If in that radiant beautiful age Se a quella gloriosa e bella etade
If in that radiant beautiful age
rightly named the century of gold
Virgil was born and that sacred choir
with all its supremely blissful spirits,

still the stars gave us, out of kindness, courtesy
shared with us for a time, the unique Sannazaro
whose incomparable resonant style
surpasses that of all ancient poets.

Death has now taken him, and envious
Paradise which he painted so beautifully
rejoices to have Virgil's equal by his side.

Virgil told of Mantua and made its
river bright, Sannazaro sung of Naples,
its sea of dreams will make him immortal.

Se a quella glor´osa e bella etade
Che 'l nome merit˛ del secol d'oro
Nacque Virgili˘, e quel sacrato coro
Di tante altre felici alme beate,

Dato han le stelle a noi cortes' e grate
L'unico Sannazzaro, il cui sonoro
Leggiadro stil vince chi mai d'alloro
Fu degno aver ambe le tempie ornate.

Morte l' ha tolto poi, e 'l cielo avaro
Di lui s' adorna, ma piu ch'altro lieto
Gode in vedersi al gran Virgilio eguale.

Quel Mantoa illustra, e fa 'l suo Mincio chiaro;
Questi Napoli onoroa, e il bel Sebeto
FarÓ non men famoso ed immmortale.


The attribution to Gambara is recent and disputed. The above text is taken from Alethea Lawley, Vittoria Colonna: A Study, with translations of some of her published and unpublished sonnets. London: Gilbert and Rivington, 1889, pp. 107-108, and Bullock's 1982 edition of Vittoria Colonna's Rime, E16:211. Previous translation: Lawley 107. The only person in print to attribute the poem to Gambara thus far is Maud Jerrold. See my notes on Bullock's attribution of this sonnet to Colonna. For Key see A Note on the Italian texts


What identifies the poem as by Gambara for Maud Jerrold was a letter by her to Bembo in which she says she "had just made two sonnet on the death of Sannazzaro, and send them to you as to my light and guide", and his reply to her in which he explicitly quotes the opening line: "As for the sonnets, both seem to me most beautiful. They are simply, they are lovely, and infinitely affectionate and graceful: I congratulate you upon them ... I cannot say for certain which is the most charming, but the one which begins Se a quella takes my fancy most", see Maud Jerrold, "A Sister Poet, Veronica Gambara," Chapter 6, an interlude in her study of Vittoria Colonna's life and works, Vittoria Colonna, with Some Account of her Friends and Her Times, New York: Dent, 1906, pp. 141-142. Part of the letter Gambara sent with the sonnets to Sannazaro and Bembo's letter in reply are also reprinted in Italian in Courten (pp. 67-68). Here are the important lines from the Italian text by Bembo as printed in Chiapetti (p. 310):
Voi potete vedere come io son diligente, che alla vostra cortese e dolce lettera, nella quale erano i due sonetti vostri fatti per la morte del Sannazaro . . . Quanto a'sonetti, essi me sono paruti bellissimi l'uno e l'altro. Sono puri, sono vaghi e affezionati ed onorati, infinitamente. Io di loro mi rallegro con voi, et ben faceste a mandargli al signor Musseltola. Per avventura non ne averÓ la buona anima del Sannazaro alcuno di veruno altro cosý bello, come questi sono. De' quali sicuramente non saprei dire quale pi¨ leggiadro sia, se non che quello che incomincia Se a quella mi prende pi¨ l'animo.

Nowhere in the letter as printed is there any sign this poem is by anyone other than Gambara -- though one could speculate that Gambara has sent Bembo poems on the death of Sannazaro by someone else but not told him they are by someone else.

I see in Gambara's poetry a strong influence of Virgil and Sannazaro; indeed I'm not sure that what people feel is Virgilian in Gambara isn't rather Arcadian as found in Sannazaro. The melancholy, the intense nostalgia, the imagery and longing seem to me much alike. I mean to study this issue some more; I want to see if anyone else beyond Jerrold has discussed the above letter.

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