Thursday, November 3, 2016

DaVinci's Tiger by Laura Elliott

Poetry Friday

I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger

Fact:                      The sassy line above is the only remaining line of poetry penned by Ginevra de’ Benci’ a member of fifteenth century high Florence society. We know that this society of the Medici’s didn’t hold with the notion of women learning to read or write, let alone craft verse.

Fiction:             Events portrayed in DaVinci’s Tiger a historical fiction by Laura Elliott (Katherine Tegen Books, 2015) based on the real life of Ginevra de’ Benci’.

Fact:                The only reason we know that Ginevra de’ Benci was a poet in 1470s is from a letter addressed to Ginevra requesting the full poem written by her to demonstrate the wit and sophistication of Florentine women.

Fact:                The portrait below is the first commissioned solo painting of Renaissance artist, Leonardo DaVinci’…..and involved a fair amount of scandal.
"Ginevra De' Benci [obverse]." Art Object Page. National Gallery of Art, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2016. .

These details pulled me headlong into author Laura Elliott’s presentation at the Virginia Association of School Librarians last month. Admittedly, I’m already a fan of Elliot’s work – especially her WWII Trilogy Under a WarTorn Sky ( Disney-Hyperion, 2001). I am familiar with her immense curiosity, passion for detail and meticulousness reporter’s thoroughness when writing her incredible YA novels.

I am now enjoying DaVinci’s Tiger immensely.

It does make me wonder…..if only one line of poetry that I have written in my lifetime were to survive to be read six hundred years from now…which line would it be? Which line could it be? 

I thought I’d write a found poem from one or a few of the incredible pages of research notes and summaries that Elliot gives as background for DaVinci’s Tiger. But, this story is too fresh and close. I am caught up in the Medici brothers and Leonardo Da’Vinci, Ginevra’s BFF Simonetta and her Platonic Patron, the dashing Ambassador Bembo of Venice. These characters, based on true Renaissance personalities, are real in my mind now. This story will need to sit with me a while.


DaVinci’s portrait of Ginevra is the only work of the maestro on permanent display in the Americas at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. I will visit Ginevra in person before attempting to capture anything from her. She is special but also available to grant us an audience.

For now, I am intrigued by Ginevra’s single line of verse, DaVinci’s portrait and the incredible world this woman graced. Fortunately for all of us, author Laura Elliot writes:

“My next novel, in fact, will be about Simonetta, tentatively titled ONE GRACE DANCING”. 

I am already eager for the next part of the story.

Head on over to Laura Salas' blog Writing the World for Children for more Poetry Friday!


  1. Very interesting! That's such an intriguing line of poetry to survive...

    1. Tabatha, I'm enjoying the music from your Poetry Friday post while reading other posts. What a relaxing way to end my work week. Thank you!

  2. I thought that line was representing you - in your Mother Tiger persona, Linda :)

    And fortunately, my hubby & I have a quick trip to D.C. this month, in which I've already arranged to meet a pal at the adjacent museum to the Nat. Gallery of Art, (Nat. Portrait Gallery) . I hope there is time to visit with Ms. Mountain Tiger. This title & author is new to me - appreciations!

  3. What an intriguing story. I can see why you are captivated.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful book. I'll look for it. If I had only one line of poetry survive, I could also hope it was one with passion and conviction, like that one.

  5. I love hearing all about your research, and that line, that one line is a companion indeed to her portrait, isn't it? Thanks, Linda. I've also bookmarked that trilogy you mentioned!

  6. What a line! Reminds me of my father getting me to repeat "I am woman, here me roar!" when I was growing up to build my self-confidence. I am a mountain tiger, hear me roar. :)

  7. Enjoyed this review, and especially your ponder: "if only one line of poetry that I have written in my lifetime were to survive to be read six hundred years from now…which line would it be? Which line could it be?"

  8. Great recommendation, Linda. Is the book in verse? Whether yes or no, I will put it on my TBR.

  9. Ooooh, interesting question. One line? That would be impossible to choose, I think. Thanks for sharing this post and book, Linda. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but, maybe...

  10. This is very intriguing. I like the challenge of your question. It is something to ponder for sure. Thank you so much for sharing today and for visiting the ridge each week! I appreciate your kind words, Linda.

  11. Sassy indeed! I wish I had this book in my hands right now--I'm so behind in my reading (like 15 years) that it's hard for me to commit to any book, but this one sounds like a sure thing. Thanks, Linda, for sharing.

  12. Linda, you read my mind. Appreciations for this.
    I teared up in the small room where this gem is just last Tuesday.
    The nat. gallery brilliantly displays the portraits lovely
    reverso with Da Vinci's extra lagniappe,
    so be sure to walk behind.
    It was a Moment.
    Ditto, the discovery of this topic, as your post!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!