Capitolo 16

Veronica Franco Under Revision

(Challenge to a poet who has defamed her:)

Yet my tears are stanched at last and dried,
and the bitter wound has finally healed
that pierced me through from one side to the other.
As if jolted awake from sweet sleep all at once,
I drew courage from the risk I'd avoided,
though a woman, born to milder tasks;
and, blade in hand, I learned warrior's skills,
so that, by handling weapons, I learned
that women by nature are no less agile than men....

So take up at last the weapon you've chosen,
for I cannot bear any further delay,
compelled as I am by the scorn in my soul.
The sword that strikes and stabs in your hand---
the common language spoken in Venice---
if that's what you want to use, then so do I;
and if you want to enter into Tuscan,
I leave you the choice of high or comic strain
for one's as easy and clear for me as the other.
I've seen, in mock-heroic verse,
a very fine work of yours that resembles
the style that mixes Italian and Latin.
Whichever of these you wish to use,
as you do elsewhere, to speed on your arrows
in a contest of insults exchanged between us,
choose the language that you prefer,
for I am equally happy with them all,
since I have learned them for exactly this purpose.
To compete with you as boldly as I may,
I have studied all these styles in depth;
whether well or ill, I myself am content;
and others as well will understand this.
And so will you, for you may fall, beaten,
wishing you had not insulted me.........


[ll. 28-39, 109-32; pp. 161-67]




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Franco, Veronica Poems and Selected Letters.
2010 Selected Poetry
The Poets Garret
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