, while the poems Ovid wrote after he was exiled from Rome, the
Epistulae ex Ponto, dealt with physical separation from a beloved country,
a theme Franco adapted to her own absences from Venice. Elegiac themes
were seen by the Venier literary theoreticians as well suited to the capitolo
as a form. In treatises on the writing of poetry, members of the group argued that the capitola's chain of interlocking rhymes, creating a suspended
7
8
Introduction
yet controlled sense of uncertainty, was a good vehicle for the dramatization of conflicting and shifting emotions, especially the emotions of love. 12
Franco picks up two different strands from the Roman poets in her
capitoli. Like Ovid, she writes some in the painful present tense of exile (3,
9, 11, 17, 20); like the elegists, she describes the effects of the betrayal, indifference, or cruelty that have led to her flight (21, 22). Although most of
the themes of the Roman poets are easily adaptable to a woman's text,
Franco's elegiac capitoIi transform the male-gendered voice of Latin love
poetry through a shift in the position of the speaker. Whereas the Roman
poets present themselves as helpless victims of courtesans (Lesbia, Cynthia, Corinna), whom they represent as powerful, talkative, and frankly
sexual, Franco, as a courtesan herself, enacts those qualities-unavailable
to either decorous Roman or Venetian women-in the forthright, active
voice of her poems.
A third literary model that Franco took from the past was the familiar
letter, a letter written to a friend but intended for eventual publication. Familiar letters had a complex origin: Cicero's and Seneca's letters, ancient
Roman debates about oratorical practice, and Renaissance reworkings of
the epistolary genre. When Franco writes in Letter 37 that she will imitate
her correspondent by using a style that is laconicarather than asiatica)she
is referring to (though not, in fact, using) the brevity and plain speech of Cicero's letters, as opposed to the highly stylized, intricate prose style condemned by Quintilian in his book on the ideal orator, in which he equated
a man using such elaborate style to "a dressed-up whore." 13 Pietro
Aretino, who claimed to be the first to bring classical epistolary writing into
Italian, similarly denounced the artifice and reverence for classical style of
his contemporaries, claiming that his own energetic, convoluted syntax was
closer to nature than their decorative rcfinemcnts.lf The members of Venier's academy translated a number of volumes of Latin letters, including
those of Seneca and Pliny, in the 1540s, and handbooks on letter-writing
multiplied rapidly after Francesco Sansovino's 1565 guide to epistolary
models, IlSegretario (The Secretaryl.l ' By the end of the 1560s, in the
12. On the uses of the capitola in terza rima for love poetry, see Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan, 204-13.
13. Quintilian, Institutio oratorta, translated into Italian by Orazio Toscanella and dedicated
to Domenico Venier in 1566. On the equation of a man who uses an elaborate rhetorical style
and a "dressed-up whore," see Jacqueline Lichtenstein, "Making Up Representation: The
Risks of Femininity," Representations 20 (1987): 77-87, especially 79-80. See also Rosenthal,
The Honest Courtesan, 314 nn. 36, 37.
14. Pietro Aretino, Lettere, zlprtmo e zl secondo libro, in Tutte le opere, ed. Francesco Flora and
Alessandro del Vita (Milan: Mondadori, 1960). See Letter 1: 156 (Venice, 25 June 1537),
193-94.
15. On volumes of letters printed in Venice in the mid-to-late sixteenth century, see Amedeo
~r h e
H 0 nor ed C 0
U
r t esan
midst of a heated debate about the proper style and topics for lettersshould they be formal and full of wise sayings or direct and down to
earth?-floods of collected letters by one author or many hands were being
published in Italy, including those of Andrea Calmo, Annibale Caro, and
Pietro Bembo.lv But by the 1580s, far fewer epistolary volumes were being
printed for the first time.
The ending of the vogue of the genre invites us to ask why the familiar
letter was still so attractive to Franco. One reason was that the familiar letter shifted private life into the public sphere; it permitted Franco to comment in print on the behavior of men. That is, the genre enabled her to position herself as a judge and advisor, writing as a courtesan -secretary to
advise patricians who had been led astray by passion unmoderated by reason. Given that the standard accusation against the courtesan was that she
led a chaotic, dissolute private life, the familiar letter made it possible for
Franco to turn the tables in a kind of moral one-upsmanship, acting as an
expert in virtue more able to resist the temptations of the world and the
flesh than the men to whom she wrote. Her tone of restraint and wisdom
is reinforced by the fact that she added neither dates nor names to her letters. By creating a certain indeterminacy of person and place in this way,
she achieves a universalizing effect: this is advice for all reasonable beings,
not simply a word of wisdom tailored for a particular friend in a particular
crisis. Finally, in contrast to the polemical mode of the capitolo,the familiar letter establishes the appearance of a certain equality and intimacy between writer and recipient. At the same time, because it requires a grasp of
the proper rhetorical forms advocated by classical authors and reinterpreted by the Venier circle, the letter demonstrates the learning and the
savoir-faire of its writer.
SUMMARY/ANALYSIS
In the critical analysis of Franco's writing that follows, we begin with her
FamiliarLetters because, although she published them in 1580, five years
after her Poems, she probably wrote and assembled them throughout the
1570s. We have chosen fifteen out of the fifty she collected because they illustrate her social life, her literary projects, and above all, her use of this literary form to comment philosophically on the behavior of her contemporaries in ways that could raise her status as courtesan-writer.
In fact, the framing of Franco's L...etters suggests that she was publishing them to establish her reputation
firmly as a courtesan to the elite. Her
Quondam, Le {carte messaggiere' Retortca e modellt di communtcazione eptstolare per un Indice dei libri dt lettere del Cinquecento (Rome: Bulzoni, 1981),255-76,279-316.
16. On this point, see Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan, 122-23,312 nn. 25-26.
9
10
Introduction
extremely ornate, conventional dedication to Luigi d'Este, Cardinal of Ferrara, is followed by a second dedication and two sonnets intended to advertise a triumph of her early career: her encounter with Henri III, about
to become the king of France, when he visited Venice in 1574. Among
spectacular civic festivities that lasted ten days, Henri spent a night secretly
in her house. In her letter and her two sonnets to Henri, she makes the secret public. In spite of the contrast she sets up between his high status and
her lowly one, to record his visit as these texts do was, in fact, to elevate herself in the eyes of her fellow citizens.
In more or less subtle ways, all of Franco's Letters contribute to an impression not only of charm and social ease but of literary cultivation and
wisdom. In Letter 13, in which she invites the recipient to dine with her
and another man, she calls attention to her familiarity with classical epistles. To describe the relaxed, unpretentious occasion she has in mind, she
quotes from a letter of Cicero but revises the citation to suit her purpose.
In his first letter to Atticus, Cicero had written that his political competitor P. Galba had been refused the position he sought" sine fuco ac fallaciis
more maiorum " (without falsity or deceit, in the fashion of our ancestors).17 Franco retains most of this Latin phrase but applies it, instead, to
the informal get-together she is offering to her two men friends: "We can
partake, sine /uco et caerimoniis more maiorum [without falsity or pomp, in
the fashion of our ancestors], of whatever food there will be."
This witty revision of a classical citation stands at the lighter end of the
spectrum of Franco's uses of the familiar letter. In others, she adopts the
position of serious moral advisor to fellow Venetians. In Letter 4, for example, reminding an unnamed male correspondent that he has given her
wise advice on how to face adversity, she tells him that she is going to give
that advice back to him. The friendly yet serious counsel here, typical of the
familiar letter, is crucial to Franco's feminist position because it allows her
to use her exemplary behavior as a letter-writer to undercut the stereotype
of the greedy, immoral prostitute. In the third paragraph of the letter, she
seems to accept the second-class status of women when she reminds her interlocutor, who is lamenting his misfortune, of his privileged social position. God, she points out, "though capable of making you born from the
filthiest and lowest species of all the beasts, ... gave you birth in the most
perfect, the human species, and of that species he gave you the male sex,
and not, as to me, the female one." But if this sounds like an acknowledgment of male superiority, Franco's insistence on the absolute reciprocity
between the man's advice to her and hers to him establishes a parity between them that contradicts any assumption of men's greater wisdom or
17. Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.1, trans. E. D. Winstedt (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1928), 2-3.
'Th e H 0 nor e d Co u r t e san
authority: "And be aware that in paying you what lowe you, I am paying
you in exactly the same coin you gave me; for the fair repayment of virtue
demands that I proceed not only in a way similar to yours but in exactly the
same way." In this metaphor, too, Franco departs from the role of a venal
courtesan: she insists that this is an exchange of virtuous counsel, not of sex
for cash, and she emphasizes that she is giving as much as she has received.
In fact, Franco presents herself as having learned more than the man
who taught her. Reminding him of his privileges as a nobleman and a Venetian citizen, she praises the city as a miracle of freedom and tranquillity. In the
third paragraph of her letter, she invokes the myth of Venice, a much repeated formula celebrating the Republic as a city founded by God and protected throughout its existence from internal political takeover and attack by
rival powers. The feminine gender of "Venezia," allegorized as an imperial
virgin by writers and as a sumptuous blonde beauty by official state
paintcrs.lf gives the myth particular resonance when it is repeated by a
woman writer and a courtesan. Franco identifies herself through citizenship
with a personified figure who combines the autonomy she claims for herself
in her writing and the public admiration on which she and the city both actually depended, as spectacular beauties commodified for visitors (the visit of
Henri III to the city, whose patrician officials most likely guided him to
Franco, typifies the parallel between both feminine "attractions"). To invoke
this myth in her letter is to draw on a pool of positive associations with the
feminized city-state and to raise her status as a courtesan by demonstrating
her participation in a patriotic discourse to which distinguished male writers
from Petrarch and Aretino to Domenico Venier had contributed.
In addition to presenting herself as more appreciative of the benefits
of Venetian citizenship than the man she addresses in Letter 4, Franco
presents herself as his superior in moral wisdom. She instructs him to live
according to his principles: if he cannot put the Christian Stoicism he has
recommended to her-that is, the focus on spiritual rather than worldly
wealth-into practice in his" hour of need," he is revealing the shallowness
of his own teaching: "When it comes to the values that you have so often
taught me, you will show that you no longer understand them if you do not
apply them." As in many of the texts she addresses to men, she distinguishes sharply between high -sounding moral claims and actual behavior.
This position of moral superiority, combined with a sense of serious
duty to a friend, also characterizes Franco's letter to a woman friend who
has decided to turn her daughter into a courtesan (22). But the striking difference between 4 and 22 is that the mother of Letter 22 has none of the
privileges the man addressed in 4 enjoys. She is poor, unprotected, and
18. One painter's typically lush allegory of Venezia is Paolo Veronese's Trzumph of venice, for
the Ducal Palace. Rosenthal discusses this painting in The Honest Courtesan} 261-62 n. 12.
11
12
Introduction
forced by her circumstances to think about profit rather than virtue. In this
letter, Franco makes very clear the difference between the opportunities
that her city makes available to a wealthy man and a poor woman. She reminds her friend that she has promised to help place her daughter in one
of the few refuges the city offered unmarried girls at risk of losing their virginity: the Casa delle Zitelle, where, after a period of residence, girls became eligible for respectable marriages. Franco's generous, even insistent
offer of assistance makes this a familiar letter with an urgent, practical motive: she wants to protect not only the daughter but the mother, who will
ruin her own reputation and lose her daughter's love if she becomes her gobetween. Yet the woman to whom the letter is addressed appears to have
rejected Franco's help. As a result, Franco composes an eloquent warning
against the dangers of the prostitute's life to which poor women in the city
could be driven. She stresses the risk of physical violence and disease as
much, if not more, than spiritual damnation, and she insists on the financial instability of such a life and the practical requirements for succeeding
in it.
Readers of this letter often ask, "Is this Franco's despairing denunciation of her own life as a courtesan?" We think not. She never names herself
specifically as the victim of the dangers she describes, and she never mentions her own mother as a go-between or declares any intention of leaving
her profession. Indeed, her practical comments on the girl's lack of what it
takes to succeed as a courtesan-beauty, "grace and wit in conversation,"
and "style, good judgment, and proficiency in many skills"-suggest that
she is distinguishing herself from the lower ranks of sex workers which this
daughter is likely to join. Rather, Franco is constructing a portrait of herself
as a realistic, honest advisor to her friend. She does refer to the religious catastrophe of a prostitute's life, but her principle concern is pragmatic: the
predictable social consequences of the decision this mother is about to
make.
In addition, Franco is revising literary portraits of prostitution written
by men. Pietro Aretino, for example, in his Dialogues (1556), had presented conversations between an aged prostitute, Nanna, and her daughter, Pippa, in which, with a certain sympathy, he ventriloquized the older
woman's complaint about the lack of freedom that such a woman suffers.
N anna says, "She must, whether she likes it or not, sit with someone else's
buttocks, walk with someone else's feet, sleep with someone else's eyes, and
eat with someone else's mouth." 19 But a main reason for Aretino's hatred
of this lack of freedom was that he saw it as an analogy to the strict social
requirements confronted by male courtiers; to him, these physical con19. Pietro Aretino, Dialogues. trans. Raymond Rosenthal (New York: Marsilio, 1994), as cited
in the epilogue by Margaret Rosenthal, 396.
T h e H 0 nor e d C 0 u r t e san
straints were partly a metaphor for the dynamic between men at court and
their powerful patrons. When Franco writes a series of verbs illustrating
the actions a courtesan was obliged to perform according to the wishes of
her clients, she is speaking literally for women who have experienced the
actual enslavement of their bodies and their daily activities to their client's
desires: "to eat with another's mouth, sleep with another's eyes." She also
emphasizes the involuntary quality of such actions over their physicality
("to move according to another's will"), just as she adds, at several points
in the letter, references to the lack of mental and spiritual autonomy in a
prostitute's life: "the shipwreck" of the "mind" ifacolt«, that is, mental capacities), the danger to "the soul." Franco's project in her Poems, as we
show in the analysis that follows, is to overcorne this actual lack of freedom
by constructing a poetic realm in which she dramatizes the mind and soul
of the courtesan interacting in forceful, even triumphant ways with her
male critics and patrons.
THE POEMS
Franco's Poems consists of twenty-five examples of the capitolo,written in
the terra rima that Dante had used in The Divine Comedy. This meter and
rhyme scheme consists of eleven -syllable lines arranged in interlocking tercets (aba, bcb, cdc) The length of the capito10is variable: Franco's shortest
capitolois 39 lines long, her longest 565. Her collection may be divided into
two parts. The first, containing poems written by men as well as by Franco,
consists of fourteen poems arranged in pairs: a capito10from a man followed by a response from Franco, or a poem by Franco followed by one by
a man. This mixed authorship may seem surprising in a book published
under Franco's name. But another courtesan-poet, Tullia d'Aragona, compiled a similar collection: her Rime contain many sonnets from well-known
men. Courtesans, rather than conceal their connections to famous men, advertised them. Like Tullia, Franco presents herself as a poet engaged in intellectual exchanges with literary men by including their work in her pages.
Capitolo 1 was composed by Marco Venier, the nephew of Domenico Venier, whose name appears at the head of the poem in one of the original
copies of the book but is replaced with "Incerto autore" (unknown author)
in other copies. The authors of the other poems in men's voices are not
identified. In these pairs of poems, the first writer sets a theme and the second responds to it.
This pattern of poems paired in dialogue changes in the second part
of the collection. From Capitolo 15 on, all the poems are by Franco. She
continues to address her eleven final capitoli to male readers, but she also
produces more meditative, elegiac poems-laments over love or separation
from her city-and she ends with a long capito10dedicated to a Veronese
13
14
Introduction
churchman, Marc' antonio della Torre, in praise of his country estate. Two
groups of poems tell a story that spans both sections of the collection. A
trio of Franco's poems (3, 17, 20) deals with jealousy and separation in
terms clearly drawn from Roman elegy. And two poems crucial to her defense of herself and of women in general against a male attacker begin in
the first section (13) and continue into the second (16).
The story of the collection is always the story of Franco as a poet. The
pair of poems with which she opens the collection emphasize her fame as
a writer, exceptional among Venetian women and among courtesans as a
literary "star." In Capitola 1, Marco Venier presents himself as the traditional woeful Petrarchan lover, displaying a "pale / and mournful look" in
his "solitary wandering" (49-50), and he praises the features that Petrarch
had celebrated in Laura: bright eyes, golden hair, a white hand. But Venier
also refers directly to Franco as a poet: her lovely hand holds a pen. He acknowledges her inspiration by Apollo, who "breathes his benign knowledge into you" (72); he encourages her to go on composing "graceful and
pleasant rhymes" (77 ); and he praises her for writing in the spirit of the ancients (85-86). These compliments are part of an argument of seduction
through which he links his praise of her poetry to his request that she satisfy his desire: "Let Venus be no less pleased by your beauty; / you must
put to good use the many gifts she bestowed upon you" (152-55). In
Franco's response, she follows his logic, wittily assuring him that the skills
she has learned from Venus will make him find her "dearer still" (51). But
she proposes a bargain to him in which she insists on intellectual collaboration as a precondition for erotic fulfillment. Rather than simply demand
"silver or ... gold" as proof of his love, she asks repeatedly for" deeds" (28,
37,181-82), and to describe these deeds, she uses a word, opre, that means
literary works (181). When she tells him that what she really values are actions that prove a man's "virtues" (which in the Venier group meant intellectual skill) and his "wisdom" (106, 108), she is using the same vocabulary
in which she describes her enthusiasm for "the academies of talented men"
(Letter 17). Rejecting Marco Venier's compliments as "fictions" (40), she
invites him, we believe, into an exchange of written texts that she can use
as proof of a relationship extending beyond the private sexual liaison of
courtesan and client. Her publication of his poem as the first in her book
confirms this conjecture. Franco admits and celebrates the sexual prowess
with which she can reward Venier: critics have been astonished and delighted by the frankness with which she speaks of her expertise in "the delights of love" (149-50). What we see as new, in addition to this courtesan's
openly erotic rejection of the high-minded poses of Petrarchan poetry, is
her insistence that her lover interact with her as an intellectual, complying
with her demand for proof of their literary connection.
Franco's interest in presenting herself as a serious participant in intellectuallife comes through clearly again in an exchange with a man whose
The Honored
Courtesan
poetic compliments she rejects even more forcefully than the "fictions" of
Marco Venier. In Capitola 11, an unnamed roan pleads with her to return
to Venice from Verona, which, he claims, by 'way of extravagant praise, has
been gloriously embellished by Franco's presence there: "Lovely Verona,
you are one of a kind, / now that my gentle 'Veronica / beautifies you." In
Capitola 12 Franco devastatingly rejects this man's practice as a poet,
accusing him of "wandering in vain versifying" (14) and using lying exaggerations (17-18). She criticizes not only his style but his subject, telling
him that if he wanted to praise her, he should have praised her native city
rather than praising Verona. Here again, as in Letter 17 (and at length in
Capitola22, 154-95), by invoking traditional celebrations of Venice, she
identifies herself as a loyal citizen, establishes her superiority to her interlocutor, who has forgotten the honor the city bestows on its inhabitants,
and identifies herself with a figure of feminine allure and power. 20 Indeed,
in her description of the city (20-48) , Franco expands her prose version of
the civic myth to stress the city's visual beauty, the highest possible in
heaven and on earth. In Capitola 12, Franco writes as a confident master
and critic of poetic style and claims the authority to define appropriate
ways in which male poets should speak of her.
By far the most serious critique of poetry in which Franco engaged,
however, was her debate with Maffio Venier (1550-86), which led her to defend not only herself but her sex in general against mockery and hatred from
men. The history of her debate with this erring member of the Venier clan,
who was famous for his poems in Venetian dialect, can be summed up as follows. Sometime in the 1570s, Maffia circulated in manuscript three poems
specifically targeting Franco: a capitolabeginning "Franca, credeme che per
San Maffio" (Franco, believe me, in the name of Saint Maffio), another beginning "An, fia, cuomuodo? Ache muodo ziogherno?" (What suits you,
girl? How shall we play?), and a sonnet beginning, "Veronica, ver unica puttana" (Veronica, a verily unique whore; see figure 1).21
Maffio was attacking not only Franco but the men who had written
poems praising her by means of a similar but positively intended pun on her
name. In Capitola 7, an unnamed author praises her as "vera, unica al
mondo eccelsa dea" (true and unique goddess, supreme on earth, 173), and,
as we have seen, the man writing to her in Verona (Capitola 11) opens by
using the same words to link the city's name to hers ("Truly, lovely Verona,
you are one of a kind, / now that my gentle 'Veronica / beautifies you with
20. On the myth of Venice, see Edward Muir,
Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1981), especially chap. 1, "The Myth of Venice."
21. For the texts of Maffio Venier's dialect poems directed to Franco, see Manlio Dazzi, ll ftore
della linea ueneziana ll libro segreto (cbiuso), vol. 2 (Vicenza: Neri Pozza, 1956). See also Armando Balduino, "Restauri e ricuperi per Maffio Venier," in Medzoevo e Rinascimento veneto
Con altrt studt tn onore dz Lino Lazzartno (Padua: Antenore, 1979),2: 231-63.
15
FIGURE 1 First page of an obscene poem by Maffio Venier, "Veronica, ver unica puttana," c. 56r. In the manuscript collection of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice.
MSS it. IX 217 (= 7091).
'Th e H 0 nor e d C 0 u r t e san
her unique beauty"). It may well be that Franco saw this attack on male
poets as well as herself as a justification for asking for advice, in Capito1023)
from a man expert in the language of dueling, possibly Domenico Venier,
as she prepared to respond to her enemy. She is not alone in having been
satirized by the man who has defamed her, so she invites her interlocutor
to counsel her on the shared project of taking up arms against Maffio, the
parodist of poetry written by several men in her honor.
Franco was not certain at first of the identity of the man who had written against her. Capito1013, in which she rep roaches a lover for "merciless
mistreatment" in an unexpected betrayal, shows that she believes that a
man with whom she has had happy sexual encounters (34-36), probably
Marco Venier, has turned on her with lies. She adopts a vocabulary of dueling to respond to the man's lies, but the poem works toward a witty revelation: the battle Franco has been proposing is a sexual contest in bed.
Certainly, she would not offer such a sexual invitation to an enemy like
Maffio. The man's response in the next poem likewise suggests that Franco
has mistaken him for the man who betrayed her. He protests his innocence
and conjectures that someone else, disapproving of their living together,
has "scattered his poison over their sweetness" (64-66). Finally, one of
Franco's letters confirms that she has confused a man she admired with the
author of the satirical verses against her. In Letter 47 she apologizes to a
man she respectfully calls "your Lordship." She now sees that the poems
written against her were not good enough to have come from his pen, and
she explains that she sent her response to him under the mistaken impression that he had been the author of these ins ults.
To come now to Capitolo16 itself: Franco's maneuvers in this clearly focused counterattack show that her confusion has been cleared up. She has
seen Maffio's poems (she quotes one specifically) and she knows who her
detractor is (she identifies him as using Venetian dialect). Accordingly, she
sets out to expose him, his inept sonnet, and his hostility to women. Here,
as in 13, she adopts the vocabulary of dueling-more precisely, chivalrous
warfare. But she is no longer jokingly making erotic puns. By dueling here,
she means writing: the hidden weapons with which Maffio ambushed her
are the insults in his sonnet, which she criticizes and rewrites. Quoting the
beginning of his sonnet, "Veronica, vel' unica puttana," she ignores the term
of sexual insult and focuses instead on the word "unique." This cannot have
a negative meaning, she informs him; her dictionary and the practice of bettel' writers than Maffia affirm the positive connotation of the word (142,
154-55). She even turns his semantic error into a compliment to prostitutes
in general: his unica either means that she is not a prostitute or it applies to
her "whatever good prostitutes have," which she specifies as some degree
of "grace and nobility of soul" (178--82).
This light touch, through which she aligns herself with other women
17
18
Introduction
who make their living through sex, is linked to a move that Franco makes
much more emphatically earlier in the poem: she turns her defense of herself against Maffio into a defense of all women. At first, she criticizes Maffio for his lack of chivalry in a way that appears to concede a great deal to
conventional ideas about women's nature and social role: because they are
weak and timid, they deserve men's protection, not their abuse (10-16).
But she revises her apparent acceptance of women as the weaker sex as the
poem goes on. The man's attack has forced her to toughen up, to become
as capable of battle as he is. Although Franco first presents this capacity for
transformation as hers alone-Maffio's attack has spurred her to train herself-she moves from this individual claim to a feminist focus on women
as a group. She takes her personal experience as proof that women in general "are no less agile than men" (36) in warfare-and, as the rest of the
poem shows, in verbal combat.
She expands her argument for women's equality to men by insisting
that training, not innate essence, determines women's abilities. As Lucrezia
Marinella would do in her La nobiltd e t eccellen za delle donne, citing a
1581 poem by Moderata Fonte, Franco imagines a situation in which
women enjoy the same opportunities as men and therefore demonstrate
the same physical and mental strength ("hands and feet and hearts like
yours," 66).22 She rejects gender fixity more radically by pointing out that
masculinity itself is not a unified given. Men vary in physical strength; further, their diversity proves that there is no necessary connection between
body types and mental qualities: "some men who are delicate are also
strong, / and some, though coarse and rough, are cowards" (68-69). She
also suggests that it is ideology that prevents women from discovering their
capabilities. If they were not kept ignorant of their potential, they would reveal it in triumphant encounters with men (70-72).
Franco concludes her defense of women with a neat combination of
the two roles she has claimed as Maffio's challenger: poetic virtuosa and
member of the female sex. She declares herself the champion of women:
she is the first to write against Maffio, their common enemy, but she intends
that others will follow in her footsteps: "Among so many women, I will be
the first to act, / setting an example for all of them to follow" (74-75).
Franco's verve and eloquence in this capitola would indeed reappear in the
22. In La nobilta e Feccellenzadelle donne (Venice: Giovanni Battista Ciotti, 1600; 2d ed., 1601),
Lucrezia Marinella raises training above fixed gender capacity as follows: "Let them train a boy
and a girl of the same age, both well born and with good minds, in letters and in arms; ... they
would see in how short a time the girl would be more expertly accomplished than the boy" (33).
She cites in support a passage from Moderata Fonte's 1581 epic, Il Floridoro:"If when a daughter is born to a father, / He set her to the same work as his son, / In solemn or gay tasks, she'd
hold her own, / Neither less than her brother nor unequal to him, / Whether he placed her in
fiercely armed squadrons / Or assigned her to learn any liberal art" (11, canto 4 ).
'[he Honored
Courtesan
work of women prose writers, if not poets, in the late 1500s. But her declaration that she represents what all women are potentially able to do broadens the field of combat, shifting her response to Maffia from a one-on -one
duel to a display of feminine competence in general: "I will show you how
much the female sex / excels your own" (94--95).
In other capito li, too, Franco looks sympathetically at the situation of
women, although she is never again as fierce in her confrontation with a
male interlocutor. In one of her elegiac poenlS- Capitola 22, a lament on
her absence from Venice and the rniseries of love-she seems again to be
conceding the truth of misogynist cliche: women suffer more in love than
men because they are less rational: "the slightest breeze disturbs the female
mind, / and our simple souls are set ablaze / ... by even a tepid fire"
(76-78). But she explains this surface phenomenon as the result of social
oppression, not female nature, echoing arguments (for example, Boccaccio's in the opening of The Decameron )23 that confining women against
their will makes them more, not less, susceptible to passion: "The less freedom we possess, / the more blind desire ... / will find a way to penetrate
our hearts" (79-81). Limited autonomy, "our shared constraint," she suggests, rather than moral frailty, leads women to two equally grim alternatives: dying of love or going "astray because of a slight mistake" (82-84).
Franco's longest and most inventive defense of women-of a fellow
courtesan and of the female sex in general-s-occurs toward the end of her
Poems, in Capitola 24. She speaks with elaborate courtesy to a man who has
not only insulted a woman verbally but threatened to scar her permanently
by slashing her face (35)-a form of violence through which angry clients
attempted to end the careers of courtesans of whom they were jealous.
Franco's intention here is gently persuasive rather than openly polemical:
she wants to bring the man back into an orbit of gentlemanly chivalry so
that he will make peace with the woman. But in the course of her tactful
suggestions to him, she fills nearly sixty lines with a variety of claims in defense of the female sex.
Some of her arguments are playful and lighthearted, as when she argues
from observable social facts to their underlying cause: men's gratitude for
women's courtesy and admiration of their wisdom is proved by the fact that
they dress women richly, give them the right of way indoors and out, and
23. Giovanni Boccaccio, Tutte le opere di Gzovannz Boccacczo,vol. 4 (II Decameronei, ed. Vittore Branca (Milan: Mondadori, 1976). Boccaccio writes in his preface that women are more
prone to uncontrollable passions because they are sheltered from the public, social world and
cannot free themselves, as do men, of the intense feelings of love: "It is women who timorously
and bashfully conceal Love's flame within their tender breasts; and those who have had experience of it know well enough how much harder it is to control the suppressed than the
open flame. Moreover, circumscribed as women are, ... they brood on all manner of things"
(trans. Guido Waldman [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], 4).
19
20
Introduction
even wear hats in order to take them off in women's honor (97-108).24 But
she also writes in a passionately serious tone about women's disempowerment, as when she describes the entire sex as "always subjected and without freedom" (56-57) and complains of the injustice of their subordination,
given that they have minds and souls equal or superior to men's (61-66). She
claims, in fact, that women combine rationality with virtues such as modesty and flexibility in a mixture that preserves the social fabric.
This claim leads her into her most sustained argument, in which she
rewrites the social relations between the sexes to define men not as the
lords and masters of creation but as the beneficiaries of feminine intelligence and patience. In her counter-myth to the Fall caused by Eve, she proposes that the continuation of the human race has resulted from women's
willingness to lay aside the fierce resistance that men deserve. Rather, to
preserve the world, "so beautiful through our species," women are strategically silent and submissive (85-90). Ignorant men glory in the power they
thereby gain over women, but wiser men recognize this voluntary vassalage
as a reason for gratitude and respectful treatment of the female sex.
This view of gender relations is less radical than the critique of male
injustice to which Lucrezia Marinella would devote the second half of her
Nobilt« delle donne or the freedom from men that Moderata Fonte celebrates in her Merito delle donne through the unmarried Corinna and the financially independent widow Leonora. 25 But Franco's position as a courtesan, in this case protecting another woman who shares her profession,
accounts for the particular inflection she gives her view of women's superiority to men. For their forbearance, she insists, women deserve respectful treatment from men. This logic serves all courtesans, whose interest lay
in managing the realities of their lives-men's ownership of the cash they
needed, their potential violence, and their ability to destroy women's reputations-by
encouraging their clients to follow the code of chivalry.
Franco clearly models this code in the gentle tact with which she opens
24. Here,
with the exception of her remark about men's hats, Franco appears to be drawing
on Livy, or, more likely, on Agrippa's summary, in his De nobilitate et praecellentta[oemtnei
sexus, of Livy's history of Coriolanus. Agrippa, following Livy, explains that to reward the
women of Rome, through whose intervention Coriolanus was diverted from attacking the city,
the Roman senate gave them "the privilege of walking on the high side of the street, and men
rising to render homage to them and ceding their place to them." The senate also permitted
them to wear "purple garments with golden fringes, even ornaments of precious stones," a list
similar to Franco's in the preceding tercets (lines 97-100). See Henricus Cornelius Agrippa,
Declamation on the Nobilit» and Preeminence of the Female Sex (1509), trans. Albert Rabil
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996),90. Rabil identifies two Italian translations of
Agrippa's defense of women, both published in Venice, the first by Francesco Coccio
(Gabriele Giolito, 1554), the second by Alessandro Piccolomini or Ludovico Domenichi in
1545 and 1549 (27 n. 48).
25. These two characters are the principal speakers in Moderata Fonte's II merito delle
The Honored
Courtesan
Capitola 24. She imagines not a world in which women live without men
(given her profession, this was an unlikely fantasy) but one in which they
can coexist in safe reciprocity with men. This poem, by arguing for
women's merit in a tone and logic that call on men to keep their real social
power in check, typifies the delicate balance the courtesan poet needed to
maintain between her sense of her own worth and her need to win and
keep the support of men. Franco's Letters and Poems dramatize her search
for autonomy and her solidarity with women at the same time that they
record her skillful courtship of the male-dominated cultural elite on whom
she depended for security and fame.
THE AFTERLIFE
()F
FRA!'~CO'S
TEXTS
Franco's reputation during her life and after her death is not easy to reconstruct. We know that she was recognized in Venice in her lifetime because she was asked to participate in the anthology of poems for Martinengo, among others, and her sonnets appear in collections that include
poems by noblewomen of the Republic. She was also known outside Italy;
the courtier Muzio Manfredi wrote her a letter from France in 1591 (not
knowing she had died three months before), thanking her for her sonnet
in praise of his tragedy Semiramis and saying that he had heard of her ambition to write an epic. But however widely her poems circulated in manuscript in or beyond the Venier circle, her t\VO books are unlikely to have
been read very widely in her lifetime, because few copies of either one were
printed. Neither book identifies a publisher on its title-page, which suggests that they were published privately, probably at Franco's expense. Private editions were usually small, as the very few extant copies of The Poems
(four) and The Letters (two) confirrn. 26
Franco is not mentioned by her contemporaries Moderata Fonte and
Lucrezia Marinella, possibly because they belonged to a wealthy profesdonne (Venice: Domenico Umberti, 1600), ed. Adriana Chemello (Mirano: Eidos, 1988). See
also Moderata Fonte, The Worth 0/ WOJnen. Wherezn Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and
Thezr Supenority to Men, ed. and trans. Virginia Cox (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1997).
26. Stefano Bianchi mentions two Italian copies of the Terre rime, one in Florence, the other
in Venice, in Veronzca Franco Rzme (Milan: Mursia, 1995), "Nota al testo," 41. A third copy
belongs to the Special Collections of Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, and
Marilyn Migiel writes that she has seen a fourth; see "Veronica Franco (1546-1591)," in Italian Women Wrzters A Bzo-bzblzographic Sourcebook, ed. Rinaldina Russell (Westport, Conn.:
Greenwood Press, 1994), 142. Croce describes the volume of the Letters that he used as rarisszmo (xxvii), but two copies of Lettere /amzliarz exist, one at the Marciana in Venice and one
at the University of Pennsylvania. Through the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt Library,
Special Collections, an electronic facsimile of both the Ter:e rime and Lettere/amzliarz is available through e-mail: [email protected] upenn.edu.
21
22
Introduction
sional class very different from the elevated but far more precarious status of the cortigiana onesta.i] But two of her capitoli (12 and 24) were
reprinted in an anthology of women poets edited by Luisa Bergalli in the
eighteenth century (1726), and M. Tobia published Capitolo 5 in an 1850
anthology of women poets. More general interest in Franco revived in the
late nineteenth century when the Venetian scholar Giuseppe Tassini
wrote a first biography (1874); Arturo Graf published an appreciative
study of her in 1888. In the twentieth century, three modern editions of
the Poems have been published, G. Beccari's in 1912, Abdelkader Salza's
in 1913, and Stefano Bianchi's excellent Rime in 1995. Benedetto Croce
published the Letters in 1949, accompanied by the engraved title page intended for Franco's Rime. In 1997, Laura Anna Stortoni edited a duallanguage anthology, Women Poets of the Italian Renaissance: Courtly
Ladies and Courtesans) which includes her translations of three of
Franco's poems and one letter. These editions, combined with the rise of
feminist literary studies, have produced a number of recent studies
focusing on Franco as a woman writer, and, in addition, an imaginative
reconstruction of her life, Dacia Maraini's play Veronica) meretrice e scrittora. It is possible that further research will show that she was read by
women poets in her own time and later. But for now, Marco Venier's prediction in Capitolo 1 that she would be "a true ornament to every age"
(line 26) seems less true of the three hundred years following her death
than of the twentieth century.
note on the translation: In the Familiar Letters, we have maintained
the elaborate syntax of Franco's dedications but have given a slightly
less formal character to the epistles themselves. To help readers understand
the ideas and images in her capitoli,we have produced a fairly literal rende ring of the Poems) without attempting to reproduce her terza rima.
Rather than imitate her eleven-syllable lines, we have aimed for a four-beat
line in English. The prose summaries of each capitolo are ours. We are indebted throughout to Stefano Bianchi's edition of the Rime) including his
notes. We have omitted the prose summaries he reproduces from Abdelkader Salza's edition, but we include his line numbers as well as Salza's. We
are also indebted to four readers of our translation, the first Elissa Weaver,
the second from the University of Chicago Press, the third the eagle-eyed
Elena Maclachlan, and the fourth Marilyn Migiel.
A
27. On the social positions of Veronica Franco and Moderata Fonte, who were contemporaries, see Margaret Rosenthal, "Venetian Women Writers and Their Discontents," in Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Europe: Institutions, Texts, Images, ed. James Granthem
Turner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
VERONIC1~
FAMILIAR
LETTERS
PEOPL:E
FRANCO,
1'0
VARIOUS
(1580)
To the most illustrious and revered Monsignor Luigi d'Este,Cardinal
Because anyone, even though Fortune has set her in the lowest
place, can honor and glorify almighty God with offerings and
prayers in equal proportion to the wealthiest men, richly endowed
with all good things; indeed, because people who make the smallest
offerings often excel those who build temples and perform other
lavish rites, since God, King of the universe, considers the spiritual
eagerness and the ability of a donor rather than the particular quality of the gift; so in your divine presence, without hesitation, a person desiring to show you her soul's devotion finds some way or
another to prove it in outward deeds, hoping through a small and
feeble tribute that nonetheless includes matchless yearning and an
enlightened, eager will to surpass the honor of whoever, unable to
show signs of such reverent feeling, offers far more expensive things
out of respect for your most excellent judgment-which,
with the
kindliness of God, whose deserving and famous minister you are on
earth, valuing the intention of the heart more than the pretension of
things, cannot fail to accept a tiny sign of devotion more willingly
than an endless effort toward some final, unattainable declaration of
respect. This truth, which I have clearly understood in the light of
your famous virtue and encountered directly in the match and fit
between your fame and the dignity of your person, along with your
blessed and divine intelligence, has so enflamed me that amidst the
competition of many men famous for their learning, constantly
addressing their wonderful works of science and elegant studies to
you and also their compliments, in which the writer's judgment is
more to be honored the more that he lacks the ability to praise you,
I have not hesitated, though a woman untrained in the disciplines
23
24
Veronica
Franco
and poor in invention and language, to dedicate to you this volume
of letters written in my youth, which, with the help of your amazing
courtesy and my deepest respect, ought to have that place in the
blessedly fortunate shelter of your superhuman kindness, among the
wealth of large and brilliant lights burning in the temple, that a welltrimmed and filled oil lamp used to have in heaven. Perhaps at a
more propitious time, in better fortune and a more practiced style,
with the help of your divine kindness, I will dare to try a greater
undertaking, expressing more fully my soul and my gratitude than
laying this little book at the feet of your high valor, through which
you, holding out the arms of your courtesy from the lofty throne of
your immense grace to accept and receive this little display, derived
from my most fervent desire to acknowledge the duty lowe you, will
win esteem for your kindness, all the greater the farther I am from
deserving anything from your illustrious Lordship. Your kindness
will lay upon me that command which, eagerly sought, is never without effect in the mind of someone who wants to work in pleasing
and skillful ways.
May our Lord bless your most illustrious person.
From Venice) the second 0/August) 1580.
Your most illustrious and most reverend Lordship's
humblest and most devoted servant)
Veronica Franca 1
To the Most Unvanquished and Christian King,
Henri III 0/France and Poland
To the immensely high favor that Your Majesty deigned to show
me, coming to my humble house, by taking my portrait away with
you in exchange for the living image of your heroic virtues and
divine valor that you left deep in my heart-an exchange all too fortunate and happy on my side-I am unable to reciprocate, even in
thought or desire; for what can be born from me worthy of the
supreme height of your heavenly soul and your fate? Nor can I compensate even partly with any form of thanks for the infinite merit of
the kindly and gracious offers you made to me on the subject of this
book, which I am about to dedicate to you, offers more fitting to
your greatness and most serene kingly splendor than to any talent of
mine. And even so, as the whole world can be drawn in the small
space of the narrowest page, I have, in these few verses which I send
1. Writing a woman's surname with a feminine ending was common practice in Franco's time.
Familiar
Letters
to Various
People
(1580)
FIGURE 2
Frontispiece for
Veronica Franco's
Lettere [amtliart a diversz
(1580), dedicated to
Cardinal Luigi d'Este
and Henri III, king of
France.
with all respect to Your Majesty, set down a sketch, however
cramped and rough, of my gratitude and my immense, burning
desire to celebrate beyond the limits of any earthly hope the innumerable and superhuman gifts lodged, to their good fortune, in your
generous breast. And with devoted and deep affection I bow down
reverently to embrace your sacred knees.
Your Majesty's most humble and devoted servant)
Veronica Franca
SONNETS
TO HENJRI
III
1
Come talor dal ciel sotto umil tetto
Giove tra noi qua giit benigno scende,
e) perch) occhio terren dali'alt'oggetto
non resti uinto, umana forma prende:
25
FIGURE 3
Two dedicatory sonnets by
Veronica Franco for Henri
III, king of France, after his
entry into Venice in 1574, in
Franco's Lettere familtan a
diuersi (1580), Biblioteca
Nazionale Marciana, Venice
Rari V. 494
Familiar
Letters
to Various
People
cosi venne al mio povero ricetto
senza pompa rear cb'abbaglia e splende,
dalfato Enrico a tal dominio eletto,
cb'un sol mondo nol cape enol comprende.
Bencbe si sconosciuto, ancb'al mio core
tal raggioimpresse del divin suo merto,
cb'in me s'estinse il natural vigore.
Di cb'ei, di tanto a//etto non incerto,
l'imagin mia di smalto e di colore
prese al partir con grat'animo aperto.
As from heaven down to a humble roof
Beneficent Jove descends to us here below,
and to avoid blinding mortal eyes
with such a noble sight, takes human shape:
so to my poor dwelling came Henri,
without royal show, which blinds and dazzlesHenri, whom fate chose for such an empire
that one world alone cannot contain it.
Even so disguised, into my heart
he shone such a ray of his divine virtue
that my innate strength completely failed me.
So, assured of the depth of IDlY affection,
he took my image, in enamel and paint,
away with him in a gracious, open spirit.
2
Prendi,reper virtu sommo et perfetto,
quel che la mano a porgerti si stende:
questo scolpito e colorato aspetto,
in cui 'l mio vivo e natural s'intende.
E}s'a esempio si basso e si imperfetto
la tua vista beata non s'attende,
risguardaa la cagion, non a Feffetto.
Poca/avilla ancor granfiamma accende.
E come} I tuo immortal divin ualore,
in armi e in pace a mille prove esperto,
m'empio l'alma di nobile stupore,
cosi I desio, di donna in cor sofferto,
d'alzarti sopra }I ciel dal mondo [ore,
mira in quel mio sembiante espressoe certo.
J
(1580)
27
28
Veronica
Franco
Take, king, sum of virtue and perfection,
what my hand reaches out to give you:
this carved and colored countenance,
in which my living, real self is represented.
And if such a lowly and imperfect image
is not what your blessed gaze expects,
Consider my motive rather than the result.
A small spark can still kindle a great flame.
And because your undying, celestial valor,
tested by a thousand trials in war and peace,
filled my soul with noble wonder,
So the desire felt in a woman's heart
to raise you above heaven, beyond this world,
see, expressed and proved, in this likeness of me.
Letter
FRANCO
4
RETURNS
A FRIEND'S
ADVICE
IN HIS ADVERSITY
TO HIM
The words you said to me the other evening made me realize that
your soul is seriously troubled and shaken by mishaps arising from
your bad luck-so much so that I was dumbfounded to recall the
many occasions on which I've found you to be a man of prudence
and quite capable of defending yourself with the powerful shield of
virtue against the blows of hostile fate. And because I, too, once suffering, as we do in the world, found you ready and willing to comfort me with your good advice, from which I benefited so much that
my trouble almost turned to gain as I followed your wise warnings,
I mustn't fail to perform the same duty of consoling you in your crisis. Doing this, on one hand, will be harder for me than you because
I have so little experience with the reasoning on which, with sound
doctrine, you have based your position. On the other hand, it will be
easy for me because I have nothing to tell you except exactly what
you once told me. And if my memory serves me as it should, I'll talk
to you in your own words and say your own speech back to you. And
be aware that in paying you what lowe you, I am paying you back
in exactly the same coin you gave me. For the fair repayment of
virtue requires that I proceed not only in a way like yours but in
exactly the same way.
Vain and foolish is the man who thinks he can pass without troubles through this mortal life, into which we are first born crying, signifying that we have entered upon a demanding and difficult pil-
Familiar
Letters
to Various
People
(1580)
grimage, full of miseries and afflictions, which is wrongly called life
but actually leads to life or death, according to whether we lean to
the right or the left. What's more, the world by its nature is so full of
grief and unhappiness everywhere that the man's considered best off
who is least badly off. There's no question of goodness in this
worldly exile. But not only is there nothing good in earthly life,
there's nothing worth paying any attention to at all. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," the wise man said.
But if through human imperfection and the illusory desires of
the flesh, which last less than a minute compared to time's eternity,
anything should be valued, along with the philosopher thank divine
goodness. For though He could have made you be born from the
filthiest and lowest species of all the beasts, He gave you birth in the
most perfect species-humankind-and
of that species He gave you
the male sex and not, as to me, the female one. And among men
from different countries He gave you as a homeland a city neither
barbarous nor enslaved, but gracious, and not only free, but mistress
of the sea and of the loveliest region of Europe. A truly maiden city,
immaculate and never violated, free from the taint of injustice, never
harmed by an enemy force through the fires of war or the world's
conflagration, in every revolution uniquely, miraculously preserved,
not only whole but untouched by hostile attack, as if founded alone
by a miracle in the midst of the sea, and with marvelous tranquillity
firmly established and constantly increased through endless time. A
city full of marvels and surprises, and one that, described without
being seen, can't be known or grasped by the human intellect.
And what if you'd been born in this city among the dregs of the
people? The ancient annals are full of your ancestors' brave deeds,
and your nobility down through an unbroken line is famous and
pure. Do you by chance not have wealth? Look how little nature
accepts as enough, to see how much she surpasses you. And if it
seems to you that you are poor because another man is richer than
you, if this is how wealth is measured, how many rich men must exist
in the huge treasury of the whole world? And then tell me: would
you exchange everything-fortune,
material possessions, body, and
soul-with anyone more powerful and more fortunate on earth?
And if no man can be found who, however he complains about his
situation, wants to exchange it all for another, what are you complaining about? But you want both to hold onto your wisdom and
to change places with another man because of his good fortune. And
if this can't be done, why not rejoice instead that you outdo him in
the strength of your soul, thinking that he should envy you for this
quality rather than envying him yourself for his wealth? Especially
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Veronica
Franco
since anyone has only the wealth that he spends, and no more? And
if it doesn't seem to you that you have money enough for the habits
of a world corrupted by excessive spending, consider how much less
you might have and how much worse off you could be, lowering your
gaze to examples at your feet, of which there are infinite numbers.
But man is so arrogant that when he should be lifting his eyes to
heaven so as to lower them to earth and disdain in it all the things
that are empty and vain compared to the undying, holy lights and
the infinite order of stars strewn throughout such a stupendous
machine, he looks up as if to compete with these celestial intelligences, daring to envy their fortune. How much better it is, and
closer to the rule of reason, to scorn entirely, in the knowledge of
eternity, the frail, corruptible body, which lasts so few years that a
deer or a crow lives ten times longer than a man arriving at decrepit
old age! And if man, as long as he lives on earth, can't avoid being
stained with earthly mud, may the one who has most strength of
mind be least soiled by it.
And if you, through the influence of a benign planet, have
attained a good intelligence and made it disciplined and skillful
through practice, how could you use it better than by wisely judging
fortune's gifts, which are worthless things compared to virtue? This
teaches you to feed your abilities by starving desire, purging your
soul of empty and always damaging lust. And virtue not only teaches
you how to have plenty in the midst of poverty, it shows you as well
that true wealth consists in peace of mind and contentment. And the
contentment of our soul is nothing else but the possession of virtue,
easily recognized by its effects, which have the power to make man
happy in the face of every hostile attack of misfortune. From the
worst disasters, virtue draws the strength to exert itself further and
so in this way to bless whoever possesses it. And this is why many
truly courageous men have defied fortune, rivaling and overcoming
her greatest enmity with the effects of strength and other virtues,
which give to the man who possesses them, in comparison to whoever lacks them, the appearance of a living man, compared to a
painted corpse. Perhaps speaking to you this way is redundant and,
as they say,like carrying water to the sea, to the extent that I talk to
you about matters which you understand perfectly well and about
which you've enlightened and advised me.
Nonetheless, a duty born of love and gratitude compels me further to tell you that virtue inheres more in practice than in pretense.
So when it comes to the values that you have so often taught me,
you'll show that you no longer understand them or possess them if
you don't apply them in your hour of need, which is never so urgent
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that it surpasses the power of reason and prudence. With that, I
cease to write to you, recommending rnyself-as always-most
heartily to you.
Letter
THANKS
6
TO A FRIEND WHO HAS SENT HER SOME SONNETS,
TO WHOM SHE SENDS TWO OF HER OWN
Since I can't praise enough your Lordship's divine writing and the
sonnets you have composed, conforming so closely to the strictures
of rhyme, or even find the words to thank you as I should for the
many honors and favors I've received frolTIyou, I'll keep silently in
the depth of my soul my admiration of your skill and the memory of
what lowe you. And I'll let it pass that you begin with ennobling
comparisons of the lowliest possible object that can be chosen for
praise so that the light of your famous style burns all the more
brightly, though it doesn't need such help at all, and you continue to
enjoy the pleasure that every really noble heart feels at behaving
courteously, especially toward ladies. May your gentle thought be
happy as you turn over in your mind the generous favor and great
liberality you have granted me. If I fail to deserve them in any other
way, I do because I need the help of another's kind praises when I
lack any of my own, even though such praise makes me uneasy
because I so admire the skill of its makers, equal (if any equal can be
found) to your Lordship.
To whom as a sign of my gratitude, though warned against it by
my judgment, I send two sonnets written in the same rhymes as your
four. I, too, would have written four, which, though they wouldn't
be worth a single one of yours, would at least show that I'm eager to
learn. For I work so hard at them, longing to reveal my soul, which
corresponds in such writing neither to the desire nor the need to
return such graces and favors. May your Lordship make up for my
lack with your skill, and wherever I may be, I will still be yours. Do
me the favor, as your servant, of making me worthy of your commands, which I'm sorry not to IJe able to fulfill by coming to you
today, as I'd planned to do, taking the occasion to visit my aunt the
nun. But something has come up that keeps me from it. So, against
my will, I must stay in this city for the time being.
