We have 92 laudas by Jacopone
of certain authenticity, another three or four of probable authenticity and the liturgical hymn Stabat Mater. The credit for having transmitted to us Jacopone’s authentic laudas goes to the Florentine priest and typographer Francesco Bonaccorsi. In 1490 he was the first to publish a very accurate collection of laudas, deriving from ancient manuscripts that later disappeared from Todi and purified of the various imitations and counterfeits that had accumulated in the two centuries that had passed since Jacopone’s death.
Jacopone’s poetry represents a work of extraordinary richness, in which the poet expresses tenderness and passion, pain and jubilation, practical realism and mystical spirituality, tongue-in-cheek irony and biting sarcasm. Jacopone masters the canons of lyric poetry, the expressive resources of dialogue and contrast, as well as those of dramatic representation.
Many Italian philologists
during the last century dedicated themselves to the study of Jacopone’s language and to verifying the authenticity of the laudas; among them we remember, in particular, Franca Ageno, Franco Mancini, Matteo Leonardi and Enrico Menestò. For no more than a century (more than six centuries after the poet’s death), we have finally had organised texts on which to base the sure knowledge of the great poet’s life, thought and spiritual life.
To rediscover Jacopone,
understanding him and updating his message today, means seeking in his laudas the human, ethical, civil and religious motivations, which have a universal value.