How welcome to my eyes this shady hill Ombroso colle, amene e verdi piante
How welcome to my eyes this shady hill,
lovely gay plants, blest shores and green valleys,
these fresh and crystal clear rushing waters,
where, when I was sad, I found comfort.

Secret sacred woods, inviolable,
dark thickets, solitary paths, fragant flowers
plum-colored, white, yellow, overarching
trees -- parasols reaching to paradise.

Spirits, to you I've cried, told of harsh demands
often imposed on me, but I come here now
to speak of what contents me:

after long troubles and desperate sorrows
this warm sunlight, this place
I thought never to see again.

Ombroso colle, amene e verdi piante
Liete piaggie profonde e grate valli,
Correnti freschi, e lucidi christalli
Conforto spesso a le mei pene tante;

Segrete selve reverende e sante,
Folti boschetti, e solitari calli,
Soavi fiori persi, bianchi, e gialli
Oppressi da celesti e sacre piante;

A voi, piangendo gią miei duri stenti
Narrai pił volte, or a voi tutti insieme
Voglio parte scoprir de' miei contenti:

Dopo lunghe fatiche, e doglie estreme
Vidi del mio bel sole i raggi ardenti
Quando di veder lor manch'ebbi speme.


Costa 8:29; 1995 Bullock 27:86. Baldacci felt unsure about attribution because it shows such fine ability and literary sensibility (!), but he reprinted it as by Gambara (VI:215), and Bullock says the testimony of the manuscripts makes the attribution certain. For key see A Note on the Italian texts


Gambara alludes to Petrarch's Poem 243 (""Fresco ombroso fiorito et verde colle", Durling p. 404); she also plays with the phrase "mio bel sole", Colonna's familiar phrase for Pescara. See 1995 Bullock p. 86n. Although the poem is not early, Gambara uses the rhyme scheme frequent in her first and some later love poems; that is, abba/abba/cdcdcd. See Pił volte il miser cor avea assaltato.

I decided to begin my ordering of Gambara's poetry with her landscape poems as they embody her highest literary and civic ideals and she makes careful use of her learning. These have been thought her most accomplished; they are characteristic of her as she wanted to be seen publicly. I am aware that an argument could be made for beginning the sequence with the love poetry, but despite the centrality of these erotic poems to her urge to write, I hesitate to frame the poetry with them, as such a framing would, I think, distort our understanding of Gambara and therefore of her poetry.

Secret Sacred Woods
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Page Last Updated: 26 August 2003.