translated by Lorna De Lucchi
Deeply repentant of my sinful ways
And of my trivial, manifold desires,
Of squandering, alas, these few brief days
Of fugitive life in tending love's vain fires,
To Thee, Lord, Who dost move hard hearts again,
And render warmth unto the frozen snow,
And lighten every bitter load of pain
For those who with Thy sacred ardours glow,
To Thee I turn, O stretch forth Thy right hand
And from this whirlpool rescue me, for I
Without Thine aid could never reach the land;
O willingly for us didst suffer loss,
And to redeem mankind hung on the Cross,
O gentle Saviour, leave me not to die.
Today, Gaspara Stampa is considered one of the greatest Renaissance poets, and in her own time, was often compared to Sappho for the lyrical nature of her work. She died early, a mere 31, but left behind a large volume of poetry for us to enjoy and appreciate today.
This poem is a prayer more than anything. Asking for forgiveness and mercy, Stampa recognizes herself as inadequate to rescue herself, knowing that power can only rest in a merciful God, who suffered on our behalf. Obviously, this is a very religious poem, but I feel like its humility can be a lesson to us all regardless of religious beliefs. Recognizing our own faults and admitting we need help is incredibly difficult to do. I think praise is also due to the translator, who has done a wonderful job maintaining both rhyme and meter.