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Letter
A REQUEST
9
FOR THE LOAN OF A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
AND AN INVITATION
TO A CONCERT
Trusting in Your Lordship's infinite courtesy and matching your
noble soul with the ardent desire alive in me always to honor and
serve you, I have summoned the courage to ask you a favor. Please
grant me your harpsichord for several days, and if possible let me
have it from eight o'clock tomorrow night, when I invite you to
come and honor my house with your presence, at an occasion when
I will be playing music. And please bring Messer Vincenzo with you.
And if I am making trouble for you, may the blame for it fall upon
the shoulders of your great kindness, which gives me confidence.
Until then, I kiss your hands with all my heart.
Letter
AN INVITATION
13
TO A MEAL
AT HER
HOUSE
Among the many favors I could receive through your kindness, the
best of all will be that you do me the favor of enjoying some pleasant conversation today, along with your friend, who will be very
eager to come. You see how this rainy weather invites all good folk
to settle down inside by the fire, at least until evening. If you're willing to come, we can partake in mutual comfort, sine /uco et caerimoniis more maiorum [without pomp and ceremony, in the manner
of our ancestors] ,2 of whatever food there'll be. And if you'd be so
kind as to add a little flask of that good malmsey of yours, I am content and ask nothing more. This evening, then, I'll obey your order,
a delight to me, to go to your friend's house. And whatever you
choose to do, for my part, I'll always behave most lovingly toward
you.
Letter
A LETTER
16
OF CONGRATULATIONS
TO A NEW
MOTHER
In the end, the fatigue and pain of childbirth have turned out to be
a sweet blessing to you. Now you have borne such a.beautiful baby
boy, which delights me as much as the difficulties of your pregnancy
saddened me, all the more since they're no sooner felt than forgot2. Franco cites but revises a line from Cicero's first letter to Atticus, "sine fuco et fallaciis more
maiorum" [without pomp or pretense, in the manner of our ancestors].
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ten, and joy increases hand in hand with the life of the child, who,
as he grows in beauty, will doubtless grow as well in kindness and
strength. And because he's the offshoot of a stock that can't degenerate or produce any less than perfect fruit and he's growing up in
the care of people who won't neglect a single detail of his perfect
upbringing, these signs of eternal beauty, flourishing and growing,
are surely lights that, shining out from his inner being, predict the
joyful news of his successful attainment of goodness. This goodness,
I pray Our Lord, will increase in your admirable family without end
or limit through the actions of such a nobile boy, so that in addition
to the glory won by your ancestors' high deeds, it may shine like a
celestial sun on earth in the new accomplishments of such a wellborn little son. May his years, along with those of your Ladyship and
the lord your husband, be long and happy.
Letter
ADVISING
A YOUNG
17
MAN THAT
HER
Ir~TELLECTUALS
WIN
AFFECTION
The things of this world, which are not ordered by an enduring law
as is the fixed movement of the stars, are arranged so that, depending on chance, they can take various shapes and follow various patterns, according to whether they are directed well or badly, by caution or by lack of judgment. As a result they have various and
contrasting outcomes. So something done one way would be delightful' which, done differently, would cause harm, and what, well handled, could be a shield and a defense, badly managed, wounds and
kills. And without speaking of sword and fire, which are tools for
good and ill depending on how they're used, or of wealth or beauty
or high birth and other similar gifts, which take a good or bad form
according to the ways they're used, but turning instead to our subject of love, there's no doubt that it acts as a stimulus in us, which,
depending on how it's shaped by our feelings, is the source of opposite things. So while one man, carried away by the recklessness of his
sex, ends in ruin and open shame, another, refraining from indecency
so as not to offend his lady and setting his mind on virtue to win her
favor, has accomplished impressive and memorable things.
And for this reason, the wise man said that to assemble an army
that would be undefeated and always victorious, it should be made
up of men who respect loving and being loved by each other.' And
3. This is one of Socrates' arguments, as recorded by Plato in The Symposium.
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Veronica
Franco
if this is the conclusion of Socrates, who can never be praised too
much because, though he was totally dedicated to philosophical
study in leisure and peace, performed wonders of bravery in warfare
and on the battlefield, in the presence and for the defense of the person he so loved, who though he was a woman in his delicate complexion and timid soul, was a young man in his sturdy body and
forceful spirit, think how much more this brave lover would have
done if he'd seen a lady in danger, unable at all to act to save herself
by resistance or flight, because of her panic in the noise and heat of
battle. An infinite number of other examples could show you how
many great actions have been caused by love, and if some of the
worst actions have also been born of it, this doesn't mean that a man
of your stature should be alarmed or lose courage. For the fault is
the misuse of love, and not love itself.
Instead, calm and appease your over-intense and anxious imaginings. And if you must put on spurs, don't put on the kind that
push you wildly out of your homeland into a shiftless and pointless
exile, but rather the kind that lead you to win virtue befitting your
true worth. In this way, a man fully succeeds in enjoying honest
leisure in his own country, among fellow citizens and in the presence
of his beloved lady, trying to rival his peers in the theater of public
competition by acquiring merit greater than theirs and hoping for a
reward equal to his brave service.
You know full well that of all the men who count on being able
to win my love, the ones dearest to me are those who work in the
practice of the liberal arts and disciplines, of which (though a
woman of little knowledge, especially compared to my inclination
and interest) I am so fond. And it's with great delight that I talk with
those who know, so as to have further chances to learn, for if my fate
allowed, I would happily spend my entire life and pass all my time
in the academies of talented men. This could be a great advantage
to you, being industrious, as you are, in fine writing and in the flower
of your youth, which, if you nourish and cultivate it well, will bear
fruit to your perpetual praise and fame in the opinion of every wise
and experienced person. Take advantage of these capacities, attend
to your studies, and (if you're as eager as you say for my love-I hesitate to say whether I have a good or bad opinion of you-I assure
you that your frenzies and wandering and ranting by day and night,
intent on besieging me with your service, make me consider you an
idle and empty-headed young man, more inclined to be ruined by
your appetites than edified by reason) by living a settled life in the
tranquillity of study and showing me the profit you gain from hon-
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est learning rather than any of the world's goods, you could lead me
to love and cherish you.
And if, through impatience, unwilling to spend your time winning my favor this way and unable to tolerate serving literature,
you're determined to wander uselessly here and there, I warn you
that if your love for me is not feigned, recourse to distance will do
you harm-in the painful thoughts that will pursue you more closely
the farther from me you go, renewing in your loving memory the
pleasure that you could often have, almost as a lover, in seeing me
and hearing me and sometimes being invited in to talk with me. And
the farther you see yourself distanced from this, the more the desire
to be near it will gnaw at you and consume you. And you'll discover
through the bitter experience of sharp regret that the kind of love
that at first can be conquered by flight before it really strikes, later,
when you've fled with its iron still in your side, kills rather than comforts by flight. If you're really in love with me, what I've said about
you will have the power to make you stay, if you think carefully; and
if you leave, it will be clear proof that your love is false. And in that
case, not only will I free myself from any duty to love you, but I'll be
persuaded to laugh at you and make fun of you. I have nothing else
to write to you. Think carefully about your situation and behave
with good judgment and good sense. May our Lord protect you.
Letter
TO THE PAINTER
21
JACOPO
TINTORETTO
Signor Tintoretto, I can't bear to listen to people who praise ancient
times so much and find such fault with our own, who claim that
nature was a loving mother to men of antiquity but that she is a cruel
stepmother to men today: How far this is from the truth I leave people of good judgment to decide, less biased, I think, than these.
Among the other things they use to raise the ancients up to heaven is
whichever art is most beautiful and noble, be it painting, sculpture, or
bas relief, claiming that no one is found in the world today who
matches the excellence of Apelles, Zeuxis, Phydias, Praxiteles, and
other noble and famous painters and sculptors of those timesthough on what basis, I don't know. I have heard gentlemen expert in
antiquity and highly knowledgeable about these arts say that in our
era and even today, there are painters and sculptors who must be
acknowledged not only to equal but to surpass those of ancient times,
as Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and others did, and as you do today
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Veronica
Franco
FIGURE 4 A portrait of Veronica Franco by ]acopo Tintoretto. Oil on canvas, sixteenth
century (l575?). Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass., Austin S. and Sarah C.
Garver Fund.
I don't say this to flatter you, you know, because it's common
knowledge. If it doesn't seem so to you, it's because you close your
ears to praise and don't care to know what men think of you, as other
artists-painters and others-do. I think this happens because, having reached the summit of your art and knowing that no one else has
F ami I i a r Let t e r 5 to l( a rio
U5
P eo p l e (1 5 8 0)
gone so far, like a man who refuses a guide who has never traveled his
path before, you pay no attention to other people's judgments,
whether they praise or blame. You concentrate entirely on methods
of imitating-no,
rather of outdoing-nature,
not only in what can
be imitated by modeling the human figure, nude or clothed, adding
color, shading, contour, features, muscles, movements, actions, postures, curves, and structure conforming to nature, but by expressing
emotional states as well. I don't think that Roscius" was able to act as
many feelings on stage as your wonderful, immortal brush paints on
panels, walls, canvas, and other surfaces.
I swear to you that when I saw my portrait, the work of your
divine hand, I wondered for a while whether it was a painting or an
apparition set before me by some trickery of the devil, not to make
me fall in love with myself, as happened to Narcissus- (because,
thank God, I don't consider myself so beautiful that I'm afraid to go
mad over my own charms), but for some other reason unknown to
me. So I say to you, and rest assured of this, that divine nature sees
how skillfully you imitate, even surpass her, so much that what you
gain in honor through your immortal works is her loss. So she will
never dare grant to men of our time the high, bold intelligence
required to explain in full the excellence of your art. In this way she
hopes to avoid shame, in word and deed, in every age to come. And
I, certain not to succeed in such a great enterprise myself, lay down
my pen and pray to our blessed Lord for your happiness.
Letter
A WARNING
22
TO A MOTHER
CONSIDERING
TURNING
DAUGHTER
INTO A COURTESAN
HER
The fact that you go around complaining that I'm no longer willing
for you to come to my house to see me, loving you as well as I do,
bothers me less than the fact that I have a good reason for it. Since
you see it as unfair and have complained about me endlessly, I
would like to respond to you in this letter, making a last attempt to
dissuade you from your evil intent, owing you greater friendship
than ever before if you accept lny truthful argument-or,
if you
don't, to take away any hope that you should ever speak to me
again. I'm all the more eager to fulfill this duty toward you because
4. Roscius (d. 62 Be) was a famous comic actor in Rome, a friend to Cicero.
5. Narcissus, a beautiful young man, fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and died of
starvation as a result (Metamorphoses, 3.407-510 ff.L
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Veronica
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to the extent that I clear myself of your accusations, I also fulfill a
humane obligation by showing you a steep precipice hidden in the
distance and by shouting out before you reach it, so that you'll have
time enough to steer clear of it. Although it's mainly a question of
your daughter's well-being, I'm talking about you, as well, for her
ruin cannot be separated from yours. And because you're her
mother, if she should become a prostitute, you'd become her gobetween and deserve the harshest punishment, while her error
wouldn't perhaps be entirely inexcusable because it would have
been caused by your wrongdoing.
You know how often I've begged and warned you to protect her
virginity. And since this world is so full of dangers and so uncertain,
and the houses of poor mothers are never safe from the amorous
maneuvers of lustful young men, I showed you how to shelter her
from danger and to help her by teaching her about life in such a way
that you can marry her decently. I offered you all the help I could to
assure that she'd be accepted into the Casa delle Zitelle.v and I also
promised you, if you took her there, to help you with all the means
at my disposal, as well. At first you thanked me and seemed to be listening to me and to be well disposed toward my affectionate offer.
Together we agreed on what needed to be done so that she'd be
accepted there, and we were about to carry out our plan when you
underwent I don't know what change of heart. Where once you
made her appear simply clothed and with her hair arranged in a style
suitable for a chaste girl, with veils covering her breasts and other
signs of modesty, suddenly you encouraged her to be vain, to bleach
her hair and paint her face. And all at once, you let her show up with
curls dangling around her brow and down her neck, with bare
breasts spilling out of her dress, with a high, uncovered forehead,
and every other embellishment people use to make their merchandise measure up to the competition.
I swear to you, by my faith, that when you first showed her so
disguised to me, I could hardly recognize her, and I told you what
friendship and charity required. But you, by taking my words as an
insult, as though I'd spoken maliciously in my own interest, proved
to me that I was right to be displeased-as, in fact, I've been ever
since, so that I haven't made any effort to maintain the closeness we
once shared. Rather, I've had you told that I wasn't at home or given
you a chilly welcome. I've expressed my distress over you and your
household to other people, thinking that complaining to them might
6. The Casa delle Zitelle was a charitable institution founded to shelter poor, unmarried girls,
in order to prevent their loss of chastity and the ensuing loss of the possibility of marriage.
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be some use to you if you heard about it and that if they repeated my
words to you, they'd reproach you sharply. And I've been told that
someone did carry out this duty, out of affection and the wish to do
you good. But you, remaining stubborn and hardheaded, swore on
one hand that your daughter was a saint while on the other you led
people to believe that she has little concern for her honor through
the gossip and scandal you, her mother, provoked,
Now, finally, I wanted to be sure to write you these lines, urging
you again to beware of what you're doing and not to slaughter in one
stroke your soul and your reputation, along with your daughter'swho, considered from the purely carnal point of view, is really not
very beautiful (to say the least, for my eyes don't deceive me) and has
so little grace and wit in conversation that you'll break her neck
expecting her to do well in the courtesan's profession, which is hard
enough to succeed in even if a woman has beauty, style, good judgment, and proficiency in many skills. And just imagine a young
woman who lacks many of these qualities or has them only to an
average degree! And because, persisting in your error, you might say
that such matters depend on chance, I reply first that there's nothing worse that can be done in life than to let oneself become a plaything of fortune, which can as easily or more easily hand out evil as
good. But anyone with good sense, to avoid being deceived in the
end, builds her hopes on what she has inside her and on what she
might be able to make of herself.
I'll add that even if fate should be completely favorable and kind
to her, this is a life that always turns out to be a misery. It's a most
wretched thing, contrary to human reason, to subject one's body
and labor to a slavery terrifying even to think of. To make oneself
prey to so many men, at the risk of being stripped, robbed, even
killed, so that one man, one day, may snatch away from you everything you've acquired from many over such a long time, along with
so many other dangers of injury and dreadful contagious diseases;
to eat with another's mouth, sleep with another's eyes, move according to another's will, obviously rushing toward the shipwreck of
your mind and your body-what greater rnisery? What wealth, what
luxuries, what delights can outweigh all this? Believe me, among all
the world's calamities, this is the worst. And if to worldly concerns
you add those of the soul, what greater doom and certainty of
damnation could there be?
Pay attention to what people say, and in matters crucial to life
on earth and to the soul's salvation, don't follow examples set by
others. Don't allow the flesh of your wretched daughter not only to
be cut into pieces and sold but you yourself to become her butcher.
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Veronica
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Consider the likely outcome; and if you want to observe other cases,
look at what's happened and happens every day to the multitude of
women in this occupation. If you can be convinced by reason, every
argument about this world and all the more about heaven opposes
you and urges you to avoid this fatal course. Turn your hopes to God
and take advantage of the help your friends offer you.
As for me, besides the promises I've already made you, which I
have every intention of keeping, ask me to do anything I can and I'll
be ready immediately to help you in any way possible-as I now beg
you, as much as I can, to avoid this dire possibility before it's too
late. For once you've thrown the stone into the water, you'll find it
very hard to get it out again. If you do this, I could be a closer friend
to you than ever. By the same account, if you do otherwise, you'll
have no cause to blame me for withdrawing from your friendship,
for if you persist in such unfriendly behavior, the more chance and
reason you give others to flee you the more they love you, because
they can't bear to see you in such misfortune without being able to
help you. It won't be long, perhaps, before your daughter herself,
recognizing the great harm you've done her, will flee from you more
than anyone else does-all the more because, as her mother, you
should have helped her and you'll have exploited and ruined her
instead. And this may be only the beginning of your torment. May
Our Lord save you from your obvious intention to ruin and corrupt
what you created from your own flesh and blood. However much I
could say to you, I'd still have more to say on this subject. So I'll go
no further but leave you to think carefully before you come to any
decision.
Letter
31
THANKS TO A MAN FOR PRAISING
TO COUNTER
THE ATTACK MADE
HER IN HER ABSENCE
ON HER BY ANOTHER
My bad luck of rightly continuing to feel offended by that friend of
mine was not as great as the much greater good luck of having your
courteous protection on my side in my absence-protection
that
was not only a shield supplying me the surest defense against those
insults, but also, because it sheltered me from the onslaught of hostile accusations rather than support my arguments, succeeded in
making me the winner through praise. This praise, given me by your
authority, was affirmed in the opinion and speech of everyone who
was there, so I was assured by one person present at the scene, who
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told me that in this controversy my opponent had lost a great deal
and I had come out well ahead. I attribute this entirely to your kindness, though my cause itself was so just that when the reckoning
came, it could hardly have ended any other way.
Yet I am still pained by the error and stubbornness of that gentleman, on his account because I neither can nor want to make up
my mind not to love him, and on my account because I've been not
only deceived but also reproached by the judgment that led me to
invent such a great fantasy about him. Though who wouldn't have
made a mistake? But everyone can be wise after the fact. Still, who
wouldn't have been moved and persuaded by those manners and by
those words, adroitly spoken from the mouth of a gentleman of such
rank and quality? And if, beyond that, you had heard the promises
he not only made on faith but affirmed with the strongest oaths, I'm
sure you'd have taken me for a woman of little spirit and less faith if
I hadn't believed, on my side, that he'd keep the promises I'd also
made, with less ceremony. And so sometimes, through Nature's
kindness, someone is mocked and fooled, though the man who
mocks and fools her this way mocks and fools himself more than
anyone else. In the end these blows fall on the head of the man who
deals them out, and as far as the person they're aimed at is concerned, they drift away into the air and the wind.
I prefer by far having been deceived by a gentleman to having
anyone able to say that he's been deceived by me. And it isn't
enough to avoid being deceptive only in order to avoid being
deceived; good conduct is more praiseworthy the less it is aimed at
a particular end but is contented in itself and exists for its own sake.
Even so, I'll make an effort, based on these lessons, to be more careful in the future; and perhapsI hope--this misfortune will be the
source of countless benefits. That is, I hope through divine justice,
as solace to me and shame to the man who's been unfaithful to me,
that in well-deserved retribution he won't escape vain regret and a
constant eating away at his heart, like Tityos's.? whose tale was told
in antiquity to express the pain the soul feels when it recognizes its
wrongdoing. And even if I'm unable to pay the debt I owe your
Lordship, Heaven will make up for it, multiplying infinite favors
toward you, as I fondly and devoutly pray.
7. Tityos, mentioned by the Greek poet Pindar, was a giant, killed by Apollo and Diana for
attempting to rape their mother, Leta. Virgil puts him in Tartarus, the lower depth of the
underworld, where his liver is constantly gnawed by a vulture (Aenezd, 6.789-96).
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Franco
Letter
THANKS
37
TO A GENTLEMAN
FOR HIS LETTERS
FAVORS TO HER
AND
In the letters that come from your Lordship, written laconically, I
understand and consider more than asiatically the real extent of
your wonderfully abundant courtesy, which, in the manner of a
swollen torrent that breaks its banks and floods the countryside,
refusing the narrow bed of such a short letter and leaping beyond its
course, widens and surges forward in a way that leaves me overwhelmed and outdone. Lacking the strength to resist the power of
such a flow, it's best that I retreat and make up with the fullness of
my eagerness and desire for the lack in my attempts to respond to
the generosity of such kind writing and for the lack, as well, of any
words capable of thanking your Lordship sufficiently. On this subject, too, I will proceed with laconic reserve, for any degree of lavish
eloquence would still be surpassed by the infinite quantity of your
merit, valor, and noble amiability, through which you have obliged
me to be so entirely yours that nothing is as deeply printed in my
heart as the image of your courtesy, accompanied by a burning
desire, living inextinguishably in me, always to please and serve you.
Please command me and make use of my service, increasing your
dignity through your honored demands and allowing me the more
than infinite satisfaction of responding to your high worth. Nor can
I say anything on this subject, overcome by emotion as I am, except
that among all the signs I could have that my devotion is not unwelcome to you, the best would be always to see you, in loving confidence, freely making use of my accomplishments, considering them
as thoroughly yours as I am myself, won over by your immeasurably
precious qualities-on whose behalf, since I always think, speak,
and write willingly of them, I beg your Lordship to remember my
affection now and then and to write to me from time to time in your
absence. During it, following you continually in my mind and all my
thought, I shall make every effort to be with you physically as well,
as occasion permits, intimately enjoying your sweet conversation,
which at this distance I love and long for with all my soul. With
which from here I bow and kiss your Lordship's most revered
hands, begging you to give your most honored colleague the ever
increasing best wishes of the lady left behind.
Familiar
Letters
Letter
to Various
People
(1580)
39
A REQUEST
TO A FRIEND
TC) CONTRIBUTE
MEMORIAL
ANTHOLOGY
FOR ESTORE
POEMS TO THE
MARTINENGO
Although I've let my pen lie idle from writing to your Lordship for
a while, I deserve not only that you excuse me but that you defend
and pity me, for I've neglected writing to you not by choice but
against my will, since the misfortune has befallen me of my two
young sons' illness these past days-one after the other has come
down with fever and smallpox--along with other crises that have
kept me busy and worried beyond all measure. Now that, by God's
mercy, they're a good deal better, as soon as I could catch my breath
in order to fulfill my duty to answer your very gracious letters, and
to please myself in no small measure, I've taken pen in hand to write
to you, if not as much as I would like, given my other occupationswhich like a many-headed serpent, the more I cut them off, the more
they multiply- at least enough to pay you the respect I owe.
And I beg you to indulge me by agreeing to use your most
refined skills in the composition of whatever number of sonnets that
time and my entreaties permit you, on the occasion of the death of
the illustrious Count Estore Martinengo, whom I hold in great
respect. And in addition to the sense of duty I feel to commemorate
him and the surviving members of his whole family, I've been asked
by a man whose wish is my command to compose some sonnets
myself and to have all my friends and lords write on this subject. So,
not dawdling at all in the task of commissioning such works, I've
begged the favor of writing from many other noble spirits, and many
whom I've asked have already written. So I want to move ahead
quickly and do it well, if I can. You'll have these men, your Lordship, as your valiant companions in this undertaking. And you'll be
doing me a very great favor. And the opportunity to request this of
you has been almost a pleasure for me, by increasing your willingness to prevail upon me for anything I can and wish to do for you. I
am always ready to serve your Lordship.
Letter
A REQUEST
FOR HELP
41
IN REVISING
HER
LETTERS
Trusting in your Lordship's kindness, on a par with the immense
affection and respect I feel for you, I'm sending you this volume of
my letters, which I've collected as best as I could, so that you may
read it, and by compensating with your wisdom for my imperfec-
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Veronica
Franco
tions, you'll partly excuse and partly correct my mistakes. I also
hope that you'll forgive my presumption not only in sending you
these trifles of mine to look at, but also in wanting to see and talk to
you in person, and that you'll set aside any consideration of the difference between your skill and my unworthiness. Still, given that
this is caused by a most powerful love-for otherwise I wouldn't
dare to request it of you-I beg you with all my heart to favor me
with whatever sort of correspondence suits your kindness, by allowing me as soon as possible to spend two hours of whatever day suits
you in talking to you in person and through good fortune enjoying
pleasant conversation with your Lordship. To whom I affectionately
send my regards.
Letter
A REQUEST
44
TO DOMENICO
VENIER
OF A WHEELCHAIR
FOR THE LOAN
Fortune favors me by giving me an ailment of the limbs similar to
your Lordship's, having made me almost lose a leg, as if nature and
art were opposed and unwilling to make me resemble you in spirit
and intellect. May the wound to my body make up for the weakness
of my spirit! A welcome offense, since in addition to imitating your
Lordship's indisposition in this way, I'll also enjoy some of your
esteemed cast-offs in my need-for example, one of those wheelchairs of yours, which I beg you to send me by the bearer of this letter, so that I may profit from it in the unlucky accident to my knee,
whose muscle I've pierced, I don't know how, with a hair pin.f And
this has kept me from coming to pay you my respects in person,
which I constantly do in my heart.
Letter
47
AN APOLOGY
TO A MAN FOR SUSPECTING
HIM OF
BEING THE AUTHOR OF THE SATIRIC VERSES
WRITTEN
BY ANOTHER
Rumor, which reports events with less concern for what is true than
for what might seem true, made me believe with convincing reasons
that your Lordship was the author of that satire, considering that
men who have talent similar to yours try to prove themselves by discussing subjects void of any interest and to make up for their scant
8. Ago da treccta may also mean embroidery needle.
Familiar
Letters
to Various
People
(1580)
material with an abundance of good judgment and invention. This
is exactly what was done by the man who has written those verses
against me, for if I don't deserve great praise, neither certainly do I
deserve blame so much that someone I've never harmed and who
doesn't know me should write against me with such venom-proof,
no doubt, of his great intellect, and greater than praising me would
have been, given that I'm a woman and have always tried to please
kind and valorous men, without ever displeasing anyone. And if I
am not highly skilled myself, I'm at least a lover of skill in people
who are gifted with it, as is your Lordship, for whom on this account
I've always felt great affection and respect. And for this reason I was
truly astonished to be paid back for my devotion with such defamatory libels. And I also didn't wholly want to believe that this was
your doing, once I had seen the imperfection of the work, full of
errors, and for other reasons, too, not a worthy offspring of your
noble intellect. Still, I remained in doubt because of several
accounts I had had of it, now leaning toward thinking yes, now no.
And in this indecision, it occurred to me for my own amusement to
write the capito10)which has so pleased me, given that you have been
willing to keep it, that I was even glad it was sent to you by mistake.
And in the certainty that it happened this way and that a gentleman as honorable as you are wouldn't say one thing and mean
another, I no longer have a reason for a duel or a challenge. Rather,
I thank you for your offer of acting as my second in the duel, which,
coming to me from such a great patron, I accept as an extraordinary
favor. And because I need it, I'll take advantage of it with the same
confidence that I want you to have in me, And I'll avail myself of it
especially against whoever wrote that composition attacking me, if
he ever comes to light. In the rneantime, so as not to abandon the
training in arms that I need, I entreat your Lordship, as the perfect
instructor, to teach me some secret stroke, or, rather, to take the
sword into your own hand, not one with a sharp edge but one for
play, and to engage with me in a duel as virtuoso as you like, challenging me to a response by sending me whatever opening lines are
convenient for you, in whatever language suits you. And if you deign
to do this, I'll be grateful to you and make every effort to answer as
quickly as I read profitably what you send me. And let this be the
answer to your highly appreciated letter, which I've read several
times with the greatest pleasure at receiving your Lordship's courteous pledge of skill and favor. I entrust myself to you.
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Franco
Letter
ACCOMPANYING
49
A SET OF PAGES,
FOR REVISIONS
A REQUEST
I thank your Lordship for your praise of my book, because more
than from any merit of mine, it comes from the kind of affection I
have wanted to repay in a similar way, an affection I feel in all reverence for your valor and many other virtues. Blessed be Our Lord
God that in the hardest ice and the indestructible diamond of your
reason, completely free and detached from the power of inflamed
senses, you have still received the imprint and stamp of that image
of charitable love with which I love your Lordship most sincerely,
keeping carved in my heart the living likeness of that virtue and
courtesy of yours, which gives me confidence in your favor and your
beneficence. And if the fire of love, which conquers men and gods,
of which you write at the end of your letter is the ardor of a courteous desire to assist me in my need and according to your promises,
I praise you and give you infinite thanks for your kindness.
Now I send you the second set of ten pages in compliance with
your request, so that it, too, may receive the favor of your stripping
it down to its doublet, as did the first. I'd certainly be very happy if
in your leisure, having taken off your clothes, you took the trouble
to correct this work, which you need to do-because otherwise, just
sitting there undressed and unoccupied, you might catch cold! And
by doing so, you'd increase my will to arrange quickly for the transcription of other books of mine, so far only in the form of rough
drafts, by sending them to you, making up in part for this way of
keeping you busy, and getting even with you for your great idleness
in all the time that you haven't written me, and also by pestering you
with the annoying task of reading these lines!
VERONIC,A
POEMS
IN TERZA
FR.t\NCO,
RIMA
(1575)
To the most serene prince) my lord and patron) the most reverend
Duke 0/ Mantua and 0/Man/errata) l from Veronica Franca
Although only the most remote parallel and almost total inequality exist between your Highness's world-famous virtue and my
desire to honor and serve you as I should, so that anything I could
do in this undertaking would be less than a shadow compared to the
truth; even so, in this book, in which I have lacked the ability and the
proper formulas to praise and exalt you, my eagerness to express the
virtuous though unattainable desire to do so overcame my hesitation
to the extent that I could not refrain frorn assuring you of it through
the weak evidence of these few poems in terra rima) which I dedicate
to you-not because they have any relation to the extraordinary
merit of your great talents, for these cannot be a subject for my inept
style-but so that by offering a slight taste of my lowly muse to your
wise judgment, I may demonstrate my limited talent in this sample
and so have a good excuse for not daring to raise my speech to the
sky of your immeasurable valor, and so that the poems may come out
at this time under the protection of your famous name and be
openly introduced as depending in every way upon your Highness's
will. Who, I am sure, seeing in them my longing, whose only goal is
to show you my readiness to serve you, will accept in this modest gift
my soul's infinite gratitude for your merit and the only tribute of
which I am capable, since I cannot offer you the one you deserve.
And as the clearest sign of my devotion, I present this volume of
mine to you through my young son, sent to you to perform this duty.
May he, expressing my own heart in his face and behavior and every
1. The Duke of Mantua at this time, Guglielmo Gonzaga 0538-87), famous as a protector of
musicians, employed the poet Bernardo Tasso as his principal secretary (Bianchi, 181 n. 2).
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Veronica
Franco
kind of humble reverence in your most serene presence, win me the
grace of your kind favor in exchange for my ardent homage, and
compensating for my inability to match in deeds my powers to my
will, by which I am bound by a permanent, insoluble tie of most
humble service to your great Highness.
FIGURE 5 Frontispiece portrait of Veronica Franco, originally intended for her volume of
poems, the Terze rime (1575). A detached anonymous engraving in the manuscript collections of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice. MSS it. IX 14 (= 6988),
50
Veronica
Franco
Capitolo
I
DEL MAGNIFICO
MESSER MARCO VENIERO
ALLA SIGNORA
VERONICA
FRANCA
S'io v'amo al par de la mia propria vita,
donna crudel, e voi perche non date
in tanto amor al mio tormento aita?
E se invano merce chieggio e pietate,
perch'almen con la morte quelle pene,
ch'io soffro per amarvi, non troncate?
So che remunerar non si conviene
mia fe cosf; ma quel mal, che ripara
a un maggior mal, vien riputato bene:
pili d'ogni morte e la mia doglia amara,
e morir di man vostra, in questo stato,
grazia mi fia desiderata e cara.
Ma corn'esser puo mai che, dentro allato
molle, il bianco gentil vostro bel petto
chiuda sf duro cor e sf spietato?
Com'esser puo che quelleggiadro aspetto
voglie e pensier cosi crudi ricopra,
che '1 servir umil prendano in dispetto?
La gran bellezza a voi data di sopra
spender in morte di chi v' ama e in doglia,
qual potete peggior far di quest'opra?
Cio da l'uman desir vostro si toglia,
e 'n sua vece vi penetri a la mente,
conforme a la belta, pietosa voglia.
Cosf dentro e di fuor chiara e splendente
sarete d'ogni eta vero ornamento,
non pur di questo secolo presentee
Pria che de' be' crin l' or si faccia argento,
da custodir e quel che poi si perde,
chi '1 lascia in man del tempo, in un momenta:
e se ben sete d'eta fresca e verde,
nulla degli anni e pili veloce cosa,
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Poems
Capitola
FROM
THE
MAGNIFICO
VERONICA
in Terza
Rima
51
1
MARCO
FRANCO
VENIER
TO
If I love you as much as my own life,
cruel lady, why do you offer no relief
for my suffering in such great love?
And if I ask in vain for grace and pity,
why do you not at least end with death
this pain I endure for love of you?
I know you are not right to reward
my faithfulness in this way; but a wrong
that rights a greater wrong is well received;
my suffering is more bitter than any death,
and to die by your hand in this condition
would be a boon I longed for and cherished.
But however can it be, in the tenderest part
of your body, that your fair, fine, white breast
can enclose a heart so hard and pitiless?
How can it be that such a gay appearance
conceals desires and thoughts so cruel
that they disdain my humble devotion?
To use the great beauty given you by heaven
for the death and grief of a man who loves youwhat deed worse than this could you commit?
Let your natural desire be freed from all this
and let compassion fitting to your beauty
make its way into your mind instead.
So, bright and resplendent inside and out,
you will be the true ornament of every age,
not only of this present century.
Before the gold of your lovely hair turns silver
you must take good care of what is lost
in a single moment, once left in the hands of time;
and though you're now in a fresh and flowering age,
nothing flies past so swiftly as the years,
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13
16
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22
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Veronica
Franco
si ch'a tenervi dietro il pensier perde;
e mentre di qua giu nessun ben posa,
nasce e spar la belta piu che baleno,
non che qual nata e secca a un tempo rosa.
Ma poi chi la pieta chiude nel seno,
col merto de Ia fama sua ravviva
Ie chiome bionde e '1 viso almo e sereno.
Dunque, per farvi al mondo eterna ediva,
arnica di pieta verso chi v' ama,
siate di crudelta nemica e schiva.
Oh, se vedeste in me l' ardente brama,
c'ho di servir voi sola a tutte l'ore,
con quel pensier ch' ognor vi chiede e brama;
se mi vedeste in mezzo '1 petto il core,
a me son certo che null' altro amante
pareggereste nel portarvi amore!
Ma guardatemi '1 cor fuor nel sembiante
pallido e mesto e nel mio venir solo,
di e notte, con pie lasso e cor costante;
e conoscendo il mio soverchio duolo,
e come in lui convien ch'ognor trabbocchi
di pene cinto da infinito stuolo,
volgete a me pietosamente gli occhi,
a veder come presso e di lontano
quinci ognor empio Amor I'arco in me scocchi;
stendete a me la bella e bianca mana
a rinovar il colpo, e che in tal guisa
il sen piu m'apre e insieme il rende sano.
belta d'ogni essernpio altro divisa,
di cui l' anima in farsi umil soggetta,
stando lieta, qua giu s'irnparadisa!
Amor da que' begli occhi in me saetta
con tal dolcezza, che 'I mio espresso danno
via pili sempre mi giova e mi diletta.
Ben questi al chiaro sale invidia fanno,
ben ch'ancor Febo can diletto mira
Ie bellezze che tante in voi si stanno:
o
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Poems
in Terza
which outstrip even thought;
and while here on earth no good thing lasts,
beauty is born and vanishes quick as a flash,
like the rose that blooms and withers all at once.
But whoever harbors pity in her breast
by virtue of her fame brings back to life
her golden locks and her kind and serene face.
So, to become eternal and divine on earth,
be hostile and averse to cruelty,
a friend to pity for the man who loves you.
Oh, if you were to see my fiery longing
to serve only you at every hour of the day,
and my thought, which always seeks and longs for you,
if you were to see my heart deep in my breast,
I know that you could compare no other lover
to me for the love he feels toward you.
But behold my heart, revealed in my pale
and mournful look, and my solitary wandering,
day and night, with weary foot and constant heart;
and, taking notice of my crushing pain,
and how at every moment it must overflow,
bound to an infinite throng of woes,
turn your eyes toward me pitifully,
to see how, from near and far away,
cruel Love constantly aims his bow at me;
reach out to me your fair white hand
to renew his blows, to let him pierce my breast
more deeply and heal it at the same time.
Oh, beauty far surpassing any other,
through which the soul, delighted to humble itself,
becomes one with paradise here on earth! 2
Love, through those lovely eyes, shoots me
so sweetly that the harm he's aimed at me alone
delights and rejoices me more and more.
These eyes indeed make the bright sun envious,
and even Phoebus gazes in delight.'
at the beauties which so abound in you;
Rima
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58
61
64
67
2. A citation from Dante's Paradiso (canto 28.3), identified by Bianchi, 183 n. 63.
3. In Greek mythology, Phoebus and Apollo are both names of the god of light, Phoebus
emphasizing his role as the sun.
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Veronica
Franco
di queste vago Apollo arde e sospira,
e per virtu di tai luci gioconde
il suo saper in voi benigno inspira;
e mentre questo in gran copia v'infonde,
move la chiara voce al dolce canto,
ch'a' bei pensier de l'animo risponde.
La penna e '1 foglio in man prendete intanto,
e scrivete soavi e grate rime,
ch'ai poeti maggior tolgono il vanto.
o bella man, che con bell' arte esprime
sf leggiadri concetti, e Ie sue forme
dentro '1 mio cor felicemente imprime!
De I'antico valor segnando I'orme
questa ne va sf candida e gentile,
svegliando la virtu dove piu dorme;
ne pur rinova il glorioso stile
del poetar sf celebre trascorso,
che non ebbe fin qui par ne simile;
rna de Ie menti afflitte alto soccorso
e quella man ne l' amorosa cura,
che quivi ha '1 suo rifugio e '1 suo ricorso.
Di viva neve man candida e pura,
che dolce mente il cor m'ardi e consumi
per miracol d'amor fuor di natura,
e voi, ce1esti e graziosi 1umi,
ch'ardor e refrigerio in un mi sete,
e parer gli altrui rai fate ombre e fumi,
perch'a me '1 vostro aviso contendete?
e non piu tosto con pietosi modi
a1 mio soccorso, oime, vi rivolgcte?
Ne perc chieggio che disciolga i nodi,
che 'ntorno al cor m'ordio, 1a man si vaga,
ne che in alcuna parte men m'annodi;
non chiedo ch'entro al sen sa1di la piaga
il bel guardo gentil, che in me l'impresse,
d'arnor con arte lusinghiera e vaga:
da quel1e mani e da Ie braccia stesse
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Poems
in Te r: a Rima
for these, longing Apollo burns and sighs,
and through the power of such merry eyes
he benignly breathes his knowledge into you,
and, as he infuses it lavishly into you,
you turn your clear voice to sweet song,
which matches the lovely thoughts in your mind.
Take pen and paper in hand, then,
and write pleasant and graceful rhymes,
which strip the glory from the greatest poets.
Oh, lovely hand, which with lovely art
expresses such winning conceits, and happily
imprints its shape upon my heart!
Following the footsteps of ancient valor,
it moves along, so pure and gentle, awakening
virtue where it sleeps most deeply;
not only does it revive the splendid style
of the celebrated poetry of the past,
which so far has had no like or equal;
but to suffering minds, that hand
is a great help in the suffering of love,
for here it finds its shelter and relief.
Hand of living snow, white and pure,
which sweetly inflames and consumes my heart,
through a supernatural miracle of love,
and you, heavenly and gracious eyes,
which to me are ardor and coolness all in one,
and make other glances seem mere smoke and shadow,
why do you refuse me your counsel?
and why, instead, in pitiful fashion
do you not come, alas, to my rescue?
Not that I ask you to untie the knots
that your lovely hand wove around my heart,
nor to loosen my bonds in any place;
I do not ask that your lovely, gentle glance
should heal in my breast the wound it dealt me
through the sly, alluring art of love;
by those hands and by those very arms
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Franco
esser bramo raccolto in cortesia,
e che '1 mio laccio stringan piu sempre esse;
bramo che quelIa vista umana e pia
si volga al mio diletto, e del bel viso
e de la bocca avara non mi sia.
Oh che grato e felice paradiso,
dal goder Ie bellezze in voi si rade
non si trovar giamai, donna, diviso:
donna di vera ed unica beltade,
e di costumi adorna e di virtude,
con senil senno in giovenil etade!
Oh che dolce mirar Ie membra ignude,
e piu dolce languir in grembo a loro,
ch'or a torto mi son si scarse e crude!
Prenderei con Ie mani il forbito oro
de Ie treece, tirando de l' offesa,
pian piano, in mia vendetta il fin tesoro.
Quando giacete ne Ie piume stesa,
che soave assalirvi! e in quella guisa
levarvi ogni riparo, ogni difesa!
Venere in letto ai vezzi vi ravvisa,
a Ie delizie che 'n voi tante scopre
chi da pieta vi trova non divisa;
si come nel compor de Ie dotte opre,
de Ie nove Castalie in voi sorelle
1'arte e l'ingegno a l'altrui vista s'opre.
E cosi '1 vanto avete tra Ie belle
di dotta, e tra Ie dotte di bellezza,
e d'ambo superate e queste e quelle;
e mentre 1'uno e 1'altro in voi s'apprezza,
d'ambo sarebbe 1'onor vostro in tutto,
se la belta non guastasse l' asprezza.
Ma se 'n voi la scienzia e d'alto frutto,
perche de la bellezza il pregio tanto
vien da la vostra crudelta distrutto?
Accompagnate l'opra in ogni canto;
e come la virtu vostra ne giova,
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Poems
in Te r z a Rima
I long to be embraced, in courtesy,
and to have them pull my ties tighter still.
I long for that kind and gracious sight
to tend to my delight, and not to withhold
your lovely face and mouth from me.
Oh, what a happy and blessed paradise
never to be parted from enjoying,
lady, your unparalleled charms;
lady of true and unique beauty,"
and improved by fine manners and skill,
with mature wisdom in your early youth!
Oh, how sweet to gaze upon those naked limbs,
which now are so unfairly hard and cruel,
and sweeter still to lie languid in your lap!
I would take in my hands the burnished gold
of your tresses, pulling that fine treasure
gently, in revenge for your offense.
When you lie stretched out upon the pillows,
how sweet to fall upon you! and in that "Nay
to strip you of any retreat or defense!
The man who finds you not opposed to pity
sees you as Venus for your charms in bed
and the many delights discovered in you,
just as when you compose learned verses,
the art and intellect of the nine Castalians,"
sisters to you, are revealed to one's eyes.
And so among beauties you are famous for your learning,
and among learned women you are known for your beauty,
and in both you excel one group and the other;
and while each of these qualities wins you admiration,
the honor for both would be yours altogether,
if only your harshness did not spoil your beauty.
But if knowledge in you is so nobly fruitful,
why is it that beauty, also a treasure,
comes to ruin through your hard heart?
Circulate your work, go with it everywhere,
and as your virtuosity gains from doing so,6
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139
142
4. This is the first time in the Poems that a man puns on Veronica's name. Compare capuolo
7, line 173; 11, lines 1-3; and 16, lines 139-56.
5. The Castalians are the nine muses, so named for their proximity to Castalia, a spring on Mt.
Parnassus.
6. VIrtu) in the context of literary salons such as the Venier group, usually meant skill, technical brilliance, virtuosity rather than moral virtue.
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Veronica
Franco
la belta non sia seme del mio pianto:
in tanto amor tanto dolor vi mova,
si che di riparar ai tristi affanni
entriate meco in lodevole prova.
S'al tempo fa SI gloriosi inganni
la vostra musa, la belta non faccia
a se medesma irreparabil danni.
A Febo e degno che si sodisfaccia
dal vostro ingegno, rna da la beltate
a Venere non meno si compiaccia:
le tante da lei grazie a voi donate
spender devete in buon usn, SI come
di quelle, che vi diede Apollo, fate:
con queste eternerete il vostro nome,
non men che con gli inchiostri; e len to e infermo
farete il tempo, e Ie sue forze dome.
Per la bocca di lei questo v'affermo:
non lasciate Ciprigna per seguire
Delio, ne contra lei tent ate schermo;
che Febo se Ie inchina ad obedire,
ne puo far altrimenti, se ben poi
gran piacer tragge in cio dal suo servire.
Cosi devete far an cora voi,
seguitando l' essempio di quel dio,
che v'infonde i concetti e i pensier suoi.
La bellezza adornate col cor pio,
S1che con la virtu ben s' accompagne,
lontan da ogni crudel empio desio:
queste in voi la pieta faccia compagne,
e in tanto vi rincresca, com'e degno,
d'un che de l'amor vostro ognora piagne.
E son quell'io, che umile a voi ne vegno,
cercando di placar con dolci preghi
la vostra crudeltate e '1 vostro sdegno:
merce da voi, per Dio, non rni si nieghi,
donna bella e gentil, rna in tanta guerra
benigno il vostro aiuto a me si pieghi.
Cosf sarete senza par in terra.
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in Te r: a Rima
let not your beauty be the source of my tears;
may so much sorrow in so much love rnove you,
so that, to relieve my heart-heavy grief,
you join me in a contest worthy of praise.
If your muse vanquishes time
through such glory-winning tricks,
may your beauty not do itself unending harm.
It is right that Phoebus should be satisfied
by your intellect; but let Venus
be no less pleased by your beauty.
You must put to good use all the gifts
that she made you, as you do
with the gifts granted you by Apollo;
you'll make your name immortal through Venus's gifts
no less than you will do with your ink;
and you'll slow down time and weaken its force.
Through her mouth I assure you of this:
do not desert Cypris to follow after Delios.?
or attempt to defend yourself against her"
For Phoebus himself bows down to obey her,
and he cannot do otherwise, though in the end
he takes great pleasure in service to her.
So you, as well, must do the same,
imitating the example set by this god,
who inspires you with his ideas and thoughts.
Adorn your beauty with a pitying heart;
so that it is properly accompanied by virtue,
far from every cruel, fierce desire;
in you let these two join hands with pity
and make you feel as sorry as you should
for a man who weeps for your love every moment.
And I am that man, who comes humbly to you,
hoping to placate with caressing entreaties
your rigor together with your disdain;
do not, in God's name, refuse me your mercy,
fair, gentle lady, but in such great war
extend your kindly help to me.
In this way you will be without equal on earth.
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7. Venus was named for Cyprus, the island where she was born, as Apollo was named for his
native island Delos.
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Franco
Capitolo
2
~
S'esser del vostro amor potessi certa
per quel che mostran Ie parole e '1 volto,
che spesso tengon varia alma coperta;
se quel che tien la mente in se raccolto
mostrasson Ie vestigie esterne in guisa
ch'altri non fosse spesso in frode colto,
quella terna da me fora divisa,
di cui quando percio m'assicurassi,
semplice e sciocca, ne sarei derisa:
« a un luogo stesso per molte vie vassi »,
dice il proverbio; ne sicuro e punto
rivolger dietro a l' apparenzie i passi.
Dal battuto camin non sia disgiunto
chiunque cerca gir a buona stanza,
pria che sia da la notte sopragiunto.
Non e dritto il sentier de la speranza,
che spesse volte, e Ie piu volte, falle
con falsi detti e con finta sembianza;
quello della certezza e destro calle,
che sempre mena a riposato albergo,
e refugio ha dal lato e da Ie spalle:
a questo gli occhi del mio pensier ergo,
e da parole e da vezzi delusa,
tutti i lor vani indizi lascio a tergo.
Questa con voi sia legitim a scusa,
con la qual di non creder a parole,
ne a vostri gesti, fuori esca d'accusa.
E se invero m'arnate, assai mi duole
che con effetti non vi discopriate,
come chi veramente ama far suole:
mi duol che da l'un canto voi patiate,
e da l'altro il desio, c'ho d'esser grata
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Capitolo
FRANCO'S
RESPONSE
in Te r z a Rima
61
2
TO CAPITOLO
If I could be certain of your love,
from what your words and face display,
which often conceal a changing mind;
if external signs revealed what the mind
conceals within, so that a person
were not so often entrapped by deceit,
I would cast aside this fear, for which,
however I tried to protect myself,
I would be mocked as simple anel unwise;
"to the same place one can take many roads,"
the proverb says; and it is never safe
to change one's direction according to appearances.
Let no one stray from the beaten path
who is trying to find safe shelter
before the night comes to catch up with him.
The path of hope is not straightforward,
for more often than not, it leads astray
with lying words and false pretense;
the path of certainty is the right way,
which always leads to peaceful rest
and is safe on both sides and from behind;
to this path I raise up my eyes' thought
and, disappointed by words and charm,
I leave behind all their misleading lures.
May you find this an acceptable excuse,
may it acquit me of the charge that I believe
neither your gestures nor your words.
And if you truly love me, it grieves me very much
that you do not reveal yourself by deeds,
as a man who loves truly usually does:
I am sorry, on one hand, that you feel pain,
and on the other, that you frustrate me
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Veronica
Franco
a1vostro vero amor, m'interrompiate.
Poi ch'io non credere d'esser arnata,
ne '1 debbo creder, ne ricompensarvi
per l'arra che fin qui m'avete data,
dag1i effetti, signor, fate stimarvi:
con questi in prova venite, s'anch'io
i1 mio amor con effetti ho da mostrarvi;
rna s'avete di favole desio,
mentre anderete voi favo1eggiando,
favoloso sara l' accetto mio;
e di favole stanco e sazio, quando
l' amor mi mostrerete con effetto,
non men del mio v' andro certificando.
Aperto il cor-vi rnostrero nel petto,
allor che '1 vostro non mi celerete,
e sara di piacervi il mio diletto;
e s'a Febo SI grata mi tenete
per 10compor, ne l'opere amorose
grata a Venere pili mi troverete.
Certe proprietati in me nascose
vi scovriro d'infinita dolcezza,
che prosa 0 verso altrui mai non espose,
con questo, che mi diate la certezza
del vostro amor con altro che con lodi,
ch'esser da tai delusa io sono avezza:
pili mi giovi con fatti, e men mi lodi,
e, dov' i: in cia la vostra cortesia
soverchia, si comparta in altri modi.
Vi par che buono il mio discorso sia,
o ch'io m'inganni pur per aventura,
non bene esperta de la dritta via?
Signor, l'esser beffato e cosa dura,
massime ne l'amor; e chi nol crede,
ei stesso la ragion metta in figura.
10 son per caminar col vostro piede,
ed amerovvi indubitatamente,
S1com'al vostro merito richiede.
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in Te r z a Rima
in my desire to satisfy your true love.
Since I will not believe that I arn loved,
nor should I believe it or reward vou
for the pledge you have made me up to now,
win my approval, sir, with deeds:
prove yourself through them, if I, too,
am expected to prove my love with deeds;
but if instead you long for fictions,
as long as you persist in spinning out tales,
my welcome to you will be just as false;
and, when, fatigued and annoyed by fictions,
you show me your love in deeds,
I will assure you of mine in the same way.
I will show you my heart open in my breast,
once you no longer hide yours from me,
and my delight will be to please you;
and if you think I am so dear to Phoebus
for composing poems, in the works of love
you'll find me dearer still to Venus.
Certain qualities concealed within me,
I will reveal to you, infinitely sweetly,
which prose or verse has never shown another,
on this condition: that you prove your love to me
by other means than compliments, for I
take care not to be fooled by them;
please me more with deeds and praise me less,
and where your courtesy overflows into praise,
distribute it in some other way.
