Selected Poetry and Prose

By Chiara Matraini; Elaine Maclachlan | Go to book overview

V
1597 VOLUME (BOOK C)

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE

Matraini’s last book of poems was published by Nicolò Moretti in Venice in 1597, as Lettere di Madonna Chiara Matraini gentildonna Lucchese, con la prima, e seconda parte delle sue Rime. It was preceded two years earlier by a publication in Lucca, Lettere della Signora Chiara Matraini, Gentildonna Luchese, con la prima, e seconda parte delle sue Rime. This earlier volume (book B) was not authorized by Matraini, and none of it has been included here.

The 1597 volume begins with a series of eighteen letters which concern Matraini’s poetry and her friendships. The last of the letters is addressed to the Virgin. I have translated only the first one, addressed to Cangenna Lipomeni, explaining a sonnet of Matraini’s which she considered as basic to this book of poetry.

As with the 1555 / 56 book, I have selected two or three out of every five poems in the volume, in order, reflecting the sense of her narrative. I have translated primarily from the edition of Giovanna Rabitti, Chiara Matraini’s Rime e Lettere, and have at times used a copy of the original as a prime source.

This book is very different from her first book of poems. Out of the eighty- seven poems published in this volume, only twenty- eight poems are carried over from the 1555 / 56 volume. Of the forty poems in part 1, the “in vita” sequence, fifteen are from her earlier book of poems (37.5 percent); of the forty- seven poems in part 2, the “in morte” sequence, only thirteen are from the earlier volume (28 percent). So Matraini has privileged the first part over the second, making the story of her falling in love and enjoying it much like her first book, while his death and her reaction to it are new and different in her third book.

In my selection of poems, I propose to the reader that Matraini created her life story, with what she defined at two different points in her poetic life as worth writing about. Her two canzonieri tell something about how the soul

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