(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)


Most modern editions of the Rime are based on the one prepared in 1913 by Salza, who divided Gaspara Stampa’s poetry into two major groupings: the “Rime d’amore” (love poems) and the “Rime varie” (miscellaneous poems). The former includes more than two hundred compositions, preponderantly sonnets, which chronicle the poet’s love for Collatino and, later, Zen. The latter contains Stampa’s occasional poetry, addressed to friends, acquaintances, and celebrities. Salza’s edition concludes with eight religious sonnets, extracted from their original positioning among the love poems, so that the text ends on a morally contrite and uplifting note probably not intended by the author.

The miscellaneous poems are Stampa’s most conventional works, often mere exercises in the art of writing. Adhering to shared literary expectations and the collective Petrarchan taste, they are expressions of social courtesy, gallantry, polite exchange, and encomium. Their function was public, in a century which utilized poetry as a tool of communication and flattery. Nevertheless, the “Rima varie” offer clear indications of Stampa’s personal attitudes toward poetry, poetics, and her own accomplishments. Most of her addressees were avowed, if occasionally innovative, members of Venice’s Petrarchan literary elite. Their relationship to Stampa was primarily artistic, poetry functioning as the common social denominator. In her...

(The entire section is 408 words.)