In a culture where poetry is considered the highest form of human language, Gendun Chopel is revered as Tibet’s greatest modern poet. Born in 1903 as British troops were preparing to invade his homeland, Gendun Chopel was identified at any early age as the incarnation of a famous lama and became a Buddhist monk, excelling in the debating courtyards of the great monasteries of Tibet. At the age of thirty-one, he gave up his monk’s vows and set off for India, where he would wander, often alone and impoverished, for over a decade. Returning to Tibet, he was arrested by the government of the young Dalai Lama on trumped-up charges of treason, emerging from prison three years later a broken man. He died in 1951 as troops of the People’s Liberation Army marched into Lhasa.
Throughout his life, from his childhood to his time in prison, Gendun Chopel wrote poetry that conveyed the events of his remarkable life. In the Forest of Faded Wisdom is the first comprehensive collection of his oeuvre in any language, assembling poems in both the original Tibetan and in English translation. A master of many forms of Tibetan verse, Gendun Chopel composed heartfelt hymns to the Buddha, pithy instructions for the practice of the dharma, stirring tributes to the Tibetan warrior-kings, cynical reflections on the ways of the world, and laments of a wanderer, forgotten in a foreign land. These poems exhibit the technical skill—wordplay, puns, the ability to evoke moods of pathos and irony—for which Gendun Chopel was known and reveal the poet to be a consummate craftsman, skilled in both Tibetan and Indian poetics. With a directness and force often at odds with the conventions of belles lettres, this is a poetry that is at once elegant and earthy. In the Forest of Faded Wisdom is a remarkable introduction to Tibet’s sophisticated poetic tradition and its most intriguing twentieth-century writer.
A musician, musicologist, and self-defined “poet of research,” Amelia Rosselli (1930–96) was one of the most important poets to emerge from Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Following a childhood and adolescence spent in exile from Fascist Italy between France, England, and the United States, Rosselli was driven to express the hopes and devastations of the postwar epoch through her demanding and defamiliarizing lines. Rosselli’s trilingual body of work synthesizes a hybrid literary heritage stretching from Dante and the troubadours through Ezra Pound and John Berryman, in which playful inventions across Italian, English, and French coexist with unadorned social critique. In a period dominated by the confessional mode, Rosselli aspired to compose stanzas characterized by a new objectivity and collective orientation, “where the I is the public, where the I is things, where the I is the things that happen.” Having chosen Italy as an “ideal fatherland,” Rosselli wrote searching and often discomposing verse that redefined the domain of Italian poetics and, in the process, irrevocably changed the Italian language.
This collection, the first to bring together a generous selection of her poems and prose in English and in translation, is enhanced by an extensive critical introduction and notes by translator Jennifer Scappettone. Equipping readers with the context for better apprehending Rosselli’s experimental approach to language, Locomotrix seeks to introduce English-language readers to the extraordinary career of this crucial, if still eclipsed, voice of the twentieth century.
Originally published in 1622, Love in the Mirror tells the unforgettable and path-breaking story of a passionate love affair between two women in early modern Florence. Despite the risk of social sanctions, Florinda and Lidia freely consent to love each other “breast to breast and mouth to mouth,” with some surprising consequences for the institution of marriage.
This bilingual edition of the play introduces the English-speaking reader to one of the most remarkable creative artists of the Baroque age, Giovan Battista Andreini (1576–1654). Actor, playwright, and son of the first great diva of the European stage, Isabella Andreini, Giovan Battista was renowned in his lifetime as an avant-garde theatrical innovator. While drawing on the Italian commedia dell’arte, his comedies go far beyond its limits in order— like Calderón, Corneille and Shakespeare—to subvert traditional views of the relationship between art and life, representation and reality.
Love in the Mirror, which was lost from view for centuries, is here translated for the first time into a highly accessible and fully annotated English version. The volume includes a wideranging introduction to this experimental comic masterpiece, as well as to the life and works of G.B. Andreini.
Hairston has constructed a full personal, cultural and literary biography for d’Aragona, using newly discovered letters, archival material of other kinds, and contemporary theory about gender in women’s writing. Footnotes establish the intricacy of Tullia’s intellectual networks and her courting of intellectuals in rhyme. Hairston includes poems written to d’Aragona, including Girolamo Muzio’s long pastoral, Tirrhenia. She addresses with tact the question of how sexual Tullia’s relationships were with her various interlocutors. At times, as she says, one just can’t know, but that the issue is much less important than the poems themselves. I agree wholeheartedly. This is the editor Tullia has been waiting for: an indefatigable researcher, a creative biographer, and a precise and appreciative literary critic.
—Ann Rosalind Jones
Esther Cloudman Dunn Professor of Comparative Literature, Smith College
The figure of Tullia d’Aragona has long fascinated readers as the prototype of the “honest courtesan”, a woman who successfully exploited her physical and intellectual charms to win the adoration and respect of the Italian cultural elite. With Julia Hairston’s richly annotated edition of her collected verse, the product of more than a decade of scholarship, d’Aragona finally comes into focus also as poet. She emerges in this volume as one of the most distinctive protagonists in a key transitional moment in Italian literary history, when the aristocratic tradition of Petrarchist lyric began to be reshaped and democratized by its encounter with print.