Does what I say seem right to you,
or do you instead perhaps think I am wrong,
lacking experience to choose the right path?
Sir, being mocked is a most painful thing,
especially in love; and let whoever
does not believe this show his reason why.
I am ready to walk in step with you,
and I will love you beyond any doubt,
just as your merit requires I should.
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Se foco avrete in sen d' arnor cocente,
io '1 sentiro, perch'accostata a voi
d' arderrni il cor egli sara possente:
non si ponno schivar i colpi suoi,
e chi si sente arnato da dovero
convien l' arnante suo ridarnar poi;
rna '1 dirnostrar il bianco per 10 nero
e un certo non so che, che spiace a tutti,
a quei ch'anco han giudicio non intiero.
Dunque da voi rni sian rnostrati i frutti
del portatorni arnor, che de Ie fronde
dal piacer sono i vani uornini indutti.
Ben per quanto or da me vi si risponde,
avara non vorrei che mi stirnaste,
che tal vizio ne1 sen non rni s'asconde;
rna piaceriami che di me pensaste
che ne I'arnar Ie mie voglie cortesi
si studian d'esser caute, se non caste:
ne cosf tosto d'alcun uorn cornpresi
che fosse valoroso e che m'amasse,
che '1 cambio con usura ancor gli resi.
Ma chi per questa poi s'argomentasse
di volerrni ingannar, beffa se stesso;
e tale il potrfa dir, chi '1 dornandasse.
E pero que1 che da voi cerco adesso
non e che con argento over con oro
il vostro amor voi rni facciate espresso:
perche si disconvien troppo al decoro
di chi non sia pili che venal far patto
con uom gentil per trarne anco un tesoro.
Di rnia profession non e tal atto;
rna ben fuor di parole, io '1 dico chiaro,
voglio veder il vostro arnor in fatto.
Voi ben sapete quel che m'e pili caro:
seguite in cia corrr'io v'ho detto ancora,
che mi sarete arnante unico e raro.
De Ie virtuti il mio cor s'innamora,
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If in your breast you have love's burning fire
I'll feel it by your side, for it will have
the power to set my heart aflame, too;
it's not possible to escape its blows,
and whoever feels truly loved
is bound to love the lover in return;
but attempting to make white pass for black
is something that everybody dislikes,
even those whose judgment is weak.
So show me the fruits of your love for :me,
for only foolish folk are deceived
by the lure of empty words.
Despite what I now answer you,
I'd not want you to think me greedy for gain,
for that vice is not concealed in my breast;
but I would like you to believe
that when I love, my courteous desires,
if not chaste, are decidedly chary;
and as soon as I have understood
that a man is brave and that he loves me,
I've returned his principal with interest.
But whoever, on this account, should clecide
to try to fool me is himself a fool;
and anyone he asks could tell him so.
And what I now request from you
is not that you express your love
for me with silver or with gold;
for to make a deal with a gentleman
in order to extract a treasure from him
is most improper if one's not entirely venal.
Such an act doesn't suit my profession,
but I want to see, I say it clearly,
your love in deeds instead of words.
You know well what I most cherish:
behave in this as I've already told you,
and you'll be my special, matchless lover.
My heart falls in love with virtues,
in Terza
Rima
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e voi, che possedete di lor tanto,
ch'ogni pili bel saver con voi dimora,
non mi negate l'opra vostra intanto,
che con tal mezzo vi vegga bramoso
d'acquistar meco d'amador il vanto:
siate in cia diligente e studioso,
e per gradirmi ne la mia richiesta
non sia '1 gentil vostro ozio unqua ozioso.
A voi poca Fatica sara questa,
perch' al vostro valor ciascuna impresa,
per difficil che sia, facil vi resta.
E se sf picciol carico vi pesa,
pensate ch' alto vola il ferro e '1 sasso,
che sia sospinto da la fiamma accesa:
quel che la sua natura inchina al basso,
piu che con altro, col furor del foco
rivolge in su dal centro al cerchio il passo;
onde non ha '1 mio amor dentro a voi loco,
poi ch'ei non ha virtu di farvi fare
quel ch'anco senz'amor vi saria poco.
E poi da me volete farvi amare?
quasi credendo che, cosi d'un saIto,
di voi mi debba a un tratto innamorare?
Per questo non mi glorio e non m' essalto;
rna, per contarvi il ver, volar senz'ale
vorreste, e in un momento andar troppo alto:
a la possa il desir abbiate eguale,
benche potreste agevolmente alzarvi
dov'altri con Fatica ancor non sale.
10 bramo aver cagion vera d' amarvi,
e questa ne l' arbitrio vostro e posta,
sf che in cia non potete lamentarvi.
Dal merto la merce non fia discosta,
se mi darete quel che, benche vaglia
al mio giudicio assai, nulla a voi costa:
questo fara che voli e non pur saglia
il vostro premio meco a quell' altezza,
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in Terza
and you, who possess so many of them
that in you all the finest wisdom dwells,
don't deny me your effort in such a great cause.f
let me see you longing in this way
to acquire a lover's claim upon me;
be diligent and eager in this task
and in order to grant my wish,
do not be idle in your free time.
This will be no burden to you
for to your prowess any undertaking,
however difficult, comes with ease.
And if such a small task weighs you down,
think of how iron and stone fly aloft,
when set in motion by a burning flame;
whatever by nature tends to sink downward
through the fury of fire, more than any other force,
turns to rise from the center to the rim.?
so love for me has no place within you.
since it lacks the power to make you do
what even without love would be a small thing.
And do you then hope to make me loveas if you believed that with one single leap
I should suddenly fall in love with you?
I don't glory in this or exalt myself;
but, to tell you the truth, you want to fly
without wings and rise too high all at once;
let your desire match your ability,
for you can easily reach a height
that others, with effort, cannot attain.
I long to have a real reason to love you
and I leave it up to you to decide,
so that you have no right to complain.
There'll be no gap between merit and reward
if you'll give me what, though in my opinion
it has great value, costs you not a thing;
your reward from me will be
not only to fly but to soar so high
Rima
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8. Salza's edition, following the original text, gives In tanto here (240, sig. B2v), which we prefer to Bianchi's amended tntanto
9. Franco here quotes from Dante's Paradiso (14.1), frorn the scene in which Dante, having
listened to the speech of Thomas Aquinas, compares the outward and inward movement of
water in a bowl to the loving understanding he is gaining of divine order (123,187). See Elena
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Franco
che la speranza col desire agguaglia.
E qual ella si sia, la mia bellezza,
quella che di lodar non sete stanco,
spendero poscia in vostra contentezza:
dolcemente congiunta al vostro fianco,
Ie delizie d' amor faro gustarvi,
quand'egli eben appreso allato manco;
e 'n cio potrei tal diletto recarvi,
che chiamar vi potreste per contento,
e d'avantaggio appresso innamorarvi.
Cosi dolce e gustevole divento,
quando mi trovo con persona in letto,
da cui arnata e gradita mi sento,
che quel mio piacer vince ogni diletto,
sf che quel, che strettissimo parea,
nodo de l'altrui arnor divien pili stretto.
Febo, che serve a l'amorosa dea,
e in dolce guiderdon da lei ottiene
quel che via pili che l' esser dio il bea,
a rivelar nel mio pensier ne viene
quei modi che con lui Venere adopra,
mentre in soavi abbracciamenti il tiene;
ond'io instrutta a questi so dar opra
sf ben nelletto, che d' Apollo a l' arte
questa ne va d'assai spazio di sopra,
e '1 mio can tar e '1 mio scriver in carte
s'oblia da chi mi prova in quella guisa,
ch'a' suoi seguaci Venere comparte.
S'avete del mio amor l'alma conquisa,
procurate d'avermi in dolce modo,
via pili che la mia penna non divisa.
II valor vostro e quel tenace nodo
che me vi puo tirar nel grembo, unita
via pili ch'affisso in fermo legno chiodo:
farvi signor vi puo de la mia vita,
che tanto amar mostrate, la virtute,
che 'n voi per gran miracolo s'addita.
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in Te r z a Rima
that your hope will match your desires.
And my beauty, such as it is,
which you never tire of praising,
I'll then employ for your contentment;
sweetly lying at your left side,
I will make you taste the delights of love
when they have been expertly learned;
And doing this, I could give you such pleasure
that you could say you were fully content,
and at once fall more deeply in love.
So sweet and delicious do I become,
when I am in bed with a man
who, I sense, loves and enjoys me,
that the pleasure I bring excels all delight,
so the knot of love, however tight
it seemed before, is tied tighter still.
Phoebus, who serves the goddess of love,
and obtains from her as a sweet reward
what blesses him far more than being a god,
comes from her to reveal to my mind
the positions that Venus assumes with him
when she holds him in sweet embraces;
so that I, well taught in such matters,
know how to perform so well in bed
that this art exceeds Apollo's by far,
and my singing and writing are both forgotten
by the man who experiences me in this way,
which Venus reveals to people who serve her.
If your soul is vanquished by love for me,
arrange to have me in far sweeter fashion
than anything my pen can declare.
Your valor is the steadfast knot
that can pull me to your lap,
joined to you more tightly than a nail in hard wood;
your skill can make you master of my life,
for which you show so much lovethat skill that miraculously stands out in you.
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Urgnani, "Veronica Franco: Tracce di dantismi in una scrittura femminile," Canadian Journal
14, no. 42-43 (1991): 1-10.
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Franco
Fate che sian da me di lei vedute
quell'opre ch'io desio, che poi saranno
Ie mie dolcezze a pien da voi godute;
e Ie vostre da me si goderanno
per quello ch'un amor mutuo comporte,
dove i diletti senza noia s'hanno.
Aver cagion d'arnarvi io bramo forte:
prendete quel partito che vi piace,
poi che in vostro voler tutta e la sorte.
Altro non voglio dir: restate in pace.
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Let me see the works
I've asked for from you,
for then you'll enjoy my sweetness to the full;
and I will also take pleasure in yours,
in the way that mutual love allows,
which provides delight free from all pain,
I yearn and long to have a good reason
to love you: decide what you think best,
for every outcome depends on your will.
I have no more to say; go in peace.
in Te r z a Rima
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Capitolo
3
.....1)'
Questa la tua fedel Franca ti scrive,
dolce, gentil, suo valoroso amante;
la qual, lunge da te, misera vive.
Non cosi tosto, oime, volsi Ie piante
da la donzella d' Adria, ove '1 mio core
abita, ch'io mutai voglia e sembiante:
perduto de la vita ogni vigore,
pallida e lagrimosa ne I'aspetto,
mi fei grave soggiorno di dolore;
e, di languir 10spirito costretto,
de 10sparger gravosi afflitti lai,
e del pianger sol trassi alto diletto.
Oime, ch'io 'I dico e 'I diro sempre mai,
che 'I viver senza voi m'e crudel morte,
e i piaceri mi son tormenti e guai.
Spesso, chiamando il caro nome forte,
Eco, mossa a pieta del mio lamento,
con voci tronche mi rispose e corte;
talor fermossi a mezzo corso intento
il sole e 'I cielo, e s'e la terra ancora
piegata al mio si flebile concento;
da Ie loro spelunche uscite fuora,
piansero fin Ie tigri del mio pianto
e del martir che m'ancide e rn'accora;
e Progne e Filomena il tristo canto
accompagnaron de le mie parole,
facendomi tenor di e notte intanto.
Le fresche rose, i gigli e Ie VIole
arse ha 'I vento de' caldi miei sospiri,
e impallidir pietoso ho vista il sale;
nel mover gli occhi in lagrimosi giri
fermarsi i fiumi, e '1 mar depose l'ire
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TerZtl Rima
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Ca p it o l o 3
ELEGIAC
VERSES
WRITTEN
BY FRANCO,
FROM VENICE
AWAY
This your faithful Franca writes you.l"
tender, well-bred, and gallant lover,
she who in misery lives far away from you.
No sooner, alas, had I turned my steps
from the maiden of Adria, where my heart dwells,"!
than I was transformed in will and appearance:
my life bereft of any strength"
with my face turned pale and bathed in tears,
I passed a time weighed down "lith grief;
and, with my spirit forced to languish,
my only real pleasure came from reciting
heavy, pain-filled lays and from weeping.
Alas, I say now and will always say
that life is cruel death to me without you,
and pleasures to me are torments and woes.
Often, as I cried aloud that dear name,
Echo, touched with pity by my lament,
answered me with brief and broken calls.'?
At times in mid-course the sun and the sky
stood still, intent, and even the earth
bent down to hear my pitiful tones.
Coming out of their secret lairs,
even tigers wept at my weeping
and the mortal pain that stabs my heart.
And Procne and Philomela joined in 13
with my sad melody and words,
singing in harmony both day and night.
The cool roses, lilies, and violets
were burnt by the wind of my hot sighs,
and I saw the sun turn pale with pity.
Moving their eyes in tearful swirls,
the rivers stood still, and the sea quelled its rage,
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10. The feminine ending of Franco's surname here is typical of sixteenth-century practice.
11. Venice was called Adria, a name derived from the Adriatic Sea, on which the city was built.
12. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, 3.356-401, Echo is a rnaiden transformed through Juno's
vengeance into a bodiless spirit, unable to speak except to repeat what others, especially her
beloved Narcissus, say.
13. In Ovid's Metamorphoses (6.424-674) Procne and Philomela are human sisters turned
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per la dolce pieta de' miei martiri,
Oh quante volte Ie mie pene dire
l' aura e Ie mobil foglie ad ascoitare
si fermat queste e lascio quella d'ire!
E finalmente non rri'avien passare
per luogo ov'io non veggia apertamente
del mio duol fin le pietre lagrimare.
Vivo, se si puo dir che quel ch'assente
da l' anima si trova viver possa;
vivo, rna in vita misera e dolente:
e 1'ora piango e '1 di ch'io fui rimossa
da la mia patria e dal mio amato bene,
per cui riduco in cenere quest' ossa.
Fortunato 'lmio nido, che ritiene
quello a cui sempre torno col pensiero,
da cui lunge mi vivo in tante pene!
Ben prego il picciol dio, bendato arciero,
che m'ha ferito '1 cor, tolto la vita,
mostrargli quanto amandolo ne pero.
Oh quanto maledico la partita
ch'io feci, oime, da voi, anima mia,
bench'a la mente ognor mi sete unita,
rna poi congiunta con la gelosia,
che, da voi lontan, m'arde a poco a poco
con la gelid a sua fiamma atra e ria!
Le lagrime, ch'io verso, in parte il foco
spengono; e vivo sol de la speranza
di tosto rivedervi al dolce loco.
Subito giunta a la bramata stanza,
m'inchinero con Ie ginocchia in terra
al mio Apollo in scienzia ed in sembianza;
e da lui vinta in amorosa guerra,
seguirol di timor con alma cassa
per la via del valor ond'ei non erra.
Quest'e l'amante mio, ch'ogni altro passa
in sopportar gli affanni, e in fedeltate
ogni altro piu fedel dietro si lassa.
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through tender pity for my suffering.
Oh, how many times the trembling leaves
stood still and the breeze ceased to blow,
in order to listen to my bitter pain.
And finally, never could I make my way
through any place where I did not see
even stones weep openly for my grief.
I live, if a person can be said to live
who finds herself bereft of her own soul;
I live, but a life of misery and mourning,
and I lament the hour and the day
that I was taken from my home and my beloved,
for whom my bones now melt into ash.
Fortunate dwelling of mine, which still enfolds
the man to whom I always return in thought,
from whom I live at such distance and pain!
I implore the little god, blindfolded archer,
who wounded my heart and stole away n1Ylife,
to show that man how I perish for love of him.
Alas, how I curse my departure from you,
although, dear soul, in all my thoughts,
you are still tightly united with file,
but joined to me by jealousy, too,
which, far from you, little by little, burns me,
with its freezing, dark, savage flame!
The tears that I shed quench the fire, in part,
and I live only in the hope
of seeing you soon again, in that sweet place.
The moment I reach the room I have longed for,
I will bow down, my knees on the ground,
before my Apollo in knowledge and beauty.
Then, vanquished by him in loving war,
I'll follow after him, my soul freed from fear,
on valor's path, from which he never strays.
This is the man I love, who surpasses
every other man in enduring pain,
and whose faithfulness leaves all others behind,
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into the swallow and the nightingale after Plulomela has been raped by her sister's husband
Tereus.
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Ben vi ristorero de Ie passate
noie, signor, per quanto e '1 poter mio,
giungendo a voi piacer, a me bontate,
troncando a me '1 rnartir, a voi '1 desio.
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I'll willingly make up to you for past suffering,
my lord, as far as my power allows,
bringing pleasure to you, good to myself,
ending my suffering and your desire.
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Capitolo
4
A voi la colpa, a me, donna, s'ascrive
il danno e '1 duol di quelle pene tante,
che '1 mio cor sente e '1 vostro stil descrive.
L' alto splendor di quelle luci sante
recando altrove, e '1 lor soave ardore,
ai colpi del mio amor foste un diamante.
10 vi pregai, dagli occhi il pianto fore
sparsi largo, e sospir gravi del petto:
non rri'aiuto pieta, non valse amore.
Valse, via piu che '1 mio, l'altrui rispetto;
e benche umil merce v' addimandai,
pur sol rimasi in solitario tetto.
D'ir altrove eleggeste, io sol restai,
com' a voi piacque ed a mia dura sorte:
sf che invidia ai pili miseri portai.
E s'or avvien che a voi pentita apporte
alcun dolore il mio grave tormento,
in cia degno e ch'amando io mi conforte.
Dunque per me del tutto non e spento
quel foco di pieta, ch'ove dimora
fa d'animo gentil chiaro argomento.
Di voi, cui '1 ciel tanto ama e '1 mondo onora,
di bellezza e virtute unico vanto,
in cui Ie Grazie fan dolce dimora,
gran prezzo i: ancor se nel corporeo manto,
dove star con Amor Venere suole,
virtu chiudete in ciel gradita tanto.
Se '1 vostro cor del mio dolor si duole,
s'egualmente risponde a' miei desiri,
oh vostre dati e mie venture sale!
Tra quanta Amor Ie penne aurate giri,
non ha chi, com'io, dolce arda e sospire,
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A RESPONSE
WRITTEN
TO FRANCO
IN THE
SAME
FROM
RHYMES
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AN UNNAMED
AS HER
POEM
WRITER,
TO HIM
To you, lady, belongs the blame,
to me the pain of all the griefs
that my heart feels and your pen describes.
Taking away the bright shine and sweet fire
of those blessed eyes, you stood hard
as a diamond against my love's charge.
I implored you, I poured out my lament
from my eyes and deep sighs from my breast;
pity was no help and love of no avail.
Your concern for another was far stronger than for me,
and though I begged you humbly for mercy,
I still remained under a lonely roof.
You chose to go elsewhere, I stayed alone,
as your will and my cruel fate decreed,
so that I envied the most wretched creatures.
And if it's now the case that my heavy grief
makes you, repentant, suffer some pain,
it's right that I, loving you, take comfort from it.
So for me pity's fire is not entirely spent,
that pity which, wherever it dwells,
gives visible proof of a gentle soul.
From you, loved by heaven and praised by the world,
who alone can be proud of such beauty and virtue,
with whom the Graces make their sweet home.!!
the honor's greater still if in the cloak of your body,
where Venus habitually tarries with Love,
you enclose virtue so valued by heaven.
If your heart grieves for my grief,
if your heart corresponds to my longing,
ah, your great gifts, and my unique good fortune!
Among all the men Love strikes with gold arrows,
and among all those the sun looks down on,
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14. The three Graces were Aglaia (the youngest, goddess of beauty), Euphrosyne (serenity),
and Thalia (prosperity).
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ne tra quanto del sol la vista miri.
Dolc' e, quant' e pili grave, il mio languire,
se, qual nel vostro dir pietoso appare,
sentite del mio mal pena e martire.
Che poi non mi cediate nell' amare,
esser non puo, che la mia fiamma ardente
nel gran regno amoroso non ha pare.
Troppo benigno a' miei desir consente
il ciel, se dal mio cor la fiamma mossa
vi scalda il ghiaccio della fredda mente.
In voi non cerco affetto d'egual possa,
quel ch'a far di duo uno, un di duo, viene,
e duo traffigge di una sol percossa.
Troppo del viver mio l'ore serene
forano, e tanto pili il mio ben intero,
quanto pili raro questo amando avviene:
quanto Amor men sostien sot to '1 suo impero
che 'n duo cor sia una fiamma egual partita,
tanto piu andrei de la mia sorte altero.
Sf come troppo e la mia speme ardita,
che sf audaci pensieri al cor rn'invia,
per strada dal discorso non seguita:
da l'un canto il pensar SI com'io sia,
verso '1 vostro valor, di merto poco,
dal soverchio sperar l'alma desvia;
da l'altro Arnor gentil ch' adegui invoco
la mia tanta con voi disagguaglianza,
e gridando merce son fatto roco.
D'Amor, ch'a nullo amato per usanza
perdona arnar, dove un bel petto serra
pensier cortesi, invoco la possanza:
quella, onde '1 ciel ei sol chiude e disserra,
e perch'a lui la terra e poco bassa,
gli spirti fuor de l'imo centro sferra,
prego che l' alma travagliata e lassa
sostenga; e se non cio, vaglia pietate
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no other burns and sighs so sweetly as I.
My suffering is sweet when it is most intense,
if, as it seems from your pitying speech,
you feel pain and grief for my woe.
But that you love as much as I do you
is impossible, for my burning flame
has no equal in the kingdom of love.
Heaven too kindly consents to my longing
if the flame that escaped from my heart
thaws the ice of your cold mind.
In you I don't seek affection so strong
that it makes one of two and two of one,
and to transfix two with a single stroke.
My life would be too full of happy hours
and my happiness too complete,
should love of such rarity happen to me.
The less often Love decrees that two hearts
under his rule should equally share
one flame, the prouder I'll be of my fate.
Because my hope is much too daring
to send such bold thoughts to my heart
on a path untraveled by everyday speech,
on one hand, the thought of how slight is my merit,
compared to your worth, waylays my soul,
off the path of its high hope;
on the other hand, I calIon gentle Love
to lessen my great inferiority to you,
and I am hoarse from calling for mercy.
Of Love, which by habit spares no one loved
from loving in return, wherever a fair breast
encloses courteous thoughts, I invoke the mightthat might through which he alone
shuts and opens heaven, and unleashes the spirits
from the core of the earth, which is not deep to him,
I pray him to sustain my troubled, weary soul;
and if not, then I pray that pity may reign
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1?1dove '1 vostro orgoglio non s' abbassa.
Di merce sotto aspetto non mi date
lusingando martir, tanto pili ch'io
v'adoro; e quanto prima ritornate,
ch'allato starvi ognor bramo e desio.
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there where your pride refuses to bend.
Do not make me suffer under pretended pity,
all the more since I adore you;
and return as soon as you possibly can,
for I long and desire to be always at your side.
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Capitolo
5
Signor, la virtu vostra e '1 gran valore
e l' eloquenzia fu di tal potere,
che d'altrui man m'ha liberato il core;
il qual di breve spero ancor vedere
collocato entro '1 vostro gentil petto,
e regnar quivi, e far vostro volere.
Quel ch'amai piu, piu mi torna in dispetto,
ne stimo piu belta caduca e frale,
e mi pento che gia n'ebbi diletto.
Misera me, ch' amai ombra mortale,
ch'anzi doveva odiar, e voi amare,
pien di virtu infinita ed immortale!
Tanto numer non ha di rena il mare,
quante volte di cia piango: ch'amando
fral belta, virtu eterna ebbi a sprezzare.
II mio falIo confesso sospirando,
e vi prometto e giuro da dovero
mandar per Ia virtu la belta in bando.
Per la vostra virtu languisco e pero,
disciolto '1 cor da quell'empia catena,
onde mi avolse il dio picciolo arciero:
gia seguf' '1 senso, or Ia ragion mi mena.
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FRANCO
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TO AN UNNAMED
DOMENICO
in Te r z a Rima
l\ifAN, PROBABLY
VENIER
Sir, your virtue and your great valor
and your eloquence had such power
that they freed my heart from another's hand;
and that heart I soon hope to see
placed within your noble breast,
and ruling there and doing your will.
What I most loved I now despise,
and I no longer value weak and frail beauty
and repent of ever having delighted in it.
Unhappy me, who loved a mortal shadow
that I should have hated and loved you instead,
endowed with infinite, undying virtue!
The sea does not have as many grains of sand
as the number of times I weep over this:
loving frail beauty, I disdained endless virtue.
Sighing, I confess my mistake,
and I promise and swear to you truly
that I'll banish beauty in favor of virtue.
I languish and die, longing for your virtue,
my heart freed from that evil chain
with which the little archer god bound me;
once I followed my senses, now reason is my guide.
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Capitolo
6
~
Contrari son tra lor ragion e amore,
e chi 'n am or aspetta antivedere,
di senso e privo e di ragion e fuore.
Tanto piu in prezzo e da doversi avere
vostro discorso, in cui avete eletto
voler in stima la virtu tenere;
e bench'io di lei sia privo in effetto,
con voi di possederla il desio vale,
sf che del buon voler premio n'aspetto:
e se '1 timor de l'esser mio m'assale,
poi mi fa contra i merti miei sperare,
che s' elegge per ben un minor male.
10 non mi vanto per virtu d'andare
a segno che, l'amor vostro acquistando,
mi possa in tanto grado collocare;
rna so ch'un'alma valorosa, quando
trova uom che '1 falso aborre e segue il vero,
a lui si va con diletto accostando:
e tanto piu se dentro a un cor sincero
d'alta fe trova affezzion ripiena,
come nel mio, ch'un di mostrarvi spero,
se '1 non poter Ie voglie non m'affrena.
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AN ANSWER
TO FRANCO'S
IN THE
in Terza
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PRECEDING
POEM,
WRITTEN
SAME RHYMES
Reason and love are contrary to each other,
and whoever expects to predict love's course
is bereft of wit and deprived of reason.
So there is all the more cause to value
your declaration, in which you've resolved
to hold virtue in highest esteem,
and though, in truth, I lack that quality,
my desire to possess it, with you, is strong enough
that I expect a reward for my good will:
and, if fear of my true self assails me,
it makes me hope, too, in spite of my few merits,
that it may be a blessing to choose a lesser evil.
I do not claim that I could attain,
by winning your love, sufficient virtue
to rise to such a lofty goal,
but I do know that a gallant soul,
finding a man who hates lies and follows truth,
makes her way toward him with delight:
and all the more if in a heart that's sincere
she finds affection, full of truest faith,
as in mine, which I hope to show you one day,
if powerlessness does not rein in my clesires.
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Ca p it o l o 7
Dunque l'alta belta, ch' arnica stella
con sf prodiga mana in voi dispensa,
d'amor tenete e di pieta rubella?
Quell'alma, in cui posando ricompensa
di molt' anni l'error la virtu stanca,
dar la morte a chi v'arna iniqua pensa?
Lasso, e che altro a far del tutto manca
orribile ed amara questa vita,
e rovinosa in strada oscura e manca,
se non che sia col mal voler unita
d'una bellezza al mondo senza eguale
la forza insuperabile, infinita?
Ma perche da l'inferno ancor non sale
Tesifone e Megera ai nostri danni,
se scende a noi dal ciel cotanto male?
Ben sei fanciul piu d'ingegno che d'anni,
Amor, e d'occhi e d'intelletto privo,
se 'I tuo regno abbandoni in tanti affanni.
Te, cui non ebbe di servir a schivo
Giove con tutta la celeste corte,
e ch'a Dite impiagar festi anco arrivo;
te, del cui arco il suon vien che riporte
spoglie d'innumerabili trofei,
contra chi piu resiste ognor piu forte;
te, cui soggetti son gli uomini e i dei,
non so per qual destin, fugge e disprezza,
con la mia morte ne le man, costei.
Ma se contrario a quel che 'n ciel s'avezza,
ella sen va da Ie tue forze sciolta,
per privilegio de la sua bellezza,
a la tua stessa madre or ti rivolta,
ch'unico essempio di belta Eu tanto,
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AN APPEAL
TO FRANCO
FROM
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Terza
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AN UNREQUITED
So the great beauty that a kindly star
gave to you with such generous hands
you maintain as a rebel to love and to pity?
Does that soul, which weary virtue rewards
by resting in it after many years of wandering,
wickedly plan to deal death to a man who loves you?
Alas, and what else remains to make
this life of mine totally bitter and grim,
facing disaster on a dark and dire path,
unless ill will be joined to the power
of a beauty unequaled anywhere in the world,
impossible to exceed and without any end?
But why from hell do Tisiphone
and Megaera not rise to do us harm.'?
since so much evil falls on us from heaven?
Love, you are indeed a child,
more in mind than in years, without eyes or wit
if you leave your kingdom in such a dire state.
You, whom even Jove does not refuse to serve,
with all the heavenly train, and who succeeded
in inflicting wounds even on Dis;16
you from whose bow must spread the fame
of numberless trophies and prizes without number,
stronger against those who most resist;
you to whom both men and gods are subject,
she flees and disdains, by a fate I know 110t,
with my death in her hands.
But if, contrary to heaven's custom,
she eludes all those powers of yours
through the privilege of her beauty,
have recourse now to your own mother,
who, though a perfect and unequaled beauty,
LOVER
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15. Tisiphone and Megaera were ancient Furies, goddesses of vengeance. Along with Allecto,
they were represented as women with serpents for hair. They reappear in Dante's Inferno as
the pilgrim awaits entry to Hell's city of Dis (Inferno 9.46-8).
16.Dis (or Pluto), the god of the underworld, fell in love with the young Proserpina and took
her down to his realm.
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pur piagata da te piu d'una volta:
e s'a lei toglie la mia donna il vanto
d'ornamento e di grazie, a lei che giova
l' esserti madre poi da l' altro canto?
Se vinta da costei Venere e in prova,
e se Minerva in scienzia e in virtute
a costei molto inferior si trova,
tanto piu scegli Ie saette acute:
che pili gloria ti fia di questa sola,
che di tutt' altre in tuo poter venute.
Per l'universo I'ali stendi, e vola
di cerchio in cerchio, Amor, e sf vedrai
che questa il pregio a tutte I'altre invola;
e s'al tuo imperio aggiunger la saprai,
quanto 'I tuo onor sovra i dei tutti gio,
tanto maggior di te stesso verrai.
Benche 10sventurato in cia son io,
che, benche stata sia costei sicura
da l' armi ognor del faretrato dio,
non e stata pero sempre sf dura,
che non abbia ad Amor dato ricetto
per pieta nel suo sen, non per paura.
Com'ad ubidiente umil soggetto,
ad Amor ansioso e di lei vago
l'adito aperse del suo gentil petto;
quinci 'I suo desir proprio a render pago,
al suo arbitrio d'Amor l'armi rivolse
qual le piacque a fermar solingo e vago:
sf che dovunque saettando colse
col doppio sol di quei celesti lumi,
a se gran copia d'amadori accolse,
e con leggiadri e candidi costumi
diletto '1 mondo in guisa che la gente
d'amor per lei vien ch'arda e si consumi.
Gran pregio, in se tener unitamente
rara del corpo e singolar beltate
con la virtu perfetta de la mente:
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you have wounded more than once.l?
and if my lady steals from her the prize
for beauty and grace, what use to her
is being your mother as well?
If she outdoes Venus when put to the proof,
and if Minerva turns out to be
far less than she in wisdom and valor,
all the more reason to choose your sharpest arrows,
for you'll win greater glory from this woman alone
than from all the others who've come under your sway.
Stretch your wings throughout the universe and fly
from sphere to sphere, Love, and you will see indeed
that this woman steals the prize from all others;
and if you are able to subdue her to your power,
however much your honor surpasses all the gods',
you will become greater still than you are now;
yet in all this I am the unlucky one,
for though she has always been well defended
against the weapons of the quiver-bearing god,
she has not always been so hardened
that she has not given love refuge
in her bosom, through pity, not through fear.
Like an obedient and humble subject
to Love, anxious and yearning after her,
she has opened the entrance to her tender breast;
to appease her desire, she has redirected
the weapons of love according to her will,
to keep any man she wished alone and off course;
so wherever, aiming her arrows, she has struck
with the double sun of those heavenly eyes,
she has collected an abundance of lovers,
and with her lovely and innocent manners
she has delighted the world in such a way
that for love of her, people burn and waste away.
Most precious it is to unite in oneself
rare and unusual bodily beauty
with perfect capacity of mind;
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17. Venus, the mother of Eros (the Roman Cupid), fell in love with the young Adonis and, in
Roman literature, with Anchises, with whom she conceived the hero Aeneas.
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di COS1 doppio ardor l' alme infiammate
senton lor foco di tal gioia pieno,
che quanto egli e maggior, piu son beate.
Anch'io 10'ncendio, che mi strugge il seno,
sempre piu bramerei che 'n tale stato
s'augumentasse e non venisse meno,
s'io non fossi, ne so per qual mio fato,
in mille espresse ed angosciose guise
da lei, miser, fuggito e disprezzato:
che se '1 trovar l' altrui voglie divise
da Ie nostre in amor, e di tal doglia,
che restan Ie virtu del cor conquise,
quanto convien ch'io lagrimi e mi doglia
di vedermi aborrir con quello sdegno,
che di speme e di vita in un mi spoglia?
E s'io mi lagno, e se di pianto pregno
porto '1 cor, che '1 duol suo sfoga per gli occhi,
miser qual io d' Amor non ha '1 gran regno.
Non basta che Fortuna empia in me scocchi
tanti colpi, ch'altrui mai non aviene
che 'n questa vita un S1 gran numer tocchi;
che sospirar e pianger mi conviene
di cio, che la mia donna, fuor d'ogni uso,
al mio strazio piu cruda ognor diviene;
e s'io, del pianto il viso smorto infuso,
del cielo e de Ie stelle mi richiamo,
ed or Amor, or lei gridando accuso,
che poss'io far se, in premio di quant'amo,
giunto da l' altrui orgoglio a tal mi veggo,
che la morte ancor sorda al mio mal chiamo?
E col pensier, ond'io vaneggio, or chieggo
d'Amor aita, ed or per altra strada
sempre invano al mio scempio, oime, proveggo.
Ma poi che '1 ciel destina, e COS1 vada,
che per sicura e dilettosa via,
dove '1 ben trovan gli altri, io pera e cada,
saziati del mio mal, fortuna ria;
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souls inflamed with such double love
feel their burning full of such joy
that the greater the fire, the more blessed they are.
And I would also wish that the blaze
that consumes my breast in such a state
might always increase and never diminish,
if I were not, I know not by what fate,
in a thousand deliberate and painful ways,
disdained and, miserable, fled from by her.
For if finding others' desires in love
so divided from our own brings on such grief
that the powers of the heart are defeated,
how much must I weep and lament
at seeing myself loathed and held in contempt,
and stripped in one moment of hope and of life?
And though I lament with a heart full of tears,
which soothes its pain through my eyes,
love's realm holds no one as wretched as me.
It's not enough that relentless Fortune
deals me so many blows that no one else living
will ever be struck with such a great nurnber;
for I must sigh and weep for this reason:
my lady, contrary to any known custom,
intent on my ruin, becomes ever more cruel;
and if with a pale face, wet with tears,
I call upon heaven and the stars above,
and accuse now Love, now my lady, with cries,
what can I do if in reward for so much love
I see myself so bound to her pride
that I call for death, always deaf to my pain?
And in thought, as I rave, now I entreat
Love for help, and now alas in vain
by another path I try to save myself frorn ruin.
But since heaven decrees it and so it :must be,
that upon a safe and pleasant road
where others find good, I perish and fall,
feast on my misery, merciless Fortune,
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poi, di me quando sarai stanca e sazia,
qual tuo gran pregio equal acquisto fia?
E tu, Amor, dentro e fuor mi struggi e strazia,
che tanto m'e '1 mio affanno di contento,
quant'ei 1'orgoglio di madonna sazia.
Ben ai successi de Ie cose intento,
di lei m'assale immoderata tema,
che 'n lei vendi chi 'I cielo il mio tormento.
Questo fa in parte Ia mia gioia scema,
anzi, s'io voglio raccontar il vero,
son sempre oppresso da una doglia estrema:
che se meco madonna usasse impero,
gratissimo il servirla mi saria
con affetto di cor vivo e sincero;
rna che invece di spender signoria,
a dilettar la circostante turba
mi strazie sotto acerba tirannia,
questo m'afflige 1'animo, e mi turba.
Ne, per Ie mie querele e i miei Iamenti,
l' opera incominciata ella disturba,
ma, quasi mar nei procellosi venti,
nel mio chieder rnerce via pili s'adira,
e cela di pieta gli occhi suoi spenti:
da me torcendo altrove i Iumi gira,
e gran materia e di sua crudeltate
quanto per me si lagrima e sospira.
o donna, pregio de Ia nostra etate,
anzi di tutti i secoli, se 'n voi
non guastasse l'orgoglio la beltate,
ond'avvien che '1 mio amor cost v'annoi?
E s'a morir davanti non vi vengo,
ancora offesa vi chiamate poi:
quanto faccio, e di quanto ch'io rn'astengo,
di me Ie vostre voglie a render paghe,
vi spiace, e merto di vostr'odio ottengo.
Ma perche '1 vostro sdegno ognor m'impiaghe,
dolci son di quel volto Ie percosse,
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but when you are weary and sated with me,
what prize and what profit will this be to you?
And you, Love, waste and tear me inside and out,
for my agony brings me more contentment
the more that it satisfies my lady's pride.
Carefully eyeing how things may turn out,
I am assailed by unreasoning fear
that heaven may avenge my misery on her;
This in part makes my joy incompleterather, if I am to tell the truth,
I am always weighed down by acute despair;
for if my lady should use her power over me,
I would serve her most willingly,
with a heart full of true and earnest affection.
But that instead of wielding her power
to delight the crowd that clusters around her,
she tears me apart under harsh tyrannythis afflicts and torments my soul.
Nor, for all my laments and complaints,
does she put a stop to the work she's begun,
but like a sea in tempestuous winds
she grows angrier still when I ask for mercy
and shields her weary eyes against pity.
Shifting her eyes from me, she looks elsewhere,
and however much I weep and sigh for myself,
I merely give further grounds to her cruelty.
Oh, lady, treasure of our age,
indeed, of all centuries, if in you
pride did not destroy your beauty,
why is it that my love vexes you so?
And if I don't come to die at your feet,
you will still say that you are offended;
whatever I do or refrain from doing,
you refuse to fulfill your desire through me,
and the only reward I obtain is your hate.
But though your disdain constantly wounds me,
blows are sweet coming from that face
Rima
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Veronica
Franco
e de Ie vostre man candide e vaghe.
Qualunque affetto in voi giamai si mosse,
tutto fate con grazia: de' vostri atti
chiunque il dotto e buon maestro fosse.
Quai tenesse con voi natura patti,
ancor de l'ire vostre e de l'offese
tutti gli uomini restan sodisfatti.
Farvi perfetta a tutte prove intese
l'influsso donator d'ogni eccellenza,
e benigno la man verso voi stese:
quinci del ciel l' altissima potenza
si vede in molti effetti discordanti,
c'han di virtute in voi tutti apparenza.
Oh che dolci, oh che cari e bei sembianti,
ch'alte maniere quelle vostre sono,
da farvi i dei venir qua giuso amanti!
Ese, com'io pur volentier ragiono
de Ie grazie che '1 ciel tante in voi pose
con singolar, non pili veduto dono,
non mi teneste d'ogni parte ascose
quelle vostre divine e rare parti,
di che vostra persona si compose,
non f6ran S1angosciosi da me sparti
sospiri, ne di lagrime vedresti
avampando, cor misero, innondarti.
Ma dond'avien che 'n me, lasso, si desti
la speme, che per prova intendo come
faccia sempre i miei di pili gravi e mesti?
E pur chiamando di mia donna il nome,
vera, unica al mondo eccelsa dea,
convien ch' a lei mi volga, e ch'io la nome.
Deh, non mi siate cOSIiniqua e rea,
che '1 mio mal sia '1 ben vostro, e che m'ancida
quella vostra belta che gli altri bea!
Ma quel1'Amor, che v'ha tolto in sua guida,
e che tien nel cor vostro il suo bel seggio,
la crudelta per me da voi divida;
ch'io piangendo umilmente ancor vel chieggio.
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and from your pale and lovely hands.
Whatever feeling has ever stirred in you,
there is grace in everything you do,
whoever your wise, good master has been.
Whatever pacts nature has made with you,
even your rages and your misdeeds
leave all men full of contentment.
Her influence made you fit for every challenge,
giving you every excellent attribute,
reaching her beneficent hand out to you;
here on earth the highest powers of heaven
are discerned in many different forms,
which in you all seem to be virtues.
Oh, what sweet, what dear and fair looks,
what lofty manners are these of yours,
enough to draw gods as your lovers from heaven!
And since I speak so willingly
of the many graces granted you by heaven,
in an extraordinary gift never seen since,
if you did not hide from me on all sides
those divine and matchless limbs
of which your body is composed,
I would not have heaved such anguished sighs,
nor, unhappy heart, would you have seen
yourself, flaming, engulfed by tears.
But how does it happen that hope rises up
in me, alas, so that I feel through experience
how it makes all my days woeful and dreary?
And even as I invoke my lady's name,
true and unique goddess, supreme on earth.l''
I must turn to her and say her name.
Pray, be not so wicked and cruel to me
that my sorrow is your boon, and your beauty,
which blesses others, murders me!
But let Love, who has taken you for his guide,
and whose lovely throne resides in your heart,
remove, for my sake, cruelty from you;
which, humbly weeping, I also beg of you.
in Terza
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18. "True and only," vera) unica in the Italian, is another pun on "Veronica." Compare capt-
toli 1, 11, 16.
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Capitola
8
~
Ben vorrei fosse, come dite voi,
ch'io vivessi d' Arnor Iibera e franca,
non colta al Iaccio a punta ai dardi suoi;
e se Ia forza in cia d'assai rni manca
da resister a l' armi di quel dio,
che '1 cielo e '1 mondo e fin gli abissi stanca,
ch'ei s'annidasse fora '1 desir mio
dentro '1 mio cor, in modo ch'io '1 facessi
non repugnante a quel che pili desio.
Non che sovra lui regno aver volessi,
che folIe a imaginarlo sol sarei,
non che ch'un sf gran dio regger credessi;
rna da lui conseguir in don vorrei
che, innarnorar convenendomi pure,
Fosse '1 farlo secondo i pensier miei.
Che se libere in cia fosser mie cure,
tal odierei, ch' adoro; e tal, ch'io sdegno,
con vog1ie seguirei salde e mature.
E poi ch'Amor anch'io biasmar convegno,
imaginando non si troveria
cosa pili ingiusta del suo iniquo regno.
Eg1i dal proprio ben l' a1me desvia;
e mentre indietro pur da cia ti tira,
nel precipizio del tuo mal t'invia.
E se '1 cor vostro in tanto affanno ei gira,
credete che per me certo non meno
sua colpa, si Ianguisce e si sospira;
e se voi del mio amor venite meno
(nol so, rna '1 credo), anch'io d'un crudel angue
soffro a1 cor gli aspri morsi e '1 rio veneno.
Cosi, quanta per me da voi si langue
vedete ristorato con vendetta
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Capitolo
FRANCO
in Te rz a Rima
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DESCRIBES
A SET OF MISMATCHED
INCLUDING
HERSELF
LOVERS,
I wish it were the case, as you say it is,
that I led my life free from Love, and frank,
not caught in his snare or pierced by his arrows;
and if in this affair I lack by far
the strength to resist the weapons of that god
who wearies heaven and earth and even hell,
my desire would still be that he nestled in my heart,
so that I could make him become
less resistant to what I most desire.
Not that I want to rule over him,
for I would be mad even to imagine it,
nor would I presume to rule such a great god;
but I would like him to grant me as a gift
that even if I must fall in love,
I may do so according to my own design.
For if my feelings were free in this affair,
I would despise the man I adore;
and with steady, mature desire, I'd pursue the one I scorn.
And since I, too, must complain of Love,
anything more unfair than his wicked reign
would be impossible to imagine or find.
He leads souls astray from their own good,
and even as he pulls you back,
he sets you on the brink of your own ruin.
And if he turns your heart toward such distress,
believe me, through his doing I myself
certainly languish and sigh no less;
and if you swoon with love for me
(I know not, but believe it), I, too, suffer at heart
from a cruel snake's sharp bite and killing venom.
So however much you suffer on my account,
you see fully paid back, in return,
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Veronica
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de Ie mie carni e del mio infetto sangue.
E se '1 mio mal vi spiace e non diletta,
anch'io '1 vostro non bramo, e quel ch'io faccio
contra voi '1 fo da l'altrui amor costretta;
benche, s'oppressa inferma a morte giaccio,
corn'e ch'a voi recar io possa aita
nel martir ch'entro grido e di fuor taccio?
Voi, s'a Iagnarvi il vostro duol v'invita
meco, nel mio Ianguir soverchio impietra
e rende un sasso di stupor mia vita:
via pili nel cor quella doglia penetra,
che raggela Ie Iagrime nel petto,
e l'uom, qual Niobe, trasfigura in pietra.
II vostro duol si puo chiamar diletto,
poiche parlando meeo il disfogate,
del mio, ch'al centro il cor chiude, in rispetto.
10 vi rispondo aneor, se mi parlate;
rna Ie preghiere mie suppliei il vento
senza risposta ognor se l'ha portate,
se pur ebbi mai tanto d'ardimento,
ehe in voce 0 con inchiostro addimandassi
qualche mercede al grave mio tormento.
E cosi portar gli oechi umidi e bassi
convengo, e converro per Iungo spazio,
se morte al mio dolor non chiude i passi.
Del mio am ante non dico: che '1 mio strazio
e '1 dolce cibo, ond' ei mentre si pasce
divien nel suo digiun manco ognor sazio.
E dal suo orgoglio pur sempre in me nasee
novo desio d' appagar Ie sue voglie,
ch'unqua non vien ehe riposar mi lasce;
rna dal mio nodo Amor l'arretra e seioglie:
forse con lui fa un' altra donna quello
ch'egli fa meco; equal da, tal ritoglie.
Casi di quanta e '1 mio desir rubello
ai desir vostri, a la medesma guisa
ne riporto supplizio aeerbo e felloe
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by my flesh and my afflicted blood.
And if my pain hurts and does not delight you,
nor do I want yours, and what I do against you
I do driven by love for another;
and if I lie abject and sick unto death,
how can I help you in your pain
"Then I shriek within and am outwardly silent?
If your grief leads you to lament to me,
in my travail, greater yet, my life
turns to stone and hardens into unfeeling rock:
such grief penetrates the heart far more deeply,
so that it freezes the tears within the breast,
and changes man, like Niobe, into stone.l?
Your suffering could be called delight
since you ease it by speaking of it to me,
unlike mine, which my heart shuts up in its core.
I still answer you if you speak to me;
but the wind has carried my imploring prayers
off with it every moment, without an answer,
whenever I have had sufficient daring
to appeal, through my voice or in ink,
for mercy in return for my dire pain.
And so I must lower my tearful eyes
and keep them low for a long time to come,
unless death cuts short the path of my woe.
Of my lover, I say nothing; for my agony
is sweet nourishment to him, so that as he feeds on it,
it is ever less satisfied by its own starvation.
And even from his pride a strange desire
is born in me to satisfy all his wishes,
and it never allows me to rest;
but Love loosens and frees him from my embrace,
and perhaps another woman does to him
what he does to me, and as he gives, he receives.
So as much as my desire resists yours,
in the same way, in return for my desire,
I receive agony, piercing and sharp.
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19. Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus, bragged so much about her seven children's beauty that
Apollo and Artemis slew them in revenge. Niobe was turned to stone, with a spring, like tears,
flowing down her face (Metamorphoses, 6.146-312).
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Fors'ancor voi del vostro amor conquisa
altra donna sprezzate, e con la mente
dal piacerle v'andate ognor divisa;
e s'a lei sete ingrato e sconoscente,
in suo giusto giudizio Arnor decide
ch'uri'altra sf vi scempia e vi tormente.
Fors'anco Amor del comun pianto ride,
e per far lagrirnar piu sempre il mondo,
1'altrui desir discompagna e divide;
e mentre che di cia si fa giocondo,
de Ie lagrime nostre il largo mare
sempre piu si fa cupo e piu profondo:
che s'uom potesse a suo diletto amare,
senza trovar contrarie voglie opposte,
l'amoroso piacer non avria pare.
E se tai leggi fur dal destin poste,
perche ne la soverchia dilettanza
al ben del cielo il mondan non s' accoste,
tant'e piu '1 mio dolor, quant'ho in usanza
d'innamorarmi e di provar amando
quest'amata in arnor disagguaglianza.
Ben quanto a l' esser mio vo ripensando:
veggo che la fortuna mi conduce
ove la vita ognor meni affannando;
e se potessi in cia prender per duce
quella ragion ch'or, da 1'affetto vinta,
d' Amor sotto 1'imperio si riduce,
sarebbe nel mio cor la fiamma estinta
de l' altrui foco, e di quel fora in vece
del vostro l' alma ad infiammarsi accinta.
E se I'ordine a me mutar non Ieee,
s'a disfar 0 corregger quel non viene,
ch'o ben 0 mal una volta il ciel fece,
posso bramar che chi cinta mi tiene
d'indegno laccio in liberia mi renda,
sf ch'io mi doni a voi, comeconviene;
rna ch'altro in cia fuor del desir io spenda,
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Perhaps you, too, disdain another woman
conquered by love for you, and your mind
roams far from ever wanting to please her;
and if you are heedless and ungrateful to her,
Love, in his fair judgment, decrees
that another woman should ravage and torment you.
Perhaps Love even laughs at these shared tears
and, to make the world weep even more,
divides and sunders yet another's desire;
and, while he makes merry over this,
the wide sea of all our tears
darkens and deepens further still:
for if man could love to his heart's content,
without confronting contrary desires,
the pleasure of love would have no equal.
And if destiny has laid down the law
that in supreme delight, earthly good
may not attain the bliss of heaven,
my woe is all the greater as my habit is
to fall in love, and to feel, through loving,
this beloved mismatch in love.
However much I reflect on myself,
I see that fortune leads me wherever
life follows an always troubled path;
and if I were able to take reason as my guide,
which now, defeated by emotion,
is subjected to the reign of Love,
the flame for the other man would burn out
in my heart, and my soul would be prompt
to flare up with fire for you instead.
And if I lack the right to change this scheme
of things, if he whom heaven once made,
for good or ill, does not undo or improve it,
I may hope that he who holds me tied
in an unworthy bond gives my freedom back,
so I may give myself to you, as is more fit;
but, dear sir, you must no longer expect
Rima
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e questo ancor con non picciola noia,
non e che piu da voi, signor, s'attenda.
