Medieval Love Poetry was enriched by Dante Alighieri's La Vita Nuova
Welcome to my final offering of medieval love poetry, showcasing Dante's epic love sonnets La Vita Nuova, written and dedicated to Beatrice Portinari. The page ends with two more sonnets, still on the subject of how wonderful is his love:
10. ‘Tanto gentile’.
So gentle and so pure appears
my lady when she greets others,
that every tongue trembles and is mute,
and their eyes do not dare gaze at her.
She goes by, aware of their praise,
benignly dressed in humility:
and seems as if she were a thing come
from Heaven to Earth to show a miracle.
She shows herself so pleasing to those who gaze,
through the eyes she sends a sweetness to the heart,
that no one can understand who does not know it:
and from her lips there comes
a sweet spirit full of love,
that goes saying to the soul: ‘Sigh.’
One unique feature of La Vita Nuova's medieval love poetry, is how Dante interspersed his verses with narratives that try and explain the sequence of his thoughts and poetry. This is what he had to say on the above sonnet, and he also employs this style to lead us into the last of his medieval love poetry I have for you on this page:
'This sonetto is so simple to understand, from what is said above, that it needs no division: and so, leaving it, I say that my lady came into such grace that not only was she honoured and praised, but through her many were also honoured and praised. Then, seeing this, and wanting to reveal it to those who had not seen it, I decided to write further verses that would make it known: and I then wrote this next sonetto that begins: ‘Vede perfettamente onne salute’
11. ‘Vede perfettamente onne salute’
They have seen perfection of all welcome
who see my lady among the other ladies:
those who go by with her are moved
to render thanks to God for lovely grace.
Her beauty is of such virtue,
that no envy can arise from it,
but makes them go clothed with
nobility, with love and with loyalty.
The sight of her makes all humble:
and does not only make her appear pleasing,
but all receive honour through her.
And she is so gentle in her effect,
that no one can recall her to mind.
who does not sigh in sweetness of love.
I hope you found it worthwhile taking the trouble to navigate the journey through the medieval love poetry of Dante, the renown Italian medieval poet.
Let us now continue our journey in the world of medieval love poetry by visiting that other great Italian man of letters of the middle ages, Petrarch:
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