Now hope has died

Or passata la speranza
Now hope has died:
what once upon a time
made me eager, bold.
But I grieve the less,
since I have understood
no one is constant;
nothing endures.

Hope has now died.

Or passata la speranza,
Che mi tenne un tempo ardendo;
Men mi duol, poich io comprendo
Nulla cosa aver costanza.

Or passata la speranza.

Once upon a time
hope's deceit melted me, and I held on.
Now my pain is a game to her;
when she's driven me to tears,
she abandons me,
worn out from love and desire;
she continually tempts me with dying:
a tenacious, strong passion,
which perseveres yet more strongly.

Hope has now died.

Questa falsa un tempo in foco
M' ha tenuta pur sperando;
Or prendendo il mal mio a gioco
M' ha lassata lagrimando,
Ed amando e desiando
Mi conduce ognora a morte
Con passion tenace e forte
E con pi perseveranza.

Or passata la speranza.

I hoped, and fed myself with sweet fire;
I shall not hope any more,
only cry, my soul wrenched with longing,
I call everywhere on death,
seek succour for my grief,
since my heart is without hope
whom I once turned to
as sweet refuge.

Now hope is dead.

Io sperai, e quel sperare
Mi nutriva indolce fiamma;
Pi non spero, e lagrimare
Sol quest'alma desia e brama,
E la morte ognora chiama
Per soccorso al suo dolore,
Poich senza speme 'l core
Che gi fu sua dolce stanza

Or passata la speranza.

While I had her as guide,
every evil seemed light;
without her I am bewildered, bleak,
the least thing is too much;
long anxiety and brief pleasure
are all I've known until now:
my only reward has been
to be a slave.

Now hope has died.

Mentre ch' ebbi lei per scorta,
Ogni mal mi parea leve;
Senza, poi, smarrita e smorta,
Ogni poco mi par greve;
Lungo affanno e piacer breve
Fin a qua sempre ho sentito
Per aver con s servito
Questo premio sol m' avanza.

Or passata la speranza.

Gentle, sweet, soft hope,
-- ah -- fled from me --
why didn't she take with her
this burnt heart, my weary life?
I am so frightened,
of hope wholly deprived,
not living, yet alive
at length I have no hope.

Hope has now died.

Mia soave e dolce speme,
Da me dunque ahim! fuggita;
E al partir ne port insieme
L' arso cor, mia stanca vita;
Talch, essendo sbigottita,
E di speme al tutto priva,
Non vivendo, resto viva
Senz' alfin nulla speranza.

Or passata la speranza.


Rizzardi 24:56; Chiapetti 58-59; 1995 Bullock 10:66-68. Costa remarks that this ballata is found in a 15th century manuscript and stresses it is an early or pre-Correggio poem. Previous translations (of the traditional text): Jerrold 148-49; Poss 64. For Key see A Note on the Italian texts


The poem was first published in 1505; see Claudio Vela, "Poesie in Musica: Rime della Gambara e di altri poeti settentrionali," Veronica Gambara e la Poesia del Suo Temp Nell'Italia Settentrionale, p. 403-5 and Bullock, p. 68. Following the tradition, I have placed the above after "Quando Amor mi condusse al duro gioco" (When Love induced me to play that hard game). Bullock agrees that this and "Quando Amor mi condusse" are early poems, 1995 Bullock, pp. 67-68n. As with "Quando miro la terra ornata" ("When I see the earth a lovely picture"), Gambara writes within a tradition of poems; it has been suggested she had in mind Lorenzo di Medici's ballata in his Canti Carnascialeschi, Trinfo di Bacco ed Arianna "Quant' bella giovinezza" with its refrain, "Di doman non c' certezza' . See L. R. Lind, Lyric Poetry of the Renaissance, pp. 222-225; also Jon Thiem, ed., Lorenzo de' Medici: Selected Poems and Prose, translated by Jon Thiem and Others (University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania University Press, 1991), pp. 162-163. It seems to me the above poem has been much influenced by Sannazaro's Arcadia. It's as if we had a tiny piece broken off from that.

It is sometimes suggested that this poem was commissioned by Isabelle d'Este to accompany a tune by Baldessar Tromboncino, Isabella's court musician. The form of the frottola (or frottola-barzellata) form is defined by the Oxford Companion to Italian Literature as "a very free metric form, with lines of varying length, mainly short, in rhyming couplets (AABB), triplets (AAABBB), or variable groups (AAA BB CCCC), with a sententious content, somewhere between nonsense and moral and political argument." But see Maria Teresa Rosa Barezzani, "Intonazioni Musicali sui Test di Veronica Gambara," Veronica Gambara e la Poesia del Suo Temp Nell'Italia Settentrionale, pp. 128-29 where Barezzani points out that the form is one whose structure is the result of popular singing and dancing customs, and would be performed in an improvised way as the occasion demanded. There also seems to be no document to the effect that Gambara wrote the poem for Isabella d'Este, only a very few letters between them: these evidence a desire on the part of Veronica to be friends.

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