Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 September 2004
One of the most famous – and unusual – carnival songs from Renaissance Florence is ‘Dolor, pianto e penitentia’, variously entitled Carro della morte, Trionfo della morte, Canzona de' morti, or Canzone a ballo della morte. Unlike the majority of Florentine canti carnascialeschi, it is a spiritual text, so resembling a lauda spirituale that the Dominican Serafino Razzi and others could include it virtually unchanged in collections of laude. Shortly after its performance, its text was published in Florence, probably towards the end of the first decade of the Cinquecento, in the chapbook titled La canzona de' morti. This small pamphlet also included a woodcut depiction of the carro (Figure 1) and four other texts, all equally penitential: Castellano Castellani's Lauda della morte, ‘Cuor maligno e pien di fraude’, modelled on the Dies irae; a Sonetto di messer Castellano, ‘Voi che guardate a questi morti intorno’; a Canzona del carro del travaglio, ‘Perché el tempo dà e toglie’; and a lauda, ‘O mondana sapienza’, which closely imitates ‘Dolor, pianto e penitentia’, including even the word ‘penitenza’ at the end of each stanza.