Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

I'll be grateful if you...

May 9, 2012

WHISPERS: Dante's Love Story and The Red Sand...

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 most 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…

The Red Sands
To incur so many misfortunes
I feel privileged
To still survive
With vigor that defies
The dark depths
To sing
An eternal tale of many lives

For, forever and more
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

Like a mirage
Calling out to me, forever,
To live on and on
Into many more lives of despair
I know these sands of time, too;
Will turn into
An another oasis of blood

A red pond sprouting daemons
In their finery of green
Palm trees, dates and cactus flower
On the desert winds
The sands of time

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

And a lonely boat plies
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
 नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

To add your own verse at dVerse Poets Pub and read some amazing talented poets, click here…

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