Friday, July 28, 2017

Lyric Poetry

Lyric PoetryLyric Poetry; Etna by Pietro Bembo, translated by Mary P Chatfield, 125 pages

Pietro Bembo was a man who could only have lived during the Italian Renaissance - after being trained as a Venetian diplomat, he became an accomplished humanist who helped restore the popularity of the works of Petrarch and Boccaccio, then the lover of Lucrezia Borgia, and finally a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church.  He embodies those traits which seem so puzzling or scandalous to so many in other times and places - particularly the combination of a genuine concern for virtue and a deep religiosity with casual hedonism.  His poetry - presented here as a translation of his own compilation, the Carminum libellus, along with works he omitted and works attributed to him and included in later editions - reflects this curious mixture, shifting between paganized hymns, comic insults, and lurid eroticism.  Also included in this volume is Bembo's dialogue Etna, a reconstruction of a conversation with his father retelling the author's exploration of the famous Sicilian volcano, in which he seamlessly combines classicism and scientific inquiry.

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