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SPEAKING ABOUT LOVE – Italian Renaissance poetry, when nothing’s sure about tomorrow

The most notable Italian writers, who contributed to the flowering of poetry were Marsilio Ficino and Angelo Poliziano, but later Renaissance literary achievements include some special books (such as the Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato, Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, and Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso). Number of women writers and poets arose that time too (best known are Veronica Gambara and Vittoria Colonna). We would like to profile Vittoria Colonna, Lapo Gianni and Lorenzo de Medici.

I LIVE UPON THIS WRETCHED SOLITARY CLIFF – Vittoria Colonna

I live upon this wretched solitary cliff, like a bird of sorrow that shuns green branches and clear water: and withdraw from my worldly loves, and my very self, so my thoughts may fly swiftly to that sun I worship and adore. And though they fail to spread their wings as I wish, yet if I call still they fly back from other paths to this. And in the instant that they reach the place, where I send them, ardent, happy, their brief joy surpasses every delight on Earth by far. And if they could but re-create his noble form, just as the burning mind desires, I might own my portion of perfect good.

THE THOUGHT MY HEART – Lapo Gianni

The thought my heart nourishes is sweet, it’s of a young girl that I desire, because of whom my spirit mounts higher, since Love, himself, and she did meet. I cannot easily express the fresh form this angel resembles, who seems to have descended from the sky. She seems Love’s sister by her address, and at her every gesture one marvels. Blessed the souls she greets and passes by! It can be said that every brightness lies,in her and every hope and joy’s there too, and every blossoming branch of virtue, and all this is due to her great worth. The noble intellect I have acquired, because of the appearance of this lady, makes me scorn all sin and villainy, and the sweet conversation we enjoyed concerning the life of love, comforts me, When I was still new to her sovereignty. She showed me then such courtesy, that she did not disdain my gentle speech. So that I wish to thank sweet Love, indeed, who made me fit for such honour on Earth. Since my name is writ in the book of Love, tell my tale, little song, with courtesy, when you are allowed to see my lady, since I am made her servant, and so prove.

A SONG FOR BACCHUS – Lorenzo de Medici

How beautiful our Youth is, that’s always flying by us! Who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow. Here are Bacchus, Ariadne, lovely, burning for each other. Since deceiving time must flee, they seek their delight together. These nymphs, and other races, are full of happiness forever. Who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow. These delighted little satyrs, with their nymphs intoxicated, set a hundred snares now for them, in the caves and in the bushes. Warmed by Bacchus, all together dancing, leaping there forever, who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow. All the nymphs are more than happy to be tricked by their satyrs, there’s no defence from loving, except for coarse ungrateful people. Now they’re mingling together, playing, singing there forever. Who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow. And that lump behind them, now on the ass, is old Silenus. Happy and inebriated, full of food and years already. Though he can’t stand to attention, he still laughs with joy forever. Who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow. Midas follows all the others. Turns to gold the things he touches. Where’s the joy in owning treasure, if it doesn’t give you pleasure? And where’s the sweet taste for a man who only feels his thirst forever? Who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow. Ope’ your ears wide, everyone. Let none dine on their tomorrows. Old and young ones, all at play, girls and boys, be glad today, banish every tearful sorrow, make each day a holiday. Who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow. Ladies and you youthful lovers, long live Bacchus: long live Love! Everyone sing, dance and play! Hearts, be all on fire with sweetness! No faintness now or hint of sadness! Whatever is to be must be. Who’d be happy, let him be so. Nothing’s sure about tomorrow.

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