Giambattista Marino (1569 —1625) was an Italian poet born in Naples and held to be one of the greatest Italian poets of all time. He is considered the founder of the school of Marinism, later called Secentismo, characterised by its use of extravagant and excessive conceits, exaggerated artificiality and extensive use of antithesis.(A "conceit" in literature is a fanciful and/or bizarre figure of speech.) I am allergic to that language. If you are not, please lend me your immune system for the remainder of this article. I recently discovered that Marino, whom I had not heard of, lived almost next door, so I felt compelled to find out about him.
And my friend, Richard (Kidder, below), reminds me that "Marino like Lyly and Nashe and Sidney were working in a period that was making hay with the recent exhumations of the Latin and Greek rhetoricians, and they were having a good time at it."
Marino expanded the scope of material fit for presentation within poems and literature in general...[he] however, did not merely seek to break with tradition on a thematic level, but on a linguistic plane as well. His poetry greatly expands upon traditional notions of language and its limits; he uses refined Latinisms and conflates archaic language with popular language. As a way to display his own wit or argutezza, he created complex and ingenious metaphors and conceits in rather unprecedented combinations. Furthermore, he capitalized on his ability to astound the reader by using word play, inverted syntax and hyperbole. Indeed, the very elements he used to react against the classical, academic tradition become the basis of his own style within his own sonnets and madrigals, and further inspired the important literary movement of “Marinism” practiced by other Italian poets in the seventeenth century.
John Lyly (1554-1606) certainly had a good time writing that. It is from his Euphues (1580) from which we have the term, itself, euphuism, to describe that type of prose, inflated with its own sense of wit and delight.
How frantic are those lovers which are carried away with the gay glistering of the fine face? The beauty whereof is parched with the summer's blaze and chipped with the winter's blast: which is of so short continuance, that it fadeth before one perceive it flourish.
Marino's best-known work is L'Adone (Adonis), which was published in Paris in 1623 and dedicated to the French king Louis XIII. It is a mythological poem dealing with the love of the goddess Venus for Prince Adonis. It is one of the longest epics in Italian literature, made up of 5123 eight-line stanzas (40,984 verses). There is little pretense to narrative unity; the whole thing is a vehicle for language virtuosity rich in hyperbole and containing rewritten passages from Dante, Tasso, and French literature and challenging the reader, among many other things, to a sophisticated game of name-that-quotation. The poem is also sensitive to the latest scientific discoveries and contains a eulogy to Galileo, certainly evidence of the time Marino spent in the company of Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615), the early Neapolitan scientist and natural philosopher.
Marinismo first appeared in the last [19th] century as a label for the themes and techniques of Marino and his followers. It continues to be used synonymously with secentismo and concettismo...[and is characterized by]...Latinate inversion and displacement...Non-standard syntax of various kinds, separating nouns from their adjectives, or putting a subject after its verb...chiasmus and antithesis...Repetition of words, and echo effects...Alliteration, assonance, and consonance...[and that]...the Marinist poet never hesitated to embark on a long string of comparisons with nature, most of them couched as metaphor rather than simile because this allowed for more striking statements...Nevertheless, Marino leans heavily on both classical mythology and Christian imagery, adapting it freely to create a huge number of memorable word-pictures: gems, minerals, and precious metals...flowers...birds, fire, snow, the seasons, the sea, and, above all, sun and stars ...milk, ivory, parturition, the arts and sciences, and a variety of actions and emotions useful for personification.
Donna che si lava le gambe
Sovra basi d'argento in conca d'oro
io vidi due colonne alabastrine
dentro linfe odorate e cristalline
franger di perle un candido tesoro.
O (dissi) del mio mal posa e ristoro,
di Natura e d'Amor mète divine,
stabilite per ultimo confine
nel'Oceano de le dolcezze loro.
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Woman Washing her Legs
In a shell of silver upon golden base I saw two columns of alabaster amid perfumed and crystal currents breaking a white treasure of pearls. O (I said) resting-place and balm of my suffering, divine ends of Nature and Love, set as the utmost bounds in the ocean of their own delights.