Ben sarebbe compita la mia gioia,
s'io potessi cangiar nel vostro amore
quel ch'in altrui con diletto m'annoia,
A voi darei di buona voglia il core,
e dandol, crederei riguadagnarlo
nel merito del vostro alto valore:
cOSIverrei d'altrui mani empie a trarlo,
e in luogo di conforto e di salute
aventurosamente a ben locarlo.
Anch'io so quanto val vostra virtute,
e de Ie rare eccellenti vostr' opre
rnolte sono da me state vedute.
Chiaro il vostro valor mi si discopre,
e s'io non vengo a dargli ricompensa,
Amor non vuol che tanto ben adopre.
Com'io '1 potessi far, da me si pensa;
ese, dov'al desio manca il potere,
il buon animo i merti ricompensa,
che v'acquietate meco eben dovere:
Forse ch'a tempo di miglior ventura
ve ne faro buon effetto vedere.
Tra tanto l' esser certo di mia cura
conforto sia ch'al vostro dolor giovi,
e mi faccia stimar da voi non dura,
fin che libera un giorno io mi ritrovi.
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that I should devote more than a wish
to this, and that with no small annoyance.
Certainly my joy would be complete
if I could change into love for you
what in that man teases me with delight.
I would gladly give my heart to you,
and by giving it, believe I earned it back
in the merit of your high distinction:
so I should take my heart from his cruel hands,
and safely set it, by fortune's favor,
in a place of comfort and good health.
I know very well how to value your virtue,
and of your rare and excellent works
many examples have come to my notice.
Your valor is clearly evident to me,
and if I cannot reward it rightly,
Love keeps me from availing myself of so much good.
I consider how I might be able to do so,
and if where desire falls short of power,
good will still deserves a return,
certainly your duty is to make peace with me:
at a more propitious time, perhaps,
I will show you an outcome that turns all this to good.
Meanwhile, let the certainty of my care
be a comfort to you and assuage your grief
and make you judge me not unkind,
'til one day I find myself free again.
Rima
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Capitolo
9
J0
Donna, la vostra lontananza e stata
a me, vostro fedel servo ed amante,
morte tanto crudel quanto insperata.
Nel gentil vostro angelico sembiante
abitar l' alma e '1 mio cor vago suole,
e ne le luci S1leggiadre e sante:
queste fur risplendente unico sole
sovra i miei di, senza lor tristi e negri,
e di quel pieni, ond'uom via pili si duole,
come sono a me adesso orbati ed egri,
in questa sepoltura de Ia vita,
che non fia, senza voi, che si reintegri.
Con voi 1'anima mia s'e dipartita,
anzi '1 mio spirto e l' anima voi sete,
e tutta Ia virtu vitale unita:
e s'uorn morto pariar vien che si viete,
non io, rna di me parla in cambio quella
che ne Ie vostre man rnia vita avete.
Questa non pur vi scrive e vi favella,
per miracol d'amor, in cotal guisa,
che, ne 1'esser io morto, in voi vive ella;
rna stando dal cor vostro non divisa,
vi susurra a l'orecchie di segreto,
e '1 mio misero state vi divisa.
Ne percio del mio male altro ben mieto,
se non ch'agli occhi vostri ei si Figura
con spettacolo a voi gioioso e lieto;
e mentre meco ognor v'innaspra e indura,
superate ne l' essermi crudele
le fiere rnostriiose a la natura.
Lasso, ch'io spargo ai venti Ie quereIe,
anzi e un percuoter d'onde a duro scoglio,
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Capitola
BY AN UNKNOWN
FRANCO'S
in Terza
Rima
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AUTHOR,
LAMENTING
ABSENCE
Lady, your absence has been to me,
your faithful servant and devoted lover,
a death as cruel as it was foreseen.
My soul and my enamored heart
once lived in your gentle, angelic face
and in your eyes, so beautiful and blessed:
these were the bright and only sun
on my days, without them sad and dark,
and full of what grieves man by far the most,
as bereaved and weak as are my eyes
in this sepulcher of life, which, without you,
will not be restored to health.
With you my soul took leave of me,
or, rather, you are my spirit and soul
and all my vital strength conjoined in one;
and if a dead man is barred from speaking,
not I but my life, which you hold in your hands,
speaks here in exchange for me.
My life not only writes and speaks to you,
by a miracle of love, in such a way
that in my death, it lives in you;
not being divided from your heart,
it whispers secretly in your ear,
and describes my wretched state to you.
Nor do I win any ease for my pain,
except that it appears before your eyes
in a spectacle joyful and pleasant to you;
and as you sharpen and harden toward me,
in your cruelty to me you surpass
the monstrous wild beasts of nature.
Alas, that I cast my laments to the windsrather, it's the beating of waves on a stone,
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Franco
quanto mai di voi pianga e mi querele.
Mosso s'insuperbisce il vostro orgoglio,
sf come '1 mar a l'impeto de' venti,
mentre a ragion con voi di voi mi doglio;
ed or, per far pili gravi i miei tormenti,
per levarmi '1 ristoro ch'io sentia
nel formarvi propinquo i miei lamenti,
n' andaste a vola per diversa via,
quando men sospettava, a dimostrarvi
in tutti i modi a me contraria e ria.
Qual neve sotto '1 sol, piangendo sparvi
con quest'orma di vita, e con quest'ombra
vana e insufficYentea seguitarvi;
anzi, da' miei sospir cacciata e sgombra,
col vento, ch'a voi venne, si risolse,
che spirando al bel sen fors'or v'ingombra.
Empio destin, ch'altrove vi rivolse
dal mirar 10mio strazio e quella pena,
che infinita al mio cor per voi s'accolse:
Troppo era la mia vita alta, serena,
darvi in presenzia de la mia gran fede
col vicin pianger mio certezza piena,
e riceverne asprissima mercede
di presenti minacce e di ripulse,
contrario a quel ch'a la pieta si chiede.
Ben certo allor benigno il ciel m'indulse;
e troppo chiara ancor nel sommo sdegno
la luce de' vostr'occhi a me rifulse.
Di gustar quel piacer non era degno,
ch'io sentfa, nel vedervi, aspro e mortale
far pili sempre '1 mio duol, con ogni ingegno:
or lasso piango il mio passato male,
quando a Ie mie d'amor gravi percosse
non fu in dolcezza alcun diletto eguale.
Arnor d'acerbo colpo rni percosse,
di quel che di piacer e in tutto privo,
quando da me, madonna, vi rimosse.
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no matter how much I weep and complain.
Shaken, your pride grows haughtier still,
much like the blast of winds on the sea,
while I rightly complain of you to yourself.
And now, to make my torments more grievous still,
to deny me the comfort I used to feel,
close to you declaring my woe,
you flew away on a different path
when least expected, in order to appear
in all ways contrary and cruel to me.
Like snow in the sun, you vanished in tears,
with this mere trace of life and this vain shadow,
powerless to follow after you,
or rather, pursued and weighed down by my sighs,
it dissolved in the oncoming wind, which now,
blowing on your breast, perhaps holds you back.
Cruel fate, which has taken you away,
far from the sight of my ruin and pain,
which, endless, has settled in my heart through you!
My life was too lofty and too serene
to show you in person my great loyalty
and how close I was to weeping,
receiving in exchange the harshest reward
of these threats and rejections, contrary
to anything that pity demands.
Certainly, then, kind heaven indulged me,
and shone down upon me the light of your eyes,
now far too bright at the height of your scorn.
It was not right to enjoy this pleasure,
for seeing you, I felt, with all my wit,
my grief become ever more mortal and dire;
alas, now I lament my past misery,
when no delight was equal in sweetness
to the hard blows that I suffered for love.
Love struck me down with a violent blow,
of the kind that is totally deprived of pleasure,
when, my lady, he took you from me.
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Dianzi fu '1 viver mio lieto e giulivo,
ed or, a prova del mio mal cotanto,
sento '1 mio ben, mentre di lui mi privo.
Deh tornate a veder il mio gran pianto,
venite a rinovar l' aspre mie piaghe,
senza lasciarmi respirar alquanto:
di cia contente fian mie voglie e paghe,
che 'I mio duol, da voi fatto ancor maggiore,
mirin da presso l'alme luci vaghe.
A me fia d'alta gioia ogni dolore;
e in gran pieta ricevera 10strazio,
e in dolce aita ogni aspra offesa il core,
pur ch'a noi ritorniate in breve spazio.
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Before, my life was joyous and cheerful,
and now, as a test of my immense pain,
I feel my good as I am deprived of it.
Pray, return to see my flood of tears,
come to reopen my bitter wounds,
not letting me take a single breath;
by this all my wishes would be met and fulfilled:
that your kind, noble eyes, close by, should see
the pain that you constantly increase in me.
To me every pain will be a great joy,
and my heart will interpret torment as compassion
and every harsh injury as sweet relief,
provided that you come back to us soon.
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Capitolo
10
~
In disparte da te sommene andata,
per frastornarti da l' arnarrni, avante
ch'unqua rnostrarmi a tanto amore ingrata:
ne mia colpa fia mai ch'alcun si vante
giovato avermi in opre od in parole,
senza mer cede assai piu che bastante;
rna s'uom, seguendo cia che '1 suo cor vuole,
di quel m'attristi, ond'ei via piu s'allegri,
meco non merta, e mi sprezza, e non cole.
Quei sf, che son d' amor meriti integri,
quando, per far a me cosa gradita,
per me ti sono, i tuoi di tristi, allegri!
E nondimeno tu con infinita
doglia sentisti che mai cose liete
non rn'incontrar dal tuo amor disunita.
Che mi prendesti a I' amorosa rete,
presa da un altro pria, vieto mia stella,
non so se per mio affanno, 0 per quiete:
basta che, fatta d'altro amante ancella,
l'anima, ad altro oggetto intent a e fisa,
rendersi ai tuoi desir convien rubella.
Con tutto questo, e ch'al mio ben precisa
la strada fosse, e fattomi divieto,
dal tuo seguirmi poco men che uccisa,
con giudicio amorevole e discreto
tanto stimai '1 tuo amor senza misura,
quanto piu al mio voler fosti indiscreto:
e di te preso alcuna dolce cura,
bench'a me tu temprasti amaro fele
col tuo servirmi, in cia non ti fui dura;
e per te non avendo in bocca il mele
di quell'affetto ch'entro 'I sen raccoglio,
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FRANCO'S
REPLY,
WRITTEN
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10
IN THE
SAME
I went away, departing from you,
in order to force you out of loving me,
not at all to seem thankless for so much love;
nor is it my fault if anyone boasts
of giving me favors in word or deed
without having received more than ample reward.
But if a man, following his heart's desire,
makes me regret it, which delights him even more,
he deserves nothing, and scorns and dishonors me.
But those are certainly love's just rewards
when, to please me, your sad days
turn to happy ones, on my account.
And yet you've heard with infinite sorrow
that any joy has ever come to me
since I was parted from your love.
My star forbade you to trap me in love's net,
for I was caught already by another man,
for woe or peace I do not know;
it's enough that my soul, to another enslaved,
intent and fixed on this other man,
rightly rebels against sharing your desire.
In spite of all this, and that my path to joy
was straight and direct, yet I was pushed off it
and all but slain by your persistence,
with a loving and tempered judgment,
I believed your love was as boundless
as, in fact, you failed to respect my will;
having taken loving care of you,
though you mixed bitter bile with your duty to me,
I was not harsh to you as a result;
and since toward you my mouth lacks the honey
of the affection I feel in my breast,
RHYMES
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Veronica
Franco
che in altrui pro convien che si rivele,
liberamente, come teco soglio,
ti raccontai ch'altrove erano intenti
i miei spirti, e mostraiti il mio cordoglio.
Or, perche teco ad un non mi tormenti,
tentando invan ch'a mio gran danno io sia
pietosa a te, con tuoi dogliosi accenti,
da te partimmi; e non potendo pia
esserti, almen veridica t'apparvi:
non rea, qual da te titol mi si dia.
Quanto e '1 peggio talvolta il palesarvi
effetti d'alrna di pietate ingombra,
dov' altri soglia male interpretarvi!
Benche, se vaneggiando erra ed adombra
il tuo pensier, che da ragion si tolse,
seguendo Amor per via di lei disgombra,
non pero quel ch'ad util tuo si valse
da me, da cui '1 desir tuo si raffrena,
che d'ir al precipizio i pie ti sciolse,
a meritar alcun biasmo mi mena;
anzi di quel ch'aiuto in cia ti diede,
la mia chiara pieta si rasserena:
che s'io mossi da te fuggendo '1 piede,
fu perche Ie presenti mie repulse
rri'eran de la tua morte espressa fede.
E quante volte Eu che ti repulse
da se '1 mio sguardo, 0 ti mira con sdegno,
so che '1 gran duol del petto il cor t'evulsc.
Ch'io ti vedessi d'alta doglia pregno
morirmi un di davante, eccesso tale
era a me sconvenevole ed indegno.
Da l'altra parte, assai potev'io male
risponder al tuo amor: non men che Fosse
il tentar di volar non avendo ale.
E che far potev'io contra Ie posse
di quell'arcier che, del tuo bene schivo,
d'oro in te, in me di piombo il suo stral mosse?
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which I must reveal only to another,
freely, as is my custom with you,
I told you that my thoughts were turned
elsewhere, and I showed you my regret.
Then, not to torture myself and you both,
since you tried in vain with your sorrowful words
to make me feel pity, at great cost to myself,
I left you; and though I was unable
to give you mercy, at least I was truthful,
not, as you want to label me, cruel.
Sometimes the worst one can do is be open,
though this is the act of a soul full of pity,
which others are likely to misunderstand!
Although your thought, straying from reason,
wanders aimless and disturbed,
following Love unimpeded by judgment,
even so, I am not to be held to blame
for anything that I did to help you,
on my side, as I curb your desire,
and I kept you from a precipitous fall.
On the contrary, the help I gave you
clearly shows my exceptional good will;
so if I fled from you, the reason was
that the refusals I am making now
were a firm guarantee to me then of your death.
And whenever my glance drove you away
or I looked at you with scorn, I know
that great pain tore your heart from your breast.
That I should see you, overwhelmed
with grief, die before me one daysuch an extreme seemed wrong and unfit.
On the other hand, I could hardly return
your love, especially because
it was an attempt to fly without wings.
And how could I resist the power of that archer,
who, opposed to your desire, shot you
with a golden arrow, me with one of lead?20
in Te r : a RiJna
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20. Cupid's golden arrow made the person receiving it fall in love, while the leaden arrow
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Ma d'or prima aneo al mio cor feee arrivo
la sua saetta, stand'io ferma intanto,
mirando ineauta l'altrui volto divo.
Quinei un lume, ch'al sol toglieva il vanto,
m'abbaglio sf, ehe non fia ehe s'appaghe
d'aleun ben altro mai l'anima tanto.
E pereh'errando '1 mio stil pili non vaghe,
io parti' per disciorti dal mio amore,
con Ie mie piante a fuggir pronte e vaghe.
So ehe Ia lontananza il suo furore
mitiga; e quando tu, del viver sazio,
pur vogli amando useir di vita fuore,
te, con quest'occhi, e me insieme non strazio.
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But earlier still, his gold shaft reached my heart,
as I stood firm, incautiously gazing
at the other man's celestial face.
There a light that robbed the sun of its pride
so dazzled me that never will my soul
be as contented by any other love.
And so my wavering style would no longer stray,
I left, to free you from love for me,
with feet eager and longing for flight.
I know that absence lessens love's fury;
and when you, having lived to the full,
still loving, decide to leave life behind,
with these eyes I'll not torture both you and myself.
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Capitolo
11
Invero una tu sei, Verona bella,
poi che la mia Veronica gentile
con l'unica bellezza sua t'abbella.
Quella, a cui non fu mai pari 0 simile
d' Adria ninfa leggiadra, or col bel viso
t' apporta a mezzo '1 verno un lieto aprile;
anzi ti fa nel mondo un paradiso
il sol del volto, e degli occhi Ie stelle,
e '1 tranquillo seren del vago riso;
rna 1'intelletto, che sf chiaro dielle
il celeste Motor a sua sembianza,
unito in lei con l' altre cose belle,
quegli altri pregi in modo sopravanza,
che 1'uman veder nostro non perviene
a mirar tal virtute in tal distanza.
A pena l'occhio corporal sostiene
10splendor de Ia fronte, in cui mirando
abbagliato e confuso ne diviene:
questa Ia donna mia dolce girando,
l' aria fa tutta sfavillar d'intorno,
e pon Ie nubi e Ie tempeste in bando.
Di rose e di viole il mondo adorno
rende '1 Iume del ciglio, con cui lieta
primavera perpetua fa soggiorno.
Oirne! qual empio influsso di pianeta,
unica di quest'occhi e vera Iuce,
subito mi t'asconde e mi ti vieta?
Chi '1 nostro paradiso altrove adduce,
Adria, meco percio dogliosa e trista,
che 'n tenebre il di nostro si riduce?
Ogni altro oggetto, lasso me, rn' attrista,
or che del vago mio splendor celeste
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Capitola
BY AN UNKNOWN
AUTHOR,
FRANCO
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IN PRAISE
OF VERONA,
WHERE
IS STAYING
Truly, fair Verona, you are one of a kind, 21
now that my gentle Veronica
beautifies you with her unique beauty.
She, who's never had an equal or peer,
Adria's nymph, now with her fair face
brings you in midwinter an April full of joy;
the sun of her face and the stars of her eyes
and the calm serenity of her sweet laugh
turn you, indeed, to a heaven on earth;
but the brilliant intellect that the heavenly Mover
gave her, in his image, united
with her other beautiful qualities,
so far surpasses all those other gifts
that our human vision cannot reach far enough
to perceive such great virtue at such a distance.
The bodily eye can scarcely bear
the splendor of her brow; beholding it,
human sight becomes dazzled and dazed:
this lady of mine, gently turning around,
sets the air all about her to sparkling
and banishes tempests and clouds far away.
The gleam of her eye bedecks the world
with roses and violets, and with her,
gay, everlasting spring comes to stay.
Alas! what cruel planet's influence,
unique and truthful light of her eyes,
suddenly hides you and keeps me away?
Adria, who takes our paradise elsewhere?so that, like me, you are saddened and grieving,
since our bright day has been turned into darkness?
Alas, every other object repels me
now that I'm denied the sight that I long for,
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21. This first line il nuero una) "truly unique") sets up a pun similar to those on the name
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mi si contende la bramata vista.
Ben del pensier con l' egre luci e meste
_scorgoVerona invidiosamente,
che de' miei danni lieta si riveste.
Veggo, lasso, e rivolgo con la mente
ne l' altrui gioia e ne l' altrui diletto
via piu grave '1 mio danno espressamente.
Adria, per costei fosti almo ricetto
di tutto '1 ben ch'a noi dal ciel deriva,
quant'ei ne suol piu dar sommo e perfetto:
or di lei tosto indegnamente priva,
per questa del tuo lido antic a sponda
torbido 'I mar risuona in ogni riva.
Ben tanto piu si fa lieta e gioconda
Verona, e di Fiorito e dolce maggio,
nel maggior nostro verno e ghiaccio, abonda.
Quivi del mio bel sol l' amato raggio
spiega Ie tante sue bellezze eterne,
che d'ir al cielo insegnano il viaggio,
Per virtu di tal lume in lei si scerne
vestir Ie piante di novel colore,
e giunger forza a Ie radici interne.
L' aura soave e '1 prezioso odore,
che da Ie rose de la bocca spira
questa figlia di Pallade e d' Amore,
nutrimento vital per tutto inspira,
sf ch'a quel refrigerio in un momenta
tutto risorge e rinasce e respira;
e de la voce angelica il concento
i fiumi affrena, e i monti ad udir move,
e '1 ciel si ferma ad ascoltarla intento:
il ciel, che in Adria piange e ride altrove,
la 've la dolce mia terrena dea
grazia e dolcezza dal bel ciglio piove,
e quel ricetto estremamente bea,
dov' ella alberga, per destin felice
d'un altro am ante e per mia stella rea.
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of my beautiful radiance, bright as the sky.
Clearly, in my feeble, woeful mind's eye,
I enviously see the town of Verona
happily preening herself to my cost;
amid other people's joy and contentment,
I see, alas, and deliberately in my mind,
turn over and over my increasing loss.
Adria, for her you were the kindly shelter
of all the most perfect and highest blessings
that heaven habitually bestows upon us:
now of her lately and unfairly deprived,
along the ancient line of your coast
the troubled sea roars on all of your shores.
All the more does Verona grow gay and merry,
and she abounds in a sweet, flowering May
while we must endure deep winter and hard frost.
There the dear ray of my beautiful sun
displays her multiple, undying graces,
'which point out the pathway to heaven.
Through the force of her bright-shining light
plants can be seen taking on new hues
and gaining strength for their hidden roots.
The mild air and precious scent
exhaled from the rosy lips
of this daughter of Pallas and Love-?
infuse vital nourishment in every place,
so that all at once, from this freshening force,
all rises, is reborn, and inhales anew:
the harmoniousness of her angelic voice
stops rivers in their course and convinces the hills
to pause and listen, and heaven stops, intent on hearing:
weeping in Adria, the sky, laughing elsewhere,
wherever my sweet goddess on earth
rains down sweetness and grace from her eyes,
pours down every blessing on the place where she dwells,
through the fortunate fate of that other lover
and the hard-heartedness of my star to me.
22. Pallas (Greek Athena, Roman Minerva) was the goddess of wisdom and the arts.
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Altri del mio penar buon frutto elice,
del mio bel sol la luce altri si gode,
ed io qui piango nudo ed infelice.
Ma s'ella '1 mio dolor intende ed ode,
perch'a levarmi l'affamato verme
non vien dal cor, che sf '1 consuma erode?
E se non m'ode, 0 mie speranze inferme!
poi che '1 ciel chiude a' miei sospir la strada,
contra cui vano e quanto uom mai si scherme.
Ma tu sf aventurosa alma contrada,
ch' a pena un tanto ben capi e ricevi,
qual chi confuso in gran dolcezza cada,
d' Adria i diletti, a fuggir pronti e lievi,
mira, e dal nostro danno accorta stima
il volar de' tuoi di fugaci e brevi.
Or ti vedi riposta ad alta cima,
ne pensi forse come d' alto grado
Ie cose eccelse la fortuna adima:
stabil non e di qua giu '1 bene, e rado
pili d'un momento dura, e '1 pianto e '1 duolo
trova per mezzo l'allegrezza il guado.
Ma pur felice aventuroso suolo,
che quel momento al goder nostro dato
possiedi un ben COS! perfetto e solo.
Pian, poggio, fonte e bosco fortunato,
ch'a un guardo, a un sol toccar del vago piede,
forma prendete di celeste stato,
l'alto e novo miracol, che 'n voi siede,
a farvi basti, in tanto spazio, eterno
tutto quel ben ch' al suo venir vi diede:
sf che mai non v' offenda 0 ghiaccio 0 verno,
ned altro influsso rio, rna sempre in voi
sia la stagion de' fior lieta in eterno;
pur che tosto colei ritorni a noi,
aI nido ov'ella nacque, che senz'essa
mena tristi ed oscuri i giorni suoi.
Deh torna, luce mia, del raggio impressa
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Another man makes good gain from my loss,
another enjoys the light of my fair sun,
and I, stripped bare, weep in misery here.
But if she hears and understands my grief,
why doesn't she come to remove from my heart
the famished worm that devours and gnaws it?
And if she hears me not, woe to my frail hopes!
for the sky cuts off any path for my sighs,
and against the sky man struggles in vain.
But you, countryside so blessed and fertile,
who've just taken in and welcomed such a boon,
like a man overwhelmed by falling into bliss,
look on those delights, so quick and so swift
to leave Adria behind; and wiser for our loss,
judge how brief and fleeting is the passing of your days.
Now you see yourself up at the top
and perhaps don't consider how from any peak
fortune can bring down the highest things;
Here on earth there is no good that's stable,
rarely does it last more than a moment,
and even in joy, tears and grief find their way.
But happy and fortunate country indeed,
that at that moment given for our pleasure,
you possess a good so perfect and unique.
Plain, hill, fountain, and wood blessed by fate,
for at a glance, at one touch of her fair foot,
you take on the form of a heavenly place.
May the high, unheard of miracle
dwelling within you preserve forever
all the good brought you by her arrival:
may neither ice nor winter nor any other harm
ever wound you, but may the flowery season
remain with you forever,
provided that she returns to us soon,
to the place she was born, which, now without her,
lives out its days in sadness and shadow.
Pray, my dear light, do come back,
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de la divinita, qui dove mai
pianger la tua partita non si cessa.
Tempo e di ritornar, madonna, omai
a consolar de la vostr' alma vista
di questa patria i desiosi rai,
a dar a la mia mente inferma e trista,
col dolce oggetto del bel vostro lume,
rimedio contra '1 duol che SI l'attrista:
e se troppo '1 mio cor di voi presume,
datemi in pena che del vago volta
da vicin 10splendor m'arda e consume;
ne de' begli occhi altrove sia rivolto
il doppio sol, fin che 'n polve minuta
non mi vediate dal mio incendio volto;
e per farlo, affrettate la venuta.
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marked by the ray of divinity, to the place
which never ceases to mourn for your going.
It is time, my lady, at last to return,
to bring comfort, with your blessed sight,
to the longing eyes of this, your native land,
and to grant my ailing and sorrowful mind
by the sweet visibility of your fair light
a remedy for the woe that so aggrieves it:
and if my heart demands too much of you,
let my penance be that your fair face's splendor
may consume and burn me at close hand;
and let the double sun of those lovely eyes
be turned nowhere else, until you see me
reduced to fine dust by this fire of mine.
And in order to do this, speed your return.
in Te r: a Rima
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Capitolo
12
~
Oh quanto per voi meglio si faria,
se quel che '1 cielo ingegno alto vi diede
riconosceste con pili cortesia,
sf ch'a impiegarlo in quel che piu si chiede
veniste, disdegnando il mondo frale,
che quei piu inganna, che gli tien piu fede;
e se lodaste pur cosa mortale,
lasciando quel ch'e sol del sen so oggetto,
lodar quel ch' al giudicio ancor poi vale,
lodar d' Adria il felice almo ricetto,
che, benche sia terreno, ha forma vera
di cielo in terra a Dio caro e diletto:
questa materia del vostro ingegno era,
e non gir poetando vanamente,
obliando la via del ver primiera.
Senza discorrer poeticamente,
senza usar l'iperbolica figura,
ch'e pur troppo bugiarda apertamente,
si poteva impiegar la vostra cura
in lodando Vinegia, singolare
meraviglia e stupor de la natura.
Questa dominatrice alta del mare,
regal vergine pura, inviolata,
nel mondo senza essempio e senza pare,
questa da voi deveva esser lodata,
vostra patria gentile, in cui nasceste,
e dov'anch'io, la Dio merce, son nata;
rna voi le meraviglie raccoglieste
d'altro paese; e de la mia persona,
quel eh' Arnor cieeo vi detto, diceste.
Una invero e, qual dite voi, Verona,
per Ie qualita proprie di se stessa,
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RESPONSE,
IN WHICH SHE ADVISES
TO WRITE IN PRAISE OF VENICE
Oh, how much better you would do
if you acknowledged with greater courtesy
the lofty intellect heaven gave you
by using it in a more fitting way,
disdaining the frail world, which more
disappoints a man the more he has faith in it:
and, if you had to praise a mortal thing,
leaving behind what pleases only the senses,
you were to praise what good judgment values more:
you praised Adria, the blessed, noble retreat,
which, earthly though it is, has the true form
of heaven on earth, precious and dear to God.
This was a subject fit for your intellect,
not wandering off in vain versifying,
forgetful of the pathway of primal truth.
Without running on in poetical fashion,
without using hyperbolic figures of speech,
which are all too clearly obvious lies,
you might have turned your attention instead
to praising Venice, the one and only
rniracle and wonder of nature.
This high ruler of the sea,
lofty virgin, inviolate and pure,
without equivalent or peer in the world,
this is what you should have praised,
this gentle land, in which you were born,
and where I, too, thank God, was born;
but you gathered together the marvels
of another city, and you said of me
what blind Love dictated to you.
Verona is indeed unique, as you say,
but for her own qualities,
THE POET
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e non per quel che da voi si ragiona;
rna tanto pili Vinegia e bella d'essa,
quanto e pili bel del mondo il paradiso,
la cui belts fu a Vinegia concessa.
In modo dal mondan tutto diviso,
fabricata e Vinegia sopra l' acque,
per sopranatural celeste aviso:
in questa il Re del cielo si compiacque
di fondar il sicuro, eterno nido
de Ia sua fe, ch'altrove oppressa giacque;
e pose a suo diletto in questo lido
tutto quel bel, tutta quella dolcezza,
che sia di maggior vanto e maggior grido.
Gioia non darsi altrove al mondo avezza
in tal copia in Vinegia il ciel ripose,
che chi non Ia conosce, non l' apprezza.
Questo al vostro giudicio non s'ascose,
che de Ie cose pili eccellenti ha gusto;
rna poi la benda agli occhi Amor vi pose:
dal costui foco il vostro cor combusto,
vi mando agli occhi de Ia mente il furno,
che vi fece veder falso e non giusto.
Ned io di me tai menzogne presumo,
quai voi spiegaste, ben con tai maniere,
che dal modo del dir diletto assumo;
rna non percio conosco per non vere
Ie trascendenti lodi che mi date,
SI che mi son con noia di piacere.
Ma se pur tal di me concetto fate,
perch'al nido, ov'io nacqui, non si pensa
da voi, e 'n cio perch'ognor nollodate?
Perch'ad altr'opra il pensier si dispensa,
se per voi deve un loco esser lodato,
che dia al mio spirto posa e ricompensa?
Ricercando del ciel per ogni lata,
se ben discorre in molte parti il sale,
pero vien l'orfente pili stimato:
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not for those you attribute to her;
but the beauty of Venice exceeds hers
as far as the earth is surpassed by paradise,
with whose beauty Venice was endowed.
In a way set apart from what is seen on earth,
Venice was built upon the waters
according to supernatural, heavenly intent:
In her the King of heaven took pleasure
in founding the secure, eternal nest
of his faith, which elsewhere lay oppressed,
and for his own delight he placed on this shore
all the beauty and all the sweetness
that is most acclaimed and praised on earth.
Nowhere else in the world is used to the joy
that heaven bestowed so abundantly on Venice,
so that whoever does not know her cannot appreciate her.
This was not concealed from your judgment,
which has a taste for the most excellent things;
but Love at the time blindfolded your eyes,
and your heart, burned by his flame,
sent smoke up into your mind's eye,
which made you see falsely, not according to truth.
Nor do I believe such lies about myself
as those you invented in so mannered a way
that I do take some pleasure in the style;
but on that account I do not take as true
the high-flown praises that you give to me,
which leave me both flattered and annoyed.
But if you make such a conceit even of me,
why do you not consider the place I was born,
and why do you not constantly sing its praise?
Why do you devote your thought to other tasks,
if you must praise some place or another
that can give repose and reward to my spirit?
Looking at the sky from one side or the other,
we see that the sun moves all the way through it,
yet we still esteem most highly the east:
Rima
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perche quasi dal fonte Febo suole
quindi spiegar il suo divino raggio,
quando aprir ai mortali il giorno vuole;
COS!anch'io 'n questo e in ogni altro viaggio,
senza col sol pero paragonarmi,
per mio oriente, alma Venezia, t'aggio.
Questa, se in piacer v' era dilettarmi,
dovevate lodar, e con tal modo
al mio usato soggiorno richiamarmi.
Lunge da lei, di nullo altro ben godo,
se non ch'io spero che la lontananza
dal mio vi scioglia 0 leghi a l'altrui nodo.
Continuando in cotal mia speranza,
prolunghero pili ch'io potro '1 ritorno:
tal che m'amiate ha 10sdegno possanzal
COS!vuol chi nel cor mi fa soggiorno:
amor di tal, che per vostra vendetta
forse non rneno il mio riceve a scorno;
rna, come sia, non ritornero in fretta.
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for here Phoebus, as if from his source,
looses his divine ray when he desires
to open up the day for mortal beings:
so I, too, in this and any other voyage,
though without equaling myself to the sun,
think of you, dear Venice, as my east.
You should have praised her, if your will
was to please me, and in that way, to call me
back to the place where I usually live.
Away from her, I enjoy nothing else,
except to hope that our separation may free you
from your bond to me or tie you to another.
Persisting in this hope of mine,
I will delay my return as long as I can:
so much do I disdain your love for me!
This is what the man who dwells in my heart wants:
whose love, perhaps to right your wrong,
responds to mine with no less scorn; but
be that as it may, I will not come back soon.
Rima
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Capitolo
13
Non pili parole: ai fatti, in campo, a l' armi,
ch'io voglio, risoluta di morire,
da sf grave molestia liberarrni.
Non so se 'I mio « cartel» si debba dire,
in quanto do risposta provocata:
rna perche in rissa de' nomi venire?
Se vuoi, da te mi chiamo disfidata;
e se non, ti disfido; 0 in ogni via
la prendo, ed ogni occasion rri'e grata.
II campo 0 l' armi elegger a te stia,
ch'io prendero quel che tu lascerai;
anzi pur ambo nel tuo arbitrio sia.
Tosto son certa che t' accorgerai
quanto ingrato e di fede mancatore
fosti, e quanto tradito a torto m'hai.
E se non cede l'ira al troppo amore,
con queste proprie mani, arditamente
ti trarro fuor del petto il vivo core.
La falsa lingua, ch'in mio danno mente,
sterpero da radice, pria ben morsa
dentro 'I palato dal suo proprio dente;
e se mia vita in cia non fia soccorsa,
pur disperata prendero in diletto
d'esser al sangue in vendetta ricorsa;
poi col coltel medesmo il proprio petto,
de la tua occision sazia e contenta,
forse apriro, pentita de I'effetto.
Or, mentre sono al vendicarmi intenta,
entra in steccato, am ante empio e rubello,
e qualunque armi vuai tosto appresenta.
Vuoi per campo il segreto albergo, quello
che de I'am are mie dalcezze tante
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A CHALLENGE
TO A LOVER
in Terza
Rima
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WHO
HAS OFFENDED
No more words! To deeds, to the battlefield, to arms!
For, resolved to die, I want to free myself
from such merciless mistreatment.
Should I call this a challenge? I do not know,
since I am responding to a provocation;
but why should we duel over words?
If you like, I will say that you've challenged me;
if not, I challenge you; I'll take any route,
and any opportunity suits me equally well.
Yours be the choice of place or of arms,
and I will make whatever choice remains;
rather, let both be your decision.
At once, I am sure, you will realize
how ungrateful and faithless you have been
and how wrongfully you have betrayed me.
And unless my rage yields to overwhelming love,
with these very hands I will, in all boldness,
tear your living heart from your very breast.
The deceiving tongue that lies to do me harm
I will tear out by its root, after it's been bitten
against the palate with repentant teeth;
and if this brings no relief to my life,
abandoning all hope, I will rejoice
at having turned to bloodshed for my revenge.
Then, with the same knife, my own breast,
satisfied and appeased by slaying you,
I may cut open, regretting my deed.
Now, while I'm intent on pursuing revenge,
enter the arena, cruel, rebellious lover,
and present at once whatever arms you wish.
Do you wish, for the field, the secret inn
that, hardhearted and deceptive, once watched
HER
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Veronica
Franco
mi fu ministro insidioso e fello?
Or mi si para il mio letto davante,
ov'in grembo t'accolsi, e ch'ancor l'orrne
serba dei corpi in sen l'un l'altro stante.
Per me in lui non si gode e non si dorme,
rna '1 lagrimar de la notte e del giorno
vien che in fiume di pianto mi trasforme.
Ma pur questo medesimo soggiorno,
che fu de Ie mie gioie amato nido,
dov'or sola in tormento e 'n duol soggiorno,
per campo eleggi, accioch' altrove il grido
non giunga, rna qui teco resti spento,
del tuo inganno ver' me, crudele infido:
qui vieni, e pien di pessimo talento,
accomodato al tristo officio porta
ferro acuto e da man ch'abbia ardimento.
Quell' arme, che da te mi sara porta,
prendero volontier, rna pili, se molto
tagli, e da offender sia ben salda e corta.
Dal petto ignudo ogni arnese sia tolto,
al fin ch'ei, disarmato a Ie ferite,
possa '1 valor mostrar dentro a se accolto.
Altri non s'impedisca in questa lite,
rna da noi soli due, ad uscio chiuso,
rimosso ogni padrin, sia diffinita.
Quest'e d'arditi cavalier buon uso,
ch'attendon senza strepito a purgarsi,
se si sent on l'onor di macchie infuso:
COS1 0 vengon soli ad accordarsi,
o se strada non trovano di pace,
pan del sangue a vicenda saziarsi,
Di tal modo combatter a me piace,
e d'acerba vendetta al desir mio
questa maniera serve e sodisface.
Benche far del tuo sangue un largo rio
spero senz' alcun dubbio, anzi son certa,
senza una stilla spargerne sol io;
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over so many of my now bitter delights?
Here before me now stands the bed
where I took you in my arms, and which still
preserves the imprint of our bodies, breast to breast.
In it I find now neither joy nor sleep,
but only weeping, by night and by day,
which transforms me into a river of tears.
But this very place, which once was
the cherished shelter of my joys,
where I now live alone, in torment and grief,
choose this as a battleground, so that the news
of your betrayal will reach no other place
but die here with you, cruel, faithless man.
Come here, and, full of most wicked desire,
braced stiff for your sinister task,
bring with daring hand a piercing blade.
Whatever weapon you hand over to me,
I will gladly take, especially if it is sharp
and sturdy and also quick to wound.
Let all armor be stripped from your naked breast,
so that, unshielded and exposed to blows,
it may reveal the valor it harbors within.
Let no one else intervene in this match,
let it be limited to the two of us alone,
behind closed doors, with all seconds sent away.
This is the custom of noble knights,
who, without clamor, strive to clear their names
when they consider their honor to be stained:
either they reach an agreement on their own,
or, if they can find no road to peace,
they may sate their thirst for each other's blood.
This is the style in which I like to fight,
and this manner fulfills and satisfies
my desire for bitter revenge.
Although I hope, without any doubt, to spill
a river of your blood-indeed, I am certain
I can, without shedding a drop of my own-
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rna se da te mi sia Ia pace offerta?
se Ia via prendi, l' armi poste in terra,
a Ie risse d' amor del Ietto aperta?
Debbo eontinuar teen aneo in guerra,
poi ehe chi non perdona altrui riehiesto,
con nota di vilta traseorre ed erra?
Quando tu meeo pur venissi a questo,
per aventura io non mi partirei
da quel ch'e eonvenevole ed onesto.
Forse nelletto aneor ti seguirei,
e quivi, teen guerreggiando stesa,
in aleun modo non ti eederei:
per soverehiar Ia tua SI indegna offesa
ti verrei sopra, e nel eontrasto ardita,
sealdandoti ancor tu ne Ia difesa,
teen morrei d'egual eolpo ferita.
o mie vane speranze, onde Ia sorte
erudel a pianger pili sempre m'invita!
Ma pur sostienti, cor sieuro e forte,
e con l'ultimo strazio di queII'empio
vendiea mille tue con Ia sua morte;
poi con quel ferro aneor tronea il tuo seempio.
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what if you were to offer me peace?
What if, all weapons laid aside, you took
the path opened to a love match in bed?
Must I continue to battle against you,
since whoever refuses pardon when asked
wends his erring way reputed a coward?
When you finally came to this point
with me, I'd not, perhaps, depart
from what is decent and proper to do.
Perhaps I would even follow you to bed,
and, stretched out there in skirmishes with you,
I would yield to you in no way at all.
To take revenge for your unfair attack,
I'd fall upon you, and in daring combat,
as you too caught fire defending yourself,
I would die with you, felled by the same blow.
Oh, empty hopes, over which cruel fate
forces me to weep forever!
But hold firm, my strong, undaunted heart,
and with that felon's final destruction,
avenge your thousand deaths with his one.
Then end your agony with the same blade.
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Capitolo
14
Non pili guerra, rna pace: e gli odi, 1'ire,
e quanto fu di disparer tra noi,
si venga in amor doppio a convertire.
La mia causa io rimetto in tutto a voi,
con patto che, per fin de Ie contese,
amici pili che mai restiamo poi:
non mi basta che I'arrni sian sospese,
rna, per stabilimento de la pace,
d'ogni parte si.lievino l'offese.
Che nascesse tra noi rissa, mi spiace;
rna se 10sdegno in amor s'augumenta,
che tra noi si sdegnassimo, mi piace:
e se pur ragion vuol ch'io mi risenta
e vendicata sia 1'ingiuria mia,
de la qual foste ognor ministra intenta,
voglio con l' armi de la cortesia
invincibil durar tanto a la pugna,
che conosciuto alfin vincitor sia.
Ne questo da 1'amor grande repugna,
anzi con queste e non rnai con altre armi
ogni spirto magnanimo s'oppugna,
se voleste incontra armata starmi,
se voleste tentar, con forza tale,
se possibil vi sia di superarmi,
fora '1 mio state a quel di Giove eguale;
forse troppo e la speranza ardita,
che studia di volar non avendo ale.
Somma felicita de la mia vita
sarebbe, in questa stato, che teneste
da nuocermi la mente disunita;
rna s'a l'opere mie ben attendeste,
COS! precipitosa ne 10sdegno
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FROM
in Terza
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14
THE MAN WHOM FRANCO CHALLENGED
IN 13,
INVITING
HER TO MAKE PEACE WITH HIM
No more war, but peace! and may the hate and rage,
and whatever disagreement has arisen between us
be transformed into twice as much love.
I entrust my case completely to you,
on the condition that, to end our quarrel,
'we remain better friends than we ever were.
To me it's not enough that we hang up our weapons,
but to ensure peace, let attacks
be put an end to on both sides.
I am sorry that strife rose up between us;
but if disdain grows into love,
I am glad that we felt disdain for each other;
and even though reason requires of me
that I resent and avenge the injury
that you were always intent on dispensing to me,
I intend, through the use of the weapons of courtesy,
to stand up so well to this battle, unvanquished,
that in the end I am acclaimed the victor.
True love has no objection to this;
with these and never with any other weapons
every great-hearted spirit undertakes battle.
Oh, if you were willing to face me, armed yourself,
if you wanted to test, with such strength,
whether you are able to overcome me,
my state would be equal to that of Jove;
but perhaps my hope is too daring,
for it seeks to fly without wings.
The greatest happiness of my life
would be, in this state, that you changed
your mind from doing me harm;
but if you had really considered my deeds,
you would not have been so sudden
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a ciascun passe meco non sareste.
L'ira e bensi de l'affezz"ion segno,
rna che attende a introdur nel nostro petto,
quanto puo, l'odio con acuto ingegno;
COS! 'llanguir,
giacendo infermo in letto,
segno e di vita, perche l'uom ch'e morto
cosa alcuna patir non puo in effetto:
ben per I'infermita vien altri scorto
a morir, e quant'e pili '1 mal possente,
al fin s'affretta in termine pili corto.
Del vostro sdegno subito ed ardente,
s'e in voi punto ver' me d'amore, attendo
che siano tutte Ie reliquie spente.
E per questo talvolta anch'io m'accendo,
e non per ira, rna per dolor molto,
batto Ie man, vocifero e contendo:
vedermi del mio amor il premio tolto,
ne questo pur, rna in altretanta pena
vederlorni in su gli occhi (oimel ) rivolto,
per disperazion questo mi mena
a quel che pili mi spiace; e pur l'eleggo,
poi che '1 preciso danno assai s'affrena.
Con la necessita mi volgo e reggo,
da poi che Ia riiina rnanifesta
de Ie speranze rnie tutte preveggo;
rna non percio nel cor sempre mi testa
di piacervi talento e di servirvi,
anzi in me piu tal brarna ognor si desta.
La mia ragion verrei talvolta a dirvi,
rna perche so che rornor ne sarebbe,
col si1enzio m'ingegno d'obedirvi.
Non so, rna Forse ch'a ta1uno increbbe
del viver nostro insieme; che '1 suo tosco,
nel nostro dolce a spargerlo, pronto ebbe.
Insornma, dal rnio canto non conosco
d' avervi offeso, se '1 mio arnor estrerno
meritar pena non rn'ha fatto vosco;
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at every moment to feel disdain for me.
Anger is indeed a sign of affection,
but it attempts to put into our breasts,
as much as it can, hatred and sharp wit.
In the same way, languishing weakly in bed
is a sign of life, for a man who is dead
cannot endure anything, in fact;
by illness another is led on to death,
and the more powerful his disease,
the faster he hastens to his end.
If there is even a little love in you
for me, may it be that all the remains
of your sudden and burning disdain are extinguished.
On this account I myself sometimes burn,
and not from anger but from great pain
I clap my hands, cry out, and fight myself;
to see my love's reward snatched away from me,
and not only this, but to see it transformed
into equal pain, alas, before my very eyesthis leads me, through desperation,
to what I most dislike; and even so, I choose it,
for in this way the hurt is somewhat subdued.
I behave and obey as necessity demands,
given that I see ahead of me now
the obvious destruction of all my hopes;
but even so, in my heart stays forever
the desire to please and to serve you;
indeed, this longing arises every moment.
I would sometimes come to defend myself to you,
but since I know there would be gossip about it,
in silence I devise ways to obey you.
I am not sure, but perhaps someone was offended
by our living together, so that he was quick
to scatter his poison over our sweetness.
In short, I do not see how on my side
I have offended you, unless my extreme love
has made me deserve pain from you.
Rima
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rna seguite, crudel: questo mai scemo
non diverra, rna nel mio cor profondo
vivo si serbera fino a 1'estremo.
Vivra di questo il mio pensier giocondo,
benche per tal cagion di pianto amaro,
di lamenti e sospiri e doglia abondo.
Ecco che nel diiello mi preparo,
con l' armi del mio mal, de le mie pene,
de 1'innocenzia mia sotto '1 riparo.
Non so se '1 vostro orgoglio ne diviene
maggior, 0 se s'appiana, mentre mira
ch'io verso '1 pianto da Ie Iuci piene:
ben talor l'umilta estingue 1'ira,
rna poi talor l'accende, on de quest'alma
tra speranza e timor dubbia si gira.
Ma d'armi tali pur sotto aspra salma,
mi rendo in campo a voi, madonna, vinto,
e nuda porgo a voi la destra palma.
Se non s'e 1'odio nel cor vostro estinto,
mi sia da voi col preparato ferro
un mortal colpo in mezzo '1 petto spinto:
pur troppo armata, e so ben ch'io non erro,
contra me sete; ed io del sene ignudo
1'adito ai vostri colpi ancor non serro.
Quel dolce sguardo umanamente crudo
son l' armi ond' ancidete il tristo core,
in cui viva, bench'empia, ognor vi chiudo;
gli strali e '1 foco e 'Ilaccio son d' Amore
l' alte vostre bellezze, a me negate,
onde cresce '1 desio, la speme more.
Queste in mio danno, aspra guerriera, usate,
e quanto piu di lor sete gagliarda,
tanto piu pronta a Ie ferite siate.
Qual cosa dal ferirmi vi ritarda?
Forse vi giova che d'acerba fiamma,
senza morir, per voi languisca ed arda.
Lasso, ch'io mi distruggo a dramma a dramma,
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But, cruel one, go on as you are;
this love of mine will never decrease,
but deep in my heart, it will live till the end;
my joyful thought will live on this,
even though I abound for this reason
in bitter tears and sighs and laments.
So now I ready myself for our duel,
armed with my suffering and with my sorrows,
underneath the shield of my innocence.
I do not know whether your pride
will increase or be milder as a result
when you see me weep with eyes full of tears;
often humility extinguishes anger,
yet sometimes it fuels it; so my doubtful soul
hesitates between hope and fear.
But with such weapons, heavily burdened,
I enter the field, defeated already,
and offer you, lady, my bare right hand.
If the hatred has not died down in your heart,
maya mortal blow from your ready sword
be struck into the center of my breast;
you are-and I know I'm not wrongarmed against me all too well, and I do not even shield
my naked breast against your penetrating blows.
That sweet glance, kindly cruel,
is the weapon with which you slay my sad heart,
in which, living, I enclose you, fierce as you are;
Love's arrows, his fire and his bow
are your high beauties, denied to me,
so that my desire grows, my hope expires.
Use these to harm me, fierce warrior,
and to the extent that you're braver than they,
by so much be quicker to deal me wounds.
What delays you from striking me?
It does you good, perhaps, that in biting flame,
without dying, I languish and burn for you.
Alas, I'm destroyed, little by little,
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ne de la mia nemica il mio gran foco
punto il gelido petto accende 0 infiamma:
ella si prende i miei martiri in gioco,
misero me, che pur a nove piaghe
dentro 'I mio petto non si trova loco.
Di quella fronte e de Ie luci vaghe,
e del dolce parlar fur gli aspri colpi,
che 'n parte fer quell'empie voglie paghe.
Volete ch'io non pianga e non v'incolpi,
e di quanto in mio scempio avete fatto
di voi mi lodi, e non sol vi discolpi?
L' armi prendete ad impiagarmi ratto,
e 'I mio duol disgombrando con la morte,
fate degno di voi magnanimo atto.
A riconciliar l'irata sorte,
on de 'I ciel mi minaccia oltraggio e scorno,
pigliate in man la spada, ardita e forte.
Ecco che disarmato a voi ritorno,
e per finir il pianto a qualche strada,
ai vostri piedi umil mi volgo intorno:
del vostro sdegno la tagliente spada,
s'altro non giova, omai prendete in mano,
e sopra me ferendo altera cada.
Ripetete pur via di mana in mano,
mentre dal segno alcun colpo non erra,
e che l'oggetto avete non lontano:
breve fatica queste membra atterra,
lacere e tronche d'amorosa doglia,
non punto accinte a contrastar in guerra;
e s'ancor ben potessi, non n'ho voglia,
ma di morirvi inanzi eleggo, pria
ch'alcun riparo in mia difesa tog1ia.
Potete, se vi piace, essermi ria;
e quando usar l' asprezza non vi piaccia,
potete, se vi piace, essermi pia.
Quanto a me, pur ch'a voi si sodisfaccia,
vi dono sopra me podesta franca,
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but my great fire does not inflame
my enemy's icy breast at all.
Instead, she makes light of my torments.
Oh, woe is me, for in my breast
no room at all remains for new wounds.
From that forehead and those lovely eyes
and that sweet speech came the hard blows
that partly satisfied those cruel desires.
Do you want me not to weep or blame you,
and to praise you for how much harm
you've done me, not only to excuse you?
Take up your weapons to wound me at once,
and, relieving my suffering with my death,
perform a great feat worthy of your honor.
To make peace at last with my angry fate,
through which heaven assails me with outrage and scorn,
daring and strong, take your sword in hand.
