Martha Marchina

Original Text

Marchina, Martha. Marthae Marchinae virginis Neapolitanae Musa posthuma. 1701, p. 103.


Suas Rosas tuetur.1

Si quis Lucanos aequabit munere flores,       Praestantesque rosas, aurea mala dabit. Non vestros nostris dignamur floribus hortos:       Non mala haec Pestis, sed mala semper habe:2 Cedite Felsinei, Lucanis cedite campis;       Nam nequeunt fructus floribus esse paret.3

1 Marchina wrote this poem in response to Cardinal Spada’s poem on the same topic (see footnote below for Spada’s poem). In it, she reverses many of Spada’s assertions, particularly the last two lines of his poem. Marchina comments on Spada’s poem in a letter, where she questions his use of malis in its metrical position; she thinks it will be interpreted solely as “evils” instead of apples, since the a in his poem is metrically short. She remedies this in her poem by using both mala, “evil” and māla, “apples.” See original text p. 102-3 for the exchange between Spada and Marchina. 2 In the plague, fruits were apparently a sign of decadence, and excessive fruit-eating was seen as a possible cause of the plague. 3 Spada’s poem is as follows: Est celebris Paesto Lucania, Felsina peste / Paestanisque rosis illa, sed ista malis. / Cedite Felsineis, Lucani, cedite, campis: / Nam nequeunt flores fructibus esse pares. (English): Lucania is famed for Paestum, Felsina, its plague / One, Paestanian roses, the other, misery./ Yield to Felsinian fields, yield, Lucanians: / For flowers cannot equal fruits. See original text p. 102.


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