“Madrigals,” from “Le gratie d’amore”

For those who wish to learn
To move their steps, now faster, now more slowly.
With grace and lightness turn
To instruments, their sounds in harmony
Peruse this book, midst honored ones discern,
Sylvia, Nissa, Egeria, Lia,
Chloris, Daphne, Callisto, Amaryllis,
Flora, Syringa, Phyllis
With gentle bow, and then a step, a spin
They touch you deep within
Yet strokes so welcome, held so very dear,
Every hour, lovers all revere.

        Cherubino Ferrari, known as “The Ethereal One”

O gentle loving sires
Who dancing wish to go
With your belovéd, where twin’d hearts cavort.
Here, there, so many styles,
Look where fond gazes land,
Your flair wins pleasure’s glance.
For good and worthy sport
Love holds dominion ‘mongst the noblest sort.

        Gherardo Borgogni, known as “the Wanderer” (16thc)

At every gracious dance
Kind docent, to the sound
Your steps well measured, free of happenstance
To harp chords that resound
You reunite the loving soul and senses,
Of the celestial muses.
With no peer, you’re worth the muse’s song
Learnéd master who directs the throng.

          Giacomo Antonio Tassano (16th century)

By Cesare Negri
translated, from the Italian, by Yvonne Kendall

Yvonne Kendall is currently an MFA student in creative nonfiction with a translation sub-concentration at Columbia University in New York City. Trained at Stanford University, she is a published musicologist with a dance history emphasis.

The poems in this volume are part of the dedication pages of Cesare
‘s Le gratie d’amore (1602), a dance manual published in Milan Italy. The poets were all members of a humanistic academy known as Accademia degli Inquieti.