Here I am, returning to you unarmed,
and to end my lament by some route or another,
I bow down, humble, at your feet;
if nothing else pleases you, take up in your hand
the cutting sword of your disdain
and let it fall, indignant, on me.
Strike your blows, with one hand and the other,
while not one blow misses the mark
and you have your target not far from you;
one quick effort will fell these limbs to the ground,
torn and cut off through the pain of love,
not girded at all to do battle in warfare.
And even if I could, I do not wish to,
but I choose to die in front of you instead,
before I seek shelter in self-defense.
You can, if you wish, be heartless to me;
and when you no longer enjoy using cruelty,
you can, if you like, be compassionate to me.
As for myself, as long as you are satisfied,
I grant you complete dominion over me,
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legato piedi e mani e gambe e braccia;
e vi mando per fede carta bianca,
ch'abbiate del mio cor dominio vero,
si che veruna parte non vi manca.
Del resto assai desio piu, che non spero,
ne so se in via di straziar m'abbiate
fatto l'invito, 0 se pur da dovero.
Aspettero che voi me n' accertiate.
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bound hand and foot, and legs and arms;
and I send you, in faith, carte blanche
to have total sovereignty over my heart,
so that no part of it does not belong to you.
Altogether, I wish for far more than I hope,
nor do I know if you made your invitation
to torture me or because you truly meant it.
I shall wait for you to tell me which is the case.
in Terza
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Veronica
Franco
Capitola
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Signor, ha molti giorni ch'io non fui
(come doveva) a farvi riverenza:
di che biasmata son forse d'altrui;
ma se da far se n'ha giusta sentenza,
Ie mie ragioni ascoItar pria si denno
da me scritte, 0 formate a la presenza:
che, quanto dritte ed accettabiIi enno,
non voglio ch' aItri s'impedisca, e solo
giudicar lascero dal vostro senno.
Con questo in tanti mali mi consolo,
che non sete men savio che cortese,
e che pieta sentite del mio duolo:
si che s'alcun di questo mi riprese,
ch'a voi d'alquanto tempo io non sia stata,
prodotte avrete voi Ie mie difese.
10 so pur troppo che da la brigata
far mal giudizio de Ie case s'usa,
senza aver la ragion prima ascoItata.
Signor, non solo io son degna di scusa,
rna che ciascun, c'ha gentil cor, m'ascolti
di tristo pianto con Ia faccia infusa.
Non posso non tener sempre rivolti
i sentimenti e l'animo e l'ingegno
ai gravosi martir dentro a me accolti,
si ch'ora ch'a scusarmi con voi vegno,
entra la lingua a dir del mio dolore,
e di lui ragionar sempre convegno;
benche quest' e mia scusa, che l' amore
ch'io porto ad uom gentile a maraviglia
mi confonde la vita e toglie il core;
anzi pur dal girar de Ie sue ciglia
la mia vita depende e la mia morte,
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Ca p it o l o 15
TO DOMENICO
VENIER, WHOM SHE HAS NOT BEEN
ABLE TO VISIT
Sir, for many days I did not come
(as I should have) to pay you my respects,
for which perhaps I may be blamed by some;
but if just sentence is to be decreed,
first my reasons must be heard,
in written form or in your presence;
I do not want another party to intrude
into whether my reasons are sufficient and true,
and only your wisdom shall be the judge.
Amid so much trouble, it comforts me
that you are no less wise than courteous,
and that you feel pity for my sorrow;
so much so that if someone reproached me
for not having come to see you in some time,
you would have come to my defense.
I know only too well that our circle
is bound to judge matters for the worse,
without hearing first what the reason might be.
Sir, I deserve not only to be pardoned
but to be heard as well by all those
of gentle heart, while sad tears drench my face.
I cannot help constantly turning
my feelings, my soul, and my intellect
to the heavy woes gathered within me;
so that now, as I come to excuse myself to you,
my tongue enters in to speak of my distress,
and I always come around to speaking of him.
But this is my excuse: the love I bear
a man, noble to a wondrous degree,
confounds my life and robs me of my heart;
indeed, my life depends, as does my death,
on the slightest movement of his brow,
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Veronica
Franco
e quindi gioia e duol l'anima piglia.
Permesso alfine ha la mia iniqua sorte
che 'n preda del suo amor m'abbandonassi,
di che fien 1'ore del mio viver corte;
ed ei, crudel, da me volgendo i passi,
quando pili bramo la sua compagnia,
fuor de la nostra comun patria vassi:
senza curar de la miseria mia,
a far 1'instanti ferie altrove e gito,
rna d' avantaggio ando sei giorni pria;
di ch'e rimaso in me duolo infinito,
e '1 core e I' alma e '1 meglio di me tutto,
col mio amante, da me s'e dipartito.
Corpo dal pianto e dal dolor distrutto,
ne l' allegrezza senza sentimento,
rimasta son dellanguir preda in tutto:
quinci '1 passo impedito, e non pur lento,
ebbi a venir in quella vostra stanza,
secondo '1 mio devere e '1 mio talento,
peroche i membri avea senza possanza,
priva d'alma; e se in me di lei punto era,
dietro '1 mio ben n' andava per usanza.
Cosi passava il di fino a la sera,
e Ie notti pili lunghe eran di quelle
ch'ad Alcmena Giunone fer provar fiera:
sovra Ie piume al mio posar rubelle,
non ritrovando requie nel martire,
d'Arnor, di lui doleami, e de Ie stelle.
Standomi senza lui volea rnorire:
spesso levai, e ricorsi agli inchiostri,
ne confusa sapea che poi mi dire.
Ben prego sempre Arnor che gli dirnostri
Ie rnie miserie e '1 suo gran fallo espresso,
oitre a tanti da me segni fuor mostri.
Certo da un canto e lungamente e spesso
egli m'ha scritto in questa sua partita,
ed ancor piu di quel che m'ha promesso:
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and so my soul receives both joy and woe.
At last my cruel fate has allowed me
to abandon myself, prey to love for him,
so cutting short the hours of my life;
and he, cruel man, walking away from me
when I most long for his company,
has left the country that is home to us both.
With no concern for my wretched state,
he has traveled elsewhere to spend these holidays,
and, worse, he left six days early;
so that endless grief has stayed with me,
and my heart and soul and all that's best in me
have departed from me along with my lover.
With my body wracked by weeping and pain,
in the midst of joy without any feeling,
I remain entirely prey to languor.
So with halting step, not only slow,
I had to make my way into your room,
following my duty and my desire,
and yet I felt my limbs deprived of strength
and myself bereft of soul; and if in it anything
of myself was left, it had gone, as usual, after him.
And so the day led on to evening
and the nights were longer still
than those fierce Juno made Alcmena endure;23
upon the pillows, unfriendly to my rest,
finding no respite in my misery,
I upbraided Love, and him, and my stars.
Being without him, I wanted to die,
often I rose and took up my inks,
but in my daze, I knew not what to say.
At all hours I pray Love to make him see
my miseries and his own deliberate wrong,
and the many signs of love I've shown.
On one hand, in his absence, certainly
he has written often and at length
and even more than he promised he would;
23.Juno
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was jealous of Alcmena, the wife of Amphitrion, because Jove, disguised as her husband, transformed the single night he spent with her into three nights. In revenge, Juno made
Alcmena suffer seven days in labor before she gave birth to Hercules (Ovid, Metamorphoses,
9.281-312).
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col suo cortese scrivermi la vita
senza dubbio m'ha reso, ed io '1 ringrazio
con un pensier ch'a sperar ben m'invita.
Da I' altra parte intento a 10mio strazio,
poiche senza di se mi lascia, io '1 veggo,
e ch'ei sta senza me si lungo spazio.
Le sue lettre mandatemi ognor leggo,
e tenendole innanzi a lor rispondo,
e parte a la mia doglia in cia proveggo.
Alti sospir dal cor rri'escon profondo
nel legger Ie sue carte e in far risposte,
piene di quellanguir che in petto ascondo.
In cia fur tutte dispensate e poste
l' ore; e del mio signor basciava in loco
Ie sue grate e dolcissime proposte.
Peggio che morta, in suon tremante e fioco
sempre chiamarlo lagrimando assente,
il mio sol rifugio era e '1 mio gioco:
e desiandol meco aver presente,
altrui noiosa, a me stessa molesta,
lassa languia del corpo e de la mente.
Come deveva over potea, con questa
oppressa dal martir gravosa spoglia,
venir da voi, meschina, inferma e mesta,
a crescer con la mia la vostra doglia,
e in cambio di parlar con buon discorso,
aver di pianger, pili che d'altro, voglia?
In quel vostro si celebre concorso
d'uomini dotti e di giudicio eletto,
da cui vien ragionato eben discorso,
come, senza poter formar un detto,
dovev'io ne la scola circostante
uom tal visitar egro infermo in letto?
Furono appresso Ie giornate sante,
ch'a questo officio m'impedir la via;
benche la cagion prima Eu'1 mio amante,
a cui sempre pensar mi convenia,
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without doubt through his courteous writing
he has restored my life, and I give him thanks
with a thought that bids me to hope for the best.
On the other hand, I see him intent on my ruin
because he leaves me without him
and remains without me so long.
The letters he sends me I constantly read,
and I hold them before me as I write my reply,
and this way, in part, I relieve my pain.
Deep sighs arise from the depth of my heart
as I read his letters and write answers back,
full of the languor I hide in my breast.
My hours have all been devoted to this,
and in the place of my lord,
I kissed his cherished and tenderest words.
Worse than dead in his absence, constantly weeping,
calling him in trembling and uneven voice
was my only relief and amusement.
And longing to have him present before me,
I languish, alas, in body and mind,
annoying to others and a trial to myself.
How should, or could, I come to see you,
with this dreary body tormented by pain,
wretched, unhealthy, and in such sad state,
to increase your grief by adding my own,
and instead of making good conversation,
wanting to cry more than anything else?
In that assembly of yours, so famous,
of learned men of distinguished judgment,
who know how to argue and discourse so well,
how was I, unable to say one word,
amid an academy such as yours,
to visit an invalid, confined to bed?24
And then the holy days were upon us,
which kept me again from doing this duty,
although the main reason was really my lover,
about whom I have been constantly forced
24.This line identifies
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the recipient of this letter as Domenico Venier, confined to bed because
of his gout of the foot (Bianchi, 206 n. 102).
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Veronica
Franco
e legger, e risponder, in cio tutta
spendendo la gia morta vita mia.
Ed ora a state tal io son ridutta,
che s'ei doman non torna, com'io spero,
fia la mia carne in cenere distrutta.
Di rivederlo ognor bramosa pero,
bench'ei tosto verra, com'io son certa,
per quel ch'ei sempre m'ha narrato il vero:
de la promessa fe di lui s'accerta
con altre esperienzie la mia spene,
ne qual dianzi ha da me doglia e sofferta.
Egli verra, l' abbraccero '1 mio bene:
stella benigna, ch'a me '1 guida, e ria
quella ond'ei senza me star sol sostiene.
Mi rest a un poco di malinconia,
ch' egro e '1 mio colonello, ed io non posso
mancargli per amor e cortesia:
sf che, gran parte d'altro affar rimosso,
attendo a govern arlo in stato tale,
ch'ei fora senza me di vita scosso.
Per troppo amarmi ei giura di star male,
convenendo da me dipartir tosto,
e verso Creta andar quasi con l' ale.
Di cio nel cor grand'affanno ei s'ha posto,
ed io non cesso ad ogni mio potere
di consolarlo a ciascun buon proposto.
Vorreil dal suo mal libero vedere,
perche tanto da lui mi sento amata,
e perch'ei langue fuor d'ogni dovere;
e come donna in questa patria nata,
vorrei ch'ov'ha di lui bisogno andasse,
e ch' opra a lei prestasse utile e grata:
Ie virtu del suo corpo afflitte e lasse,
per ch'ei ne gisse ov'altri in Creta il chiama,
grato mi fora ch'ei ricuperasse.
Del suo nobil valor la chiara fama
fa che quivi ciascun l' ama e '1 desia,
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to think and to read and to write in return,
wasting my life, already dead.
And now I'm reduced to such a condition
that unless, as I hope, he comes back tomorrow,
my flesh will melt away into ashes.
I perish, always longing to see him again,
though soon he will come, of that I am certain,
because he has always told me the truth;
my hope in his sworn faith is affirmed
by my diverse experience of him,
nor have I suffered such grief before.
My dear one will come, I will embrace him,
benign is the star that leads him to me,
and cruel the one that keeps him away.
Yet I still feel a lingering sadness,
for my colonel is ill, and love and courtesy
demand of me that I should not fail him;
and so, having set other business aside,
I expect to minister to him in a way
that makes him, without me, bereft of life.
He swears he is ill because he loves me too much,
and he has agreed to leave me at once
and to head down to Crete as though he had wings.
About this he's set great concern in his heart
and I never cease, the best that I'm able,
to console him whenever the chance comes my way.
I would like to see him freed from his ailment
because I feel that he loves me so deeply,
and because he suffers far more than he should;
and, as a woman born in this city,
I want him to go where he is needed
and to aid Venice with useful, bold deeds.
I would be pleased if he recovered
the strength of his body, now ailing and weary,
to travel to Crete, where others call him.
The widespread fame of his noble valor
makes everyone there love and desire him,
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Veronica
Franco
e come esperto in guerreggiar il brama.
Dategli, venti, facile la via,
e perche fuor d'ogni molestia ei vada,
la dea d' amor propizia in mar gli sia:
SI che con l' onorata invitta spada
a la sua illustre immortal gloria ei faccia
can l'inimico sangue aperta strada.
Cia fia ch' al mio voler ben sodisfaccia,
poi che, rimosso questa impedimenta,
il mio amor sempre avro ne le mie braccia.
E se costui percio parte scontento,
ch'ad altro ho '1 core e l'anima donato,
rimediar non posso al suo tormento.
E che poss'io? Che s'egli e innamorato,
io similmente il mio signor dolce amo,
e '1 mio arbitrio di lui tutt'ho in man data.
A lui servir e compiacer sol bramo,
valoroso, gentil, modesto e buono;
e fortunata del suo amor mi chiamo.
Lassa! che mentre di lui sol ragiono,
ne presente l' amato aspetto veggio,
da novo aspro martir oppressa sono;
e pietra morta in viva pietra seggio
sopra del mio balcone, afflitta e smorta,
poi che '1 mio ben lontano esser m' aveggio.
A questa che da me scusa v' e porta
di non esser venuta a visitarvi,
priva di vita senza la mia scorta,
piacciavi, s'ella e buona, d'appigliarvi,
considerando ben voi questa parte,
senz' a quel ch' altri dice riportarvi.
E se Ie mie ragion confuse e sparte
senz'argomenti e senza stil v'ho addutto,
a dir la verita non richiede arte.
Bench'io non son senza un salvocondutto,
e senza da voi esserne invitata,
per tornar COS! presto a quel ridutto,
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and long for him as an expert in warfare.
Grant him, winds, an easy passage
and so that he travels without any danger,
may the goddess of love guard him on the sea,
so that with his honored, invincible sword
through the blood of our enemies he may carve out
a straightforward path to undying fame.
Let this be done to my satisfaction,
so that, with this obstacle out of my way,
I will always have my love in my arms.
And if the other man leaves, discontented
that I have given my heart and soul to another,
I will not be able to assuage his torment.
And what can I do? For if he is in love,
I love my sweet lord in the same way,
and I have put all my will in his hands.
I long to serve and please him alone,
courageous, gentle, modest, and good;
and I call myself lucky on account of his love.
Alas! I'm brought down by a new misery:
that at the moment I am speaking of him,
I do not see, present, his beloved face,
and, dead stone, I sit in living stone,
upon my balcony, troubled and pale,
because I realize my love is far away.
This excuse, carried from me to you,
for not having come to you for a visit,
deprived of life without my escort,
please, if it's acceptable, accept it firmly,
considering well this side of the story,
without depending on what others tell you.
And if I have recited my reasons to you,
in confusing disorder, without logic or style,
telling the truth does not require art.
Although I am not without a safe-conduct
to return so quickly to that salon
without having been invited by you,
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Veronica
Franco
basta che quando vi sara chiamata,
lascero ogni altra cosa per venirvi;
ne questo e poco a donna innamorata,
E stirnero che sia vero obedirvi
star pronta a quel che mi comanderete,
non venendo non chiesta ad impedirvi.
Se con vostro cugin ne parlerete,
son certa ch'egli mi dara ragione,
e voi medesmo ve n'accorgerete.
Gli altri amici son poi buone persone,
e senza costa voglion de l'altrui,
s'altri con Ioro a traficar si pone.
Forse che quanto tarda a scriver fui,
tanto son lunga in questa mia scrittura,
senza pensar chi la manda ed a cui.
Ma io son cosi larga di natura,
tal che tutta ricevo entro a me stessa
la virtu vostra e la viva Figura:
questa mi siede in mezzo l' alma impressa,
come di mio signor effigie degna,
ch'onorar il cor mio giamai non cessa.
COS!vostra merce per sua mi tegna,
e per me inchini quella compagnia,
sin ch'a far questo a la presenzia io vegna;
benc'ho mutato in parte fantasia,
e in cia ch'io mi ritoglio, 0 ch'io mi dono,
non sara quel che tal crede che sia.
Questo dico, perche dar in man buono,
venendo, non vorrei di chi perduta
mi tenne del suo arnot, che non ne sono:
cosi la sorte ora offende, ora aiuta.
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it suffices, if I am summoned there,
that I'll leave everything else to come,
no small thing for a woman in love.
And I will assume that truly to serve you
is to be ready for whatever you command,
not coming to bother you without being asked.
If you will speak to your cousin of this,
I am certain that he will say I am right,
and that you will see it yourself.
And, then, our other friends are good people,
and if someone enters into relations with them,
they always want someone else, free of cost.
Perhaps in this script I am as longwinded
as I was slow to write you at first,
not considering who sends it and to whom.
But I am so receptive by nature
that I take in, in their entirety,
all your virtues and your lively being;
and this remains at the center of my soul
as an image worthy of my lord,
whom my heart never ceases to honor.
So may your grace think me entirely his,
and persuade the group to forgive me,
until I come to do it in person,
although I have partly changed my wish,
and whether in this I hold back or yield,
the outcome will not be what someone may think.
I say this because I don't want, by coming,
to encourage the man who thinks me madly in love
with him to believe it, for I am not.
In this way fate now attacks and then saves us.
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Capitolo
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D' ardito cavalier non e prodezza
(concedami che '1 vero a questa volta
io possa dir, la vostra gentilezza),
da cavalier non e, ch'abbia raccolta
ne l' animo suo invitto alta virtute,
e che a l' onor la mente abbia rivolta,
con armi insidiose e non vedute,
a chi pili disarmato men sospetta
dar gravi colpi di mortal ferute.
Men ch'agli altri cia far poi se gli aspetta
contra Ie donne, da natura fatte
per 1"uso che pili d'altro a l'uom diletta:
imbecilli di corpo, ed in nulla atte
non pur a offender gli altri, rna se stesse
dal difender col cor timido astratte.
Questo doveva far che s'astenesse
la vostra man da quell' aspre percosse,
ch'al mio feminil petto ignudo impresse.
10 non saprei gia dir on de cia fosse,
se non che fuor del lato mi traeste
l' armi vostre del sangue asperse e rosse.
Spogliata e sola e incauta mi coglieste,
debil d'animo, e in armi non esperta,
e robusto ed armata m'offendeste:
tanto ch'io stei per lungo spazio incerta
di mia salute; e fu per me tra tanto
passion infinita al cor sofferta.
Pur finalmente s' e stagnato il pianto,
e quella piaga acerba s'e saldata,
che da l'un mi passava a I'altro canto.
Quasi da pigro sonno or poi svegliata,
dal cansato periglio animo presi,
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A CHALLENGE
TO A POET
in Te r z a Rima
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16
WHO
HAS DEFAMED
It is not a brave knight's gallant deed
(if, gentle sir, you permit me
this time to declare the truth),
it is not the deed of a knight who's gathered
lofty virtue in his undefeated heart
and set his mind entirely on honor,
with insidious and hidden weapons
to strike without warning an unarmed woman
and to deal her blows that mean her death.
Even less than to any other should a man
do this to women, whom nature created
for the use that brings most delight to men:
weak in body, and not only quite unfit
to injure others, but also far distant,
through their timid hearts, from self-defense.
This should have restrained your hand
from striking those relentless blows
now marked on my naked female breast.
How this came about I can't really say,
except that from my side you pulled out
your weapons, dripping and red with blood.
You found me defenseless, alone, off my guard,
fainthearted and never practiced in combat,
and strong, fully armed, you wounded me sorely;
so that long after, I was uncertain
whether I would survive, and through all this
I suffered endless pain in my heart.
Yet my tears are stanched at last and dried,
and the bitter wound has finally healed
that pierced me through from one side to the other.
As if jolted awake from sweet sleep all at once,
I drew courage from the risk I'd avoided,
HER
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Veronica
Franco
benche femina a molli opere nata;
e in man col ferro a essercitarmi appresi,
tanto ch'aver Ie donne agil natura,
non men che l'uomo, in armeggiando intesi:
perche 'n cia posto ogni mia industria e cura,
rnerce del ciel, mi veggo giunta a tale,
che pili d'offese altrui non ho paura.
E se voi dianzi mi trattaste male,
fu gran vostro diffetto, ed io dal danno
grave n'ho tratto un ben che molto vale.
COSI nei casi avversi i savi fanno,
che '1 lor utile espresso alfin cavare
da quel che nuoce da principio sanno;
e cosi ancor Ie medicine amare
rendon salute; e '1 ferro e '1 foco s'usa
Ie putrefatte piaghe a ben curare:
benche non serve a voi questa per scusa,
che m'offendeste non gia per giovarmi,
e '1 fatto stesso parla e SI v'accusa.
Ed io, poi che '1 ciel valse liberarmi
da SI mortal periglio, ho sempre atteso
a l'essercizio nobile de l' armi,
SI ch'or, animo e forze avendo preso,
di provocarvi a rissa in campo ardisco,
con cor non poco a la vendetta acceso.
Non so se voi stimiate lieve risco
entrar con una donna in campo armata;
rna io, benche ingannata, v' avvertisco
che '1 mettersi con donne e da l'un lato
biasmo ad uom forte, rna da l' altro e poi
caso d'alta importanza riputato.
Quando armate ed esperte ancor siam noi,
render buon conto a ciascun uom potemo,
che mani e piedi e core avem qual voi;
e se ben molli e delicate serno,
ancor tal uorn, ch'e delicato, e forte;
e tal, ruvido ed aspro, e d'ardir scerno.
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though a woman, born to milder tasks;
and, blade in hand, I learned warrior's skills,
so that, by handling weapons, I learned
that women by nature are no less agile than men.
So, devoting all my effort to arms,
I see myself now, thanks to heaven, at the point
where I no longer fear harm from anyone.
And if you once treated me unfairly,
it was a serious error you made;
but from great harm I've acquired great good.
Thus in adversity wise people behave,
knowing just how to put to advantage
what seems at first certain to harm them.
And bitter medicines likewise bring health,
and we make use of steel and fire
to clean and cauterize infected wounds,
although you can't use this as an excuse,
for you didn't wound me to do me good;
the fact speaks for itself and puts you in the wrong.
And I, since heaven condescended to free me
from such mortal danger, day and night
fix my attention on the noble art of arms,
so that now, having summoned up courage and strength,
I dare to defy you to combat in the field,
with a heart entirely aflame for revenge.
I do not know if you think it a trifling risk
to enter the field to joust with a woman,
but though you once fooled me, I warn you now
that if on one hand it might be unseemly
-fora strong man to contend with a woman,
on the other, it's thought a weighty event.
When we women, too, have weapons and training,
we will be able to prove to all men
that we have hands and feet and hearts like yours;
and though we may be tender and delicate,
some men who are delicate also are strong,
and some, though coarse and rough, are cowards.
,
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Franco
Di cia non se ne son Ie donne accorte;
che se si risolvessero di farlo,
con voi pugnar porian fino a la morte.
E per farvi veder che '1 vero parlo,
tra tante donne incominciar voglio io,
porgendo essempio a lor di seguitarlo.
A voi, che contra tutte sete rio,
con qual' armi volete in man mi volgo,
con speme d'atterrarvi e con desio;
e Ie donne a difender tutte tolgo
contra di voi, che di lor sete schivo,
S1ch'a ragion io sola non mi dolgo.
Certo d'un gran piacer voi sere privo,
a non gustar di noi la gran dolcezza;
ed al mal uso in cia la colpa ascrivo.
Data e dal ciel la feminil bellezza,
perch' ella sia felicitate in terra
di qualunque uom conosce gentilezza.
Ma dove '1 mio pensier trascorre ed erra
a ragionar de Ie cose d'amore,
or ch'io sono in procinto di far guerra?
Torno al rnio intento, ond'era uscita fuore,
e vi disfido a singolar battaglia.
Cingetevi pur d' armi e di valore:
vi rnostrero quanto al vostro prevaglia
il sesso feminil; pigliate quali
volete armi, e di voi stesso vi caglia,
ch'io vi rispondero di colpi tali,
il campo a voi lasciando elegger anco,
ch' a questi Forse non sentiste eguali.
Mal difender da me potrete il fianco,
e stran vi parra forse, a offenderne uso,
da me vedervi oppresso in terra stanco:
cosl talor quell'uom resta deluso,
ch'ingiuria gli altri fuor d'ogni ragione,
non so se per natura, 0 per mal uso.
Vostra di questa rissa e la cagione,
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Women so far haven't seen this is true;
for if they'd ever resolved to do it,
they'd have been able to fight you to the death.
And to prove to you that I speak the truth,
among so many women I will act first,
setting an example for them all to follow.
On you, who are so savage to us all,
I turn, with whatever weapon you choose,
with the hope and will to throw you to the ground.
And I undertake to defend all women
against you, who despise them so
that rightly I'm not alone to protest.
It is certain that you miss great pleasure
by being unable to savor our sweetness,
and I blame your bad habits for being the cause."
Feminine beauty is a gift from heaven,
intended to be a source of joy
to every man with a gentle heart.
But where is my thought wandering and roaming
by speaking of matters related to love
now that I'm about to make war?
I return to the purpose from which I have strayed,
and I now challenge you to single combat:
gird yourself with weapons and valor.
I'll show you how far the female sex
excels your own. Arm yourself however you please
and take good heed for your survival,
for I will answer you with blows
(though leaving the choice of field to you)
unlike any you've ever felt before.
You'll defend yourself poorly against my flank attack,
and it may seem strange to you, used to wounding others,
exhausted, to see yourself thrown to the ground.
Thus disappointed sometimes is the man
'who insults others without provocation,
by nature or bad habit I do not know.
You are the cause of this quarrel between us,
25. Franco may be alluding to Maffia's homosexuality here (Bianchi, 208 n. 84).
Rima
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Veronica
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ed a me per difesa e per vendetta
carico d'oppugnarvi ora s'impone.
Prendete pur de l' armi omai l' eletta,
ch'io non posso soffrir lunga dimora,
da 10sdegno de l' animo costretta.
La spada, che 'n man vostra rade e f6ra,
de la lingua volgar veneziana,
s'a voi piace d'usar, piace a me ancora;
e se volete entrar ne la toscana,
scegliete voi la seria 0 la burlesca,
che 1'una e l' altra i: a me facile e piana.
10 ho veduto in lingua selvaghesca
certa fattura vostra molto bella,
simile a Ia maniera pedantesca:
se voi volete usar 0 questa 0 quella,
ed aventar, come ne l' altre fate,
di queste in biasmo nostro Ie quadrelIa,
qual di lor pili vi piace, e voi pigliate,
che di tutte ad un modo io mi contento,
avendole percio tutte imparate.
Per contrastar con voi con ardimento,
in tutte queste ho molta industria speso:
se bene 0 male, io stessa mi contento;
e cia sara dagli altri ancora inteso,
e '1 saperete voi, che forse vinto
cadrete, e non vorreste avermi offeso.
Ma prima che si venga in tal procinto,
quasi per far al gioco una levata,
non col ferro tagliente ancora accinto,
de la vostra canzone, a me mandata,
il principio vorrei mi dichiaraste,
poi che l' opera a me vien indrizzata.
« Ver unica» e '1 rest ante mi chiamaste,
alludendo a Veronica mio nome,
ed al vostro discorso mi biasmaste;
rna al mio dizzionario io non so come
« unica» alcuna cosa propriamente
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and I am bound by honor to battle
in the name of vengeance and self-defense.
So take up at last the weapon you've chosen,
for I cannot bear any further delay,
compelled as I am by the scorn in my soul.
The sword that strikes and stabs in your handthe common language spoken in Veniceif that's what you want to use, then so do I;
and if you want to enter into Tuscan,
I leave you the choice of high or comic strain,
for one's as easy and clear for me as the other.
I've seen, in mock-heroic verse,
a very fine work of yours that resembles
the style that mixes Italian and Latin. 26
Whichever of these you wish to use,
as you do elsewhere, to speed on your arrows
in a contest of insults exchanged between us,
choose the language that you prefer,
for I am equally happy with them all,
since I have learned them for exactly this purpose.
To compete with you as boldly as I may,
I have studied all these styles in depth;
whether well or ill, I myself am content;
and others as well will understand this.
And so will you, for you may fall, beaten,
wishing you had not insulted me.
But before the two of us reach that stage,
as an entering salute to the joust we begin,
not yet opened with your cutting blade,
I would like to ask you to recite
the beginning of the canzone you sent my way,27
since this written work is addressed to me.
"Verily unique," among other things, you called me,
alluding to Veronica, my name,
and in your discourse you blamed me severely.
But, according to my dictionary, I fail to see
how one can properly call something "unique"
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26.In the
1570s, burlesca (line 118) meant mock-heroic, that is, a low style parodying elevated
subjects; pedantesca referred to a comic mixture of Latin and Italian words.
27. Maffia's attack was not a canzone (a long poem with a final enuou but, rather, a sonetto
caudato, a sonnet ending with an extra couplet.
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Veronica
Franco
in mala parte ed in biasmar si nome.
Forse che si direbbe impropriamente,
rna l' anfibologia non quadra in cosa
qual mostrar voi volete espressamente.
Quella di cui la fama e gloriosa,
e che 'n bellezza od in valor eccelle,
senza par di gran lung a virtiiosa,
« unica» a gran ragion vien che s'appelle;
e l'arte, a l'ironia non sottoposto,
scelto tra gli altri, un tal vocabol dielle.
L' « unico » in lode e in pregia vien esposto
da chi s'intende; e chi parla altrimenti
dal senso del parlar sen va discosto.
Questo non e, signor, falla d' accenti,
quello, in che s'inveisce, nominare
col titol de Ie cose pili eccellenti.
voi non mi voleste biasimare,
o in questo dir menzogna non sapeste.
Non parlo del dir bene e dellodare,
che questo so che far non intendeste;
rna senz' esser offeso da me stato,
quel che vi corse a I'animo scriveste,
altrui volendo in cia forse esser grato;
benche me non ingiuria, rna se stesso,
s'altri mi dice mal, non provocato.
E '1 voler oscurar il vero espresso
con Ie torbide macchie degli inchiostri
in buona civilta non e permesso;
e spesso avien che '1 mal talento uom mostri,
giovando in quello onde piu nuocer crede:
essempi in me piu d'una volta mostri,
SI come in questo caso ancor si vede,
che voi, non v' accorgendo, mi Iodate
di quel ch' al bene ed a la virtu chiede.
E se ben «meretrice» mi chiamate,
o volete inferir ch'io non vi sono,
o che ve n'en tra tali di Iodate.
o
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in a critical sense, by way of condemnation.
Perhaps you're speaking in an ironic way,
but amphibology fails to communicate-f
the point you evidently want to make.
A woman whose fame makes her right to be proud,
who stands out for beauty or for courage,
and far exceeds all others in virtuesuch a woman is rightly called "unique";
and art, without irony, chooses to bestow
this word, selected from others, upon her.
"Unique" is used in praise and esteem
by those who know; and whoever speaks otherwise
digresses from the true meaning of words.
It is not, sir, merely mistaken emphasis,
when one hurls abuse and insult at someone,
to use a term meant for most excellent things.
Either your purpose was not to defame me,
or you were, unaware, lying when you said it.
I am not speaking of good words or praise,
for I know that you intended neither one;
but without receiving any offense from me,
you simply wrote what came into your head,
wishing perhaps to please somebody elsethough a man in fact insults himself,
not me, by slandering me without cause.
The desire to cover over manifest truth
with turbid splatterings of black ink
is not acceptable in civil company;
and often a man shows his evil nature
by delighting in what he thinks can do most harm.
In my case, you've proved this true more than once,
as can be seen again in this instance,
for, without realizing it, you give me praise
for qualities based upon goodness and virtue.
And though you call me "prostitute,"29
either you imply that I'm not one of them,
or that among them some merit praise.
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28. Amphibology) or speech contrary to the intended meaning, was a figure of speech listed
under "irony" in rhetorical handbooks.
29.In
meretrtce, the word Franco uses here, she may want her readers to hear the sound of
merito (merit).
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Veronica
Franco
Quanto Ie meretrici hanno di buono,
quanto di grazioso e di gentile,
esprime in me del parlar vostro il suono.
Se questo intese il vostro arguto stile,
di non farne romor io son contenta,
e d'inchinarmi a voi devota, umile;
rna perch' al fin de la scrittura, intenta
stando, che voi mi biasimate trovo,
e cia si tocca e non pur s' argomenta,
da questa intenzion io mi rimovo,
e in ogni modo question far voglio,
e partorir 10sdegno ch'entro covo.
Apparecchiate pur 1 'inchiostro e '1 foglio,
e fatemi saper senz'altro indugio
quali armi per combatter in man toglio.
Voi non avrete incontro a me rifugio,
ch'a tutte prove sono apparecchiata,
e impazientemente a l'opra indugio:
o la favella giornalmente usata,
o qual vi piace idioma prendete,
che 'n tutti quanti sono essercitata;
e se voi poi non mi risponderete,
di me diro che gran paura abbiate,
se ben cosi valente vi tenete.
Ma perche alquanto manco dubitiate,
son contenta di far con voi la pace,
pur ch'una volta meco vi proviate:
fate voi quel che pili vi giova e piace.
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Whatever goodness prostitutes may have,
whatever grace and nobility of soul,
the sound of your word assigns to me.
If this was the purpose of your witty style,
I'm happy not to raise objections,
and I bow down, your humble and devoted servant.
But since, reading carefully what you write,
I find that in fact you are reproaching meand this is clear, not a matter for debateI distance myself from that purpose of yours;
I insist on disputing it at any cost,
and I long to give birth to the anger I breed.
So make ready now your paper and ink
and tell me, this time, without further delay
which weapons I must wield in combat with you.
You will have nowhere to run from me
for I am prepared for any test of skill
and I wait impatiently to start the fight.
You may choose the language of every day,
or whatever other idiom you please,
for I have had practice in them all;
and if you do not write me a response,
I will say that you feel great fear of me,
even though you think yourself so brave.
But since I'm unwilling to leave you in doubt,
I happily offer to make peace with you,
on the condition that you joust with me just once.
Do whatever suits and pleases you best.
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Capitolo
17
Questa la tua Veronica ti scrive,
signor ingrato e disleale amante,
di cui sempre in sospetto ella ne vive.
Ate, perfido, nota i: bene in quante
maniere del mio amor ti feci certo,
da me non mai espresse altrui davante.
Non niego gia che 'n te non sia gran merto
di senno, di valor, di gentilezza,
e d'arti ingenue on de sei tanto esperto;
ma la mia grazia ancor, la mia bellezza,
quello che 'n se medesma ella si sia,
da molti spirti nobili s'apprezza.
Forse ch'e buona in cia la sorte mia;
e Forse ch'io non son priva di quello
ch'ad arder l'alme volontarie invia:
almen non ho d'ogni pieta rubello
il rigido pensier, ne, qual tu, il core
in ogni parte insidioso e fello.
E pur contra ragion ti porto amore:
quel che tu meco far devresti al dritto,
teco '1 fo a torto, e so ch'e a farlo errore.
Tu non rn'avresti in tanti giorni scritto,
che star t' avvenne di parlarmi privo,
mostrando esser di cia mesto ed afflitto,
com'io cortesemente ora ti scrivo;
e se ben certo m' offendesti troppo,
teco legata in dolce nodo vivo,
il qual mentre scior tento, e pili l'ingroppo,
e S1come d' Arnor disposto fue,
non trovo in via d'amarti alcun intoppo.
Ma pur furono ingrate l' opre tue,
poi che pensar ad altra donna osasti,
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Capitola
FRANCO'S
17
ANGRY REPROACH
TO A MAN AND POET
INFIDELITY
SHE HAS DISCOVERED
This letter your Veronica writes to you,
ungrateful lord and disloyal lover,
she who lives in constant mistrust of you.
Faithless man, you know full well
how many ways I've assured you of my love,
ways I never revealed to anyone else.
I deny in no way the merit you possess
in wisdom, in courage, and in gentility,
and in the liberal arts, in which you're so skilled;
but my charm and my beauty,
whatever it may really be worth,
is still prized and valued by many noble souls.
Perhaps it is just good luck that this is so;
or perhaps I don't lack what is required
to lead willing spirits to catch on fire.
At least I don't have an unbending mind,
a foe to all pity; nor, like you, a heart
treacherous and cruel through and through.
Yet against all reason I feel love for you:
what you should rightly do for me
I do for you wrongly, knowing I do wrong.
You'd not have written me, however many days
you were prevented from speaking to me,
showing you were on this account gloomy and sad,
so courteously as I write to you now.
Yet though you've certainly offended me too much,
I still live tied to you in a sweet knot,
which entangles me more the more I try to loose it;
and since you've been so inclined to love,
I find, myself, no hindrance to loving you.
But your writings were unkind indeed,
for you dared to think of another woman,
WHOSE
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Veronica
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e Iimar versi de Ie Iodi sue:
farlo celatamente ti pensasti,
rna io ti sopragiunsi a 1'improviso,
quando manco di me tu dubitasti.
Ben ti vidi percio turbar nel viso,
e per Ia forza de la conscienza
ne rimanesti timido e conquiso,
sf che gli occhi d' alzar in mia presenza
non ti basta l' errante animo allora.
Ahi teco estrema fu mia pazienza!
Chiudesti '1 libro tu senza dimora,
ed io gli occhi devea con mie man trarti:
misera chi di tale s'innamora!
10 non ho perdonato per amarti
ad alcuna fatica, ad alcun danno,
sperando intieramente d'acquistarti:
e tu, falso, adoprando occulto inganno
per cogliermi al tuo laccio, or che mi tieni,
mi dai, d'amor in ricompensa, affanno.
Ben son di vezzi e di lusinghe pieni
i tuoi detti eloquenti, e con pia vista
sempre a strazio maggior, empio, mi meni.
D'odio e d'amor gran passion or mista
m'ingombra l'alma, e '1 torbido pensiero
agitando contamina e contrista:
e 'n te dal ciel quella vendetta spero,
ch'io non vorrei; ed infelicemente
d'alto sdegno e d'amor languisco e pero.
Contra gli error si deve esser clemente,
che dimostrati a quel che gli commise,
sf corn'e ragionevole, si pente.
Quellibro d' altrui Iodi in sen si mise
questo importuno, accio ch'io nol vedessi:
ahi contrarie in arnor voglie divise!
D'ira tutta infiammata allor non cessi,
fin che di sen per forza non gliel tolsi,
e quel che v' era scritto entro non lessi.
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and to polish verses written in her praise.
You hoped to carryall this out on the sly,
but suddenly I took you by surprise
when you least suspected that I might.
At this, I clearly saw worry in your face,
and under the power of your conscience
you remained timid and contrite,
so that in my presence your wandering mind
didn't permit you to raise your eyes.
Ah, my patience with you was extraordinary!
The book you had written in, you hastily closed,
and I should have torn out your eyes with my hands.
Unhappy the woman who loves a man like you!
I have spared no effort to love you entirely,
avoided no pain, for I had high hopes
that I might be able to win you entirely;
and you, false man, using devious tricks
to entrap me, now that you hold me fast,
in return for love, give me only anguish.
Your eloquent discourse is full through and through
of endearments and fine turns, and with loyal mien
you lead me to ever worse ruin, faithless man!
A great passion, confused between hatred and love,
now weighs down my soul, and jarring,
disturbs and bereaves my clouded thought.
And I wish for vengeance from heaven against you,
which I don't really want; and, miserably,
between scorn and love I languish and die.
Toward others' errors one should be forgiving,
for when they are shown to the man who commits them,
as long as he's reasonable, he repents of them.
He hid in his breast that book praising another,
this stubborn man, so that I wouldn't see it;
mismatched desires opposed, alas, in love!
Then, all aflame with rage, I didn't give up
until I had grabbed the book from his breast,
and had read what was written there.
Rima
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Quanto '1 caso chiedea, teco mi dolsi,
amante ingrato; e 'llibro stretto in mano,
altrove il pie da te fuggendo volsi,
bench'ir non ti potei tanto lontano,
ch'allato non mi fosti, e non facesti
tue scuse, e 'llibro mi chiedesti invano.
Dimandereiti or ben quel che vedesti,
da farti pur alzar gli occhi a colei;
rna tu senz'esser chiesto mel dicesti:
piena dentro e di fuor di vizii rei,
forse perch'io di tal non sospettassi,
la ponesti davanti agli occhi miei:
agli occhi miei, che 'n tutto schivi e cassi
d'ogni altro lume, tengon te per sole,
benche spesso in gran tenebre gli lassie
Dubito se fur vere Ie parole
che dicesti; ne so di che, rna terno,
e dentro sospettando il cor si dole.
Di gelosia non ho '1 pensier rnai scemo,
tal ch'avampando in freddo verno al ghiaccio,
nel mezzo de Ie fiamme aggelo e tremo;
e quanto piu di liberar procaccio
l'alma dal duolo, in maggior duolla invoglio,
e '1 mio mal dentro '1 grido e teco '1 taceio.
Pur romper il silenzio or teco voglio;
e perche t'amo e perch'altri il comanda,
teco fo quel che con a1trui non soglio.
La buonasera in nome suo ti manda
per me '1 buono e cortese Lomellini,
e ti saluta e ti si raeeomanda.
Tu hai, non so perche, buoni vicini,
che ti lodano e impetranoti il bene,
se ben per torta strada tu camini.
A questi d'obedir a me conviene,
e in quel ch'imposto rn'han significarti,
questi versi di seriverti rn'avviene.
Di castor gran eagion hai di lodarti,
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As the case called for, I told you my pain,
ungrateful lover; book tight in my hand,
I turned my steps elsewhere, fleeing from you,
though I failed to put you far enough behind
to avoid you at my side, still making excuses,
and begging me, in vain, to give the book back.
I could ask you what you had seen
that could make you raise your eyes to her,
but you told me yourself, without being asked.
Perhaps because I suspected no such thing,
you set her, full inside and out
with wicked vice, right before my eyesbefore my eyes, which, void and deprived
of any other light, took you for the sun,
even though you've often left them in darkness.
I doubt now that any of the words you said were true,
but I am afraid, though I know not of what,
and my heart grieves, suspicious to its core.
From jealousy my thoughts are never free,
so, as if blazing up from ice in cold winter,
in the midst of flames I freeze and shake;
and the more I try to free my soul
from sorrow, the more sorrow I inflict upon it;
I cry out my pain within, with you I am silent.
But now I want to break my silence with you;
both because I love you and because another wills it,
I do with you what I do with no other;
on his behalf, good and courteous Lomellini
wishes you through me a good evening
and he greets you and awaits your command.
You have, I don't know why, loyal neighbors,
who sing your praises and wish you the best,
even though you walk a crooked path.
These people I am obliged to obey;
and to tell you of the duty that they've assigned me,
it happens that I write you these verses now.
You are quite right to praise yourself for them,
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bench'io convengo ancor per viva forza,
crudel, protervo e sempre ingrato, amarti.
Contra mia voglia scriverti mi sforza
Amor, che tutto il conceputo sdegno
cangia in dolce desio, non pur l'ammorza:
spinta da lui, mandarti ora convegno
queste mie carte, accioche tu le legga;
anzi sempre con l' alma a te ne vegno.
Ma perche in corpo ancor ti parli e vegga,
ch'a bocca la risposta tu mi porte
Iorz'e che con instanzia ti richiegga,
e che tu venghi in spazio d'ore corte.
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though I, by sheer force, am compelled to love you,
cruel, haughty, and ungrateful man.
Against my will, Love decrees that I write you,
for love turns whatever anger is born
to sweet desire, and abates it not at all.
Driven by Love, I must send you now
these papers of mine for you to read;
or, rather, in them I come to you in spirit.
But so that I may see and speak to you in person,
I am forced insistently to ask
that you answer me with your own mouth
and that you come while time is short.
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Franco
Capitola
18
Molto illustre signor, quel che iersera
ne recai mio capitolo a mostrarvi,
scritto di mia invenzion non era;
rna non per tanto di ringraziarvi
non cesso, ch'avvertita voi m'abbiate
che ch'io nol mandi a quell'amico parvi;
e vi so grado che mi consigliate
di quello c'ho da far, quando a voi vengo
perche i miei versi voi mi correggiate.
Grand'obligazlone al cielo tengo
ch'un vostro pari in protezzion rn' abbia,
e pili da voi di quel ch'io merto ottengo.
La gelosia, che dentro '1 cor m'arrabbia,
mi fece scriver quello ch'io non dissi;
rna hr del mio signor martello e rabbia.
Egli pria mi narro quello ch'io scrissi,
e moite cose mi soggiunse appresso,
perche di lui 'n sospetto non venissi.
Non so quel che sia in fatto, rna confesso
ch'io mi sento morir da passione
di non averlo a ciascun'ora presso:
e questi versi scritti a tal cagione,
con scusa di mandargli quei saluti
di iersera, inviarli il cor dispone.
Prego la merce vostra che m'aiuti
in racconciarli, e in far ch' a me ne venga
il mio amante e 10sdegno in pieta muti:
gli altri versi di ieri ella si tenga,
ch'io faro poi di lor quel ch'a lei piace;
e pur ch'umill'amante
mio divenga,
d'ogni altra avversita mi daro pace.
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Capitolo
TO A FRIEND,
ASKING
in Te rz a Rima
18
FOR HELP
WITH
REVISIONS
Most illustrious sir, the capitola
that I came yesterday to show you
was not, in fact, my own invention;
but nonetheless I can't thank you enough
for warning me that in your opinion
I should not send it to that friend;
and I am grateful to you for advising me
about what I ought to do
when I calIon you to correct my verses.
I am greatly indebted to heaven
for the protection of someone like you,
and from you I receive more than I deserve.
Jealousy, which enrages my heart,
made me write what I did not say,
but the pain and anger came from my lord.
He first told me what to write,
and later he added many things
so that I should not suspect him.
I don't know what the truth in this matter is,
but I confess that I feel myself dying of pain
at not having him nearby at all hours:
and my heart persuades me to send him the verses
I composed for this reason, with the excuse
of sending him greetings written last night.
I ask your kindness to help me revise them
and so lead my lover to come back to me
and to transform his scorn into pity;
please keep yesterday's other verses,
and later I'll do with them what you wish;
and as long as my lover shows that he's become humble,
I will resign myself to all other harm.
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Capitolo
19
Quel che ascoso nel cor tenni gran tempo
con doglia tal, ch'a la lingua contese
narrar le mie ragioni a miglior tempo;
quelle dolci d'arnor amare offese,
che di scovrirle tanto altri val meno,
quanto ha pill di far cia le voglie accese;
or che la piaga s'e saldata al seno
col rivoltar degli anni, onde Ie cose
mutan di qua giu stato e vengon meno,
vengo a narrar, poi che se ben noiose
a sentir furo, ne la rimembranza
or mi si volgon liete e dilettose.
COS! spesso di far altri ha in usanza
dopo '1 corso periglio, e maggiormente
se d'uscirne fu scarsa la speranza.
Or sicura ho '1 pericolo a la mente,
quando da' be' vostr' occhi e dal bel volto
contra me spinse Amor la face ardente:
ed a piagarmi in mille guise volto,
dal fiume ancor de la vostra eloquenza
il foco del mio incendio avea raccolto.
L' abito vago e la gentil presenza,
la grazia e Ie maniere al mondo sole,
e de Ie virtu chiare l' eccellenza,
fur ne la vista mia lucido sole,
che m'abbagliar e m'arser di lontano,
SI ch'a tal segno andar Febo non suole.
Ben mi fec'io solecchio de la mano,
rna contra sf possente e fermo oggetto
ogni riparo mio fu frale e vano;
pur rimasi ferita in mezzo '1 petto,
sf che, perduto poscia ogni altro schermo,
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Ca p i t o l o 19
A POEM OF RECOLLECTION,
IN WHICH FRANCO RECOUNTS
HER EARLY AND LATER LOVE FOR A MAN OF THE CHURCH
The feeling I kept long concealed in my heart
with such pain that my tongue was prevented
from explaining my reasons at a better time,
those bittersweet offenses of love
(which least deserve revealing to others
the more one has the desire to reveal them),
now that the wound in my heart has mended
with the passing of years, through whose effect
earthly things change and fade away,
I am going to tell of now,
for though they were certainly painful to feel,
in memory now they seem joyful and sweet.
This sort of recall often happens to people
who have lived through a danger, especially to those
whose hope of escaping it was only slight.
Safely now I recollect
the danger when Love reached forth to me
the flaming torch of your fair eyes and face,
and, set on wounding me in a thousand ways,
he had intensified the fire of my passion
even further with the flow of your eloquence.
Your becoming attire and noble presence,
your grace and manners, unique in the world,
the excellence of your luminous virtues
were a brilliant sun to my sight,
which dazzled and burned me from far away,
to a degree that Phoebus himself does not reach.
I tried to shield my eyes with my hand,
but against such a powerful and steady object,
all my defenses were weak and vain:
indeed, I was pierced in the center of my breast,
so that, with all protection lost,
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arder del vostro amor fu '1 cor costretto:
e con l' animo in cia costante e fermo
vi seguitai; rna mover non potea
il piede stretto d'assai nodi e infermo.
Tanta a me intorno guardia si facea,
che d'assai men dal cielo a Danae Giove
in pioggia d'oro in grembo non cadea.
Ma l'ali, che '1 pensier dispiega e move,
chi troncar mi poteo, se mi fu chiuso
al mio arbitrio l' andar co' piedi altrove?
Pronto 10spirto a voi venia per uso,
ne tardava il suo volo, per trovarsi
del grave pianto mio bagnato e infuso.
E bench'al mio bisogno aiuti scarsi
fosser questi, vivendo mi mantenni,
come in necessita spesso suol farsi;
e cosi sobria in mia fame divenni,
ch'assai men che d'odor nel mio digiuno
sol di memoria il cor pascer convenni.
