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The Complete Poems: The 1554 Edition of the "Rime," a Bilingual Edition

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Gaspara Stampa (1523?-1554) is one of the finest female poets ever to write in Italian. Although she was lauded for her singing during her lifetime, her success and critical reputation as a poet emerged only after her verse was republished in the early eighteenth century. Her poetry runs the gamut of human emotion, ranging from ecstasy over a consummated love affair to despair at its end. While these tormented works and their multiple male addressees have led to speculation that Stampa may have been one of Venice’s famous courtesans, they can also be read as a rebuttal of typical assumptions about women’s roles. Championed by Rainer Maria Rilke, among others, she has more recently been celebrated by feminist scholars for her distinctive and original voice and her challenge to convention.

The first complete translation of Stampa into English, this volume collects all of her passionate and lyrical verse. It is also the first modern critical edition of her poems, and in restoring the original sequence of the 1554 text, it allows readers the opportunity to encounter Stampa as she intended. Jane Tylus renders Stampa’s verse in precise and graceful English translations, allowing a new generation of students and scholars of poetry, Renaissance literature, and music history to rediscover this incipiently modern Italian poet.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226770710
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2010
  • Series: Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 520
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Troy Tower is a Ph.D. candidate in Italian studies at Johns Hopkins University. Jane Tylus is professor of Italian studies and director of the Humanities Initiative at New York University. She is the author, most recently, of Reclaiming Catherine of Siena: Literacy, Literature, and the Signs of Others, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents


Series Editors' Introduction....................xi
Volume Editor's Introduction....................1
Volume Editor's Bibliography....................47
The Rime (1554)....................54
Appendix A: Poems Not Included in the 1554 Anthology....................349
Appendix B: Poems to Stampa from Poets She Addresses in the Rime....................357
Appendix C: Concordance....................361
Series Editors' Bibliography....................401
Index of First Lines in Italian....................429
General Index....................439
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First Chapter


The 1554 Edition of the Rime, a Bilingual Edition
By Gaspara Stampa


Copyright © 2010 The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-77071-0

Chapter One

RIME DI MADONNA GASPARA STAMPA In Venetia, per Plinio Pietrasanta. M. D. L I I I I.


Poi che à Dio nostro Signore è piaciuto di chiamar à se, su'l fi ore si può dire de gli anni suoi, la mia da me molto cara, et molto amata sorella; & ella partendo ha portato con esso lei tutte le mie speranze, tutte le consolationi, et la vita istessa; io ho cercato di levarmi davanti gli occhi tutte le sue cose, acciò che il vederle, et il trattarle non rinovasse l'accerbissima memoria di lei nell'animo mio, & per consequente non rinfrescasse la piaga de' molti dolori, havendo perduto una così savia, e così valorosa sorella. Et volendo, & devendo far' il medesmo di queste sue Rime, tessute da lei, parte per essercitio dello ingegno suo, felice quanto à Donna, se non m'inganna l'affettione fraterna; parte per esprimere alcun suo amoroso concetto. Molti gentilihuomini di chiaro spirito, che l'amarono, mentre visse, & hanno potere sopra di me, m'hanno tolta, mal mio grado, da questo proponimento, et costretta à raccogliere insieme quelle, che si sono potute trovare; mostrandomi, che io non devea, nè potea, per non turbar la mia pace, turbar la gloria della sorella, celando le sue fatiche honorate; questa adunque è stata la cagione, ch'io le ho fatto publicare. Perche poi io le habbia dedicate più à vostra Signoria Reverendissima, che ad altro Signore, è per questo. Tre, se io non erro, sono le sorti de' Signori, che si trovano al mondo, di Natura, di Fortuna, et di Virtù; i due primi sono Signori di nome, l'ultimo di effetto; perche quelli sono fatti da altri, et questo si fà da se stesso; però à lui dirittamente si conviene il nome, et la riverenza di Signore. Girando per tanto gli occhi per tutta Italia, per trovare à chi più meritevolmente il nome di vero Signore si convenisse il vivo raggio di vostra Signoria Reverendiss. Splendè à gli occhi miei da quella sua riposta solitudine, ove il più delle volte per dar opera à i suoi gravi, et alti studij, et pascer di pretiosissimo cibo il suo divino intelletto,