Professor of Italian, New York University
A contemporary of Giordano Bruno and Galileo, Tommaso Campanella (1568–1639) was a controversial philosopher, theologian, astrologer, and poet who was persecuted during the Inquisition and spent much of his adult life imprisoned because of his heterodox views. He is best known today for two works: The City of the Sun, a dialogue inspired by Plato’s Republic, in which he prophesies a vision of a unified, peaceful world governed by a theocratic monarchy; and his well-meaning Defense of Galileo, which may have done Galileo more harm than good because of Campanella’s previous conviction for heresy.
But Campanella’s philosophical poems are where his most forceful and undiluted ideas reside. His poetry is where his faith in observable and experimental sciences, his astrological and occult wisdom, his ideas about deism, his anti-Aristotelianism, and his calls for religious and secular reform most put him at odds with both civil and church authorities. For this volume, Sherry Roush has selected Campanella’s best and most idiosyncratic poems, which are masterpieces of sixteenth-century Italian lyrics, displaying a questing mind of great, if unorthodox, brilliance, and showing Campanella’s passionate belief in the intrinsic harmony between the sacred and secular.
Garcilaso de la Vega (ca. 1501–36), a Castilian nobleman and soldier at the court of Charles V, lived a short but glamorous life. As the first poet to make the Italian Renaissance lyric style at home in Spanish, he is credited with beginning the golden age of Spanish poetry. Known for his sonnets and pastorals, gracefully depicting beauty and love while soberly accepting their passing, he is shown here also as a calm student of love’s psychology and a critic of the savagery of war.
This bilingual volume is the first in nearly two hundred years to fully represent Garcilaso for an Anglophone readership. In facing-page translations that capture the music and skill of Garcilaso’s verse, John-Dent Young presents the sonnets, songs, elegies, and eclogues that came to influence generations of poets, including San Juan de la Cruz, Luis de Leon, Cervantes, and Góngora. The Selected Poems of Garcilaso de la Vega will help to explain to the English-speaking public this poet’s preeminence in the pantheon of Spanish letters.
Making Luis de Góngora’s work available to contemporary English-language readers without denying his historical context, Selected Poems of Luis de Góngora presents him as not only one of the greatest and most complex poets of his time, but also the funniest and most charismatic. From longer works, such as “The Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea,” to shorter ballads, songs, and sonnets, John Dent-Young’s free translations capture Góngora’s intensely musical voice and transmit the individuality and self-assuredness of the poet. Substantial introductions and extensive notes provide personal and historical context, explain the ubiquitous puns and erotic innuendo, and discuss translation choices. A significant edition of this seminal and challenging poet, Selected Poems of Luis de Góngora will find an eager audience among students of poetry and scholars studying the history and literature of Spain.
Andrea Zanzotto is widely considered Italy’s most influential living poet. The first comprehensive collection in thirty years to translate this master European poet for an English-speaking audience, The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto includes the very best poems from fourteen of his major books of verse and a selection of thirteen essays that helps illuminate themes in his poetry as well as elucidate key theoretical underpinnings of his thought. Assembled with the collaboration of Zanzotto himself and featuring a critical introduction, thorough annotations, and a generous selection of photographs and art, this volume brings an Italian master to vivid life for American readers.
“Now, in [this book], American readers can get a just sense of [Zanzotto’s] true range and extraordinary originality.”—Eric Ormsby, New York Sun
“What I love here is the sense of a voice directly speaking. Throughout these translations, indeed from early to late, the great achievement seems to be the way they achieve a sense of urgent address.”—Eamon Grennan, American Poet
Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age, was the master of the baroque style known as “conceptismo,” a complex form of expression fueled by elaborate conceits and constant wordplay as well as ethical and philosophical concerns. Although scattered translations of his works have appeared in English, there is currently no comprehensive collection available that samples each of the genres in which Quevedo excelled—metaphysical and moral poetry, grave elegies and moving epitaphs, amorous sonnets and melancholic psalms, playful romances and profane burlesques.
In this book, Christopher Johnson gathers together a generous selection of forty-six poems—in bilingual Spanish-English format on facing pages—that highlights the range of Quevedo’s technical expertise and themes. Johnson’s ingenious solutions to rendering the difficult seventeenth-century Spanish into poetic English will be invaluable to students and scholars of European history, literature, and translation, as well as poetry lovers wishing to reacquaint themselves with an old master.
Standing against the visible landscape—the mountainous volcanoes, the jungles and savannahs—the seven trees conjured in these narrative poems by one of Latin America's masters also evoke another, more mysterious terrain. It is this other landscape, as invisible as poetry before it is written down but etched by history and animated by the collective memory of a people, that speaks through Pablo Antonio Cuadra’s Seven Trees against the Dying Light.
Storing experience as they exist, these tree-poems conserve local soil and memory in the place they inhabit. They are figures of life, stained by seawater and gun powder, by the bright red, bittersweet juice of the many life-giving plums that flourish in Nicaragua, and blood that has been spilled there. And they offer a way of remembering who we are, where we come from, and, above all, where we are bound if we cannot learn to root language in the earth that sustains us.
Printed here in Spanish with facing English translations, the edition includes an introduction with ecocritical focus, as well as complete notes on botanical, historical, mythological, and socio-political references.
Speaking to the Heart
—Lam Thi My Da
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