Cosi, senza trovar conforto alcuno,
la soverchia d'amor pena soffersi,
in stato miserabile importuno:
nel qual cia che i tormenti miei diversi
far non peter, col tempo i miei pensieri
vari da quel ch'esser solean poi fersi.
Voi ve n' andaste a popoli stranieri,
ed io rimasi in preda di quel foco,
che senza voi miei di fea tristi e neri;
rna procedendo l' ore, a poco a poco
del bisogno convenni far virtute,
e dar ad a1tre cure entro a me loco.
Questa fu del mio mal vera salute:
COS! divenne alfin la mente sana
da Ie profonde mie gravi ferute:
il vostro andar in region lontana
saldo '1 colpo, benche la cicatrice
render non si potesse in tutto vana.
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my heart was forced to burn with love for you:
and I followed you with a constant and unswerving soul;
but I was unable to take one step,
bound and weakened by many ties.
I was kept everywhere under such close guard
that Jove fell much more easily from heaven
in a golden shower into Danae's lap.3°
But who could deprive me of the wings
that thought frees and moves, even if taking steps
in another direction was forbidden to my will?
My spirit turned eagerly toward you by habit,
and its flight was not delayed
by being laden and drenched with my sorrowful tears.
And though these brought me only slight help
in my need, I managed to continue to live,
as of necessity one often must do,
and so in my hunger I became frugal,
so much that I had to nourish my heart
less on scent than on memory alone.
So, without finding any consolation,
I endured the extremity of love's pain,
in a miserable and wretched condition;
in this state, with the passing of time
as my many torments could not do,
my thinking changed from what it had been.
You went away to foreign peoples,
and I stayed behind, the prey of that fire
which, without you, made my days black and sad;
but as the hours progressed, little by little,
I resolved to make a virtue of my need,
and to make room in myself for other concerns.
This was the true solution to my pain:
in this way my mind discovered at last
a cure for its deep and serious wounds;
your departure for foreign lands
mended the blow, although the scar
could not be completely erased.
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30. Danae, locked in a tower by her father, was nonetheless visited by Jove in the form of a
golden shower (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.611).
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Franco
Forse stata sarei lieta e felice
nel potervi goder a mio talento,
e Forse in cia sarei stata infelice.
La gran sovrabondanza del contento
potria la somma gioia aver cangiato
in noioso e gravissimo tormento;
e se da me 'n disparte foste andato,
in tempo di mio tanto e di tal bene,
infinito il mio duol sarebbe stato.
Cosi non valse '1 ciel liete e serene
far l'ore mie, per non ridurmi tosto
in prova di piu acerbe e dure pene.
Ond'io di quanto fu da lui disposto
res tar debbo contenta; e pur non posso
non desiar ch'avenisse l'opposto.
Da quel che sia '1 mio desiderio mosso
in questo stato, non so farne stima,
che s'e da me quel primo amor rimosso.
Quanto cangiato in voi da quel di prima
veggo '1 bel volto! Oh in quanto breve corso
tutto rode qua giuso il tempo, e lima!
Di molta gente nel comun concorso
quante volte vi vidi e v' ascoltai,
e dal bel vostro sguardo ebbi soccorso!
E se ben il mio amor non vi mostrai,
o che '1 faceste a caso, 0 per qual sia
altra cagion, benigno vi trovai:
per ch'ora in una ed ora in altra via
di devoto parlar, con atto umano,
volgeste a me la fronte umile e pia;
e nel contar il ben del ciel sovrano,
v' affisaste a guardarmi, e mi stendeste,
or larghe or giunte, l'una e l'altra mana;
ed altre cose simili faceste,
ond'io tolsi a sperar che del mio amore
cautamente pietoso v'accorgeste.
Quinci s'accrebbe forte il mio dolore
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Perhaps I would have been happy and glad
if I could have enjoyed you to my heart's content,
and perhaps I'd have been unhappy instead.
The great excess of happiness
might have transformed the highest joy
into cruel, burdensome pain;
and if you'd gone, leaving me behind
at a time so full of such delight,
my distress would have had no end.
So heaven refused to make my hours
joyful and serene, to avoid reducing me
soon after to the worst, most bitter pain.
And I, freed by heaven to such a degree,
must remain content; and yet I'm not able
to hope that the opposite had not occurred.
I cannot judge what it was
that caused my desire in that state,
for the love I first felt has left me since.
How changed from what it was before
your handsome face now seems to me!
How quickly time eats away all earthly things!
How often I saw you at services in church,
shared by others, as well, and listened to you,
and took consolation from your beautiful gaze!
And though I never showed you my love,
whether it was by chance or for another reason,
I always found that you were kind;
for now in one way, now in another,
in holy speech, in benevolent ways,
you turned your humble and pious brow toward me;
and as you spoke of heaven's supreme good,
you sent me your glance, and now open, now closed,
you held out both your hands to me:
and you did other similar things,
so I started to hope that with careful pity
you might have taken notice of my love.
And so my grief increased acutely
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di non poter al gusto d'ambo noi
goder la vita in gioia ed in dolzore.
Mesi ed anni trascorsero da poi,
ond'a me variar convenne stile,
corn'ancor forse far convenne a voi.
Or vi miro non poco dissimile
da quel che solevate esser davante,
de l'eta vostra in suI fiorito aprile.
Oh che divino angelico sembiante,
quel vostro, atto a scaldar ogni cor era
d'agghiacciato e durissimo diamante!
Or, dopo cosi lieta primavera,
forma d'autunno, assai piu che d'estate,
varia vestite assai da la primiera.
E se ben in viril robusta etate,
l'oro de la lanugine in argento
rivolto, quasi vecchio vi mostrate;
benche punto nel viso non s'e spento
quellume di belta chiara e serena,
ch'abbaglia chi mirarvi ardisce intento.
Questa con la memoria mi rimena
del vostro aspetto a la prima figura,
ond'ebbi gia per voi S1crudel pena;
e mentre '1 pensier mio stima e misura,
e pareggia l' effigie di quegli anni
con questa de l'eta d'or piu matura,
di fuor sento scaldarmi il petto e i panni,
senza che perc '1 cor dentro si mova,
per la memoria de' passati affanni.
In questo l' alma un certo affetto prova,
ch'io non so qual ei sia; se non che vosco
l'esser e '1 ragionar mi piace e giova;
e se '1 giudicio non ho sordo e losco,
quest' e de l' amicizia la presenza,
ch'al volto ed a la voce io la conosco.
Del mio passato amor da la potenza
queste faville in me sono rimaste,
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that we could not enjoy life together,
as we both wished, in joy and sweet rest.
Then the months and years passed by
so that I had to change my style,
as perhaps you also did.
N ow I see you very changed
from what you used to be before,
in the flowering April of your life.
Oh, what a heavenly, angelic countenance
yours was then, able to warm anyone's heart,
even one frozen or as solid as diamonds!
Now, after such a joyful spring,
far more than summer's, you wear autumn's guise,
very different from the first.
And though of a vigorous and manly age,
with the gold of your hair turned to silver,
you appear to be almost old,
although, in your face, the former light
of noble, calm beauty is not at all spent,
and it dazzles whoever dares watch you closely.
This light returns me in recollection
to the first impression of your appearance,
which made me feel such agony for you:
and while my thought assesses and compares
the image of those early years
to that of your now maturer age,
I feel outer warmth in my breast and my clothing,
yet within me my heart is not stirred
by the memory of my past pain.
My soul feels some emotion at this,
but what it is, I don't know, unless
speaking and being with you thrills and delights me.
And if I don't judge deafly or aslant,
it is, in fact, the presence of friendship
that I perceive in your face and your voice.
These sparks of the power of my past love remain
in me from then, though milder now
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piu temperate e di minor fervenza:
da queste accesa, Ie mie voglie caste
in quella guisa propria di voi formo,
che '1 santo amor a circonscriver baste.
In amicizia il folIe amor trasformo,
e pensando a Ie vostre immense doti,
per imitarvi l'animo riformo;
e se 'n cio i miei pensier vi fosser noti,
i moderati onesti miei desiri
non lascereste andar d'effetto vuoti.
Per cui convien ch'ognor brami e desiri
de Ie vostre virtu gustar il frutto,
e quando far nol posso, ne sospiri.
Ma se convien a voi cangiar ridutto,
e peregrin da noi gir in disparte,
non mi negate il favor vostro in tutto.
Basta che se ne porti una gran parte
seco la mia fortuna: in quel che rest a
supplite con gli inchiostri e con le carte.
Non vi sia la Fatica in cio molesta,
poi che l'alma affannata, piu ch'altronde,
quinci gloriosa si puo far di mesta.
Quando siate di la da Ie salse onde,
vi prego con scritture visitarmi
piene d'amor che grato corrisponde:
e volendo pili a pieno sodisfarmi,
questo potrete agevolmente farlo
con alcuna vostr' opera mandarmi.
E quand'io non sia degna d'impetrarlo,
per alcun vanto espresso che 'n me sia,
da la vostra bonta voglio sperarlo;
da la vostra infinita cortesia,
benche convien a l'amor ch'io vi porto
che da voi ricompensa mi si dia.
E facendo altrimenti, avreste il torto:
ond'io, per non far debil mia ragione,
del dever v'ammonisco, e non v'essorto.
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and burning less fiercely:
afire with them, I form chaste desires
in a manner worthy of you,
which holy love is enough to control.
I turn my passionate love to friendship,
and considering your immense gifts,
I reshape my soul in imitation of you;
and if my thoughts on this were known to you,
you wouldn't permit my present desire,
honest and moderate, to go unfulfilled.
So I must always long and yearn
to taste the fruit of your virtues,
and when I cannot, sigh for them.
But if you must change your dwelling,
and travel far away from us,
don't deny me your favor completely.
Let it suffice that you take away with you
a great part of my good fortune;
fill what remains of it with paper and ink.
May the effort to do this not weigh you down,
for from this writing more than anything else
01Y suffering soul can leave sadness for joy.
When you are far beyond these salty waves,
I beg you to visit me by means of letters,
fl1llof glad love that corresponds to mine;
and should you wish to please me
more fully, you can easily do so
by sending some of your works to me.
And should I be unworthy to obtain this
for any particular fame of my own,
I wish to place my hope in your generosity;
give me this recompense from the abundance
of your courtesy, even though doing so
is only fitting to the love I bear you.
And you would be wrong to do otherwise:
accordingly, so as not to weaken my appeal,
I remind you of your duty but do not insist.
in Te rz.a Rima
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Si voglion certo amar quelle persone,
da Ie quai noi amati si sentimo:
cosi la buona civilta dispone;
e tanto importa ad amar esser primo,
che se l' amato a ridamar non vola,
macehia ogni sua virtu d'oscuro limo.
Questo e che mi confida e mi consola:
che cader non vorrete in eotal fallo,
ch'ogni ornamento a la virtute invola.
Come bel fiore in lucido cristallo,
traspar ne Ie vestigie vostre esterne
10spirto ch' altrui rado il ciel tal dallo:
l' alma in voi nel sembiante si discerne,
che di vaghezza esterior contende
con Ie virtuti de la mente interne.
Ben chi e tal, se 10specehio inanzi prende,
dilettato dal ben che 'n lui fuor vede,
a far simile al volto il senno attende;
e mentre move per tai scale il piede,
nel proporzionar tal di se stesso,
ogni condiiion mortale eccede.
Beato voi, cui far questo e concesso,
e cotanto alto gia sete salito,
che nullo avete sopra, e pochi presso!
Ben quindi fate ognor cortese invito,
la man porgendo altrui, perche su monti,
di zelo pien di carita infinito;
rna tutti non han pie veloci e pronti,
SI come voi, in cOSIardua strada,
e voi '1 sapete, senza ch'io '1 raeconti.
Ma pero nulla in suo valor digrada
la vostra dignita, se in cia s'abbassa
per sostener chi v' ama, che non cada.
10, sol nel primo entrar gia vinta e lassa,
il vostro aiuto di lontan sospiro
con occhi lagrimosi e fronte bassa:
volgete il guardo a me con dolce giro,
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We certainly want to love those people
by whom we feel that we are loved:
proper civility inclines us this way;
and it is so important to be the first to love
that if the loved one does not love in return,
he stains his every virtue with dark-colored mud.
This gives me confidence and consolation:
that you will not want to fall into such error,
the kind that steals away every sign of virtue.
Like a beautiful flower in brilliant crystal,
your spirit, rarely given by heaven to others,
shines out through your external features:
your soul can be seen in your appearance,
which competes in outward beauty
with the virtues of your inner mind.
He is a good man who, when he sets a mirror
before him, pleased by his outer countenance,
attempts to make his wisdom correspond to his face;
and as he moves his feet upon such stairs,
assessing himself in such a way,
he rises above any human condition.
Blessed are you, to whom this is permitted,
and you have already ascended so high
that you have no one above you and few even close!
Indeed, you always offer a kind invitation,
holding out your hands so that others may climb,
fl111of eagerness and infinite charity;
but not everyone has feet as fast and ready
as yours to attempt such an arduous path,
and you know it without my telling you.
But your dignity loses none of its value
if it lowers itself to offer support
to the woman who loves you, so that she does not fall.
Tired and spent at even the first step,
I sigh for your help, far down below,
with eyes full of tears and a downcast brow.
Turn your eyes kindly in my direction,
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ed a la mia devozione atteso,
degnatemi d'alcun vostro sospiro.
Cia ne la vostra assenza a me conteso
prego non sia, e del vostro ozio ancora
alcuno spazio a scrivermi sia speso:
alcuna rara e minima dimora
in quest'uso per me da voi si spenda,
poi ch'a servirvi io son pronta ad ogni ora.
Dal mio canto, non fia mai che sospenda
il suo corso la penna, e che con I'alma
a compiacervi tutta non intenda.
E se non vi sara gravosa salrna
illegger le mie lettere, vedrete
che di scrivervi spesso avro la palma:
questa con vostra man voi mi darete,
e de I'amor in amicizia volto,
dagli andamenti miei v'accorgerete.
Non tengo ad altro il mio pensier rivolto,
se non a farvi di mia fede certo,
e mostrarvi 'I mio cor simile al volto,
senza richieder da voi altro in merto,
se non che 'n grado il mio affetto accettiate,
a voi da me pien d'osservanzia offerto;
e che innanzi al partir mi concediate
ch'io vi parli e v'inchini; e quando poi
siate altrove, di me vi ricordiate,
perch'io '1 faro con usura con voi.
Del visitarne scrivendo, non parlo,
scambievolemente intra di noi,
che ben son certa che verrete a farlo,
questo officio gentil meco pigliando,
che 'n alcun modo io non son per lasciarlo.
Ne altro: di buon cor mi raccomando.
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and, attentive to my devotion to you,
consider me worthy of a sigh of your own.
Do not allow your absence to leave
this prayer unanswered, and use some moments
of your leisure to write to me:
employ some rare and brief part of your time
in this way for my sake, for I am prepared
at every moment to be of service to you.
For my part, it never will happen
that my pen's motion ceases or that my soul
no longer intends to please you in all ways.
And if reading my letters does not become
a burden too great for you, you will see
that by writing you often, I win the palm.>'
this you will give me with your own hand,
and you will recognize in my behavior
love that has turned into friendship.
I direct my thought to no other matter
than to assure you of my loyalty
and to show you that my heart and face are the same,
without asking from you any other reward
than that you should graciously accept my affection,
offered to you with profound respect:
and that before your departure you grant
that I may speak to you and bow down
and when you're away, that you remember me,
for I'll do the same, and more, for you.
Of mutual visits in even exchange
through writing, I say not a word,
for I am quite sure that you will do this,
taking this kind of trouble on my behalf,
for I certainly have no plan of letting go.
No more: wholeheartedly, I remind you of this.
.31. Among the Romans, the palm branch was a sign of victory.
Rima
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Capitola
20
Questa quella Veronica vi scrive,
che per voi, non qual gia libera e franca,
or d'infelice amor soggetta vive;
per voi rivolta da via dritta a manca,
uom ingrato, crudel, misera corre
dove '1 duol cresce e la speranza manca.
Con tutto questo non si sa disci6rre
dal vostro amor, ne puote, ne desia,
e del suo mal la medicina aborre;
disposta 0 di trovar mente in voi pia,
0, del servirvi nell' acerba impresa,
giunger a morte intempestiva e ria.
Senza temer pericolo od offesa,
a la pioggia, al sereno, a l'aria oscura
vengo, da l'alma Citerea difesa,
per veder e toccar almen Ie mura
del traviato lontan vostro albergo,
per disperazion fatta sicura.
Per strada errando, gli occhi ai balconi ergo
de la camera vostra; e fuor del petto
sospiri e pianto d'arnbo i lumi aspergo.
Di buio ciel sotto povero tetto,
de la sorte mi lagno empia e rubella,
e del mio mal ch'a voi porge diletto.
Senza veder con cui dolermi stella,
ne Ie tenebre fisi i lumi tengo,
che fur duci d'Amor ne la via fella;
e poi ch'al terren vostro uscio pervengo,
porgo i miei preghi a l'ostinate porte,
ne di basciar illimitar m'astengo.
- Deh siatemi in amor benigne scorte;
apritemi '1 sentier del mio ben chiuso,
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FRANCO'S
in Terza
Rima
197
20
ROMAN ELEGY, TO A MAN WHO
ANOTHER
WOMAN
LOVES
This letter is written to you by that Veronica
who now lives neither free nor frank
but as a slave of unrequited love.
Turned for your sake from the right path to the wrong,
thankless, cruel man, in misery she runs
where sorrow grows and hope decreases.
In the midst of all this she cannot free herself
from loving you; she could not nor does she want to;
and she loathes the medicine that might cure her ill,
willing either to discover a pitiful mind in you
or through serving you in this bitter endeavor,
to reach the point of an early, cruel death.
With no fear of danger or insult,
in rain, in clear weather, and in the dark,
I come, protected by kind Cytherea.V
to see and touch at least the walls
of your house, isolated and remote,
drawing confidence from my desperation.
Wandering in the street, I lift my eyes
to your bedroom's balconies; and from my breast
I pour forth sighs, and tears from both my eyes.
Under the poor shelter of the dark sky,
I lament my cruel and relentless fate
and my pain, which gives you pleasure.
Seeing no star to which I might complain,
I stare ahead into the shadows,
which were Love's guides onto his fatal path;
and as soon as I reach the entrance to your house,
I make my appeals to the stubborn doors,
and do not refrain from kissing the threshold.
-Ah, be my kindly guides to love;
open to me the way to my beloved within,
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32. Cytherea is another name for Venus, based on the name of the island on which she landed
after her birth from the waves: Cythera, in the Ionian Sea.
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Veronica
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del notturno mio error per uso accorte.
Di letal sonno e tu, custode, infuso,
desto al latrar de' tuoi vigili cani,
non far il prego mio vano e deluso:
deh, pietoso ad aprirmi usa Ie mani,
COS1 i ceppi servili aspri dal piede
del continuo ti stian sciolti e lontani! Ma ch'e quel che da me, lassa, si chiede?
- Vattene in pace - il portinaio dice, che Ie notti il signor qui non risiede;
rna del suo amor a far lieta e felice
un' altra donna, con lei dorme e giace,
e tu invan qui ti consumi, infelice.
Vattene, sconsolata; e s'aver pace
non puoi, pur con saldo animo sopporta
quel ch'al destino irrevocabil piace. Talor, per gran pieta di me, la porta
geme in suon roco, come quando e mossa,
nei cardini, a serrarsi 0 aprir, distorta;
ed io, quindi col pie debil rimossa,
ne le braccia di tal che m'accompagna
del viver cado poco men che scossa.
II suo pianto dal mio non discompagna
quel mio fedel ch'e meco, e d'un tenore
meco del mio martir grida e si lagna.
Dure disagguaglianze in aspro amore,
poi ch'a chi m'odia corro dietro, e fuggo
da chi de l' amor mio languisce e more!
E COS1 ad un me stessa ed altrui struggo,
e '1 sangue de le mie e I'altrui vene
col mio grave dolor consumo e suggo:
benche da l' altro canto le mie pene
forse con solan altra donna, e '1 pianto
con piacer del mio am ante al cor perviene.
Ma chi puote esser mai spietato tanto,
che s' allegri, se pur non puo dolersi,
lacero il sen vedermi in ogni canto?
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accustomed as you are to my nocturnal roaming.
And you, doorkeeper, full of death-like sleep,
awakened by the barking of your watchful dogs,
do not reject and disappoint my pleasah, lift your hand and, in pity, open the door;
so may the heavy, enslaving chains
fall from your feet and be taken off forever.
But what am I asking, unhappy woman?
"Be gone in peace," the watchman says,
"my master no longer resides here at night.
Making another happy and blessed
with his love, he lies and sleeps by her side,
while you, unhappy, waste away here in vain.
So go away, poor wretch, and if you find no peace,
you must then endure with steadfast soul
what unchangeable destiny is pleased to give you."
Now and then through heartfelt pity, the door
lets out a grating moan, as a door often does
when it opens or closes on twisted hinges;
and I, now wavering on unsteady feet,
step away and fall back into my companion's arms,
not simply weak but shaken unto death.
My faithful follower does not cease
to accompany my wailing with his own,
and in harmony with me he wails and laments my woe.
Wretched mismatches in cruel lovefor I pursue a man who hates me
and shun one, who, languishing, dies for my love!
I destroy at the same time myself and another,
and in my grief I drink up and drain the blood
from my own veins and from his, as well,
while, on the other hand, my heartfelt pain
perhaps consoles another woman,
and my lament comes with pleasure to my lover's heart.
But who could ever be so ruthless
as not to pity me, but rather to enjoy
seeing my breast ripped open from every side?
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Lassa, la notte e '1 df far prose e versi
non cesso in varia forma, in vario stile,
sempre a un oggetto coi pensier conversi;
e s'ha quest'opre il mio signor a vile,
men mal e assai che se 'n mia onta e in strazio
leggerle con colei ha preso stile.
Per me lieto non e di tempo spazio,
e di quel dond'a me si niega il gusto
altra si stanca, e fa '1 suo de sir sazio.
Quant'e per me difficultoso, angusto,
quel ch'ad altri e carnin facile e piano!
Colpa d' Amor iniquitoso, ingiusto.
Ma da la crudelta se '1 gir lontano
ad uom nobil s' aspetta veramente,
e I' aver facil alma in petto umano;
se quanto altri e pili chiaro e pili splendente
per natura, per sangue e per fortuna,
chi l' ama ridamar deve egualmente;
voi 'n cui '1 ciel tutte Ie sue grazie aduna,
dovete aver pieta di me, che v' arno
SI che 'n questo non trovo eguale alcuna.
E quanto pili ne' miei sospir vi chiamo,
d'esser udita (a dir il vero) io merto,
e quanto pili con voi conversar bramo.
Non e d'ingegno indizio oscuro e incerto,
c'ha gusto de Ie cose pili eccellenti,
conoscer e stirnar il vostro merto.
Deh sentite pieta de' miei tormenti,
se de Ie tigri non sere del sangue,
e se non vi nudrir 1'idre e i serpenti.
Ne la mia faccia pallida ed essangue
fede acquistate de la pena cruda,
onde '1 mio cor innamorato langue.
Ne anch'io d'orsa, che 'n cieco antro si chiuda,
nacqui; ne l'erbe stesa mi nudriro,
come viI bestia, in su la terra ignuda;
rna tai del mio buon seme effetti usciro,
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Alas, night and day I never cease
writing verse and prose in diverse forms and styles,
all focused, like my thoughts, upon a single theme.
And if my lord holds these writings in contempt,
I care less than if, to my shame and pain,
he has made it his habit to read them with her.
For me there is no happy time in sight,
while of him, though I may never enjoy him,
another grows weary and has had her fill.
How difficult of approach and narrow for me
is the path that's easy and smooth for others!this is the doing of relentless, unjust Love.
But if a noble man can be truly expected
to travel far from cruelty and always maintain
a yielding spirit in a humane breast,
if, however more famous and splendid he may be
by nature, in blood and in good fortune,
he should love in return the woman who loves him,
you, in whom all heaven's graces unite,
should pity me, for I love you so much
that I find no other woman to match me.
And the more I call out for you in sighs,
and the more I long to speak to you,
the more (in truth) I deserve to be heard.
It is no unclear or doubtful sign
of a mind with a taste for most excellent things
that it recognizes and values your merit.
Alas, feel some pity for the pain I endure
if you are not born of the race of tigers
and were not fed by hydras and snakes.
In my face, pale and bloodless,
you may be certain of the cruel distress
in which my fond heart pines away.
I wasn't born of a bear, concealed in a dark cave,
nor was I fed with forked out hay,
like a low animal, on the bare ground;
the results of my good breeding ensure
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ch'alcun non ha da recarsi ad oltraggio,
se del suo arnor io lagrimo e sospiro.
Cia dir basti parlando con uorn saggio,
che far con voi per questa strada acquisto
nel mio pensiero intenzion non aggio;
rna del rnio state ingiurioso e tristo
cerco indurvi a pieta con Ie preghiere,
e di sospir col largo pianto rnisto.
Ch' al segno de Ie doti vostre altiere
alcun raro in me pregio non arrive,
questo ogni ragion porta, ogni dovere;
rna quel che dentro '1 petto Amor mi scrive
con lettre d'oro di sua man, Ieggete,
se '1 mio merto ha con voi radici vive.
L'obligo de l'amante vederete
d'esser grato a l'amor simile al mio,
se con occhio sottil v' attenderete.
Ma ne con questo voglio acquistarvi io:
solo a l' alta pieta del mio martire
farvi per cortesia benigno e pio.
II mio continuo e rnisero Ianguire,
l'amorose querele ond'io vi prego,
vi faccian del mio duol pieta sentire:
gran forza suol aver di donna prego
negli animi gentil ch'ancor non arne;
ed io, d'arnor accesa, a voi mi piego.
Prima che '1 duol di me si sazii e sbrame,
e mi riduca in cenere quest' ossa,
date ristoro a Ie mie ardenti brame;
porgete alcun rimedio a la percossa,
che d' aspra angoscia versa un largo fonte,
e mi spolpa, e mi snerva, e mi disossa;
scemate il grave innaccessibil monte
di quei ch'amando voi sostengo affanni,
con voglie in tutti i casi a soffrir pronte;
movetevi a pieta de' miei verdi anni,
onde, da la virtu vostra sospinta,
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that no one need think he's insulted by me,
even though I weep and sigh for his love.
Let me say no more to a man who's wise,
for to retrace with you a path already taken
does not lie in my thought or my plan;
but I am trying to make you feel some pity
for my scorned and wretched state,
through pleas and laments mingled with tears.
For my isolated good qualities
cannot match the evidence of your noble talentsthis follows by reason and by necessity;
but read what Love writes in my heart-"
in his own hand, with letters of gold,
if my merit lives in you at all.
You would see that the duty of a lover
is to welcome love like mine,
if you were to attend with a discerning eye.
But I do not want to win you this way:
I only wish, through deep pity for my woe,
to make you through courtesy kind and tenderhearted.
May my unceasing misery and grief,
the loving complaints by which I appeal,
make you feel compassion for my pain.
A lady's prayer often has great power
in gentle souls, even if she is not in love;
and I, inflamed with love, bow down to you.
Before grief has had enough and disdains me
and reduces these bones of mine to ash,
give new life to my burning desire.
Give me some remedy against this blow,
which looses a fountain of bitter anguish
and strips away my flesh, nerves, and bones.
Lessen the huge and endless mountain
of agonies I suffer for love of you,
and my longing in every case to suffer more;
have pity on my tender, youthful years,
which, responding to your virtue, are the cause
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33. Here Franco alludes, with some variation, to the scene in Dante's Purgatono in which
Dante the pilgrim tells Bonagiunta da Lucca that the success of his dolce sttl novo resulted
from his careful noting down of what love spoke in his heart (24.52-54).
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cado d' Amor nei volontari inganni.
Ed a morir per voi sono anco accinta,
se d'utile e d'onor esser vi puote
che per voi resti la mia vita estinta.
Grato suono a l' orecchie mie percuote
che non sosterra un uom SIvaloroso
d'effetto far le mie speranze vuote.
Da l'aspetto SI dolce ed amoroso
non debbo sospettar di morte 0 pena,
ne d'altro incontro a me grave e noioso.
Ma chi, fuor d'uso, a ben sperar mi mena?
Lassa, e pur so che sorge '1 nembo e nasce
sovente in mezzo a l'aria pili serena;
e cOSIsotto un bel volto si pasce
spesso un cor empio degli altrui rnartfri,
qual che tra' fior vedersi angue non lasce.
Ma se 'n voi non han forza i miei sospiri,
a la nobilta vostra, a la virtute,
volgete con giudicio i lenti giri.
Non debbo disperar di mia salute,
s'ai costumi gentil vostri ho rispetto,
ed a Ie mie profonde aspre ferute;
rna poi di quel che m'incontra, l'effetto
di tormento maggior, di maggior doglia,
mi da certezza ognor, non pur sospetto:
benche d'umil trionfo indegna spoglia
fia la mia vita, se, per troppo amarvi,
dal vostro orgoglio avien che mi si toglia.
Ma s'al mio mal non puote altro piegarvi,
l'esser io tutta vostra mi conceda
ch'io possa almeno in tanto duol pregarvi:
Forse fia che l'orecchie e 'I cor vi fieda
il mio cordoglio, assai minore espresso
di quel ch' al ver perfetto si richieda.
Tanto a me di vigor non e concesso,
ch'esprimer di quel colpo il dolor vaglia,
ch'io porto ne Ie mie viscere impresso:
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that I fall so deeply into Love's wily traps.
And I'm ready and even willing to die for you
if you should find it of use or an honor
that my life be cut short on your behalf.
The news, reassuring, reaches my ears
that a man of such valor will not allow
all my hopes to come to nothing.
From a face so sweet and loving
I should not fear death or torment
or any other dire, harsh encounter.
But who, against habit, makes me hope for good?
I know too well, alas, that rain clouds
appear and grow amid the fairest skies;
and thus beneath a handsome face
feeds a heart greedy for another's pain,
just as a serpent hides from sight among flowers.
But if my sighs have no power over you,
turn your eyes, in careful judgment,
to your own nobility and virtue.
I need not despair of my salvation
if I consider your gentle ways
and my own deep, piercing wounds.
But then the reality that I confront
makes me know for certain, not only suspect,
greater torment and greater pain.
My life would be the worthless token
of a low triumph, if, by loving you too much,
it should be taken from me through your pride.
But if nothing else can bend you to my pain,
may my being yours entirely allow me,
in such great woe, to plead with you, at least.
If perhaps your ear and heart
confide my sorrow to you, they express it
far less well than the whole truth requires.
I have not been granted strength enough
to say how much I'm wounded by this blow,
which I carry imprinted in my deepest core.
Rima
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in dir sf com'Amor empio m'assaglia,
sf come oscura la mia vita ei renda,
10stil debile a 1'opra non s'agguaglia,
Da voi '1 mio mal nel mio amor si comprenda,
ch'e tanto quanto amabile voi sete;
e pia la vostra man ver' me si stenda:
quella, in aiuto, man non mi si viete,
che '1 nodo seppe ordire al duro laccio
de la gravosa mia tenace rete;
e '1 volto, on de qual neve al sol mi sfaccio,
che m'invaghio di sua bella figura,
soccorra a quel dolor ch' amando taccio.
D' alta virtu la divina fattura,
che 'n voi s'annida come in dolce stanza,
il cui splendor m'accende oltra misura,
1'animo di piegarvi abbia possanza,
sf che in tanto penar mi concediate
alcun sostegno di gentil speranza.
Non dico che di me v'innamoriate,
ne che, com'io per voi son tutta fiamma,
d'un amor cambievole m'amiate:
del vostro foco ben picciola dramma
ristorar puo quell'incendio crudele,
che s'io cerco ammorzarlo, e piu m'infiamma.
Amor, s'ho con voi merto, vi rivele;
e Ie parti, c'ho in me di voi non degne,
agli occhi vostri dolce offuschi e cele,
sf che prima ch'a morte amando io vegne,
quella rnerce da voi mi si conceda,
che sgombri '1 pianto ond'ho le luci pregne.
Lassa, che s'un nemico a l' altro chieda
al suo bisogno aiuto, ei gli vien dato,
che la virtu convien che gli odii ecceda;
ed io creder devro ch'aspro ed ingrato
esser mi debba il mio signor diletto,
perch'ei sia Forse d'altra innamorato?
Oime! che, d'altra standosi nelletto,
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My feeble style is unequal to the task
of saying how cruelly Love assaults me,
and how he casts darkness over all my life.
Please understand my suffering in love,
'which is as great as you are worthy of love,
and reach out your kindly hand to me.
Do not deny me your helping hand,
that well knew how to tie the knot
that closed tight my cruel, entrapping net;
and may the face that melts me like snow in the sun,
that made me fall in love with your handsome appearance,
ease the pain I suffer in silence for love.
May the divine creation of lofty virtue
that dwells in you as in a lovely room,
whose splendor inflames me past all measure,
have the power to soften your spirit
so that, in such suffering, you grant to me
some reason to comfort myself with hope.
I am not saying that you should fall in love with me,
or that, because I am all aflame for you,
you should love me in the same way;
even a tiny measure of your fire
can relieve this searing conflagration
which, if I try to quench it, only burns deeper.
Love, if I deserve anything from you, come forth;
and those parts of me that are unworthy of you,
dim and conceal sweetly from your sight,
so that, before I come to die for love,
you grant to me sufficient mercy
to dry the tears that now drench my eyes.
Alas, if an enemy in need asks help
from another, it comes to be granted to him,
for it's right that virtue should overcome hatred.
And should I believe that my cherished lord
must be cruel and heartless to me
because, perhaps, he loves another?
Ah! how his presence in another woman's bed
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me lascia raffreddar sola e scontenta,
colma d'affanni e piena di dispetto:
altra ei fa del suo amor lieta e contenta,
e del mio mal con lei fors' ancor ride,
che vanagloriosa ne diventa.
Quanto per me si lagrima e si stride,
dolce concento e de Ie loro orecchie,
da cui '1 mio amor negletto si deride.
COS! convien che sempre m' apparecchie
a soffrir nuovi di fortuna colpi,
e che 'n novello strazio alfin m'invecchie.
Ne pero avien che del mio affanno incolpi
chi piu devrei; ned in merce mi valse
quanto in cia piu credei che piu '1 discolpi.
Oime, che troppo duro Amor m'assalse,
poi che per farmi di miseria essempio,
m'insidia ancor con sue speranze false.
Da un canto il certo mio danno contempio;
e perche '1 duol piu nuoccia menD atteso,
di speme al van desio conforme rri'empio.
Non Fosse almen da voi medesmo offeso
l' affetto uman del gentil vostro seno
ne l'essermi il soccorso, oime, conteso.
D' ogni mia avversita mi duol via meno,
che di veder ch'a voi s'ascriva il fallo
di quanto in amar voi languisco e peno.
Ben sapete, crudel, che '1 mondo udrallo,
e con mia dolce ed amara vendetta
d'ogn'intorno la fama porterallo,
Ne COS! vola fuor d'arco saetta,
com'al mio essempio mosse fuggiranno
d'arnarvi a gara l'altre donne in fretta;
e quanto del mio mal pietate avranno,
tanto, dal vostro orgoglio empio a schivarsi,
caute a I'esperienzia mia saranno.
Oh che pregiata e nobil virtu, Farsi
anco amar in paese sconosciuto
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leaves me cold, alone, and discontent,
overwhelmed by grief and full of spite!
He delights another woman, happy in his love,
and perhaps, with her, he jeers at my pain,
so that she feels overweening pride.
Whatever weeping and wailing I do
is sweet harmony to both their ears,
'who make fun of my neglected love.
So I must constantly ready myself
to endure new blows of fortune
and finally to grow old in new distress.
Nor can I blame my pain on him whom most
I should. Never has he granted me mercy;
yet the more I think he will, the more I forgive him.
Alas! how cruelly heartless Love has struck me,
for to make me a living example of misery,
he still deceives me with misleading hope.
On one side I see my certain loss,
and, since least expected pain hurts most,
I fill myself with hope befitting vain desire.
If only you yourself did not wound
the human feeling in your noble breast,
or, alas, withhold all comfort from me!
I regret far less my own adversity
than seeing that the blame belongs to you
for all my languishing and pain in love.
Know well, cruel man, the world will hear of it,
and, along with my sweet and bitter revenge,
will carry the news of it to every place on earth.
And no arrow takes flight from the bow
as fast as women, warned by my example,
vying with one another, will flee from loving you;
and the more pity they feel for my pain,
the more eagerly will they avoid your cruel pride,
made cautious by my experience with you.
Oh, what a precious and noble virtueto make yourself loved even in a new land
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col benigno e pietoso altrui mostrarsi!
E quante volte e in tal caso avenuto
che de' meriti altrui senz' altro il grido
d'uom ignoto ave '1 cor arder potuto!
Ond'io, che di mie dati non mi fido,
pensando che voi sete uom degno e chiaro,
da me la speme in tutto non divido;
anzi, nel colmo del mio stato amaro
lusingando me stessa, attender voglio
al mio dolor da voi schermo e riparo,
poi che di grandonor il mio cordoglio
esser vi puo, se pronto a sovenirmi
sarete, mentre a voi di voi mi doglio:
se non, vedrete misera morirmi.
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by seeming kind and pitiful to someone else!
And how often has it happened in such a case
that someone's reputation alone
has had the power to set a heart on fire!
So though I lack confidence in my own gifts,
considering that you are a fine and famous man,
I don't abandon hope entirely.
Rather, even at the height of my bitterness,
flattering myself, I persist in expecting
shelter and refuge from you for my pain,
for my sorrow could bring you great honor,
if you are quick to come to my aid,
even as I complain about you to yourself.
If not, you'll see me, in misery, die.
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Capitola
21
10 dicea: - Mio cor, se cia mi fanno
l'armi mie proprie, quelle, onde mi punge
la fortuna crudel, che mi faranno? S'io stessa, col fuggir dal mio ben lunge,
sento che '1 duol via piu mi s' avvicina,
che la partenza mia mel ricongiunge;
al mio languir contraria medicina
certo avro preso al vaneggiar del core,
che per misera strada m'incamina.
Lassa, or mi pento del commesso errore,
anzi non mossi cosf tosto il passe
dal dolce loco ov'abita '1 mio amore,
ch'io dissi: - Oirne! dunque e pur ver ch'io lasso
quella terra e quell' acque, ove '1 mio sole
di splendor rende ogni altro lume casso? E se ridir potessi Ie parole,
che volgendomi indietro al caro suolo
dissi, qual chi lasciar cia ch' ama suole,
vedrei gli augelli ancor con lento volo
seguirmi ad ascoltar il mio lamento,
alternando in pia voce il mio gran duolo;
vedrei qual gia fermarsi a udirmi 'I vento,
e quetar Ie procelle, e i boschi e i sassi
moversi a la pieta del mio tormento.
Ma per troppo gridar afflitti e lassi
sono i miei spirti, onde gia i pesci e I'onde
le mie miserie a meco pianger trassi.
Tanta rena non han d'Adria Ie sponde,
quante volte il suo nome allor chiamai,
com'or qui '1 chiamo, ov'Eco sol risponde.
Co' sospiri arsi e col pianto bagnai
l' amate spoglie, e di lui in vece accolte
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FRANCO,
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MEDITATING
ON A LOVER
SHE IS SEPARATED
FROM WHOM
I said: "My heart, if my own weapons
do this to me, what will those do
with which cruel fortune pierces me?"
If I myself feel, having fled far from my love,
that pain closes in on me ever more,
that my leaving brings it closer to me,
I must surely have taken medicine opposed
to my languid state and to my heart's raving,
which sends me down a miserable path.
Alas, I repent now the error I made,
or rather, no sooner had I left behind
the cherished place where my love dwells,
than I said: "Woe is me! Can it really be true
that I am leaving this city and these seas
where my sun in his splendor dims all other lights?"
And if I could repeat the words that I said,
turning back to look at my beloved land,
as anyone leaving what she loves is bound to say,
I would see again the birds following me
in their slow flight to hear my lament,
answering my pain with their tender voices;
I would see the wind almost stop to listen,
and the storms die down and the woods and stones
moved to compassion for my torment.
But my spirits, from wailing too much,
are sad and weary, so that now I have moved
the fish and the waves to lament my woes with me.
Adria's shores have fewer grains of sand
than the number of times I then called his name,
just as now I call it here, where only Echo responds.
With sighs I burned and with tears I bathed
his dear garments, and in his place
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al seno me Ie strinsi e Ie basciai,
dicendo: - 0 spogIie, che gia foste avvolte
intorno a quelle membra, che da Marte
sembrano in forma di Narciso toIte,
se '1 ciel mi riconduce in quella parte
onde stolta parti', non sara mai
che quinci '1 fermo pie volga in disparte. Non fu pietra nc pianta, ov'io passai,
che non piangesse meco, e Forse allora
non mi dicesse: - FolIe! ove ne vai? Dal cerchio estremo, ove fan lor dimora
scintillando Ie stelle, certamente
meco pianger mostrar la notte ancora.
Ben vidi '1 sollevar chiaro e lucente;
rna perche gli occhi ad abbagliarmi e '1 core
un piu bellume impresso avea la mente,
scarso del sol mi parve 10 splendore;
o fu, forse, ch'udendo '1 mio gran pianto,
anch' ei si scolori del mio dolore.
Oh corn'e privo d'intelletto, e quanto
colui s'inganna, che nel patrio nido
viver puo lieto col suo bene a canto,
e va cercando or l'uno or l'altro lido,
pensando Forse che la lontananza
ai colpi sia d'Amor rifugio fido!
Fugga pur l'uom, se sa: la rimembranza
del caro obbietto sempre gli e d'intorno,
anzi porta in cor viva la sembianza.
S'io veggo l'alba a noi menar il giorno,
mirando i fiori e Ie vermiglie rose,
che Ie cingon la fronte e '1 crin adorno,
- Taldico, - e '1 mio bel viso, in cui ripose
tutti i suoi doni il cielo, e la natura
la sua eccellenza pili ch'altrove espose. Poi, quando scorgo per la notte oscura
accendersi la su cotante stelle,
Amor, ch'e meco, SI m'afferma e giura
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I held them to my breast and hugged and kissed them,
saying, "Oh, garments that were once
wrapped around those limbs of his,
limbs that were taken from Narcissus by Mars.l!
if heaven ever leads me back to that place
from which I foolishly took my leave,
never will I turn my firm step to depart."
There was neither stone nor plant, wherever I went,
that did not weep for me and perhaps say,
« Madwoman! Where are you going?"
From the farthest circle where the stars
make their sparkling abode, they clearly revealed
that even the night was weeping with me.
I did see the sun rise, shining and bright,
'but since a more beautiful light was impressed
on my heart and mind to dazzle my eyes,
the sun seemed to lack its usual splendor,
or perhaps on hearing my bitter lament,
even it turned pale in response to my grief.
Oh, how mindless and how self-deceptive
is the man who, though he could happily live
in the heart of his country, his beloved at his side,
goes on a search from one shore to another,
thinking perhaps that distance can be
a safe refuge from the blows of love!
Let a man flee, if he knows how;
the memory of his beloved always surrounds him;
indeed, he carries her image alive in his heart.
If I see dawn leading the day to us,
looking at the flowers and the vermilion roses
that circle her forehead and her lovely hair,
"Such," I say, "is my love's handsome face,
where heaven bestowed all of its gifts,
and nature most reveals her perfection."
Then when I see through the dark night
so many stars light up in the sky,
Love, who is with me, assures me and swears
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34. Franco here claims that her Mars-like, that is, military, beloved, also has the physical
beauty of Narcissus, the beautiful boy who died of self-love (Metamorphoses, 3.407-510).
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che quelle luci in cielo eterne e belle
tante non son, quante virtu in colui
che poi crudo del sen l'alma mi svelle.
E per far i miei di piu tristi e bui,
dal mio raggio lontan, sempre al cor vivo
ho '1 sole ardente, onde pria accesa fui:
al qual piangendo e sospirando scrivo.
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that those lights in the sky, fair and everlasting,
are not as numerous as the virtues of the man
who ruthlessly tears the soul from my breast.
And to make my days even sadder and darker,
far from my light, I always carry alive in my heart
the burning sun from which lance caught fire,
to whom, weeping and sighing, I write.
in Terza
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Capitola
22
~
Poi ch'altrove il destino andar mi sforza
con quel duol di lasciarti, 0 mio bel nido,
ch'in me pili sempre poggia e si rinforza,
con quel duol che nel cor piangendo annido,
con la memoria sempre a te ritorno,
o mio patrio ricetto amico e fido:
e maledico 1'infelice giorno,
che di lasciarti avennemi; e sospiro
la lentezza del pigro mio ritorno.
Dovunque gli occhi lagrimando giro,
lunge da te, mi sembra orror di morte
qualunque oggetto ancor ch' allegro miro.
Tutto quel che ristoro e gioia apporte,
per questi campi e per Ie piagge amene,
reca a me affanno e duol gravoso e forte.
L'apriche valli, d'aura e d'odor piene,
l'erbe, i rami, gli augei, Ie fresche fonti,
ch'escon da cristalline e pure vene,
I'ombrose selve, e i coltivati monti,
che da salir son dilettosi e piani,
e pili facili quant'uom pili su monti,
e tutto quel che con industri mani
qui l' arte e la natura e '1 ciel opraro,
sono per me deserti alpestri e strani.
Non puo temprar alcun dolce l'amaro
ch'io sento de l'acerba dipartita,
ch'io fei dal natfo suolo amato e caro:
quivi lasciai nel mio partir la vita,
ch'ai pie negletta del mio crudo amante
da me giace divisa e disunita.
E pur tra questi fiori e queste piante
la vo cercando, e di quell'empio l'orme,
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FRANCO
AGAIN,
TO VENICE
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AND HER
DISTANT
Since destiny forces me to go elsewhere,
oh, my beautiful home, with regret at leaving you,
which constantly grows and weighs me down
with sorrow that I harbor, weeping, in my heart,
in memory I constantly come back to you,
oh, friendly and faithful refuge of my birth:
and I curse the unhappy day
when I first left you behind; and I sigh
over the long delay of my slow return.
Wherever, weeping, I turn my eyes,
far from you, whatever I see, however gay,
seems to me the horror of death.
Everything that brings solace and joy
throughout these fields and lovely shores
causes me pain and heavy, dismal grief.
The sunny valleys, full of breezes and scents,
the grasses, the branches, the birds, the cool springs
that pour from crystalline, pure streams,
the shady groves and cultivated hills,
so delightful and so welcoming to climb,
and easier the farther up one goes,
and all the things that art, nature, and heaven
with industrious hands have created here
are savage and foreign deserts to me.
No sweetness can assuage the bitterness I feel
because of the painful departure I took
from my dearly beloved native soil:
leaving, I left my life behind,
which, lying ignored at my cruel lover's feet,
lies torn asunder and parted from me.
And yet among these flowers and plants
I go seeking it, and the tracks of that vile man
LOVER
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ch'ovunque io vada ognor mi sta davante.
E par ch'io '1 vegga, e poi ch'ei si trasforme
or d'un abete, or d'un faggio, or d'un pino,
or d'un lauro, or d'un mirto in varie forme;
parmelo aver negli occhi da vicino,
e Ie mani a pigliarlo avide stendo,
e la bocca a basciarlo gli avicino:
in questo 10mio error veggio e comprendo,
che, da l'imaginar e da la speme
delusa, un tronco 0 un sasso abbraccio e prendo.
Se cantando posar gioiosi insieme
duo augelletti sopra un ramo veggo,
con quel desio ch' Arnor dolce al cor preme,
del mio misero stato, e piu m' aveggo
che col rimedio de la lontananza,
dov'altri non m'aita, invan proveggo.
Stan pur duo uccelli in lieta dilettanza,
godendo di quel bene unitamente,
ch'al lor desire agguaglia la speranza;
ne Ie selve e nei boschi Amor si sente,
dal consorzio degli uomini sbandito,
tra i bruti, i quai pur s'aman parimente;
un concorde voler al dolce invito
de la gioia d'arnor Ie fiere tragge,
con affetto in duo cori egual partito;
per monti e valli e selve e lidi e piagge,
quinci e quindi congiunta in modo stretto
coppia sen va di due bestie selvagge:
e l'uom, dal cielo a dominar eletto
tutti gli altri animali de la terra,
dotato di ragione e d'intelletto;
l'uom che, se non vuol, rado 0 mai non erra,
fa, nei desir d'arnor dolci, a se stesso
COS1 continua abominosa guerra,
S1 ch'a lui poi d'amar non e concesso,
senza trovar di repugnanti voglie
de la persona amata il core impresso.
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who stands before me wherever I go.
And I seem to see him, transforming himself
now into a beech tree, now a fir, now a pine,
now a laurel, now a myrtle, into all sorts of shapes.
It seems to me that I can see him close by,
and I reach out with eager hands to seize him,
and try to bring my lips close, to kiss him.
In this confusion I see and understand
that, deluded by imagination and hope,
I embrace and hold a tree trunk or a rock.
If I see two little singing birds
land together in joy on a branch,
with the desire Love gently imprints in the heart,
I realize that I count in vain
on distance as a cure for my misery,
in a place where no one assists me.
And then two birds share sweet delight,
coming together to enjoy that good
that fulfills their desire and hope as one;
in the groves and woods, one senses Love,
driven from the company of men, among
the animals, which love each other equally;
mutual desire draws wild creatures
to the sweet invitation of love's delights,
with feeling shared equally between two hearts;
in mountains, valleys, groves, banks, and shores,
here and there, joined in tight embrace,
pairs of wild beasts wander in twos,
and man, chosen by heaven to be lord
over all the other beasts of the earth,
endowed with reason and with intellect,
man, who by choice errs rarely or never,
desiring sweet love, wages against himself
such a continuous and abominable war
that in the end it is impossible for him
to love without finding his beloved's heart
marked with desires that resist his own.
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In cio contrario a Ie donne si voglie
pili ch'agli uomini '1 ciel; ch'amano senza
sentir quasi in amor altro che doglie.
Far non puo de Ie donne resistenza
la natura si molle ed imbecilla,
di Venere del figlio a la potenza;
picciol' aura conturba la tranquilla
feminil mente, e di tepido foco
l'alma semplice nostra arde e sfavilla.
E quanto avern di liberta pili poco,
tanto '1 cieco desir, che ne desvia,
di penetrarne al cor ritrova loco:
si che ne muor la donna, 0 fuor di via
esce de la comun nostra strettezza,
e per picciolo error forte travia.
Quanto a la libertate e manco avezza,
tanto in furia maggior l' avien che saglia,
s'Amor quei nodi violento spezza;
ne per poco vien mai che donna assaglia
per tirar il suo am ante al suo desio,
rna ciascun mezzo prova quant' ei vaglia.
