Selected Poetry and Prose

By Chiara Matraini; Elaine Maclachlan | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
DERIVATIVE LINES IN MATRAINI’S POETRY

In Matraini’s day, it was considered a mark of poetic prowess to be able to work a line from another poet’s work into one’s own new poem, particularly if the line in question was a well- known one. The concept of plagiarism lay in the future. The information presented below is not intended in any way to detract from Matraini’s work but instead to provide a glimpse into what her influences were and what she considered poetically important in the work of others.

Of the 46 (out of 99) translated poems in this volume from Matraini’s book A (1555 / 56), 30 of them contain lines which seem to have been derived from the Rime sparse of Petrarch or from Bembo’s poem 142. In these 30 poems, a total of 153 individual lines may be identified as derivative. Some of this overlapping, of course, is to be expected, since the three poets traveled the same poetic landscape of love, loss, and death. Of these 153 lines, 62 lines (about 40 percent) come from a single poem, the clearly derivative A 82. Poem A 88 contributes another 14 lines (roughly 10 percent). Poem A 10 contributes 9 lines, and A 38 another 7. In other words, 4 poems account for about half of the derivative lines. The remaining 63 lines are distributed in lesser numbers among the remaining 26 poems.

Of the 46 (out of 87) translated poems from book C (1597), 27 have seemingly derivative lines. In these 27, a total of 145 lines may be identified as derivative. However, when one discounts those book C poems which were republished from book A, only 44 lines from 15 poems seem to be derivative. The influence of Petrarch is clearly diminished in the newly published book C poems, yet is still present. For example, in C 50, 7 of the 14 lines appear to have been influenced by Petrarch, and the first line of the sonnet is almost exactly the first line of Petrarch’s poem 254. These new poems contain lines similar to only 52 of Petrarch’s lines taken from 49 of his poems, whereas 136 of his lines from 94 of his poems are in book A. The influence of Petrarch is most strongly visible in those poems which exist in both volumes.

-217-

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