Poems and Letters

Establishing her place in Venetian society was necessary for Franco, which she secured by flaunting her talents in poetry and prose. With her education, Franco was able to intertwine in the elite class of Venice, befriending aristocrats and noblemen. In the 1570s, she became close with Domenico Venier, a patron to women poets. Franco became a welcomed guest in the Venier palace, and took advantage of the library, which she further expanded her studies.[1] The poems and letters created by Franco allow readers to understand her sexual ferocity, satirical remarks, and overall presence among men that allowed her to be so enticing to her audience. Poems published in her book, Terza Rima (1575), evoke the passion and ecstasy that Franco embraced in her writing. Translated by Margaret Rosenthal, Franco wrote a poem in response to a poem by Marco Venier:

There’ll be no gap between merit and reward

if you’ll give me what, though in my opinion

it has great value, costs you not a thing;

your reward from me will be

not only to fly but to soar so high

that your hope will match your desires.

And my beauty, such as it is,

which you never tire of praising,

I’ll them employ for your contentment;

sweetly lying at your left side,

I will make you taste the delights of love

when they have been expertly learned;

And doing this, I could give you such pleasure

that you could say you were fully content,

and at once fall more deeply in love.

So sweet and delicious do I become,

when I am in bed with a man

who, I sense, loves and enjoys me.[2]

The sensual word play that Franco wrote to her client is reminiscent of the role she played in society. Franco demonstrates her dominating presence in a male-controlled society. With her overt sexuality and intelligence, Veronica Franco used her poetry and letter writing to gain access to the most privileged social class of Venice.


[1] Jones, 5.

[2] Ibid., Veronica Franco, “Capitolo 2,” 66-67.

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Responses

I love this poem and would love to see more of her poems.

I loved the summary of the letter she sent to her friend who wanted to groom her daughter into a courtesan and would love to see the real letter

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