THE RHYMES OF MADONNA GASPARA STAMPA In Venice, at the press of Plinio Pietrasanta. M. D. L I I I I


Ever since it pleased Our Lord God to call to himself my most dear, beloved sister in the flower of her youth, and since her death deprived me of all my hopes and all my consolations, even life itself, I've sought to banish from my eyes anything that might renew this most bitter of memories in my heart and thus reopen the wound of grief caused from having lost such a worthy sister. And I wanted-indeed, I was driven-to do the same with the rhymes that she wove partly to exercise her wit (a special talent in a woman, if my sisterly affection doesn't deceive me), partly to express some amorous conceit of hers. But many gentlemen of great fame who loved her while she lived and who have power over me have kept me from carrying out my intention, constraining me to gather together whatever verses of hers I could find. Thus they have pointed out to me that just to avoid disturbing my own peace of mind, I shouldn't, I mustn't diminish the glory of my sister and hide her honorable labors under a bushel. This, then, is why I've had them published.

And as to why I have dedicated them to you, Most Reverend Lord, rather than to any other lord, I offer this. If I'm not in error, there are three kinds of lords in the world, deriving from the gifts of nature, fortune, and virtue. The first two are lords based on their name, the third based on their deeds. These first two are made by others, but this last is made by oneself, and thus to him the name and the respect worthy of a lord are most fitting. When I sought throughout all Italy to find the man who most merited the name of a true lord, it was only right that the bright ray of Your Most Reverend Lordship blazed forth to my eyes from that remote solitude of yours, where you often engage in lofty and serious studies and feed your divine

si ritiene; sì fattamente, che, come ferro da calamita; sono stata tirata à viva forza à consacrarle à lei, perche oltra, che è Signore di natura, nato nobilissimo in nobilissima città d' Italia; di Fortuna, per le ricchezze amplissime, che ella ha; di virtù, possedendo tutte le più nobili, et più segnalate scienze, che sì trovino, et allaquale come à chiarissima stella, e ferma, si deono indrizzare tutte le opere di quei, che nel mare di qual si voglia fatica honorata navigano. Io sono sicura, che in questo compiacerò anche alla benedetta anima della amata sorella mia, se di là s'ha alcun senso, ò memoria delle cose di questo mondo, la quale vivendo hebbe sempre per mira vostra Signoria Reverendissima come uno de' più belli lumi d' Italia, et destinate le sue fatiche; inchinando, et riverendo sempre il nome, et l'alto giudicio di lei qualunq; volta se ne ragionava, che era assai spesso, et portando à cielo i suoi dottissimi, leggiadrissimi, et gravissimi componimenti al pari di tutti gli antichi et moderni, che si leggono. Non isdegni adunque vostra Signoria Reverendissima, di ricever con quella molta bontà d'animo, che Dio le ha dato questi pochi frutti dell'ingegno della disideratissima sorella mia, dallaquale fù mentre visse osservata, et tanto reverita; contentandosi, che sotto l'ombra del suo celebratissimo nome si riposi anco la penna, lo studio, l'arte, e gli amorosi, e ferventi disiderij di una Donna con tante altre divinissime fatiche de i più alti et esquisiti spirti dell'età nostra; & con questo baciandole le dotte, & sacre mani faccio fi ne.

Da Venetia a' xiij.d'Ottobre. M. D. LIIII.


Poi che le mie pene amorose, che per amor di V. S. porto scritte in diverse lettere & rime, non han possuto una per una, non pur far pietosa V. S. verso di me, ma farla ne anco cortese di scrivermi una parola. Io mi son rissoluta di ragunarle tutte in questo libro, per vedere se tutte insieme lo potranno fare. Qui dunque V. S. vedrà non il pelago delle passioni, delle lagrime, et de' tormenti miei, perche è mar senza fondo; ma un picciolo ruscello solo di esse; nè pensi V. S. ch'io habbia ciò fatto, per farla conoscente della sua crudeltà, perche crudeltà non si può dire dove non è obligo, nè per contristarnela; ma per farla più tosto conoscente della sua grandezza, & allegarla. Perche vedendo esser' usciti dalla durezza vostra, verso di me questi frutti congeturerà, quali saranno quelli, che usciranno dalla sua pietà, se averrà mai, che i cieli me la faccino pietosa, ò obietto nobile, ò obietto chiaro, ò obietto divino, poi che tormentando ancora giovi, et fai frutto. Legga V. S. dunque quando haverà triegua dalle sue maggiori, e più care cure, le note delle cure amorose, et gravi della sua fi dissima, et infelicissima

intellect on the most precious of foods. As iron is drawn to a magnet, so I've been drawn by a powerful force to consecrate these verses to you. For you are endowed with the qualities of a lord by nature, born nobly in the most noble city of Italy; by fortune, thanks to the ample riches that you have; and by your own virtue, since your learning is the noblest and most praiseworthy that can be found. Thus as though you were the north star, heaven's brightest and most fixed, all who navigate the seas of respectable labors should address their works to you alone.

