Poetry Friday–Time Traveler Poem

Beatrice de Luna by Agnolo Bonzino, Donna in rosso con bambino. (Gracia Nasi), from Wikimedia Commons.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Welcome time travelers… We are taking a trip into the dictionary and going back in time to 1522, when the word hero first made her appearance. How appropriate heroes’ timing was, with the renaissance under way. But as the renaissance carried on so did the Inquisition which was going strong in Portugal and Spain. A call for heroes and heroines was needed and answered with Beatrice de Luna (Donna Gracia Nasi) born into one of Lisbon’s wealthiest families, in 1510.

Nasi was born into a family of conversos, “New Christians.” Though like many other jews during the inquisition, her family chose to practice their religion secretly. She eventually married another converso, Francisco Mendes, whose family became the wealthiest spice trader in all of Europe.

Thanks to the Poetry Sisters/Princesses for providing us with this challenging prompt, Tanita Davis, Laura Purdie Salas, and all. I’ve visited many captivating rabbit holes this last week while researching hero, and finding my female heroine to share.


Donna who?
Donna Gracia
Donna Gracia who?
Donna Gracia Nasi
Aka born as Beatrice de Luna
to her Portuguese converso family–
Aka Hanna–her real family name–
Aka Gracia Mendes Nasi,
wife of Fernando Mendes
one of Europe’s most influential
and wealthiest spice traders of the 1500s.

Donna Gracia
Donna Gracia Nasi
A converso hero and heroine
who hid her Jewish identity
and helped save hundreds of
other conversos leave Portugal–
Leave Europe’s inquisition–
Leave torture, burning at the stake,
leave false truths, false justice, and
find safe haven in the Ottoman Empire.

Donna Gracia
Donna Gracia Nasi
Businesswoman extraordinaire–
Published two Bibles–
Funded schools and synagogues.
Donna–Donna Gracia
was forgotten, but now remembered
Donna Gracia Nasi remember this heroine.

© 2021 Michelle Kogan

Here are a few links if you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating woman:

Gracia Mendes Nasi, Renaissance Businesswoman by Ciarna Conliffe

Dona Gracia Nasi A philanthropist, known as the heart of her people, by Emily Taitz

Jan Annino is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog Bookseedstudio, thanks Jan, I’m looking forward to your post! Jan also had an optional theme: Sing! Hope you enjoy the moving song below.

Sending wishes for Truth, Justice, and Peace into our small world…

Visit Renée LaTulippe at No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.

About Michelle Kogan Art, Illustration, & Writing

Michelle Kogan is an artist, illustrator, instructor, and writer, creating colorful allegorical figure, flora and fauna paintings and children's illustrations, which have a sensitivity to endangered species, and the environment. She is an art instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Evanston Art Center and offers Plein Air Painting Workshops at nature venues in the Chicago area including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park. Visit her online Etsy Shop at: http://www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com and her website: http://www.michellekogan.com
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13 Responses to Poetry Friday–Time Traveler Poem

  1. Hi dear Michelle
    Appreciations for sharing this stunning portrait from the Middle Ages and for your poem about this formidable, determined scion of a spice family. Such a fascinating prompt from Laura Purdie Salas.

    Perhaps the right picture book poetry team will create a book-length poem on her path, some day.
    And maybe the right M.G. author will create a verse novel on her.

    Special thanks linking above to Poetry Friday, collected this week at Bookseedstudio


  2. janicescully says:

    Michelle, Donna Gracia’s life was quite a saga, amazing to read about, and your poem, that lists her accomplishment makes it much easier to grasp the enormity of what she did. Thank you for this part of history.

  3. bmagee10 says:

    Thank you for expanding my view of heroines and strong women, Michelle! Donna Gracia Nasi is one for the ages and your poem is a beautiful way to spread the word about her story. 🙂

  4. lindabaie says:

    I love the way you entwined Donna Gracia’s life story into your poem, Michelle, the repetition and the slipping in of all the facts. It feels like starting with Donna, Donna who? and on made it more fascinating to read of this woman who strove to be a help in days where women didn’t have much power. And I loved the music around the fire! Thanks! Happy weekend!

  5. jama says:

    Beautiful painting and lovely poem. Enjoyed learning about this special heroine. Wonderful how you wove all those essential facts into a lyrical form.

  6. tee+d says:

    What a stunning piece of history! I like that you settled on ONE word and not several; your deep dive into one historical character mirrors that same selective intensity. And I love that painting – such detail!

  7. Susan Bruck says:

    What a hero you found. So many amazing women have been lost in history. thanks for finding Donna and sharing her with us in your powerful poem.

  8. Wow this is fascinating, Michelle! I love how you just picked one word, and then one hero. I’m so glad you joined in! I love your repetition, especially:

    Leave Europe’s inquisition–
    Leave torture, burning at the stake,
    leave false truths, false justice, and

  9. haitiruth says:

    Thank you for this! So fascinating! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  10. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Thank you for introducing me to this heroine. Donna Gracia Nasi seems like quite the woman–savvy in business, faithful to her beliefs, and willing to help others.

  11. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, I started this last night that came down with a horrible virus so here is my comment on your very interesting post. It is filled with your deep research down the rabbit hole. Thank you for the fascinating poem, and the lively song you shared.

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