Cosi sforzata son di far anch'io,
d'amor ne la difficile mia impresa,
per ottener il ben ch'amo e desio;
e se ben fatt'a me vien grande offesa,
nullo argomento usato in espugnarti,
amante ingrato, mi rincresce 0 pesa.
Per darti luogo, venni in queste parti,
ed al tuo arbitrio di te cassa vivo,
sperando in tal maniera d' acquistarti.
Qui, dov' e '1 prato verde e chiaro il rivo,
venni, e de Ie dolci onde al roco suono,
e degli uccelli al canto, e pario e scrivo.
In Iuogo ameno e dilettevol sono,
rna non e quivi l'allegrezza mia,
se non quanto di te penso e ragiono;
anzi '1 pensar di te dagli occhi invia
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In this, heaven opposes women
more than men, for women feel
almost nothing in love except pain.
Women's nature, weak and yielding,
is not able to maintain resistance
against the power of Venus's son;
the slightest breeze stirs the female mind,
and our simple souls are set ablaze
and filled with sparks by even a tepid fire.
And the less freedom we possess,
the more blind desire, leading us astray,
will find a way to penetrate our hearts.
So a woman either dies of love,
or escapes from our shared constraint
and goes far astray for a slight mistake.
The less she has the habit of freedom,
the greater heights of fury she'll reach
if Love once violently breaks those bonds;
so it is never for a small cause that a woman
assails her lover, to bend him to her desire,
but every means she uses proves how she values him.
I too am forced to behave in this way
in my difficult pursuit of love
to win the bliss I love and long for;
and even if I must suffer great injury,
no argument used to fight against you,
thankless lover, discourages me or weighs me down.
To satisfy you I came to these parts,
and I live shattered, obeying your will,
hoping to win your favor in this way.
Here I have come, where the meadow is green
and the brook is clear, and I speak and write
of the sweet waves' roar and the singing birds.
I am in a serene and beautiful place,
but there's no happiness for me here
except when I think and speak of you;
rather, the thought of you brings bitter tears
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Iagrime amare, e de l'altrui piacere
sento piu farsi la mia sorte ria.
L'altrui gioie d'amor tante vedere
a Ie fiere, agli augelli, ai pesci darsi
rni fa nel mio dolor piu doglia avere:
non puo l'invidia mia dentro celarsi,
rna con sospiri e pianto, e con lamenti,
vien per la bocca e gli occhi a disfogarsi.
Ben piu che degli altrui dolci contenti,
allargo '1 pianto e senza fin mi doglio
de l'acerba cagion de' miei torrnenti;
rna poi d' ammoilir tento un aspro scoglio,
che pili s'indura e pili s'impietra, quanto
piu mostro il sospiroso mio cordoglio,
e poi che '1 mio dolor ti giova tanto,
io rni vivro, tra queste selve ombrose,
sol de la tua memoria e del mio pianto.
Qui fara l' ore mie liete e gioiose
veder che '1 prato, il poggio, il basco e '1 fiurne
dian ricetto a l'altrui gioie arnorose;
veder per natural dolce costume
gli augei, Ie fiere e i pesci insieme arnarsi
in modo che da 1'uom non si costume;
e senza alcun sospetto insieme andarsi
liberarnente ovunque Arnor gli guide,
e l'uno in grernbo a l'altro riposarsi.
Nulla il gran lor piacer toglie a divide,
rna sempre il sommo lor diletto cresce;
di che me, con dual mista, invidia uccide.
Ecco che fuor d'un antro, or ch'io parIo, esce
coppia felice di due dame snelle,
cui sempre star in un sol Iuogo incresce;
e la due rondinette unirsi anch'elle
veggo in un ramo verde. Ahi del mio amante
voglie contrarie al mio desir rubelle!
Dove parlan d' arnor I'erbe e Ie piante,
dove i desir d' ognun sono con cordi,
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to my eyes, and I feel others' pleasure
making my fate more cruel still.
To see so many joys of love
given to the beasts, the birds, and the fish
makes my pain more painful still:
I cannot conceal the envy I feel,
for through sighs, tears, and cries
it finds relief through my mouth and eyes.
Far exceeding the joy of others,
I increase my weeping and grieve without end
over the bitter cause of my suffering;
but then I try to melt a stern rock,
which hardens and turns more stony still
the more I reveal my heartfelt pain,
and since my suffering pleases you so,
here I shall live, among shady groves,
only on the memory of you and my tears.
Seeing the meadow, hill, wood, and stream
here shelter others' loving joys
will make my hours happy and full of joy,
seeing, through sweet habit, inborn,
the birds, beasts, and fish loving each other
in a way not usual for humankind,
and going freely together without any fear
wherever Love leads them on,
each one resting in the other's embrace.
Nothing deprives them of their joy
but their highest delight grows ever greater;
so I am slain by envy, mixed with grief.
Look! Just as I speak, a loving pair
of two slender deer comes forth from a cave,
weary of remaining in the same place;
and further off, too, I see two swallows mating
on a green bough. Alas, that my lover's wishes
should be so opposed and contrary to mine!
Where the grasses and flowers speak of love,
where all creatures' yearnings are in accord,
in Terza
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in quest' almo paese circostante
m'addusse Amor, perch'io pili mi ricordi,
ne la dolcezza de l' altrui venture,
dei pensieri d'uom crudel dai miei discordi.
Ne questo accresce solIe mie sventure,
per prova intender dai boschi e dai sassi
quanto sian meco acerbe Ie sue cure:
che sempre avanti a la memoria stassi
quanto, per fuggir l'odio di colui,
da la patria gentil mi dilungassi;
da quell' Adria tranquilla e vaga, a cui
di cia che in terra un paradiso adorni
non si pareggi alcun diletto altrui:
da quei d'intagli e marmo aurei soggiorni,
sopra de l' acque edificati in guisa,
ch'a tal mirar belta queto il mar torni;
e percio l' onda dal furor divisa
quivi manda a irrigar I'alma cittade
del mar reina, in mezzo 'I mar assisa,
a' cui pie l'acqua giunta umile cade,
e per diverso e tortiioso calle
s'insinua a lei per infinite strade.
Quivi tributo il padre Ocean dalle
d'ogni ricco tesoro, e 'I cielo amico
ciascun'altra a lei pon dopo Ie spalle:
sf che nel tempo novo 0 ne l'antico
non fu mai chi tentasse violarla,
ch'al pensar sol confuse ogni nemico.
Tutto '1 mondo concorre a contemplarla,
come miracol unico in natura,
pili bella a chi si ferma pili a mirarla,
e senza circondata esser di mura,
pili d'ogni forte innaccessibil parte,
senza munizion forte e sicura.
Quanto per l'universo si comparte
d'utile e necessario a l'uman vitto,
da tutto l'universo si diparte;
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in Terza
into this lovely surrounding countryside,
Love led me, to recall all the more,
in the sweetness of others' good fortune,
that cruel man's thoughts, jarring with mine.
Nor do my misfortunes increase
only because I hear from the woods and the stones
proof of how harsh his feelings toward me are;
for it is always present to my mind
that I left my gentle homeland behind
in order to escape the hatred of that man:
from that tranquil and beautiful Adria,
unequaled by any other land
in whatever adorns a heaven on earth:
from those gold, marble mansions and sculptured stones,
so raised on the waters that the quiet sea
turns back to contemplate such beauty;
so that the waves, purged of their fury,
flow here to bathe the blessed city,
queen of the sea, ensconced on the sea,
and the water humbly subsides at her feet,
and by various and twisting channels
winds its way through her along countless paths.
Here father Ocean brings tribute to her 35
of opulent treasure, and the benevolent sky
sets her before every other city;
so that neither in recent nor ancient times
has anyone ever tried to invade her,
for simply the thought of it has confounded every foe.
All the world comes to admire her
as the one and only miracle of nature,
more lovely the longer one lingers to look,
and, though undefended by an outer wall,
a site less accessible than any fortress,
even without ramparts, strong and secure.
Everything the universe contains
that is useful and needed for human life
is transported here from the whole universe;
Rima
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35. In Homer, Ocean is the son of Uranus and Gaia, and the husband of the sea goddess
Thetis.
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ed a render recato a lei '1 suo dritto,
di quel che in lei non nasce, ella pili abonda
d'ogni loco al produr atto e prescritto,
sf ch'eterna abondanzia la circonda,
e di tutti i paesi fruttiiosi
pili ricca e d' Adria l' arenosa sponda.
Altro che valli amene e colli ombrosi
sembrano d' Adria placida e tranquilla
i palagi ricchissimi e pomposi.
II mar e '1 lito quivi arde e sfavilla
d'arnor, che tra nereidi e semidei
quell' acgue salse di dolcezza instilla.
Venere in cerehio aneor degli altri dei
scende dal eiel su questa bella riva,
con l'alme Grazie in eompagnia di lei.
E senza ehe pili avanti io la deseriva,
per fortuna noiosa e violenta,
gran tempo son di lei rimasta priva:
per far la voglia altrui paga e content a
io diparti', sperando alfin quell'ira,
se non estinguer, far tepida e lenta.
Or ehe quanto si piange e si sospira
per me infeliee e tutto sparso al vento,
che '1 mio amante la vista altrove gira;
poi che '1 crudele ad altro oggetto i: intento,
perche Ion tan da la mia patria amata
vo facendo pili grave il mio tormento?
Ma se t'ho follemente, Adria, laseiata,
del cor I' arsura alleviar pensando,
dal mio danno veder allontanata,
l' ardor pili tosto e in cia gito avanzando,
e con la gelosia e col sospetto
s'e venuto pili sempre riscaldando.
L'altrui d'amor goduto a pien diletto
per questi campi, e '1 temer che compagna
l'empio, a me, non faceia altra del suo letto,
e de la patria mia celebre e magna
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and to render her what is due,
she abounds in territories fit and ordained
to produce whatever is not born within her,
so that eternal abundance surrounds her,
and Adria's sandy shore is the richest
among all other fertile lands.
Far beyond fair valleys and shadowy groves,
Adria's rich and splendid palaces
make a serene and peaceful sight.
There the sea and the shore burn and sparkle
with love, who, among Nereids and sea gods,
instills sweetness into those briny waters.
Venus, encircled by other gods still,
descends from heaven to this beautiful shore,
in the company of the noble Graces.
And without describing her in more detail,
because of my adverse, hostile fate,
I have been deprived of her too long;
to fulfill and appease the will of another,
I took my leave, hoping if not to end at last
at least to cool and slow his anger down.
Now, in spite of all my tears and sighs,
unhappy me, everything's cast to the wind,
for my lover turns his gaze elsewhere;
since the cruel man now pursues another,
'why,far away from my cherished home,
do I make my suffering even worse?
But if I left you, Adria, in folly,
thinking to lessen the burning of my heart
by seeing myself at a distance from my pain,
my ardor has been heightened by it instead,
and through my jealousy and suspicion
it has constantly burned hotter still.
The love that others enjoy to the full
in these fields, and the fear that the vile man
may take a partner other than me to his bed,
and the lofty ornaments and undying splendor
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gli alti ornamenti e 10splendor superno,
qui '1 bosco odiar mi fanno e la campagna:
ad Adria col pensier devoto interno
ritorno e, lagrimando, espressamente
a prova del martir l'error mio scerno.
Ma se '1 suo fallo scema chi si pente,
d' esser da te partita mi pentisco,
o mio bel nido, e me ne sto dolente;
e da poi che non cessa il mio gran risco
per lontananza, il meglio e ch'io mi mora
del gran dolor che per amar soffrisco,
senz'a miei danni aggiunger questo ancora,
di far da Ie mie cose a me pili care
per tanto spazio SI lunga dimora.
Perch'alfin mi risolvo di tornare,
e se non rn'e contraria a pien la sorte,
se ben un' ora un secolo mi pare,
spero tornar in spazio d'ore corte.
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in Te r z a Rima
of my famous and magnificent homeland
make me hate these woods and this countryside:
To Adria I return, in deep, loyal thought,
and weeping, to offer proof of my regret,
I clearly perceive the mistake that I made.
But if she who repents diminishes her fault,
I do repent of departing from you,
oh, lovely shelter, and grief overwhelms me;
and since my great danger does not end through distance,
it is best that I should die
of the great sorrow I suffer for love,
without adding this further woe to my woesof making such a lengthy stay
so far from the things that I cherish the most.
So at last I resolve to return,
and if fate doesn't stand in my way,
even though an hour seems like a century,
in a few short hours I hope to return.
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Capitolo
23
~
Lungamente in gran dubbio sono stata
di quel che far a me s' appartenea,
da un certo uomo indiscreto provocata.
Nel pensier vane cose rivolgea
del far e del non far la mia vendetta,
ne a qual partito accostarmi sapea;
alfin, la propria mia ragion negletta,
che '1 buon camin non sa prender ne puote,
da la soverchia passion costretta,
vengo a voi per consiglio, a cui son note
Ie forme del diiello e de 1'onore,
per cui s'uccide il mondo e si percuote.
A voi, che guerrier sete di valore,
e ch'oltre a 1'esser de la guerra esperto,
vostra mercede, mi portate amore,
per consiglio ricorro; eben m'accerto
che mi sareste ancor non men d' aita,
per grazia vostra pili che per mio merto.
Ma io non voglio a quel dove m'invita
de la vendetta il gran desio voltarmi,
benche la via mi sia piana e spedita:
voglio, prima ch' io giunga al trar de l' armi,
il mio parer communicar con voi,
e con voi primamente consigliarmi;
e se determinato fia tra noi
che con gli effetti io debba risentirmi,
non sara pigra a pigliar I'armi poi.
Ma saria forse un espresso avvilirmi,
far soggetto capace del mio sdegno
chi non merta in pensier pur mai venirmi:
un uom da nulla, e non sol vile, e indegno
che da seder si mova a lui pensando
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Capitolo
FRANCO,
TO A FRIEND
23
EXPERT
IN DUELING
For a long time I've remained in doubt
about what is proper for me to do,
provoked by a certain indiscreet man.
In my mind, I turned over vain questions,
as to whether or not to take revenge,
and I did not know which side to choose;
finally, leaving my reason aside,
which neither knows nor can take the proper path,
driven, as it is, by overwhelming pain,
I now come for advice to you,
to whom the forms of duels and honor are known,
according to which the world is stricken and slain.
To you, because you're a gallant warrior,
and not only an expert in war,
but through your kindness you bear me love,
I turn for advice; and I am sure
that you will not be of slight help to me,
more from your graciousness than for my merit.
But I do not want to turn at once
to what my longing for revenge invites me,
although the way to it is simple and clear;
I want before I come to pull out weapons,
to communicate my opinion to you
and above all to ask you for counsel,
and if between us we should decide
that I should express my resentment in deeds,
then I won't hesitate to take up arms.
But perhaps I would, in an obvious way,
debase myself by honoring with my scorn
a man who deserves not even a thought,
a man worth nothing, and not only vile,
but unworthy to trouble, at the thought of him,
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qualunque ancor che pigro e rozzo ingegno.
E pur d'ira m'infiammo, rimembrando
la vilIania da lui fatta a se stesso,
di doverla a me far forse stimando.
Inescusabil fallo vien commesso
da chi dice d' alcun mal in sua assenza,
s'anco ver sia quel che vien detto espresso:
perche in cia 1'uom dimostra gran temenza,
e par che 'n queIIa vece non ardisca
dir iI medesmo ne l' altrui presenza.
Ma poi, se di menzogne si fornisca
e nel contaminar l' onore altrui,
con frode e infamia contra '1 ver supplisca,
ben certamente merita costui
cancellarsi del libro de' viventi,
SI che '1 suo nome ad un pera con lui.
Oh, se le rane avesser unghia e denti,
come sarian, se drittamente addocchio,
talor piu de' leon fiere e mordenti!
Ma poi, per gracidar d'alcun ranocchio,
di gir non lascia a ber l' asino al fosso,
anzi drizza a queI suon l'orecchio e 1'occhio.
Se un ser grillo, a dir mal per uso mosso,
de la sua buca standosi aI riparo,
m'ha biasmato in mia assenzia, io che ne posso?
E se tratte a quel suon, quivi n'andaro
moIte vespe e tafani, e per tenore
di quel suon roco in compagnia ruzzaro,
non patisce alcun danno in cia '1 mio onore,
e quanto aspetta a me, piu tosto rido;
rna de l' altrui sciocchezza ho poi dolore.
D'una brutta cornacchia a 1'aspro grido
trassero altri uccellacci da carogne,
e di stereo l'empier la strozza e '1 nido.
Quest' e proprieta de Ie menzogne,
che quelIi ancor che son malvagi e tristi
versan sopra l' autor biasmi e vergogne.
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even an indolent and vulgar mind.
And yet I burn with fury as I recall
the villainy that he dealt to himself,
thinking perhaps he should aim it at me.
An inexcusable wrong is committed
by a man who defames a woman in her absence,
even if what he says is obviously true,
because by so doing, he reveals great fear
and it seems, from this state, that he does not dare
to say the same thing in that person's presence.
But if he should arm himself with lies
and, while befouling another's honor,
he replaces the truth with fraud and with infamy,
it is most certain that man deserves
to be struck clean out of the book of the living,
so that his name perishes with him.
Oh, if frogs had claws and teeth,
often they would, if I see correctly,
be fiercer than lions and bite more sharply!
But in response to the croak of a frog,
an ass doesn't cease to drink at the ditch;
his ears and eyes, rather, perk up at the sound.
If a certain Sir Cricket, concealed in his hole,
as his habit is, was moved to speak ill of me
in my absence, what can I do about it?
And if, attracted by the sound,
many wasps and horseflies came rushing up
and buzzed in chorus with his rough voice,
my honor suffers no harm from this,
and as far as I'm concerned, I laugh instead;
but then I am wounded by others' stupidity.
At the harsh cry of an ugly crow,
other birds rose up from their prey,
and filled their throats and nests with dung.
And this is a characteristic of liesthat even people who are evil and mean
pour contempt and shame on the author of lies.
in Te r z a Rima
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Del mio avversario fur primieri acquisti
sparger detti, in mia assenza, di me falsi,
da nulla verita coperti 0 misti.
Ad ira contra lui percio non salsi,
rna m' allegrai, quando contra '1 suo dire
tacendo col mio ver chiaro prevalsi.
Ben poi via piu insolente divenire
nel mio silenzio il vidi; e quasi ch'io
d' averlo fatto tale posso dire.
Ma qual era in quel caso officio mio,
se non quel dirmi mal dopo Ie spalle
non curar punto, da un uom vile e rio?
Troppo al giudicio mio vien che s'avvalle
il pensier di chi segue tai diffetti,
c'hanno precipitoso e tetro il calle.
Raffrena, uom valoroso, i ciechi affetti,
e non voler opporti a ciascun'orma
de la malignitate ai falsi detti:
segui de la virtu la dritta norma,
che, di se stessa paga, agli altrui errori
generosa non guarda, e par che dorrna.
COS!fec'io, che, d'ogni dritto fuori
infamiata e biasmata da un uom vile,
mi confortai co' miei pensier migliori:
e farei piu che mai ora il simile,
se per la mia pazienzia quel villano
non discendesse a via peggiore stile.
Ma con armata e minacciosa mana
m'importuna, e mi sfida, e quasi sforza
il pensier di star queta a render vano.
Can l'acqua alfin ogni foco si smorza;
COS!la costui rabbia e l' arroganza
a quel ch'io men vorrei mi spinge a forza.
So ch' egli per natura e per usanza
e pessimo e vilissimo a volere
pugnar con una donna, di possanza.
E quasi che non porta anco il devere,
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And one advantage my opponent used
was to spread rumors while I was away,
false tales untouched and unmixed with truth.
And yet for all this I did not rise in anger
but rather rejoiced when, by keeping silent,
.mytruth prevailed over what he had said.
Then indeed in my silence I saw him
grow more and more insolent, and I'd almost say
that it was I who made him that way.
But in that case, what was it my duty to do
if not to ignore the talk sent around
behind my back by a wicked, vile man?
In my view a man's thought sinks too low
if he's bent on committing this kind of misdeed,
which runs a dark and dangerous course.
Restrain your blind passions, valorous man,
and do not continually try to resist
the lying rumors invented by malice;
follow instead the right rule of virtue,
sufficient to itself, which generously
ignores others' faults and seems to lie sleeping.
This is what I did, for most unfairly
defamed and blamed by a cowardly man,
I consoled myself with higher thoughts;
and now more than ever I'd do the same thing,
if, through my patience, that villainous man
did not descend to behavior worse still.
But with an armed and menacing hand
he pursues and defies me and does all he can
to frustrate my intent to stay calm.
With water every fire is finally quenched;
just so, that man's fury and arrogant ways
force me to do what I least desire.
I know that he, by nature and custom,
is thoroughly vile and so great a coward
that he wants to fight with a woman by force.
And as if I don't have the duty
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ch' al provocar de l' armi io gli risponda,
non usa il ferro ignudo in man tenere.
Ma tanto piu d'audacia ei soprabonda,
quanto farmi paura piu si crede,
e con nuove insolenzie mi circonda.
Non so quel che in tal caso si richiede:
il parer vostro non mi sia negato,
ch' a lui son per prestar assenso e fede.
10 sono stata in procinto, da un lato,
di disfidarlo a singolar battaglia,
comunque piu gli piace, in campo armato.
Ma dubitai che di piastra e di maglia
ei proponesse grave vestimento,
e ferro che non punge e che non taglia.
So ch'egli e un asinaccio a questo intento
d'assicurarsi contra i colpi crudi,
dove vi sia di sangue spargimento:
del resto sovra '1 dorso se gli studi,
s'altri volesse ben con un martello,
come s'usa di far sopra Ie incudi.
Questo m'ha messo a partito il cervello,
ch'io non vorrei con sferza 0 con bastone
prender a castigar un uom si felio.
Non so se in cia potessi con ragione
rifiutar armi non rnicidiali,
rna solarnente a bastonarsi buone:
so ch'ei diria ch'a lui si denno tali,
e ch'io non debbo ricusarle, quando
d' ogni lato Ie cose vanno eguali.
10 sono andata a questo assai pensando,
ed ho discorso che s'io '1 disfidassi,
da l'insultar s'andria Forse arretrando:
Forse ch'ei volgerebbe altrove i passi,
e meco fuggiria d' entrar in prova,
perch'ancor col baston non l'amazzassi.
Ma s'ei temprate ha l'ossa a tutta prova
contra ogni copia di gran bastonate,
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to respond to him and his call to arms,
he fails to carry a bare blade in his hand.
But the more his audacity overflows,
the more he believes that he's frightening me,
and on all sides he attacks me with new affronts.
I don't know what such a case requires;
don't deny me your view, for I am prepared
to assent and to have faith in it.
On one hand, I have been on the point
of challenging him to single combat,
however he prefers, on the field of battle.
But I suspected that he would propose
heavy armor of breastplate and mail,
and swords that neither stab nor wound.
I know that he is a foolish ass,
set in this case on protecting himself
against bare blows, when blood comes to be shed;
for the rest, let him watch out for his back
in case someone wants to do with a hammer
what's usually done to the anvil instead.
This has made me change my mind;
I wouldn't like to try to punish
such a wicked man with a whip or a club.
I don't know whether I could in fairness
refuse to use weapons that do not kill
but are only good for giving a beating;
I know he will say such weapons are due him
and that I should not refuse them,
provided that everything else is equal.
I have thought about this at length
and have said that if I were to defy him,
he might retreat, taking back his insults;
he might turn his steps in another direction
and flee from meeting me in combat,
for fear that I'd even club him to death.
But if he has bones that withstand every test
and any number of heavy club strokes,
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si ch' altri a dargli stanco alfin si trova;
senz' aver Ie devute sue derrate,
rendermi stanca in guisa alfin potrebbe,
che l'armi avessi in mio affanno pigliate.
E poi di me qual cosa si direbbe?
Ch'io non sia buona per un uom codardo,
cui con Ia verga un fanciul vincerebbe:
un che fa l'invincibile e 'I gagliardo
contra una donna che sopporta e tace,
senza pur minacciarlo con 10sguardo.
Dunque 'I debbo Iasciar seguir in pace,
e sommettermi in guisa al suo talento,
ch'egli m'offenda come piu gli piace?
Quest'e strana maniera di tormento,
e tal ch'offese a non sopportar usa,
a questa men ch'ad altra atta mi sento.
Dunque sara da SIviI uom delusa,
senza prender vendetta in parte alcuna
di quanto egli m'offende e SI m'accusa?
In questo punto il mio pensier s'aduna,
e per incaminarmi a buona strada
trovo scarsa e contraria Ia fortuna.
Ma s'io sto queta, e, come avien ch'accada
un giorno che passar quindi gli avenga,
incontra armata a ucciderlo gli vada?
Forse Ia sete fia che 'n tutto io spenga
di quel sangue maligno, e con diletto
senza contrasto alcun vittoria ottenga.
Dunque cornmettero SI gran diffetto
di bruttar di quel sangue queste mani,
ch'e di malizia e di viltate infetto?
Cessin da me pensieri cOSIstrani.
Ma che faro? S'io taccio, mal; e poi
s'io faccio, peggio. Oh miei discorsi vani!
Datemi, signor mio, consiglio voi.
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in Terza
so his opponent finally tires of hitting him
without having gotten what he deserves,
at last he might possibly so tire me out
that I'd have armed myself for my despair.
And what would then be said about me?
That I cannot handle a cowardly man,
whom a mere child could defeat with a switch,
a man who pretends to be strong and unbeatable
in battle with a woman who endures and is silent,
without even threatening him with a look.
Must I, then, let him carryon unstopped,
and so submit myself to his whim
that he insults me just as he likes?
This is indeed a strange kind of torture,
and for someone, like me, not used to abuse,
it suits me far less than any other.
Shall I be mocked, then, by such a villain,
without seeking any revenge at all
for how much he insults and accuses me?
My thought centers on this one point,
and to lead my steps onto the right path
I find Fortune tight-fisted and stubborn.
But what if I hold my peace, and some day
it happens that I cross his path
and go to meet him armed for the kill?
Perhaps I shall slake my thirst completely
on his malignant blood, and with pleasure
win a victory without any battle.
Shall I really commit the foul error
of soiling these hands of mine with that blood,
infected with malice and cowardice both?
Enough of thoughts so alien to me!
But what shall I do? Silence is bad,
but action is worse. Oh, useless words of mine!
Give me, my lord, your advice.
Rima
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Sovente occorre ch'altri il suo parere
dice, stimando fatte alcune cose,
che non successer, ne fur punto vere.
Di queste, che pur son dubbie e nascose,
in noi un certo instinto la natura,
che tende al peggio ed al biasmarle, pose;
benche null'opra e di qua giu sicura,
e di quel che men par ch'avvenir possa
stiasi con pili sospetto e con paura.
Del mondo ingannator quest'e la possa,
che quel ch'e pili contrario al ver succeda,
per cagion torta, occoltamente mossa.
La ragion vuol ch'ogni ben di voi creda,
rna poi del verisimile l' effetto
fa che quel ch'io credei prima discreda.
Comunque sia, egli m' e stato detto:
se falso 0 ver, non importa ch'io dica
s'io son risolta 0 se n'ho alcun sospetto:
basta che mi tegniate per arnica,
come infatti vi son, sf che in giovarvi
non sarei scarsa d'opra 0 di Fatica.
Ed or ch'io mi conduco a ragionarvi
di quanto intenderete, a quel m'accosto,
che de' chi fa profession d' amarvi.
Dunque a la mia presenza vi fu opposto
ch'una donna innocente abbiate offesa
con lingua acuta e con cor mal disposto;
e che, moltiplicando ne l'offesa,
quant'e colei pili stata paziente,
in voi l'ira si sia tanto pill accesa,
si che, spinto da sdegno, irnpaziente
Ie man posto l' avreste adosso ancora,
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Capitola
FRANCO,
TO A MAN WHO
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HAS INSULTED
A WOMAN
It often happens that a person declares
his opinion, assuming things were done
that never happened at all or were true.
About such acts, which are doubtful and hidden,
nature puts into us a certain instinct
that tends to the worst, and to laying blame,
although on this earth no action is certain,
and of those that seem least likely to happen
we feel the greatest suspicion and fear.
This is the power of the deceptive worldthat what's most contrary to the truth prevails,
led through false logic for motives kept secret.
Reason requires that I think the best of you,
but then the effect of what seems most likely
makes me disbelieve what I thought at first.
Whatever the case, this is what I've been told:
false or true, it matters little
whether I say I'm sure or only suspicious.
It is enough that you esteem me your friend,
as indeed I am, so that I would not spare
any action or effort to please you.
And now that I'm about to discuss with you
the matter I'm coming to, you'll understand
how someone who claims to love you should act.
So in my presence you were accused
of having offended an innocent woman
with your sharp tongue and ill-disposed heart;
and, multiplying what you did wrong,
the more patient she remained,
the more intensely your fury burned,
so that, driven by scorn, and impatient,
you'd have laid hands upon her, as well,
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se nol vietava alcun ch'era presente;
rna voi la minacciaste forte allora,
e giuraste voler tagliar Ie il viso,
osservando del farlo il tempo e l' ora.
Strano mi parve udir, d'un uom diviso
dai fecciosi costumi del vil volgo,
un cotal nuovo inaspettato aviso;
e mentre col pensiero a voi mi volgo,
de la virtute ami co e de l'onesto,
la fede a quel che mi fu detto tolgo.
Da I'altra parte so quanto e molesto
10spron de l'ira, e come spesso ei mena
a quel ch'e vergognoso ed inonesto;
ne sempre la ragion, che i sensi affrena,
a stringer pronto in man si trova il morso,
e 'I gran soverchio rompe ogni catena.
Se per impeto d'ira il fallo e occorso,
non durate nel mal, rna conoscete
quanto fuor del dever siate trascorso.
Gli occhi del vostro senno rivolgete,
e quanto ingiuriar donne vi sia
disdicevole, voi stesso vedete.
Povero sesso, con fortuna ria
sempre prodotto, perch'ognor soggetto
e senza liberta sempre si stia!
Ne pero di noi fu certo il diffetto,
che se ben come l'uorn non sem forzute,
come l'uom mente avemo ed intelletto.
Ne in forza corporal sta la virtute,
rna nel vigor de l'alma e de l'ingegno,
da cui tutte Ie cose son sapute;
e certa son che in cia loco men degno
non han le donne, rna d'esser maggiori
degli uomini dato hanno pili d'un segno.
Ma se di voi si reputiam minori,
fors'e perche in modestia ed in sap ere
di voi siamo pili facili e migliori.
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if someone present had not prevented it;
but after that you threatened her mightily
and swore that you would slash her face,36
naming the day and the hour you'd do it.
It seemed strange to me to hear
such a strange and surprising report
of a man set apart from the rabble's low habits;
and as I turn in my thought to you,
the friend of virtue and of honorable deeds,
I cease to believe what I was told.
On the other hand, I know how harmful
the spur of anger is, and how often
it leads to shameful and unjust acts;
nor is reason, which reins in the senses,
always quick enough to pull on the bit,
and great excess breaks every chain.
If the fault occurred through a fit of anger,
don't go on doing wrong, but admit
how far you overstepped the bounds of duty.
Look with the eyes of your good sense
and see for yourself how unworthy of you
it is to insult and injure women.
Unfortunate sex, always led about
by cruel fortune, because you are always
subjected and without freedom!
But this has certainly been no fault of ours,
because, if we are not as strong as men,
like men we have a mind and intellect.
And virtue does not lie in bodily strength
but in the vigor of the soul and mind,
through which all things come to be known;
and I am certain that in this respect
women lack nothing, but, rather, have given
more than one sign of being greater than men.
But if you think us inferior to you,
perhaps it's because in modesty and wisdom
we are more adept and better than you.
36.This expression,
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colloquially stated as dare fa sfregia (to give the scar), was used to describe
the vengeful act through which jealous clients disfigured courtesans who they thought had
betrayed them.
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E che sia '1 ver, voletelo vedere?
Che '1 piu savio ancor sia piu paziente
par ch'a la ragion quadri ed al devere:
del pazzo i: proprio l'esser insolente,
rna quel sasso del pozzo il savio tragge,
ch'altri a gettarlo fu vano e imprudente.
E COS1 noi che siam di voi piu sagge,
per non contender vi portamo in spalla,
corri'anco chi ha buon pie porta chi cagge.
Ma la copia degli uomini in cia Falla;
e la donna, perche non segua il male,
s'accomoda e sostien d' esser vassalla.
Che se mostrar volesse quanto vale
in quanto a la ragion, de l'uom saria
di gran lunga maggiore, e non che eguale.
Ma l'umana progenie mancheria,
se la donna, ostinata in suI diiello,
foss'a l'uom, com'ei merta, acerba e ria.
Per non guastar il mondo, ch'e S1 bello
per la specie di noi, la donna tace,
e si sommette a l'uom tiranno e fello,
che poi del regnar tanto si compiace,
S1 come fanno '1 piu quei che non sanno
(che '1 mondan peso a chi piu sa pili spiace)
che gli uomini percio grand'onor fanno
a Ie donne, perche cessero a loro
l'imperio, e sempre a lor serbato l'hanno.
Quinci sete, ricami, argento ed oro,
gemme, porpora, equal e di piu pregio
si pon in adornarne alto tesoro;
equal conviensi al nostro senno egregio,
non sol son ricchi i nostri adornamenti
d'ogni pomposo e piu prezzato fregio,
rna gli uomini a noi vengon riverenti,
e ne cedono 'I luogo in casa e in strada,
in cia non punto tardi 0 negligenti.
Per questo anco e ch'a lor portar accada
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And do you want to know what the truth is?
That the wisest person should be the most patient
squares with reason and with what is right;
insolence is the mark of the madman,
but the stone that the wise man draws from the well
was thrown in by a foolish, imprudent man.
And so we women, who are wiser than you,
to avoid contention, carry you on our backs,
as the surest of foot carry those prone to fall.
But most men do wrong in this matter;
and woman, to avoid pursuing wrongdoing,
adapts and endures being a vassal.
Yet if, as far as reason's concerned,
she wanted to show what she is worth,
she'd not only be man's equal but surpass him by far.
But human offspring would cease to exist
if woman, determined to prevail in the duel,
were as harsh and cruel as man deserves.
To not ruin the world, which our species
makes so beautiful, woman is silent
and submits to tyrannical, wicked man,
who then so enjoys having power to rule,
as those do most who know the least
(for the wise care least for worldly things),
that on this account men do honor to women,
so that they will yield all power to them,
and men have always preserved it for them.
So silk and embroidery, silver and gold,
gems, crimson cloth, and all that's most precious
men use to embellish their highly placed treasure;
and, as befits our excellent wisdom,
not only are our adornments rich
with every splendid and most prized trim,
but men approach us with reverence
and make way for us at home and in the street,
neither slow nor remiss to do so.
This is also why their role is to wear
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berretta in testa, per trarla di noi
a qualunque dinanzi ei se ne vada;
e s' ancor son tra lor nimici poi,
non lascian d'onorar, sempre ch'occorre,
l'istesse donne de' nernici suoi.
Da questo argumentando si discorre
quanto l' offesa fatta al nostro sesso
la civilta de l'uom gentile aborre.
Nc ch'io parli cOSIcrediate adesso
con altro fin che di mostrarvi quanto
l'offender donne sia peccato espresso.
Informata ancor son da l' aitro canto
chi sia colei di cui mi fu affermato
che ingiuriaste e minacciaste tanto:
certo questo non merita il suo stato,
e l' avervi '1 suo amore a tanti segni
in tante occasion manitestato.
Cessin I'offese ornai, cessin gli sdegni,
e tanto piu che d'uom nato gentile
questi non sono portamenti degni;
rna e profession d'uom basso e vile
pugnar con chi non ha diffesa 0 schermo,
se non di ciance e d'ingegno sottile.
Perdonatemi in cia, ch'io troppo affermo
Ie colpe vostre; poi ch'io non intendo
comprender voi, piu d'a1cun altro, al fermo.
Ma quel ch'adesso vado discorrendo
e quanto ad onta sua colui s'inganni,
che vada con le donne contendendo;
perch'a1 sicur di lui son tutti i danni:
s'ei vince, mal; e peggio, se vien vinto;
il rischio e certo, e infiniti gli affanni.
Col viso di rossore infuso e tinto,
d'essere stato ogni uom d'onor s'accorge
di far ingiuria a donne ungua in procinto;
e quanto pili '1 valor viril risorge,
tanto pili l' armi fuor da l'ira tratte
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hats on their heads, so they can doff them
when they meet one of us face to face;
and even if they're enemies to one another,
whatever happens, they do not fail
to honor the women related to their enemies.
Arguing on this basis, it is well known
how much the civility of a gentleman
detests an offense made to our sex.
And don't believe that I speak this way now
with any purpose except to show you
how much attacking women is an obvious sin.
On the other hand, I am also informed
who the woman is whom, others have claimed,
you insulted and threatened so much:
certainly her status does not call for this,
nor does the fact that she's shown she loves you
by so many signs on so many occasions.
Cease your offenses from now on,
cease your disdain, and all the more
since this is behavior unfit for a nobleman,
but it is the act of a low and vile man
to fight with a woman lacking defense or shield,
except for gossip and a clever mind.
Forgive me if in this I insist too much
on your faults; for I certainly don't claim
to understand you better than anyone else;
but what I am now about to explain
is how much to his shame a man is deluded
who enters into contention with women;
for certainly all the damage is his:
if he wins, it's bad, and worse if he's vanquished;
the risk is certain and the suffering infinite.
With a face stained and blushing with red,
every man of honor sees that he was close
to dealing any insult to women;
and the more his manly courage prevails,
the more another, ashamed in his turn,
in Terza
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vergognando al suo loco altri riporge,
e si pentisce de Ie cose fatte
in via che se potesse frastornarle,
le ridurria da l'esscr primo intatte.
Ma poi che non puo adietro ritornarle,
con dolci modi a l' offese ripara,
e quanto puo, si sforza d'annullarle:
ritorna ancor l' amata al doppio cara
nel rifar de la pace; e per turbarsi,
pili d'ogni parte l'alma si rischiara.
Cosi nel ben vien a moltiplicarsi,
e cosi certa son che voi farete,
si come suol da ogni par vostro Farsi:
e colei certo offesa 0 non avete,
o se vinto da sdegno trascorreste,
l'error di voi non degno emenderete.
Ed io di cio vi prego in fin di queste.
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puts aside the weapons he drew in anger,
and he repents of his actions so much
that if he were able to cancel them out,
he'd return them undone to their prior state.
But since he can't put them behind him,
he redresses his wrongs with endearing manners
and, as much as he can, tries to undo them;
his beloved becomes twice as dear to him
when they make peace, and though once perturbed,
her soul, above all, turns serene again.
And so he increases greatly in goodness,
and so I am certain that you will behave
just as your peers are accustomed to do:
and either you have not truly offended her
or, if you transgressed, overcome by scorn,
you will amend the error unworthy of you.
And I end by entreating you to do this.
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IN LODE DI FUMANE, LUOGO DELL'ILLUSTRISSIMO
SIGNOR CONTE MARC' ANTONIO
DELLA TORRE,
PREPOSTO
DI VERONA
Non vorrei da l'un canto esser mai stata
a quel bel loco, per dover partire,
come fei, non ben quivi anco arrivata.
COSIgravoso il ben suol divenire,
che quant'egli e maggior, via maggior duolo
col dilungarsi in noi suol partorire:
tosto ne va '1 piacer trascorso a volo,
ne ponendo in ragion l'util passato,
a la perdita mesti attendem solo.
E non vorrei pero da l' altro lato
SI vago nido non aver veduto,
a la tranquillita soave e grato.
E se pari al desio non l'ho goduto,
quanto gustato pili, tanto pili caro,
illasciarlo mi fora dispiaciuto.
E pur, formando un pensier dolce amaro,
con la memoria a quei diletti torno,
che infiniti a me quivi si mostraro:
sempre davanti gli occhi ho '1 bel soggiorno,
da cui lontan col corpo, con la mente,
senza da me partirlo unqua, soggiorno;
ricrear tutta in me l' alma si sente,
mentre qua giu SI lieto paradise
da dover contemplar le sta presentee
Da questo 10mio spirto non diviso
va ripetendo Ie bellezze eterne,
dal soverchio piacer vinto e conquiso.
E mentre Ie delizie avido scerne,
nel gioir di se stesso, afflige i sensi,
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Capitolo
IN PRAISE OF FUMANE,
THE
COUNT MARCANTONIO
CANON
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VILLA BELONGING
DELLA TORRE,
TO
OF VERONA
On one hand, I'd prefer never to have been
in that beautiful place only to leave,
as I did, before I'd properly arrived.
How burdensome a good thing can become,
given that the greater it is, the more grief
is born in us when we must leave it behind:
the pleasure we enjoyed flies quickly away;
and giving no thought to past benefit,
we sadly remember only what we've lost.
And yet on the other hand I wouldn't want
not to have seen such a beautiful dwelling,
gracious and beloved to tranquillity.
And, though I have not enjoyed it to the full,
the more I had, the more I'd have cherished it,
and the more leaving it would have brought me regret.
Even so, forming a bittersweet thought,
I return in memory to the infinite delights
that were there revealed to me:
I have that fair site always before my eyes,
and though absent from it in body,
in my mind I still dwell there, never departing.
Within me my soul feels wholly reborn
when such a joyful heaven on earth
presents itself for her contemplation.
My spirit, never quitting this place,
recalls its endless beauties again and again,
vanquished and conquered by the highest pleasure.
And while my eager spirit perceives these delights,
in its own joy it brings pain to my senses,
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che non puon separati ancor goderne:
cosi, quando m'avien ch'amando pensi
a l' abitaiion vaga e gentile,
tra gioia e duol convien che '1 cor dispensi.
In questo piglio in man pronta 10stile;
e per gradir al sentimento, fingo
quelloco quanto possi al ver simile:
e se ben so ch'a impresa alta m'accingo,
tirata da la mia propria vaghezza,
senz'arte quel ch'io so disegno e pingo.
Oh che fiorita e feconda bellezza
quivi mostra e dispiega la natura,
raro altrove 0 non mai mostrarla avezza!
Certo e questa quell'unica fattura,
in cui, vinta se stessa, a tutte prove
ripose ogni sua industria, ogni sua cura.
Di tutto quel che piaccia al mondo e giove,
favorevole il cielo a cotal opra,
il maggior vanto eternamente piove.
Quivi '1 ciel manda il suo favor di sopra,
ne men la terra in adornar tal parte
con gli altri, a gara, elementi s'adopra,
Vince l'imaginar d'ogni umana arte
la disposizion di tutto '1 bene,
ch'unito quivi intorno si comparte:
e pur di quell' altezza, ove perviene
l' eccellenza de l' arte in cose belle,
vestigie espresse il belluogo ritiene.
Cosi determinarono Ie stelle
far quivi in dolci modi altrui palese
quanto puon destinar ed influir elle.
In questo avventuroso almo paese
l'ornamento del ciel si mostra in terra,
ch'a farlo un paradiso in lui discese.
Di lieti colli adorno cerchio serra
l'infinita belta del vago piano,
dove Flora e Pomona alberga ed erra.
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which, at this distance, can no longer enjoy them.
So when it happens that I lovingly think
about that longed for, kindly home,
my heart must be split between joy and sorrow.
In this state, I take up my pencil in ready hand
and to satisfy my longing, I depict
that place as truthfully as I can:
And though I know that I undertake a great task,
drawn onward by my own desire,
without art I paint and draw what I know.
Oh, what flowering and joyful beauty
nature there displays and unfolds,
which she rarely or never shows anywhere else!
Certainly this is the unique creation
into which, surpassing herself in every way,
she put all her effort and all her care.
Heaven, favoring such a work,
pours down unendingly the greatest fame
of containing every good and joy in the world.
Here heaven sends down its favor from above,
and earth makes no less an effort to compete,
adorning this place with her own elements.
The imagination in every human art
is excelled by the arrangement of all the good
that, gathered together, is shared out here:
and yet the beautiful place preserves
clear reminders of the height attained
by the great skill of art to make beautiful things.
This is the way the stars resolved here
through lovely means to show to men
how much they can shape and influence fate.
In this blessed, loving countryside
the ornaments of heaven appear on earth,
and descend to make it a paradise.
A circle adorned by joyful hills enfolds
the infinite beauty of the lovely plain,
where Flora and Pomona dwell and roam.'?
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37. Flora and Pomona were the Roman goddesses of spring and summer, and of the flowers
and fruits accompanying each season.
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Quasi per gradi su di mana in mana
di fuor s'ascende '1 poggio da Ie spalle,
sempre al salir piu facile e piu piano;
quinci in giu per soave e destro calle
s'arriva a la pianura in pochi passi,
ch'e posta in forma di rotonda valle:
se non che in guisa rilevata stassi,
ch'e quasi, entro a quei colli, un minor colle,
che 'ntorno a lor si dispiani e s'abbassi,
sf che d'entrarvi a Febo non si tolle,
poco alzatosi fuor de I'onente,
nel prato d'erbe rugiadoso e molle.
Entra '1 sol quanto entrar se gli consente
da un bosco d'alti pini e di cipressi,
pien d'ombre amiche al di lungo e fervente;
e gode di veder quivi con essi
de la sua amata in corpo umano fronde,
gia braccia e chiome, or verdi rami spessi,
tra' quai quanto pili penetra e s'asconde,
per la memoria, ch'anco entro '1 cor serba,
de l' amorose sue piaghe profonde.
De la ninfa la sorte cosi acerba
pietoso Apollo ai grati rami tira,
ed a quivi posar vago tra l' erba:
l'aria d'intorno ancor dolce sospira
di Dafne al caso, e spirto d'odor pieno,
Ie vaghe foglie ventilando, spira.
E '1 ciel, la pili ch'altrove mai sereno,
fa che d'ogni stagion la copia vuote
in que11aterra il corno suo ripieno.
Quivi con l'urne non mai stanche 0 vuote
a portar l' acque son Ie ninfe pronte,
tai che '1 cristal sf chiaro esser non puote:
queste versando van da pili d'un fonte
Ie succinte e Ieggiadre abitatrici
di questa e quel vicin ben colto monte;
ed a l' altre campagne cacciatrici,
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As if mounting a staircase, a step at a time,
approaching from behind, you climb the hill,
easier and less steep as you ascend.
Down from there by a smooth and gentle path
in a few steps you reach the plain,
which is set in the curve of a rounded valley,
but it stands at a certain height,
which makes it among these a lesser hill,
which flattens and levels out around them,
so that Phoebus is not kept from entering,
as soon as he has risen from the east,
the dewy and yielding meadow of grass.
The sun penetrates, as far as he's allowed,
a wood of lofty pine and cypress,
full of shadows welcome in the long, hot day,
and he delights in seeing, among the trees,
his beloved, once human, now a mass of leaves,
once arms and hair, now thick green branches,38
where he enters as deeply as he can and hides,
moved by the memory, still kept in his heart,
of the deep wounds caused in him by love.
The nymph's cruel fate draws Apollo,
pitiful, to her welcoming branches
and he rests tenderly upon the grass:
all around, the air sighs softly still
over Daphne's sad fate, and a scented breath
stirs, inhaling, the enchanted leaves.
And the sky, clearer than ever there,
makes the abundance of every season
pour its cornucopia over this land.
There in urns never tiring or empty
the nymphs swiftly carry water
so clear that crystal could not be clearer.
Pouring water from many fountains
go these light-footed dwellers, in high-waisted gowns,
in this and the next field-planted mountain;
and huntresses come to their companions,
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38.Phoebus Apollo's beloved, now composed of leaves and branches, is Daphne, a nymph
who was turned into a laurel tree as she fled from the god (Metamorphoses, 1.452 -567).
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che, dietro i cervi stanche, a rinfrescarsi
vanno Ie fronti angeliche beatrici,
co' bei Iiquidi argenti intorno sparsi
porgon dolce liquor da trar Ia sete,
e Ie candide membra da lavarsi.
Dai freschi rivi e da Ie fonti Iiete,
quasi scherzando, l'acque in vario corso
declinan verso '1 pian soavi e quete;
e poi che 'n lenta gara alquanto han corso,
per via diversa si raggiungon tutte
verso un bel prato, a lor dinanzi occorso;
e da natural arte a far instrutte
bello quel sito a maraviglia, vanno
per canali angustissimi ridutte.
Quivi entrate, a varcar poco spazio hanno,
ch'a un Fiorito amenissimo giardino
dolce tributo di se stesse danno:
con man distesa e passe tardo e chino
dan di se stesse Ie piu dolci e chiare
al giardinier ch' a l'uscio sta vicino.
Questi, corn'a lui piace, Ie fa entrare,
ch'obedienti a l'arte fan quel tanto
ch'altri accorto dispon che debban fare.
Non cede l'arte a la natura il vanto
ne l'artificio del giardin, ornato
d'alberi colti e di sempre verde manto;
sovra '1 qual porge, alquanto rilevato,
d'architettura un bel palagio tale,
qual fu di quel del Sol gia poetato:
infinito tesor ben questo vale
per l'edificio proprio, e gli ornamenti,
che 'n ricchezza e in belta non hanno eguale.
I fini marmi e i porfidi lucenti,
cornici, archi, colonne, intagli e fregi,
figure, prospettive, ori ed argenti,
quivi son di tal sorte e di tai pregi,
ch'a tal grado non giungono i palagi
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exhausted in the pursuit of deer,
to cool their angelic maidens' brows;
with lovely silver waters splashed around them,
they offer sweet liquids to quench their thirst
and to bathe their snow-white limbs.
From the cool banks and the laughing fountains,
the waters, as if in play, take different routes,
smooth and calm, down toward the plain;
and after they have run a slow race,
from their diverse paths they all join together,
toward a lovely field lying before them;
and taught by nature's art to make
this site marvelously beautiful,
they flow, bound in by narrowest canals.
Once arrived, traversing a short space,
they offer themselves in sweet tribute
to a blooming, pleasant garden:
with generous hands and slow, humble step
they give their sweetest and clearest waters
to the gardener, standing at the entrance.
He, as he pleases, lets them inside,
for, following art, they do whatever
a talented man designs for them to do.
Art does not yield to nature
the glory of the garden's artifice,
adorned with rare trees and a mantle ever green;
above it, placed on a slight rise,
architecture gives us the sight of a palace
as beautiful as the Sun's, sung in poets' verse.'?
This palace is worth an infinite treasure
for the building itself, and for its trim,
which has no equal in richness and beauty.
Fine marbles and polished porphyry,
cornices, arches, columns, carvings, and friezes,
figures, perspectives, gold and silver
are here of such quality and value
that they cannot be matched by the palaces built
39. Ovid describes the palace of Apollo, the Sun, in Metamorphoses, 2.1-18.
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che fer gli antichi imperadori e regi.
