prose poems

Fosildo Mirtunzio (Pseudonym)

Fosildo Mirtunzio was the pseudonymous and otherwise unknown author of Veglie auttunnali [Autumnal Vigils], published in Venice in 1796. The translations of his two poems in this issue, as well as the two from Malatesti, will appear in the forthcoming anthology Dancing with the Sphinx: Riddle Poems, edited by Kate Light and Kathrine Varnes.



Giovanni Raboni

Giovanni Raboni, born in Milan in 1932, worked as an editor and critic. His status as perhaps the greatest Italian poet of his generation is attested to by the inclusion of his complete poems, L’opera poetica (2006), in the prestigious Meridiani series of standard Italian authors. He also published several volumes of critical essays, as well as translations of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal and Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, among many others. He died in September 2004.


Antonio Malatesti

Antonio Malatesti (1610 – 1672) was a Florentine poet. His collection of riddles, Una Corona di Enigmi, was published in 1640. La Tina, a sequence of bawdy rustic sonnets, was dedicated to John Milton and presented to him in manuscript; a new edition, edited from this text by Davide Messina, was published in 2014. Malatesti’s later verse was collected in the posthumous Brindisi dei Ciclopi (1673).



Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest poets. His Vita Nova (c. 1292 – 95), a combination of prose and poetry that tells the story of his youthful love for Beatrice, was his first book. In 1295 he entered Florentine politics and in the summer of 1300 he became one of the six governing Priors of Florence, the highest political office. During this time, he was also writing the numerous lyric poems that made him famous in central and northern Italy, as well as studying widely and deeply in a number of subjects.


William Dunbar

William Dunbar (c. 1456 – 1520) trained as a Franciscan novice in addition to studying at the University of St Andrews, Oxford, and Paris. He served as an ambassador and court poet of King James IV, for whom his work epitomized the ideals of the “Northern Renaissance.” His most famous work, “Lament for the Makaris” eulogizes twenty-four early Scots/English poets including Geoffrey Chaucer, John Barbour, Blind Harry, and Robert Henryson.


William Fowler

William Fowler (1560 – 1612) was a Protestant spy in Paris before returning to Scotland to become a minister and, later, moving to London to serve as secretary to Queen Anne. Besides composing original work, he also translated widely from the Italian masters such as Petrarch and Castiglione. His “Sonet: In Orknay” utilizes the rhyme scheme popularized by Fowler’s English contemporary, Edmund Spenser (1552 – 1599), thus representing Fowler’s quick talent for absorbing both classical and current trends in literature.



Gavin Douglas

Gavin Douglas (c. 1474 – 1522) represented, along with William Dunbar and Robert Henryson, the flowering of the golden age of the Northern Renaissance in Scotland. Douglas studied for the priesthood and traveled widely, absorbing both contemporary and classical virtues and resources. Completed in 1513, his monumental translation of Virgil’s Aeneid was the first complete verse rendition of a classical text to be produced in Scotland.


Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926) born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke, understood the power of words. At a lover’s urging, he changed his name to Rainer, which he thought sounded more masculine. He is probably the best-known 20th-century German-language poet, best known for his Duino Elegies, his Sonnets to Orpheus, and his New Poems. In the Duino Elegies—his most important work—and his other poems, Rilke combined knowledge of classical literature with a mystical sense of existence and religion.


Maria Picone

Maria Picone is a student at Goddard College’s low-residency MFA program and has degrees in philosophy from Rice and Princeton. She taught herself French after she attended a Descartes seminar as an undergraduate, in which she was the only one who couldn’t read French. Since then she has read not only philosophy but a wide range of literature in the original. She also has a personal affinity for French because she grew up hearing her grandmother often sing or curse in the language.


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