Gaspara Stampa (Renaissance Poet)

Gaspara Stampa was a 16th-century poet, musician, and singer born in Padua, Italy. Following her father’s death in the 1530s, she and her mother moved to Venice. There, her family home became an epicenter of Venetian cultural society. She was highly admired for her lyrical verses, which often elicited comparisons to Sappho. Despite her premature death at the age of 31, Stampa produced more than 300 poems, most of which were published posthumously. To date, she is considered one of the greatest female poets of the Renaissance. I’ve pasted one of her poems below. Enjoy.
Gaspara Stampa
Gaspara Stampa

I swear to you, Love, by your arrows

I swear to you, Love, by your arrows,
And by your powerful holy flame,
I care not if by one I’m maimed,
My heart burned, wasted by the other:
However far through times past or coming,
There never was nor will be woman
Whomever of them you wish to name,
Could know such sharpness, such devouring:

For there’s a virtue born from suffering,
That dims and conquers the sense of pain,
So that it’s barely felt, seems scarcely hurting.
No! This, that torments soul and body again,
This is the real fear presaging my dying:
What if my fire be only straw and flame?

Gapara Stampa (click for more poems by Signora Gaspara)


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