1. Chiara Matraini, Rime e Lettere, ed. Giovanna Rabitti (Bologna: Commissione per i testi di lingua, 1989).
2. “Se lieta e verde, chiara, alta cantai” and “ond’io sì chiara andai”: throughout, Matraini makes the joyous pun on chiara meaning “clear, renowned” and her given name.
3. Phaeton was the son of the sun god Helios and Clymene. He begged his father to let him drive his chariot across the heavens, but he was too weak to check the horses; they bolted and approached the earth, ready to set it on fire. Zeus killed him and he fell into the river Eridanus. Phaeton is honored for his daring attempt to drive the chariot of the sun.
4. Icarus was the son of Daedalus; when his father was imprisoned by King Minos and constructed artificial wings for them to escape, Icarus was so bold that he drew near to the sun. The wax of his wings melted, and he was drowned in the Aegean Sea. Icarus is remembered for his pride in daring to fly.
5. The Indus Sea of South Asia and the Mauritanian Sea of West Africa came to represent the far reaches of the civilized world.
6. The “bright shining planet” is Venus. Libra is the constellation into which Venus returns; here it means her deserved freedom.
7. “Qual si fe’ Glauco …” See Dante, Paradiso, 1.68. Glaucus was a fisherman in Boeotia. He achieved immortality either by tasting the grass which had revived a hare he had almost captured, or by tasting part of the divine herb which Cronos had grown. In either case, he was made immortal by such tasting.
8. Dante’s rhyming words for his sestina 44 are ombra, colli, erba, verde, petra, donna. In the sestina above, Matraini uses colli, ombra, giorno, erba, verde, mirto. Four of these are common to Dante and Matraini. It is of note that this sestina of Matraini’s has more Dantesque rhyme words than any other sestina of the period. Her third rhyme word, giorno, is in a sestina of Petrarch’s (22), but more probably is taken from Dante’s “Al poco giorno,” where it appears in the emphatic position of closure of the hemistich.
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Publication information: Book title: Selected Poetry and Prose. Contributors: Chiara Matraini - Author, Elaine Maclachlan - Editor, Elaine Maclachlan - Translator. Publisher: University of Chicago Press. Place of publication: Chicago. Publication year: 2008. Page number: 239.
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