Remembering DanteAlighieri on his birthday today by sharing a very beautiful love poetry from La Vita Nuova ("The New Life") and a little bit about his amazing one sided love story.
(The exact date is not known, but assumed by some online records that I came across, to be 9th May, c1265–1321)
Though Dante is best known for the monumental epic poem La divina commedia (Divine Comedy), considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. But here I am sharing ‘Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare’ from La Vita Nuova the story of his love for Beatrice Portinari, who also served as the ultimate symbol of salvation in the Comedy.
Sometime in his twenties, Dante decided to try to write love poetry that was less centered on the self and more aimed at love as such: he intended to elevate courtly love poetry, many of its tropes and its language, into sacred love poetry. Beatrice for Dante was the embodiment of this kind of love--transparent to the Absolute, inspiring the integration of desire aroused by beauty with the longing of the soul for divine splendor.
Yet it is still not entirely clear what caused Dante to fall in love with Beatrice. Since he knew very little of the real Beatrice, and that he had no great insight to her character (Dante met Beatrice only two times first at 9 year of age and then after another 9 years on the street, as shown in the painting, below, while passing by, and she greeted him. She died 8 years later at the young age of 24), it is perhaps unusual that he did. But he did, and there are clues in his works as to why:
"She has ineffable courtesy, is my beatitude, the destroyer of all vices and the queen of virtue, salvation." Dante saw Beatrice as a savior, one who removed all evil intentions from him. It is perhaps this idea of her being a force for good that he fell in love with, a force which he believed made him a better person. This is certainly viable, since he does not seem concerned with her appearance - at least not in his writings. He only once describes her complexion, and her "emerald" eyes. The poems (Of La Vita Nuova) present a frame story, recounting Dante's love of Beatrice from his first sight of her (when he was nine and she eight) all the way to his mourning after her death, and his determination to write of her "that which has never been written of any woman." __________
Text and Image Curtsy Wikipedia
Anyways, let’s cut the discussion and share the beautiful part which, it’s said, is known to every Italian by heart...
|Dante and Beatrice, by Henry Holiday.|
Dante looks longingly at Beatrice (in center)
passing by with friend Lady Vanna (red) along the Arno River
So Gentle And So Dignified Appears
______________________________ So gentle and so dignified appears My lady when she greets others, That every trembling tongue becomes dumb, And their eyes do not dare look upon her. She walks on, hearing herself praised, Benignly clothed in humility; And seems to be something arrived From Heaven as a miracle on Earth. She appears so pleasant to those who looks upon her, And through her eyes a sweetness touches the heart, Which cannot be understood by those who feel it not: And it seems that from her lips emanates A delicate spirit full of love, That speaks to the soul: Sigh. ___________________
Translation by Serena
Now coming to my this week’s poetry submission to dVerse poetry group… after a long time… Hope you will like it too… Though I know after Dante, it will look so plain… To incur so many misfortunes An eternal tale of many lives Bound by strings of blood drops Of many lives; shed in dying I still see, within the sheen of red drops, Reflections of your smile Calling out to me, forever, Into many more lives of despair I know these sands of time, too; An another oasis of blood A red pond sprouting daemons Palm trees, dates and cactus flower Every traveler strives to reach This oasis of nowhere, in every life Where path is the one that leads to its last With every foot steps taken, bleeds memories And every sigh, spills another red drop of living Filling, forever, thirsty desires of The red pond – just to survive Within the fragment world of mirage And the tired voice of my dreams Lies down to sleep in the red sands of time To the songs of eternal life _____________________
ॐ नमः शिवाय
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