Barbara Bentivoglio Strozzi Torelli

Barbara Torelli, lived from 1475-1533. Madonna Barbara was the daughter of the Count of Montechiarugolo and a member of a noble family of Emilia. She married “un capitano di ventura”  Ercole Bentivoglio in 1491 and went on to attend the refined Renaissance courts of Mantua and Ferrara, where she met, among others, Isabella d’Este, Lucrezia Borgia, and the literary courtier Ercole Strozzi. She fell in love with Strozzi who, having become her second husband, was savagely killed just 13 days after the the birth of their daughter, Giulia. She authored what has been hailed as the best sonnet written in the Italian language, penned in memory of her murdered husband. This sonnet is known for its perfect form and powerful expression.

Spenta è d’Amor la face, il dardo è rotto,
e l’arco e la faretra e ogni sua possa,
poi che ha Morte crudel la pianta scossa,
a la cui ombra cheta io dormia sotto.

Deh perché non poss’io la breve fossa
seco entrar, dove l’ha il destin condotto,
colui che appena cinque giorni e otto
Amor legò pria de la gran percossa?

Vorrei col foco mio quel freddo ghiaccio
intepidire, e rimpastar col pianto
la polve, e ravvivarla a nuova vita:

e vorrei poscia, baldanzosa e ardita,
mostrarlo a lui, che ruppe il caro laccio,
e dirgli: – “Amor, mostro crudel, può tanto.”

Translation by de Blasi:

Quenched is the torch of love, his dart is broken,

As are his quiver, bow and all of his power,

Since cruel death has stricken down the tree

Beneath who shade I used to sleep in peace…

To whom but barely thirteen days ago

Love grafted me, before the monstrous blow

I wish that with my ardor I could melt

That icy cold, and moisten with my tears

His dust…

And say, “See heartless beast, what Love can do!”

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Fresco from the Torelli family Castello in Montechiarugolo
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