Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday Madwoman - Gaspara Stampa, March 21, 2011

Gaspara Stampa, the Venetian poet, virtuosa (professional singer), and unmarried young woman. One of the first and finest female poets to write in Italian. Of course, the dramatic tenor of her life doesn't hurt her popularity with scholars, either. Petrarchan sonnets. In a lifetime of thirty-one years, she wrote 310 poems, ten for each year of her life. Her Rime found posthumous publication, in 1554, via her sister Cassandra.

At her best, Stampa has a direct, glittery sensuality:

Io non v’invidio punto, angeli santi,
le vostre tante glorie e tanti beni,
e que’ disir di ciò che braman pieni,
stando voi sempre a l’alto Sire avanti;

perché i diletti miei son tali e tanti,
che non posson capire in cor terreni,
mentr’ho davanti i lumi almi e sereni,
di cui conven che sempre scriva e canti.

E come in ciel gran refrigerio e vita
dal volto Suo solete voi fruire,
tal io qua giú da la beltá infinita.

In questo sol vincete il mio gioire,
che la vostra è eterna e stabilita,
e la mia gloria può tosto finire. (Sonnet 17)

"I don't envy you, holy angels..." Carpe diem.

(Above: Giovanni Bellini, 1515)

Ellen Moody has a good bio and four poems over at the Women's Poetry Listserv.

Above: Sappho descended, the second edition, 1738

A bilingual scholarly edition, 2010, of her Complete Poems (below) from the University of Chicago Press. A review.

Translations by Jessica Harkins at Salt magazine:

The sky has already turned two years and more
since I was snared in love’s birdlime
for a beauty, I dare to say,
whose equal was never seen in mortal cloth.

So I reveal this beauty and do not hide it,
and I do not repent; rather I glory and rejoice;
and, if a woman ever delighted, I delight
in this amorous flame, and this ice.

And I only worry that the hour may come
when the beauty all things burn for and love
may free itself from me, and bind elsewhere.

And if Death ever responds to those who pray,
I beg her not to let me, before I die,
see the beloved crown of leaves go to another.


Rilke, from the first Duino Elegy, trans. Stephen Mitchell:

Have you imagined Gaspara Stampa intensely enough
so that any girl deserted by her beloved might be inspired by that fierce example of soaring,
objectless love and might say to herself, "Perhaps I can be like her?"
Shouldn't this most ancient of sufferings finally grow more fruitful for us?
Isn't it time that we lovingly freed ourselves from the beloved and,
quivering, endured: as the arrow endures the bowstring's tension,
so that gathered in the snap of release it can be more than itself.


Victoria Kirkham, Strong Voices, Weak History: Early Women Writers and Canons in England, France, and Italy, University of Manchester Press, 2005. ("Strong Voices, Weak History presents the first comparative history of major medieval and Renaissance European women writers in their relationship to national canons of literature. Challenging the notion of an oppressive patriarchy that discouraged women from writing and publishing, the fifteen essays collected here examine women's participation in fashionable male literary modes, trace their creation of female canons, and explore the history of their reception, from the fifteenth century to the present.")


A 2010 dissertation: The Fiction of the Rime: Gaspara Stampa's "Poetic Misprision" of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Elegy of Lady Fiammetta, Ellan B. Otero, University of South Florida

Abstract: This study maintains that although Gaspara Stampa's Rime (1554) appears to straddle two popular literary genres -- lyric poetry and autobiography -- analysis of the Rime within its cultural context demonstrates that while Stampa (1523-1553) used Petrarchan conventions, she also both borrowed and swerved from Giovanni Boccaccio's Elegy of Lady Fiammetta (1334-1337) to imagine a non-Petrarchan narrative of an abandoned woman...


"Hast du der Gaspara Stampa
denn genügend gedacht, daß irgend ein Mädchen,
dem der Geliebte entging, am gesteigerten Beispiel
dieser Liebenden fühlt: daß ich würde wie sie?" (Rilke)

No comments:

Post a Comment