I'm sure this dedication would please the blessed soul of my beloved sister, if in the great beyond she has any sense or memory of the things of this world-she who while alive always admired you, one of Italy's most handsome lights, as someone to whom she might direct her words, revering as she did your name and your opinions. Often she spoke of you, praising to the skies your learned, graceful, and serious compositions, equal to the work of the ancients as well as the moderns. Let not then Your Most Reverend Lordship disdain to receive with the bountiful spirit God gave you these fruits of the talents of my beloved sister, talents that were acknowledged and respected while she still lived. May it please you if under the shade of your celebrated name, her pen, her studies, her arts, and the fervent desires of a woman may find repose with so many other divine undertakings of the loftiest and most exquisite spirits of our age. So with this do I kiss your wise and holy hands, and come to a close.

From Venice, the 13th day of October, 1554.


Since the amorous trials I've borne for love of Your Lordship, inscribed in various letters and rhymes, have not inclined you to take pity on me, or to render you sufficiently courteous to write me a single word as one by one they've come your way, I've resolved to collect them all in this book to see if they might make some impression on you when they're together. Rather than finding here the ocean of my passions, tears, and torments-for such a sea can't be sounded-Your Lordship will discover only a little brook. Please don't imagine that I've done this so that you'll acknowledge your cruelty, because one can't call someone cruel where there's no obligation, or to make you contrite; rather, it's to make you aware of the sheer magnitude of your ruthlessness, and thus to enable you to rejoice. For once you realize that these are the fruits of your harsh feelings toward me, you can only imagine what fruits might arise from your pity, if one day heaven should make you compassionate. O noble, O renowned, O divine being, since you still take such relish in tormenting another, and from it reap such a harvest!

Anassilla; et da questa ombra prenda argomento quali ella le debba provare et sentir nell'animo, che certo se accaderà giamai, che la mia povera et mesta casa sia fatta degna del ricevere il suo grande hoste, che è V. S. io son sicura, che i letti, le camere, le sale, et tutto racconteranno i lamenti, i singulti, i sospiri, et le lagrime, che giorno, & notte ho sparse, chiamando il nome di V. S. benedicendo però sempre nel mezo de' miei maggiori tormenti i cieli et la mia buona sorte della cagion d'essi; percioche, assai meglio è per voi Conte morire, che gioir per qualunque. Ma che fo io? perche senza bisogno tengo V. S. troppo lungamente à noia, ingiuriando anco le mie Rime, quasi che esse non sappian dir le lor ragioni, & habbian bisogno dell'altrui aita? rimettendomi dunque ad esse farò fi ne, pregando V. S. per ultimo guiderdone della mia fedelissima servitù, che nel ricever questo povero libretto, mi sia cortese sol di un sospiro, ilquale refreschi così lontano la memoria della sua dimenticata et abbandonata Anassilla. Et tu libretto mio depositario delle mie lagrime, appresentati nella più humil forma, che saprai dinanzi al Signor nostro in compagnia della mia candida fede. Et, se in recevendoti, vedrai rasserenar pur' un poco quei miei fatali & eterni lumi, beate tutte le nostre fatiche & felicissime tutte le nostre speranze, & cosi ti resta seco eternamente in pace.


Voi ch'ascoltate in queste meste rime, In questi mesti, in questi oscuri accenti Il suon de gli amorosi miei lamenti, E de le pene mie tra l'altre prime, Ove fia chi valor' apprezzi, e stime, Gloria, non che perdon, de' miei lamenti Spero trovar fra le ben nate genti; Poi che la lor cagione è sì sublime. E spero ancor, che debba dir qualch'una, Felicissima lei, da che sostenne Per sì chiara cagion danno sì chiaro. Deh, perche tant'Amor, tanta Fortuna Per sì nobil Signor' à me non venne, Ch'anch'io n'andrei con tanta Donna à paro?

