“Table of Poets” (in
Early Italian Poets)
Poesie Italiana inedite,
For commentary on Rustico see editorial notes on DGR's translation of Rustico's
sonnet on Albizzo de' Caponsacchi.
This translation is one of DGR's strangest, being at once quite difficult and not
at all attractive. In this respect it mirrors its original, which is rarely anthologized since it is
one of Rustico's most notoriously recondite works. DGR's note to his translation
explains that he failed to trace the Fazio named in the sonnet, and subsequent scholars have fared no better. But we do know that
Messer Bertuccio is the Lambertuccio of Firenze, a prominent figure in the political and commercial
life of the city toward the end of the thirteenth-century,
and that Cocciolo (Chiocciola) was Lambertuccio's brother. Everyone also recognizes that
Rustico's sonnet is a highly ironical treatment of Lambertuccio and that it carries
its satire via a series of veiled obscenities. Beyond that the commentators agree only in
acknowledging that the sonnet's precise meaning remains uncertain.
Why would DGR attempt to translate such a work? The answer is probably
inferable from his own realistic and satirical poems, particularly those he wrote in
1849 during his trip with Hunt to Paris and Belgium. Fastidious as he was,
DGR wrote some rude and even coarse works—most notably, perhaps,
Can-Can at Valentino's”, which WMR seriously expurgated when
he first printed it in 1895. One also remembers the fairly strong imagery of
“After the French
Liberation of Italy”. It is not unlikely, then, that
DGR wanted to try his hand at Rustico's satire precisely to see how well he could
translate into English the veiled indecency of Rustico's original poem.
The translation is extremely free, even misleadingly so in the final lines.
DGR's source text is Trucchi's
Italiane inedite (I. 231).
The sonnet is probably an early work, from the late 40s or early 50s.
The translation was first published in 1861 in
Early Italian Poets; it was reprinted in 1874 in
and his Circle.