Prose e poesie

sheet of paper

Giovanni Bressani (1489/90–1560)
Prose e poesie, 16th century
Folio 78 (verso), 248 folios
8 1/8 x 6 1/4 in. (20.5 x 15.8 cm)
Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai e Archivi Storici, Bergamo (MA 145)


This collection of poems presumably records Giovanni Bressani’s handwriting. In Moroni’s portrait of Bressani, the writer holds a piece of paper on which is written a poem beginning with the word sempre (always). This may have been chosen in the context of memorial — Bressani’s spirit (his writings) lives on after his physical body has perished — and may also refer to a specific poem. The only poem by Bressani that begins with the word sempre is displayed here and begins nearly halfway down the page.

The ignorant have always had the
vice of hating and despising the learned,
and in each faculty of every art,
this is seen, now as in the past.

But it makes no one happy or praised
to have impeded any of your illustrious work.
The evil tongues were never sufficient
to take away honor and quality from virtue.

But it pains me greatly if others
destroy your glory and honor and it is bitter
for them to see that virtue rests and settles in you.

Hence, I would like that you remedy this.
For to tell the truth, when everyone smiles,
the more we empower ourselves in our noble cause.

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