Thus, my lord, when you chance to have a moment of relief from more pressing occupations closer to your heart, read these notes of the burdensome and passionate cares of your most faithful, most unhappy Anassilla; and from this shadow come to understand how intensely she feels and experiences such things within. For if my poor, sad home should ever be so fortunate as to receive the great guest that is Your Lordship, I'm sure that the very beds, the chambers, the rooms themselves would recount to you the laments, the sobs, the sighs and tears that day and night I've scattered while calling out your name, blessing in the midst of my greatest trials heaven and my lucky stars for what they've wrought. Much better that I die for you, Count, than live to find joy in the arms of another.

But what am I doing? Why do I needlessly bore you by going on at such length, insulting my rhymes as though they didn't know how to speak for themselves and needed my help? Let me return to them and make an end of things, asking Your Lordship as a last reward for my devoted service that as you accept this poor little book you show sufficient courtesy to let a single sigh escape, which from faraway would comfort the memory of the forgotten and abandoned Anassilla. And you, little book, depository of my tears, present yourself as humbly as you know how when you arrive before our lord, with my sincere faith as your companion. And if when he receives you, you see his fatal and everlasting eyes brighten even a little, then all our efforts will have been blessed and our hopes fulfilled. Stay with him forever and in peace.


You who hear in these troubled rhymes, in these troubled and these dark accents, the sound of my amorous laments and sufferings that vanquish all others'- wherever valor is esteemed and prized, I hope to find glory among the well-born: glory and not only pardon; for what gives rise to my laments is so sublime. And I hope some woman will be moved to say: "Most happy she, who suffered famously for such a famous cause! Oh, why can't the fortune that comes from loving a lord like him be mine, so such a lady and I might walk side by side?"


Era vicino il dì, che'l Creatore, Che ne l'altezza sua potea restarsi, In forma humana venne à dimostrarsi, Dal ventre Virginal' uscendo fore; Quando degnò l'Illustre mio Signore, Per cui ho tanti poi lamenti sparsi, Potendo in luogo più alto annidarsi; Farsi nido, e ricetto del mio core. Ond'io sì rara, e sì alta ventura Accolsi lieta; e duolmi sol, che tardi Mi fè degna di lei l'eterna cura. Da indi in quà pensieri, e speme, e sguardi Volsi à lui tutti fuor d'ogni misura Chiaro, e gentil quanto'l Sol giri e guardi.


Se di rozo pastor di gregge, e folle Il giogo Ascreo fe diventar Poeta Lui, che poi salse à sì lodata meta, Che quasi à tutti gli altri fama tolle; Che meraviglia fi a s'alza, & estolle Me bassa e vile à scriver, tanta piéta, Quel, che può più, che studio, e che pianeta, Il mio verde, pregiato, & alto Colle? La cui sacra, honorata, e fatal' ombra Dal mio cor, quasi subita tempesta, Ogni ignoranza, ogni bassezza sgombra. Questa da basso luogo m'erge, e questa Mi rinova lo stil, la vena adombra; Tanta virtù ne l'alma ogn'hor mi desta.


It was near the day that the Creator came in human form to reveal himself when he could have stayed in his lofty domain, issuing forth from the virginal womb, that my illustrious lord, for whom I have scattered so many laments, and who might have lodged in a place more sublime, made himself a nest and refuge in my heart. Such rare good fortune I greeted with gladness; and regret only that Eternal Care made me worthy of it all so late. Since then my thoughts, my hopes, my gaze- all are turned to him, who exceeds all others under the sun in courtesy and fame.


If Ascrea's peak could turn an uncouth shepherd of goats and sheep into a poet- he who rose to such praiseworthy heights that he stole renown from almost all others- what marvel is it if that high and verdant hill lifted up someone like me, base and lowly, raised me up to write piteous verse, doing far more than study or the stars? His holy, revered, irresistible shade rushes through my heart, an impetuous storm, clearing out all that's ignorant and base; it raises me up from lowly places, renews my style, renders gentle my song, and always awakens talent in my soul.


Excerpted from THE COMPLETE POEMS by Gaspara Stampa Copyright © 2010 by The University of Chicago . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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