Italian poet TORQUATO TASSO was born on this date (d. 1595). Best known for his poem La Gerusalemme Liberata (“Jerusalem Delivered”) (1580), in which he depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade, during the siege of Jerusalem.

Believed by some, now, to have suffered from some form of schizophrenia, he died a few days before he was due to be crowned as the “king of poets” by the Pope. Until the beginning of the 19th century, Tasso remained one of the most widely read poets in Europe.

His poems barely hint at his sexuality but his letters written to one Luca Scalabrino are very plain about his love of men. Here’s a taste from the translated letters by Jill Claretta Robbins in the [spectacularly good] Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature:

You Lordship, in your last letter you ask forgiveness of me for not having revealed your sexual desire for me; and in your other ones that you wrote to me before, you have always shown that you believe that I am scornful of you, because you have not revealed to me this carnal desire of yours, and you express a very good reason for your secrecy and silence used with me….speak no longer of these things….In sum, I am all yours.”