Ma Ie comrnodita di dentro e gli agi
son COS! molli, che gli altrui diletti
al par di questi sembrano disagi.
Per Ii celati d' or vaghi ricetti,
suI pavimento, che qual gemma splende,
stan sopra aurati pie candidi letti.
Di sopra da ciascun d'intorno pende
di varia seta e d'or porpora intesta,
che '1 contegno de' Ietti abbraccia e prende;
di coltre ricamata 0 d'altra vesta
di ricca tela ognun s' adorna e copre,
SI ch'a fornirlo ben nulla gli resta.
Di diversi disegni e diverse opre
su coverte e cortine in tutti i lati
vario e Iungo artificio si discopre.
I dei scender dal cielo innamorati
dietro Ie ninfe qui si veggon finti,
in diverse figure trasformati;
e d' amoroso affetto in vista tinti,
seguitar ansiosi il lor desio
dove dal caldo incendio son sospinti.
Qui trasformata in vacca si vede 10,
e cent'occhi serrar il suo custode,
al suon di queI, che poi l'uccise, dio.
Da l' altra parte Danae in sen si gode
vedersi piover Giove in nembo d'oro,
dov'altri pili Ia chiude e Ia custode;
il quale altrove, trasformato in toro,
porta Europa; ed altrove, aquila, piglia
Ganimede e '1 rapisce al sommo coro.
Di Licaon fatta orsa ancor la figlia,
mentre ucciderla il figlio ignota tenta,
assunta in cielo ad orsa s'assorniglia:
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by ancient emperors and kings.
But within, the furnishings and comforts
are so relaxing that other delights
seem discomforts compared to these.
In chambers lovely with golden hangings,
on a floor that shimmers like a gem,
white beds stand on golden feet.
Above and around each one hangs
a dark red tapestry of varied silk and gold,
which embraces and copies the shape of the bed;
with embroidered covers or other rich cloth
every bed is graced and laid,
so that nothing further remains to adorn it.
Through diverse designs and diverse forms
on covers and curtains on every side
varied and sustained artistry is revealed.
Here are depicted enamored gods
descending from heaven in pursuit of nymphs
transformed into diverse shapes;
and with faces colored by passionate love,
eager, they pursue their desires,
wherever they're driven by the hot fire.
Here is seen 10, turned into a cow,
and her guardian blinks his hundred eyes
at the sound of the god who later slew him.i''
In another place Danae delights, seeing Jove,
in a golden cloud, pour into her lap,
in the room where she's kept under lock and key."!
Elsewhere Jove, changed into a bull,
carries off Europa, and elsewhere, as an eagle,42
he grabs and lifts Ganymede up to heaven's choir.
And Lycaon's daughter, turned into a bear,43
while her son tries to kill her, not knowing who she is,
raised to the sky, still resembles a bear.
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40.10, loved by Jove, was changed through Juno's jealousy from a woman into a cow and given
Argus, a hundred-eyed monster later slain by Mercury, to watch over her (Metamorphoses,
1.583-721).
41. Metamorphoses, 4.610-1; 6.113; 11.116-7.
42.Europa, the daughter of the Phoenician king Agenor, was carried off by Jove to Crete,
'where she gave birth to Minos (Metamorphoses, 2.836-75; 3.1-25). Ganymede, a beautiful
boy, was snatched away by Jove and taken to Mount Olympus to be the cupbearer of the gods
(lvIetamorphoses, 10.155-161).
43. Lycaon's daughter, the nymph Callisto, was transformed into a bear by Juno out of
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ne pur orsa celeste ella diventa,
figurata di stelle in coral segno,
rna '1 figlio in ciel1' altr' orsa rappresenta.
Quante e passente il nostra umano ingegno,
che vive fa parer le case finte
per forza di calari e di disegno!
Di seta e d'oro e varie lane tinte,
nei tapeti ch'adornan quelle stanze,
da 1'imitar Ie cose vere en vinte.
E perche nulla a desiar avanze,
ch'orni di Giove un'alta regia degna,
dove, lasciato 'I ciel, qua giuso ei stanze,
qualunque ebbe tra noi la sacra insegna,
ch'a quei con Ie sue man Dio stesso porge,
che d'esscr suoi vicari in terra ei degna,
qualunque di pastor al grado sorge
de la chiesa divina, in espresso atto
nobilmente dipinto ivi si scorge:
quivi ciascun pontefice ritratto
pili che dal natural vivo si vede,
di tela, di colari e d'ombre fatto;
e com' a tanta maesta richiede,
da I'altre in parte eccelsa e separata
sf reverende imagini han lor sede.
Similmente, in maniera accomodata,
di quei l' effigie ancor son quivi, i quali
del ciel sostengon la felice entrata:
quanti mai fur nel mondo cardinali
quivi entro stan co' papi in compagnia,
e vescovi, e prelati altri assai tali.
Perche conforme al paradiso sia
quel1'alberga divino, in se ritiene
di gente i volti cosi santa e pia.
Di quel ch' al sacerdozio si conviene,
da l'essempio di molti espressi quivi,
in perfetta notizia si perviene:
questi, ancor morti, insegnar ponno ai vivi,
anzi in ciel vivon sf, che 'I loro nome
in terra sempre glorioso arrivi.
E perch'alcun io non distingua 0 nome,
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Nor has she become a celestial bear alone,
mapping out this figure in stars,
but the sky's other bear represents her son.
How powerful is our human invention,
which can bring depicted things to life
by means of color and design!
In the tapestries that adorn those rooms,
made of silk and gold and multicolored wool,
imitation surpasses things that really exist.
And so that nothing more should be desired
that could embellish a realm worthy of Jove,
where, having left heaven, he could stay here below,
whoever among us held the sacred sign
that God himself places in the hands
of those he deems worthy to be his vicars on earth,
whoever is rising to the level of pastor
of the divine church, in action suited to him
can be seen nobly painted there.
Here each pope can be seen portrayed,
more alive to the eye than he was while he lived,
of canvas, colors, and shading composed;
and, as such great majesty requires,
in a higher place distinguished from others
such reverend images have their seat.
Similarly, in a style that befits them,
there are also the portraits of those
who sustain the blessed entrance to heaven;
as many cardinals as ever existed in the world
are there, in the company of popes and bishops,
and many other churchmen like them.
So that this heavenly residence
may resemble paradise, it contains
the faces of people so saintly and pious.
From the many examples of men shown there
one can come to a perfect understanding
of what is fitting for the priesthood:
though dead, these men can still teach the livingindeed, they live in such a way in heaven
that their names will always be famous on earth.
And though some I cannot recognize or name,
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vengeance for her relationship with Jove; she was changed into the constellation Ursa Major,
and her son, Areas, into Ursa Minor (Metamorphoses, 2.409-507).
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di quelli intendo che furo innocenti,
e del demonio fer Ie forze dome.
Le costor fronti a mirar riverenti,
cosi pinte, ne fanno, e in noi pensieri
destano de le cose pili eccellenti:
seguendo l'orme lor, fan ch'altri speri,
che tien 10scettro de la casa vaga,
d'alzarsi al ciel per quei gradi primieri.
Questa de la sua vista ognuno appaga,
e sol de la memoria al cor m'imprime
colpi che 'nnaspran la gill fatta piaga.
Di que' be' colli a Ie frondute cime
alzo '1 pensier, che, dal duol vinto e stanco,
fa che gli occhi piangendo a terra adime.
Standomi suI verron del marmo bianco,
dove '1 palagio alzato agguaglia il monte,
ricreata posava il braccio e '1 fianco:
qui piagner Filomena Ie triste onte
con la sorella sua dolce sentia,
da lor non cosi chiare altrove conte:
da Ie fontane ad ascoltar venia
questo e quel ruscelletto, e mormorando
quasi con lor piangeva in compagnia.
Ben poscia a quel tenor dolce cantando
givan gli augelli per Ii verdi rami,
del Ioro amor Ie passion mostrando.
Oh che liete querele, oh che richiami
formavan contra '1 cieI, sf come suole
chi, benche ridamato, altrui forte ami!
Con voce pili che d'umane parole
par che sappian parlar quelli augelletti,
sf ch'ad udirli ancor fermano il sole.
Talor narrano poi gli alti diletti,
che spesso dagli amati abbracciamenti
prendon, de le lor vaghe al fianco stretti.
Di gran dolcezza il cielo e gli elementi,
per tal piacere e per molti altri assai,
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Rima
I know that they were pure of spirit,
and that they defeated the devil's power.
Thus portrayed, their brows inspire us
to admire them reverently and awaken in us
thoughts of the most lofty things:
they make the man who holds the scepter
of this gracious house hope, by following them,
to rise to heaven by the steps they have taken.
The sight of this villa delights all who see it,
and its memory alone strikes blows to my heart,
which increase the pain of my previous wound.
To those beautiful hills with their leafy treetops,
I lift my thought, conquered and worn by grief,
which forces my weeping eyes to look down.
Lingering on the white marble balcony,
where the high -set palace is level with the hill,
resting, I used to lean on my arm and side.
Here I heard Philomela with her sweet sisterf
lament, recounting her sorrowful shames,
rnore audible here than anywhere else;
from the fountains this and that little brook
came to listen, and, murmuring,
seemed to accompany them in their weeping.
Soon after, singing in high, sweet harmony,
the birds fluttered in the green branches,
revealing the power of their love.
Oh, what happy complaints, oh, what laments
they addressed to heaven, as does the person
who, loved by one, strongly loves another!
These little birds seem able to speak words
in a voice more than human, so that they could
stop even the sun, hearing them, in its course.
Sometimes they tell of the great delight
they often take in loving embraces,
tightly bound to the sides of those they love.
With great sweetness, in serenity and calm,
the sky and the elements there rejoice,
44. Philomela is the nightingale, Procne the swallow. See the note to Capuolo 3, line 25.
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quivi gioiscon placidi e contenti;
e rischiarando ognor piu Febo i rai,
la fiorita stagion vago rimena
di molti, non che d'un, perpetui maio
D' arabi odor la terra e l' aria piena,
1'una piu sempre si rinverde e infiora,
l'altra ognor piu si tempra e rasserena.
Oh che grata e dolcissima dimora,
dove quanta di vago ognor piu miri,
tanto piu da veder ti resta ancora!
Dovunque altri la vista a mirar giri,
ne la belta veduta oggetto trova,
che piu intente a guardar Ie luci tiri;
e nondimen, perch'ognor cosa nova
d'intorno appar, che 1'animo desvia,
ad altra parte vien ch'indi Ie mova.
La bellezza del sito, alma, natia,
gli occhi fuor del palazzo a veder piega
quanta ivi ricca la natura sia;
rna poi di dentro tal lavor dispiega
1'arte, che la natura agguaglia e passa,
ch'ivi 1'occhio, a mirar volto, s'impiega;
e mentre da un oggetto a l' altro passa,
1'un non gustato ben, da nove brame
tirato, impaiiente il preso lassa.
Cosi non trae, rna piu cresce la fame
d'assai vivande un prodigo convito,
che de 1'una al pigliar l'altra si brame:
cosi ne la virtu de l'infinito,
senza mai saziarne, ci stanchiamo,
s'al sommo bene e '1 pensier nostro unito.
Questa insazieta grande proviamo
espressamente, allor che l'intelletto
divin, filosofando, contempliamo.
Lascia sempre di se piu caldo affetto,
ne 1'affannata mente, il ver supremo,
ond'ha perfezzlon 1'uom da 1'oggetto;
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delighting in this pleasure and many others more;
and Phoebus, always brightening his rays,
handsome, brings back the flowery season
of not merely one but many endless Mays.
The earth and air are full of exotic scents,
one constantly renews her greenery and blossom,
the other becomes ever more temperate and clear.
Oh, what a gracious and lovely home,
where the more you gaze with a roving eye,
the more remains for you to see!
Wherever one turns to admire the view,
in the beauty seen an object is found
that draws the eyes to look more closely;
and yet, even though something new appears
at every moment and leads the soul one way,
the eyes are soon drawn to another place.
The gentle, native beauty of the site
leads the eyes outside the palace to see
how rich nature is in these surroundings;
but then, inside, art displays such skill
that it equals and outdoes nature,
so that the eye, drawn to wonder, rests here;
and, while it moves from one object to another,
without completely enjoying the first, drawn
by new desires, impatient, it leaves what it's seen.
So a prodigious banquet of foods
does not dispel but increases hunger,
so that one dish is longed for while another is eaten:
so, though never satisfied entirely,
we find repose in the power of the infinite,
if our thought is united with the highest good.
We feel this great lack of satisfaction
for a particular reason: that, by philosophizing,
we may contemplate the divine intellect.
Divine truth leaves in the struggling mind
an ever stronger love for itself,
through which man draws perfection from physical things,
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benche l'affanno e tal, ch'ognor piu scemo
del mortal fango il nostro spirto face,
e d'ir al ciel gli da penne a l'estremo.
Felice affanno, che ristora e piace
ne l'unir di quest'anima a quel vero,
che gli umani desir pon tutti in pace:
a quel che del suo eccelso magistero
rnostro grand'arte in queste alme contrade,
feconde del piacer celeste intiero.
Qui di la su tal grazia e favor cade,
ch'abonda al compartirsi in copia molta
la gioia in ogni parte e la beltade:
sf che mentre ad un lato ancor sol volta
gode la vista, in quel piu sempre scorge
nova maniera di vaghezza accolta,
ne de l'una ben tosto ancor s'accorge,
che s'offre l' altra e, quasi pur mo' nata,
meraviglia e diletto insieme porge.
Del giardin vago e la sembianza grata,
e mentre in lui la maniera risguardi
d'ogni parte ben c6lta eben piantata,
lepri e conigli andar pronti e gagliardi
nel corso vedi; e mentre che t'incresce
d' esserti di tal vista accorto tardi,
ecco ch' altronde an cor vaga schiera esce
di cervi e capri e dame e d'altri tali,
onde la maraviglia e '1 piacer cresce.
Ma poi tra quelle schiere d'animali
scopri distinto del giardino il piano
d' acque in angusti e limpidi canali,
e splender su per l' onde di lontano
vedi i pesci guizzando, che d'argento
sembra che nuotin d'una e d'altra mano.
E mentre I' occhio a vagheggiar e intento
il piacer vario del fiorito suolo,
pili sempre di mirar vago e contento,
di questo ramo in quel cantando a volo
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though the struggle is such that at every moment
it frees our spirit further from earthly mire,
and gives it wings, at last, to fly to heaven.
Blessed struggle, which rests and delights
in the union of this soul to that truth
that brings peace to all human desires:
that truth that, through its lofty power,
revealed its great art in these gentle lands,
fertile in all the delight of heaven.
Here from on high fall such grace and favor
that in great and abundant supply
joy and beauty are shared out everywhere;
so that while vision finds delight turned
in one direction, in some other one
it discovers another sort of beauty,
and no sooner has this beauty been perceived
than the other comes into view, and, as if
newborn, mixes wonder with delight.
The lovely garden's appearance gives pleasure,
and as you admire the elegance there
of every well-kept and neatly planted part,
you see hares and rabbits, darting swiftly and boldly;
and while you regret that such a scene
did not sooner catch your eye,
now from another side come forth
roaming herds of deer, goats, buck, and other game,
'which increase your wonder and delight.
But then among these animals in herds
you see, set apart from the garden,
the water meadow with narrow, clear canals,
and you see, in the far-off waves, the shimmer
of darting fish, which seem to be silver
as they swim from side to side.
And while the eye is intent on enjoying
the varied delights of the flowering ground,
ever more eager and contented to look,
from this branch to that, singing as they fly,
Rima
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gir vede copia d' augelletti snelli,
quai molti insieme, equal vagando solo.
Quinci s' accorge che di fior novelli
e frutti antichi son quei rami carchi,
non pur di nidi d'infiniti augelli.
Senza che '1 guardo quinci e quindi varchi,
l'incontran d'ogni parte i piacer tutti,
in quest' officio non mai stanchi 0 parchi.
E se nel giardin visti in un ridutti
fiere, augei, pesci, rivi, arbori e foglie,
fior sempre novi, e d'ogni stagion frutti,
a mirar in disparte altri s'accoglie,
e come nel guardar talvolta occorre,
da la pianura a l' alto a mirar toglie,
ne la belta de' vaghi colli incorre,
ch' a la vista, che s' alza, umili e piani
lietamente si vengono ad opporre.
Questi, dal bel palazzo non lontani,
sembra che per raccorlo in mezzo '1 seno
si stringan verso lui d' ambe Ie mani;
e 'ntanto spiegan tutto aperto e pieno
il grembo lor di dolcezze infinite,
che la vista bear possono a pieno.
Le pecorelle, a pascer l'erbe uscite,
biancheggian per Ii poggi, a cansar lievi,
per poco d'ombra timide e smarrite;
di questi monti son queste Ie nevi:
che quindi '1 verno standosi ognor lunge
non vien giamai che '1 bel terreno aggrevi.
Quindi letizia e rnolto utile giunge
de Ie gregge bianchissime ai signori,
di quel che se ne tonde, e uccide, e munge.
Sparsi per l'ombre, siedono i pastori,
e Ie canne dispari a sonar posti,
cantan de' Ioro boscarecci amori;
e se i greggi talvolta erran discosti,
col fischio il caprar sorto gli richiama,
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many tiny, nimble birds are seen,
many in a group, one wandering alone.
There one notices that these branches are laden
with new blossoms and ripened fruit,
not only with countless nests of birds.
No need for the gaze to cross back and forth,
for pleasures come on their own to meet it
from every path, never worn out or meager.
And if in the garden are seen, grouped together,
wild beasts, fish, riverbanks, trees, and leaves,
flowers always blooming and fruits of every season,
to look far away attracts someone else,
and when, as sometimes happens when looking,
the gaze shifts up from low to higher places,
it encounters the beauty of these graceful hills,
which, low and smooth, as sight moves upward,
joyfully come to present a contrast.
They appear, not far from the noble house,
to reach out both their hands toward it
in order to gather it to their breast;
meanwhile they spread their lap
wide open, filled with innumerable delights,
to give full pleasure to the gaze.
Lambs let out to graze in the pastures
whiten the hills, glad to wander afar,
but timid and misled by even a small shadow;
they are the snows upon these hills,
so even though winter here lasts a long time,
it never weighs down the lovely landscape.
Here joy meets great usefulness
in the pure white flocks' benefit to the men
who shear and slaughter and feed upon them.
The shepherds sit scattered in shady spots
and, intent on playing their uneven pipes,
they sing about their sylvan loves.
And if the flocks sometimes roam in the distance,
the goatherd stands and whistles to call them back,
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361
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Veronica
Franco
poi torna de la musa ai suoi proposti.
Talor la pastorella ivi, ch'egli ama,
de la fistola al suon mossa ne viene,
in modo che di lui cresce la brama:
fisse Ie luci avidamente ei tiene
ne Ie braccia e nel sen nudi, e nel viso,
e d'abbracciarla a pena si ritiene.
Ma poi quindi a guardar l' occhio diviso
tira 1'udito suon d'un corno roco,
quando piu in quei pastori egli era fiso;
ed ecco, da color lontano un poco,
cani co' cacciator disposti in caccia,
ciascuno intento al suo ufficio e '1 suo loco.
Per folti arbusti un can quivi si caccia,
e per terra latrando un altro fiuta,
e de l' orme seguendo va la traccia,
e tanto corre in fretta e 'lluogo muta,
che d'una macchia fuor la lepre salta:
il bracco geme e in seguirla s'aiuta;
grid an Ie genti, e intorno ognun l' assalta:
chi Ie spinge da tergo il veltro in fretta,
qual corre a la via bassa, e quale a l' alta.
E mentre qua e la ciascun s'affretta,
il tuo sguardo, ch'a lor dietro s'aggira,
s'incontra in piacer novo che '1 diletta:
pero ch'altrove d'improviso mira
gente ch'al visco ed a Ie reti stese
schiera d' augelli accortamente tira.
In queste e quelle insidie non comprese
di quei c'han maggior prezzo a Ie gran mense
vengon tutte Ie sorti in copia prese.
A chi stender piu franco il volo pense,
piu facilmente incontra d'esser colto
ne Ie non viste reti, ancor che dense.
Ma '1 tuo sguardo, che va d'intorno sciolto
da questa novita de 1'uccel1are,
vien da un a1tro piacer piu novo tolto:
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Poems
in Terza
and then returns his attention to the muse.
Sometimes the shepherdess he loves arrives,
attracted by the sound of his panpipe,
in a way that increases his desire:
he keeps his eyes fixed avidly
on her arms and bare breast and beautiful face,
and he can barely refrain from embracing her.
But then the sound of a raucous horn
distracts the shepherd's eye the more,
the more it was absorbed in looking;
and look! at a little distance away
hounds and hunters arranged for the chase,
each intent on his task and position.
Through thick bushes a dog runs here in pursuit,
and on the ground, barking, he sniffs out new prey,
and following its footsteps, tracks it down,
and he runs so fast and covers so much ground
that the hare leaps straight out of a bush:
the hound gives a howl and strains to catch it;
the people shout and each one attacks it;
one man drives the greyhound speeding on its tail,
one takes the low path, another the high one.
And while each man rushes here and there,
your gaze, which follows close behind them,
meets with new pleasures that delight it:
but then in another place it suddenly sees
people using birdlime and outstretched nets
skillfully catching flocks of birds.
Into this and that unsuspected trap
come all species of birds, caught in abundance,
of the kind most valued at great feasts.
For those birds that try to fly free,
it is all the easier to be caught
in nets, which though thick, they do not see.
But your gaze, moving freely about,
drawn from this novelty of catching birds,
shifts, attracted to a newer delight;
Rima
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382
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394
397
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274
Veronica
Franco
perche dinanzi ad abbagliarlo appare
del sol un raggio, il qual mandan reflesso
l'acque d'un fonte cristalline e chiare.
E l'occhio, alquanto chiusosi in se stesso,
dopo quel vacillar s'apre, e ritorna
a guardar quivi dentro l'ombra presso;
e di smeraldi in fresca riva adorna,
di liquido cristal sopra un ruscello,
vede ch'altri a pescar lento soggiorna:
l'amo innescato tien sospeso in quello,
e con la canna in man fermato attende
che '1 pesce cada al morso acuto e fello.
Altri con reti in varia guisa il prende,
e con pie nudi da la sponda sceso,
frugando per Ie buche illaccio stende:
si Iancia e scuote il pesce vivo e preso,
ne cessa di saltar per fin che more,
tratto del fonte in un pratel disteso.
Vince di questo il soave sapore
quel di quant'altro mai stagno 0 palude
alberghi, 0 fondo salso 0 dolce umore.
Nulla di quel che in se beato chiude
un terren paradiso, un ciel terrestre,
dal paese amenissimo s'esclude.
Di semicapri dei turba silvestre
il fertile terren pianta e coltiva,
sotto influsso di stelle amiche e destre;
e quella che del capo al padre viva
uscio, de' boschi e de Ie cacce dea,
di questi monti ha in custodia l' oliva.
Quel che vivo nel ventre infante avea
la madre allor che '1 consiglio l'estinse
di Giunon fella, a lei contraria e rea,
che Giove tolto al proprio lato il cinse,
ne fin che nove mesi fur finiti,
dai fianco, onde '1 nudriva, unqua il discinse,
qui gli oimi guarda, e Ie ben colte viti;
400
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Poems
zn Terza
for a ray of sun appears before it
to dazzle it, reflected from
a fountain's crystalline, bright waters.
And the eye, for a moment closed in on itself,
after this shift opens and returns
to look deep into the shadow nearby;
and on a cool bank adorned with emeralds
above a stream of liquid crystal,
it sees a man slowly passing time fishing:
he suspends the baited hook in the stream,
and with the pole held firmly in his hand,
waits to catch the fish with his sharp, fierce hook.
Another man nets fish in various ways,
and, having climbed barefoot down from the bank,
stretches out the trap, testing it for tears:
the fish, caught but still living, leap and turn,
and keep on jumping until they die,
taken from the water and laid out in the meadow.
This catch surpasses in delicate flavor
fish that dwell in any pool or marsh,
on a salty bottom or in fresh water.
Nothing of what an earthly paradise,
a terrestrial heaven, blessedly contains,
is lacking from this most delightful land.
A sylvan band, half gods, half men,45
plant and cultivate the fertile soil,
under the influence of fond and lucky stars:
and she who sprang full-grown from her father's head,
the goddess of woods and of the hunt,46
protects the olive tree among these hills.
The god whom his mother bore as an infant.t?
alive in her womb when she was killed
through fierce J uno's jealous and cruel advice,
whom Jove bound into his own side,
and did not, until nine months had passed,
unloose from his nurturing thigh,
here oversees the elms and the well-tended vines,
Rima
400
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406
409
412
415
418
421
424
427
430
433
436
45. These are satyrs, demigods half men, half goats, said to live in ancient woods.
46.Athena,
the Roman Minerva, was said to have been born from the head of her father, Zeus.
But Franco may mean Diana, the goddess of the hunt.
47. Bacchus (the Greek Dionysus) was the son of Semele by Zeus. Juno advised Semele to ask
Jove to appear to her in full godly glory, which he granted, so dazzling her that she died. Jove
then carried his son in his thigh until he was ready to be born (Metamorphoses, 3.312).
275
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Veronica
Franco
Ie biade di Proserpina la madre,
Vertunno e Flora gli arbori graditi.
Mille, seese dal cieI, benigne squadre
d' eletti spirti infiorano il bel nido,
e '1 guardan da Ie cose infeste ed adre.
Dolce de' miei pensieri albergo fido,
pien d'aranci e di cedri, e lieto in guisa
che vince ogni concetto, ogni uman grido,
resta Ia mente mia vinta e conquisa,
che '1 ben in te con larga mana infuso
dal celeste Motor forma e divisa;
e come tu sei bel fuor d'uman uso,
cosi ne l' opra de 1'imaginarti
riman l'ingegno inutile e confuso;
e se vaga pur vengo di lodarti,
come confusa son dentro, confondo
de Ie tue Iodi l' ordine e Ie parti.
Ben quanto in questo assai mal corrispondo,
tanto ne la prontezza del desire
con grata rispondenza sovrabondo.
Vorrei, rna in parte non so alcuna, dire
Ie Iodi del signor che ti possiede,
ne stil uman poria tant'alto gire.
Com'ogni loco e cielo, ove Dio siede,
rna poi nel ciel, ch'e adorno a maraviglia,
espressarnente ferma la sua sede,
cosi gran lode ogni soggiorno piglia
da quel signor, dovunque mai perviene,
che regge 'I rnio voler con Ie sue ciglia;
rna pur il seggio suo proprio ei ritiene
in voi, percio sornmamente beate,
contrade soavissime ed amene:
per lui tante belta vi furon date,
e senza lui de' vostri pregi intieri
sareste senza dubbio alcun private.
Gitene, colli, assai per questo alteri,
ch'avete grazia di servir a lui,
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450
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460
465
470
Poems
in Terza
Rima
these the harvest of Proserpina's mother."
those the trees dear to Vertumnus and Flora.t?
A thousand kind squadrons of chosen spirits,
descended from heaven, deck the fair nest with flowers
and protect it against hostile and threatening things.
Sweet and faithful shelter for my thoughts,
full of orange trees and cedars, and joyous
in a way that exceeds all human grasp and fame,
my mind remains overwhelmed and stunned,
for it recalls the good poured into you
with a generous hand by the celestial Mover;
and since your beauty exceeds any human norm,
so in the effort of imagining you,
the intellect remains inept and confused;
and if, in my longing, I try to praise you,
because I'm confused within, I confuse
the order and the elements of your praise.
As badly as my words match my will in this,
I abound as far in eager desire
to write with a grace that measures up to you.
I would like, although I hardly know how,
to speak in praise of the lord who owns you,
but no human style can rise so high.
Just as any place where God resides is heaven,
yet in heaven, which is marvelously adorned,
he deliberately establishes his seat,
so every spot acquires great praise
from this lord, wherever he may go,
who rules my will with a blink of his eyes.
And yet he maintains his true seat here
in you, so that you are most highly blessed,
most serene and agreeable countryside:
by him you were granted so much beauty
that without him, you would doubtless be
deprived of everything that gives you value.
Go forth, hills, most proud on this accountthat you enjoy the favor of serving a man
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448
451
454
457
460
463
466
469
472
48. Proserpina was the daughter of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agricultural fertility.
49. Vertumnus was the god of autumn and late-season fruits, Flora the goddess of spring.
277
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Veronica
Franco
degno di mille mitre emilIe imperio
Quest'e il buon vostro regnator, per cui
vincon Ie vostre inusitate forme
tutto '1 diletto de' paesi altrui.
Per farsi incontra a Ie sue gentili orme
crescon l'erbette e i fior, ch'al suo toccarli
vien che nova belta gli orni e riforme;
e l'onorate man presta a lavarli
dentro la stanza l' acqua dolce arriva,
e dietro vaga ognor par brame andarli.
Da questa una fontana si deriva,
che d'ogn'intorno puro argento stilla
da vena di cristal corrente e viva.
Dentro '1 terren fecondo il cielo instilla
virtu che fa produr soavi frutti,
e l' aria salutifera e tranquilla:
il piacer sommo e '1 vero fin di tutti
e che '1 signor gli goda e gli divida,
ch' ad arbitrio di lui furon produtti.
Qualunque in verde ramo augel s'annida,
a lui canta, a lui vive, e s' a lui piace,
lieto sostien ancor ch' altri l' uccida;
qualunque in monte 0 in piano animal giace,
selvaggio errante, liberale dono
di se stesso a costui contento face;
e Ie mandre, che quivi in copia sono,
e tutto quel che la terra produce,
son di lui molto piu ch'io non ragiono.
Qui la natura carca si riduce,
per dar del suo tesoro a lui tributo,
che da l'Indo e '1 Sabeo quivi traduce:
non fosse questo ben da lui goduto,
certo e che in tanta copia mai dal cielo
non fora ad alcun altro pervenuto.
A costui cede il gran signor di Delo,
pill del suo chiaro, del valor illume,
cui nube non offusca od altro velo;
475
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495
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Poems
in Terza
worth a thousand miters and a thousand kingdoms.
This is your good ruler, through whom
your extraordinary beauties excel
everything that gives delight in other lands.
To encounter his noble footsteps,
the little grasses and flowers grow high,
for at his touch new beauty adorns and renews them;
and, ready to wash his honored hands,
fresh water enters his room and seems
always to long to follow close behind him.
From this water a fountain is formed,
which pours forth pure silver everywhere
from a fast-running, fresh stream of crystal.
Into the fertile land heaven instills
a power that brings forth sweet fruit
and makes the air healthful and serene;
the supreme joy and true goal of all these things
is that their lord enjoys and shares them out,
for they were produced according to his will.
Whatever bird nests in a green bough
sings to him, lives for him, and, if it pleases him,
it remains happy even if a man kills it;
whatever creature dwells on the hill or in the plain,
wandering in the wild, freely offers itself
as a gift to him, content to do so;
and the herds, which are so numerous there,
and everything that the earth brings forth
belong to him more than I can say.
Here, heavy with riches, nature lightens her load
in order to add tribute to his treasure,
which arrives here from the Indus and Sheba;50
if all this wealth did not bring him pleasure,
certainly such abundance never before
would have come from heaven for any other man.
To this man the great lord of Delos>!
gives not only the brightness but the power of his light,
which no cloud or other veil obscures;
Rima
475
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487
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496
499
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508
50.The Indus is a river in India, Sheba a southern region of Arabia. Both countries were
famous for their wealth of natural resources.
51. The god of the island Delos is Apollo.
279
280
Veronica
Franco
e di dolce eloquenzia il puro fiume
a lui dona di Giove il fedel messo,
ch'al cappello ed ai pie porta Ie piume.
A questo, a cui comandar e concesso
agli elementi che in quel suo soggiorno
oprano quanto e pili gradito ad esso,
and ai, dal gran desio tirata, un giorno:
non per error di via, ne ch'io passassi
quindi avante d'altronde al mio ritorno;
rna d' Adria mossi a quest' effetto i passi,
ne interromper giamai volsi il vlaggio,
perch'a l'andar via pessima trovassi.
Di questo mio signor cortese e saggio,
nel sentier aspro, mi fu grata scorta
de la virtute il sempiterno raggio:
da COS1 chiaro e dolce lume scorta,
la strada, ch'al desio lunga sembrava,
al disagio parea commoda e corta.
La difficolta grande superava
d' ogni altra cosa sol con la speranza,
che di veder uom S1 gentil portava.
Alfin pur giunsi a la bramata stanza,
ne potrei giamai dir S1 com'io fossi
raccolta con gratissima sembianza.
A S1 dolce spettacolo rimossi
tutti i miei gravi e torbidi pensieri,
che venner meco, allor che d' Adria mossi,
e tra mille gratissimi piaceri,
ristoro presi e mi riconfortai,
qual fa chi '1 suo ben gode e '1 meglio speri.
Ma poco al mio talento mi fermai
alloco da me dianzi raccontato,
di cui pili bello non si vide mai,
ne con pili vago e splendido apparato
di vasi, e di famiglia bene instrutta,
che pronta al signor serve d'ogni lato,
e intorno a lui con ordine ridutta,
515
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Poems
in Terza
and the pure river of sweet eloquence
is given him by the faithful messenger of Jove,52
who wears feathered wings at his head and his feet.
To him, who has been given command
over the elements, which, on his estate,
perform as much as he requires,
I went one day, drawn by strong desire,
not because I took the wrong road
or once passed by, returning from elsewhere;
I left Adria precisely for this purpose,
and I refused to interrupt my journey
just because the road that led there was so bad.
On the rough path I was kindly accompanied
by the eternally shining beacon
of the virtue of my wise and courteous lord:
and, escorted by that bright, sweet light,
the road, which seemed so long to my desire,
to my discomfort appeared smooth and short.
Obstacles of every other kind
were overcome only through my hope
of seeing such a noble man.
Yet at last I reached the place I longed for,
and I will never be able to describe
with what a gracious manner I was received.
At such a welcome sight, I shed
all the grave and troubled thoughts
that came with me when I left Adria;
and amid a thousand delightful pleasures
I was comforted and restored,
as one enjoys bounty and hopes for the best.
But I stayed a short time, compared to my wish,
in the place that I have just described,
more beautiful than anyone has ever seen,
and a fairer and more splendid display of wares
and a household of well-trained servants,
ready to wait on their lord from all sides,
and around him, lined up in good order,
52.Mercury
speech.
Rima
511
514
517
520
523
526
529
532
535
538
541
544
547
(the Greek Hermes), Jove's messenger, was associated with eloquent human
281
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Veronica
Franco
di varia eta, di vario pelo mista,
vestita a un modo, eorrisponde tutta.
Questa tra l' altre e aneor nobile vista,
veder d'intorno a se ben divisata
d' onesta gente vaga e doppia Iista.
Dunque, de Ie Fumane uniea, amata
terra, ov' albergan Ie delizie, quante
ogni stanza real pori far beata,
eedano Baie, e Pozzuol non si vante,
ch'unite in Ioro han Ie vaghe Fumane
Ie grazie di la suso tutte quante.
Cose tutte eeeellenti e sopraumane,
dolei a la vista, al gusto, e gli altri sensi,
Ie piagge han grate agli oeehi, al varear piane.
E pereh'alloeo internamente io pensi,
quanto pili di lui parlo, e maneo iliodo,
e i miei desir di lui si fan pili intensi.
Volando col pensier, Ia lingua annodo.
550
555
560
565
Poems
of various ages and shades of hair
yet, dressed alike, they obey him as one.
This among others is another noble sight,
to have before one's eyes, in handsome livery,
a double row of honest, good-looking folk.
So, unique and beloved land of Fumane,
where enough delights abide to make
every royal seat a place of bliss,
let Baia and Pozzuoli cease to boast,53
for lovely Fumane contains within
all the heavenly graces attributed to them.
Excellent, superhuman even, sweet
to the eyes, to the taste, and all the other senses,
the hills are lovely to look at and easy to climb.
And because I think, deep inside, of that place,
the more I speak of it, the less I praise it,
and my desires for it grow more intense.
Flying in thought, I tie my tongue into a knot.
53.Baia and
in Terza
Rima
550
553
556
559
562
565
Pozzuoli were Neapolitan villas praised in the poetry of Luigi Tansillo (Favretti,
"Rime," 371).
283
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INDEX
Accaiuoli, Andrea, xxii
Adam; degree of responsibility for
the Fall, xiii, xxiv; implications of
creation prior to Eve, xiii; in
querelle des femmes, xx
Adria, 73 n l l , 119, 121, 123, 127,
213,227-31,281
Agrippa, Henricus Cornelius,
xx-xxi; 20 n24;On the Nobility
and Preeminence of the Female
Sex, xx
Alberti, Leon Battista, On the
Fam ily , xix-xx
Alcmena, 151 n23
Amazons, xxiv. See also women, and
warfare
ancient Greece, artists in, 35-37
ancient Rome, elegy in, 6, 7-8; legal
position of women in, xi-xiii;
views of women in, 8
Ann, Princess of Denmark, xxii
Anne of Brittany, Queen of France,
XXll
anthologies, collected by Franco, 5,
21
Apelles,35
Apollo, 14,53 n3, 55, 59,63,69,75,
257,259
Aragona, Tullia d', 5, 13
Aretino, Pietro, 8, 11; Dialogues)
12-13
Aristotle: views on women, x-xi
artis ts, 35- 37
Astell, Mary, xxiii, xxv; Serious
Proposal to the Ladies for the
Advancement of Their True and
Greatest Interest) xxii
Athena, 121 n22, 273
Atticus, Cicero's letters to, 10, 32
Augustine, Saint, xiv
Baballi, Jacomo di, 4
Barbaro, Francesco, On Marriage,
xix-xx, xxiv
battles: courage in, 34; as erotic contact, 7,17,75,135-37,139;
as literary contest, 161, 167, 171; dueling, 133, 143, 165, 233, 239;
jousting, 163, 171
Beccari, G., 22
Bembo, Pietro, 6-7,9
Bergalli, Luisa, 22
Berni, Francesco, 7
Bianchi, Stefano, 22
Boccaccio, Giovanni, xxii;
Decameron, 19
Bodin, Jean, xxi
Bruni, Leonardo, xxv
Buonagiunta da Lucca, 203 n30
Calmo, Andrea, 9
capito 10)181; form, 7-8, 9; by men,
13-14; by Franco, 5-6,7-8,
13-21,22
295
296
Index
Capra, Galeazzo Flavio, On the Excellence and Dignity of Women, xx
Caro, Annibale, 9
Casa delle Zitelle) 5, 12, 38
Castalians (Muses), 57 n5
Castiglione, Baldassare, Book of the
Courtier; and querelle des femmes,
XIX-XX
Catalogue of All the Principal and
most Honored Courtesans of
Venice) 2
Catherine de' Medici, xxiv
Catherine of Aragon, wife of Henry
VIII, xxii
Catullus,7
Cereta, Laura, xxii
charities, for women, 3-5, 11-12
childbirth, 32-33
chivalry, 19-21,34
Cicero, 8, 10, 32
cittadini originari, 2
city-state, personification of, 11
Col, Gontier, and the querelle des
femmes, xix
Commedia (Dante). See Dante
Alighieri
confraternities, 2, 3
Conuertite, 5
Corinna, 8, 20
Coriolanus, 20 n24
cortigiana onesta, 1, 3
courtesans, 2-3, 12-13,245; mothers
of, 3, 4,11-12,37-40;
physical
dangers to, 12, 19, 39; qualifications for, 1, 12-13,39; Roman
poets' view of, 8; stereotypes of,
10-11; words for, 2-3. See also
prostitutes
courtiers, 12-13
creation myth, xiii. See also Adam,
Eve
Croce, Benedetto, 22
Cynthia, 8
Cypris (Venus), 59 n7
Cytherea (Venus), 97 n3
Danae, 185 n30, 261
Dante Alighieri, Commedia, 7, 13, 53
n2, 67 n9, 89 n15, 203 n33
Daphne, 257 n38
debates, poetic. See duels, literary;
tenzonc
Decameron (Bocaccio), 19
Delios (Apollo), 59 n7, 69,279
dialogue, capitola as, 13
Dialogues (Pietro Aretino), 12-13
Dido, 7
dinner, invitation to, 10, 32
Dis, 89 n16
dowries, 3--4
dress, 38
duels, literary, 7,17-18,45,161,167,
171
d'Este, Luigi, Cardinal of Ferrara,
xxii, 10,23-24
Echo, 73 n12, 213
education, of women, 5
Eleanora of Aragon, wife of Ercole I
d'Este, duke of Ferrara, xxii
elegy, 7-8, 13-14, 19,73
Elizabeth I, queen of England, xxiv
Elyot, Sir Thomas, Defence of Good
Women, xxiv
epistolary styles, 8-9, 10
Epistulae ex Ponto (Ovid), 7
Equicola, Mario, On Women, xx,
xxii
Erasmus, xx
Essays on the Common Language
(Bembo), 6-7
Europa, 261 n42
Eve: 20; degree of responsibility for
Fall, xiii, xxiv; implications of creation subsequent to Adam, xiii; in
querelle des femmes, xx
exempla: of women famed for learning or virtue, xviii-xix
exile, 7-8, 13, 19
fa coltd) 13
familiar letters, 8-9
Familiar Letters to Various People) 4,
6,9-13,22
Index
fate, 28-29, 30, 79, 93,109,123,137,
159,199,229,255
Fedele, Cassandra, xxi-xxii
female voice, 7-8
Flora, 255 n37, 277 n40
Fonte, Moderata [Modesta da
Pozzo], xxiii, 1,5, 18, 20-22
Fortune, 79,93, 103, 105, 123,241
Fracassa, Paola, 2
Franca, as name, 24 nl, 50, 73 nl0,
98, 196-97
Franco, Francesco, 2
Franco, Veronica: absences from
Venice, 4, 7, 15, 19; as advisor to
men, 9, 10-11,28-29,30;
anthologies, 5, 21-22; as aunt, 4;
aunt of, 31; capitoli, 5-6, 7-8,
13-21,22; as champion of courtesans, 2, 3-4, 17-20; as champion
of women, 2,3-4, 14, 15-20;
charity toward women, 3-5,
11-12; children, 4, 6, 43; as citizen
of Venice, 11, 15; as courtesan,
5-6, 8, 9, 12-13, 65; daily life, 6;
debate with Maffio Venier, 6,
15-19,40-41,44-45;
education,
5; Familiar Letters to Various
family of
People) 4,6,9-13,22;
origin, 2, 4; financial situation,
4-5; injury to knee, 44; intellectuallife, 14-15,34-35; literary advisors, 6-7,43-44,45,46;
literary
criticism by, 14-15; literary reputation, 14,21-22; marriage, 4; as
moralist, 6, 7,10-11,30-31; as
mother, 6,43; as musician, 32;
petition to Venetian council, 4-5;
publications, 21; recent studies of,
22; sexual expertise, 5-6, 7, 14;
trial by Inquisition, 4
Fumane, 253, 283
Furies, 89 n15
Galba, P., 10
Ganymede, 261 n42
Gelli, Giovanni, 7
go-betweens, mothers as, 3, 11-12
Goggio, Bartolomeo, In Praise 0/
Women, xx, xxii
Gonzaga, Guglielmo, Duke of
Mantua, 47 nl
Gournay, Marie de, xxv
Graces, 79 n14, 229
Graf, Arturo, 22
Grazzini, Luigi (II Lasca), 7
Greece, ancient, artists in, 35-37
Guazzo, Stefano, xxi
Guillaume de Lorris, Romance de la
Rose, xiv-xv
harpsichord, 32
hats, 20
Henri III, 10, 11, 24-28
IIeroides (()vid), 7
honored courtesan, 1, 3
humanism, xvii; women and, xvii,
xxv
humors, xi
Inquisition, 4
10,261 n405-6
jealousy, 14, 19,75,175-77,181,
207-9,229
Jean de Meun, Romance 0/ the Rose,
xiv-xv, xix
Jerome, Saint, xiv
Jove, 27, 89, 139, 151, 185,261,263,
275,281
Juan II, king of Castile, xxii
Juan Rodriguez de la Camera,
Triumph 0/ Women) xix
Juan Rodriguez del Padron. See Juan
Rodriguez de la Camera
Juno, 151 n23, 275
Knox, John, First Blast 0/ the
Trumpet against the Monstrous
Regiment o/Women, xxiv
Kramer, Heinrich, The Hammer 0/
Witches, xxi
Lasca, II, 7
Latin language, xvii, xviii, xxv
297
298
Index
law: Roman, xi-xiii
Leonora, 20
Lesbia, 8
Lettere [amiliari a diversi. See
Familiar Letters to Various People
letters, familiar, 8-9
literacy, 5
Livy,20n
love poetry, 7-8, 19
love, 19,33-35; blindfolded, 127-29;
as holy and chaste, 191; as king or
tyrant, 81, 89, 97,99, 103, 179,
183, 201, 207; personified as a boy
archer, 53,75,79,85,89,91,99,
115 n20; as son of Venus, 79, 89,
223
Luna, Alvaro de, xix, xxii
Lycaon, 261 n43
Manfredi, Muzio, 21
Maraini, Dacia, 22
Margaret, duchess of Austria, xxii
Marinella, Lucrezia, 1, 18,20,21-22
Mars, 215 n34
Martinengo, Estore, 5, 21, 43
Matheolus, Lamentations, xv, xviii
men: compared with women, 18;
privileged position of, 10-11,
20-21,29
Mercury, 281 n52
meretrice sumptuosa, 2-3
Merito delle donne (Fonte), 20-21 n25
Metamorphoses (Ovid), 7
Michelangelo, 35
Minerva, 91, 11 n2. See also Pallas
misogyny, ix; in Christian theology,
xiii-xiv; in contemporary writings,
17-19; in Greek philosophy, x-xi;
in medieval literature, xiv-xv; in
Roman Law, xi-xiii. See also gender bias; men; querelle des femmes
Molitur, Ulrich, xxi
Montreuil, Jean de, xix
Morata, Olympia, xxii
mothers, 32-33; of courtesans, 3, 4,
11-12,37-40
muse, 47,59,273
Nanna, 12
Narcissus, 37, 73 n12, 215
Niobe, 101 n9
Nobilitd delle donne (Marinella}, 18,20
N ogarola, Isotta, xxi, xxv
Ocean, as god, 227 n35
opre, 14
Ovid, 7-8
Pallas, 121 n22
Panizza, Paolo, 4
Petrarch, 6-7,11,14
Phoebus (Apollo), 53 n3, 59,63,69,
131,183,257,267
Phydias, 35
Pindar, 41 n7
Pippa, 12
Pizan, Christine de, xvii-xviii, xxiii,
xxv; and querelle des femmes, xix;
Book of the City of Ladies; xviii,
xxii; Treasure of the City of Ladies,
xxii
plague, 4
Plato, Republic, on women, xi;
Symposium) 33 n3
Pliny, 8
Poems in Terza Rima) 1,5, 13-21
Praxiteles, 35
pregnancy, 3, 32-33
Procne and Philomela, 73 n13, 265
Propertius, 7
proposta/risposta poems, 7,79, 87,
113
Proserpina, 89 n 16, 277 n48
prostitutes, 169-71; dangers to,
12-13,39; Franco as champion of,
2,3-4, 17-18, 19-20, types of,
2-3, 12; See also Courtesans
Provencal poets, 7
puttana, 3
querelle des femmes, xix-xx
Quintillian, 8
Raphael, 35
reason, 85, 87,115,121,243-47
Index
Remy, Nicholas, xxi
rhetoric: styles, 7-9; and women,
uterus ibvstera), in Greek psychology,
xi
XXiV-XXV
Ribera, Pietro Paolo de, xix
Rome, ancient, influences from, 6,
7-8
Roscius, 37
Salza, Abdelkader, 22
San Samuele, 4
Sansovino, Francesco, II Segretario, 8
Sappho, 7
Schurman, Anna Maria van, xxv
scuole,2
Segretario, II (Sansovino), 8
Semiramis (Manfredi), 21
Seneca, 8
shelters, for women, 5, 12,38
smallpox, 43
Socrates, 33 n3, 34
sonnets, 5, 31
Spenser, Edmund, Faerie Queene,
xxiv
Sprenger, Jacob, The Hammer 0/
Witches, xxi
Stoicism, 11
Stortoni, Laura Ann, 22
Symposium (Plato), 33 n3
Tassini, Giuseppe, 22
Tasso, Bernardo, 47 n1
tax declaration, 4
temone, 7
Tertullian, xiv
terza rima) 13,22, 47
theft, 4
Thomas Aquinas, Saint, xi, xiii
Tibullus, 7
time, as an enemy of earthly things,
187
Tintoretto, Jacopo, 6,35-37
Titian, 35
Tityos, 41
Tobia, M., 22
Torre, Marc'antonio della, 14
Tron, Andrea, 4
Tuscan influences, 7
Venice, 73,127-29,131,151,155,
167,213, 219; personified as
female, 11, 15; praise of, 15,29;
social classes, 2
Venier, Domenico, 11,44,85,149; as
literary advisor, 6-7; as protector
of Franco, 2,4,5; salon, 1,5,6,7,
14, 153, 157
Venier, Maffio, 6, 7, 15-19,40-41,
44-45, 167 n27
Venier, Marco, 13, 14-15, 17,22,51
Venus, 57,59,63,69,79,91
n17,
157,229
Verona, 15, 119, 121, 127
Veronica/ver unica (pun), 15-17,57
n4, 97 n18, 119 n21, 167-68
Vincenzo, 32
violence, toward prostitutes, 12, 19,
39
Virgil, 41 n7
Virgin Mar~ xiv
virtu) in the humanist sense, 14,55,
57 n6, 65, 79,85,87,119,217,
245
Vives, Juan Luis, On the Education 0/
a Christian Woman, xxii, xxv
wealth, 29-30
Weyer, Johann, xxi
wheelchair, 6, 44
wills, 3-4
witchcraft, xx-xxi See also magic
women: charities for, 3-5, 11-12;
and chastity, xxii-xxiii, xxv; in
Christian thought, xiii-xiv; and
the church, xvi; and dress, xxv;
as equal to men, 18, 163; as fighters, 18, 163-65; Franco as model
for, 18, 165,209; in Greek
thought, x-xi; and learning, xxixxii, xxv; in medieval literature,
xiv-xv; and power, xxiii-xxiv; in
Roman law, xi-xiii; speech, xxivxxv; status in Venice; 10-12,
299
300
Index
(women, continued)
18-20; stereotypes of, 1, 6, 19; as
superior to men, 19,20,245-47;
and virtue, xxii-xxiii, xxv; virtues
of, 20-21; voice of, 7-8; and warfare, xxiii-xxiv; as weaker sex,
18, 19; as weak through oppres-
sian, 19-20, 163-65,223,245;
and work, xvi-xvii; as writers,
xxi-xxii, 18-19. See also querelle
des femmes
Zeuxis, 35
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