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[Permission to use this text has been kindly granted by Dr. Hilary Putnam — with profound thanks]

From The Works of Aretino, Translated into English from the original Italian, with a critical and biographical essay by Samuel Putnam, Illustrations by The Marquis de Bayros in Two Volumes; Pascal Covici: Chicago; 1926; Volume II., pp. 269-278.




In Questa Chiara Sacrosanta Notte

On that clear, calm and more than holy night,

Followed by Friday, Venus’ own day,

On which all faithful, pious creatures pray,

With3 broken tears, Nature, for boon or blight,

Brought spirit and my members to the light,

From the dark maternal grotto where they lay;

And the fates that watched were good to me, I’ll say,

Since I’ve willed to endure them, bad or bright.

As Jesus suffered for the good of men,

So I, on coming from my mother’s womb,

Being liberated from my prison pen,

Came forth into the world, wailing His doom.

Christ died for me upon the cross again,

And I was born in Christ as from a tomb.


Mentre Voi Titian, Voi Sansovino

While you, my Titian, Sansovino, you

On canvas and in marble immortalize

An art resplendent as the splendid skies,

The goal of pilgrim spirits, I, with true

And heart-felt zeal, reverently pursue

The task of one who upon paper tries

To paint and carve Lucretia’s grace and size,

The native and divine gifts are her due.

And yet, I know my style’s not able quite

To capture form and color that lie within,

As yours gives color, form to the things of sight;

But if, from my own ink, I could but win

Your mind and valor, then, indeed, I might

Erect a shrine for the world to worship in.


Togli il Lauro Per Te Cesare e Omero

Caesar and Homer, I have stolen your bays!

Though not a poet or an emperor;

My style has been my star, in a manner, for

I speak the truth, don’t deal in lying praise.

I am Aretino, censor of the ways

Of the lofty world, prophet-ambassador

Of truth and smiling virtue — if you’d hear more,

Here’s Titian’s masterpiece; you’ve but to gaze.

And if you find the face he’s made strikes fear,

Then close your eyes, and they’ll not be offended;

For though I’m but in paint, I see and hear.

My worship, Lord Gonzaga, is extended

To Signor Giovanni, whom I hold dear,

The three of us being by our merits blended.


L’Eterno Sonno in un Bel Marmo Puro

Sleep, Ariosto! in a fine marble pure

The eternal sleep, and may your great name wake

At burst of day in that fair clime and take

Its ease there as you watch, glad and secure.

But for the gifts of the sky, he would assure

Us, he does not care; he stands with wonder-ache

Beneath the stars, when a sad and solemn quake

Of sound assails him with its tender lure.

As Phoebus’ sisters, in their sorrow, add

Words to their tears: “O blessed spirit bright.

With a brightness sun at midday never had,

We bring you our widowed wonder; you see us clad

In robes of grief, while flowers shed their light

Above your tomb, and song is bowed and sad.”


Sett’ Anni Traditori Ho Via Gettati

Seven traitor years I now have thrown away,

With Leo four, and three more with my sire,

Pope Clement; I have won the people’s ire,

More through their own sins than through my own; my pay

Has not been two whole ducats; one might say,

Gian Manente’s the better; if you but fire

Your mind with filthy things, look in the mire,

Then you have every hope of the papal bay.

And if there were no other wounds to feel,

Warding the honor of some patron friend,

Five or six times a day I’d take the steel;

For benefits, offices and pensions tend

But to make the holy fathers a pleasant meal

Of bastard scoundrels — two mouthfuls — that’s their end.

     While the good, faithful servitors who bend

     Their energies to serve are left to die

     Of hunger, for their sin against the Most High.





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