Since, Sir, I knew nothing would please you more Cognoscendo Signor cosa più grata
Knowing, Sir, nothing would please you more
than to have the woman you love nearby
so you might love and be loved the more,
by a woman born uniquely beautiful,

But not having this much loved power --
who would not want two such powers -- I thought
if I don't have living beauty to send
my paper might just give you her brightness.

I can come up with no other gift more
welcome, more excellent than this effigy
of the woman you love so very much.

So I send her, not because she's as lovely,
for if you were to use every human art,
in truth, you could not make such a bright star.

Cognoscendo Signor cosa più grata
Non esserti che haver viva colei
Che più che te stesso ami, et amar dei,
Per esser di bellezze unica nata,

Ma non potendo haver tal cosa amata,
Com'io pel ben d'ambi voi duo vorrei,
Penso che se non viva haver poi lei
Charo te fia che in carta a te sia data.

Così non sapenda io ch'altro don farte
Più degno et excellente che di quella
Che tanto ami, Signor, l'effigie darte,

Onde la mando non come lei bella,
Perché se insieme fussi ogni humana arte
Dal ver non potria far sì chiara stella.


See 1995 Bullock 16:73 and ABullock, "Per Una Edizione Critica della Rime di Veronica Gambara" (Veronica Gambara e la Poesia del Suo Temp Nell'Italia Settentrionale, pp 115-116. For Key A Note on the Italian texts


The style of this poem marks it as early. The attribution was still uncertain when Bullock published it for the second time in his essay in (see "Per Una Edizione Critica" just above). The poem could be from one man to another (say someone of lower rank to one of higher rank). The tone is not in Gambara's usual intense mood. The most literal uncontextualized reading suggests it is meant to accompany a portrait of a beautiful woman that the author is sending someone who was in love with this woman; the author apologizes because the portrait is nowhere as beautiful as the lady. The author then might be a painter attempting to flatter his way to a patron.

However, it could also be a poem by a woman to a man; then she would be flirting with him by saying she will send a picture to him of a beautiful woman. The second stanza would then refer to her lack of beauty. This latter way of reading it comes about from an attribution to Gambara first made by Salza and now (apparently) confirmed by the republication of the sonnet in Bullock's new edition. The argument has become that Gambara sent the sonnet to Bembo as part of a fictitious game when she could not supply the first poem she had written him (which he wanted to include in an anthology and had asked her for sometime between 1505 and 1506). The question is, Who would the portrait be of? Gambara herself? or perhaps her sister, Isotta. See 1995 Bullock p. 74n. for the most recent argument that it is by Gambara and sent to Bembo, though who the beautiful lady can be, or whether the whole thing is a pretense and there is an ironic reference to Veronica's lack of beauty remains in doubt.

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