Giotto falls by right into Dante's circle, as one great man comes naturally to know another.
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But he is said actually to have lived in great intimacy with Dante, who was about twelve years older than himself; Giotto having been born in or near the year , at Vespignano, fourteen miles from Florence. He died in , fifteen years after Dante. Giotto's Canzone on the doctrine of voluntary poverty,—the only poem we have of his,—is a pro- test against a perversion of gospel teaching which had gained ground in his day to the extent of be- coming a popular frenzy.
People went literally mad upon it; and to the reaction against this madness may also be assigned at any rate partly Caval- canti's poem on Poverty , which, as we have seen, is otherwise not easily explained, if authentic. I have next introduced, as not inappropriate to the series of poems connected with Dante, Simone dall' Antella's fine sonnet relating to the last enterprises of Henry of Luxembourg, and to his then approaching end,—that death-blow to the Ghibelline hopes which Dante so deeply shared.
This one sonnet is all we know of its author, besides his name.
Giovanni Quirino is another name which stands forlorn of any personal history. Fraticelli in his well-known and valuable edition of Dante's Minor Works says that there lived about a bishop of that name, belonging to a Venetian family. But the tone of the sonnet which I give and which is the only one attributed to this author seems foreign at least to the confessions of bishops. It might seem credibly thus ascribed, however, from the fact that Dante's sonnet probably dates from Ravenna, and that his correspondent writes from some distance; while the poet might well have formed a friendship with a Venetian bishop at the court of Verona.
I am sorry to see that this necessary introduction to my second division is longer than I could have wished. Among the severely-edited books which had to be consulted in forming this collection, I have often suffered keenly from the buttonholders of learned Italy who will not let one go on one's way; and have contracted a horror of those editions where the text, hampered with numerals for reference, struggles through a few lines at the top of the page, only to stick fast at the bottom in a slough of verbal analysis.
It would seem unpardonable to make a book which should be even as these; and I have thus found my- self led on to what I fear forms, by its length, an awkward intermezzo to the volume, in the hope of saying at once the most of what was to say; that so the reader may not find himself perpetually worried with footnotes during the consideration of something which may require a little peace. The glare of too many tapers is apt to render a picture confused and inharmonious, even when their smoke does not ob- scure or deface it.
Transcribed Footnote page : place them together among the poems of one or the other correspondent, wherever they seemed to have most biographi- cal value; and the same with several epistolary sonnets which have no answer. In that part of the book of my memory before the which is little that can be read, there is a rubric, saying, Incipit Vita Nova.
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Nine times already since my birth had the heaven of light returned to the selfsame point almost, as concerns its own revolution, when first the glorious Lady of my mind was made manifest to mine eyes; even she who was called Beatrice by many who knew not wherefore. Iliad , xxiv. Then, musing on what I had seen, I proposed to relate the same to many poets who were famous in that day: and for that I had myself in some sort the art of discoursing with rhyme, I resolved on making a sonnet, in the which, having saluted all such as are subject unto Love, and entreated them to expound my vision, I should write unto them those things which I had seen in my sleep.
And the sonnet I made was this:—. Printer's Direction: I. Editorial Description: DGR consecutively numbered each poem within the Vita Nuova in the bottom margin of the page on which it begins. This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the first part I give greeting, and ask an answer; in the second, I signify what thing has to be answered to. But the true meaning of that vision was not then perceived by any one, though it be now evident to the least skilful.
From that night forth, the natural functions of my body began to be vexed and impeded, for I was given up wholly to thinking of this most gracious creature: whereby in short space I became so weak and so re- duced that it was irksome to many of my friends to look upon me; while others, being moved by spite, went about to discover what it was my wish should be concealed. Wherefore I, perceiving the drift of their unkindly questions, by Love's will, who di- rected me according to the counsels of reason, told them how it was Love himself who had thus dealt with me: and I said so, because the thing was so plainly to be discerned in my countenance that there was no longer any means of concealing it.
Now it so chanced with her by whose means I had thus long time concealed my desire, that it behoved her to leave the city I speak of, and to journey afar: page: Printer's Direction: II. In the second I tell where Love had placed me, with a meaning other than that which the last part of the poem shows, and I say what I have lost. A certain while after the departure of that lady, it pleased the Master of the Angels to call into His glory a damsel, young and of a gentle presence, who had been very lovely in the city I speak of: and I saw her body lying without its soul among many ladies, who held a pitiful weeping.
Whereupon, remembering that I had seen her in the company of excellent Beatrice, I could not hinder myself from a few tears; and weeping, I conceived to say some- what of her death, in guerdon of having seen her somewhile with my lady; which thing I spake of in page: This first sonnet is divided into three parts.
In the first, I call and beseech the Faithful of Love to weep; and I say that their Lord weeps, and that they, hearing the reason why he weeps, shall be more minded to listen to me. In the second, I relate this reason. In the third, I speak of honour done by Love to this Lady. Printer's Direction: III. Printer's Direction: IV. Editorial Description: DGR's marginal note to a phrase in the penultimate sentence in the footnote: "as he afterwards says of Beatrice, 'Quella ha nome Amor. This poem is divided into four parts.
In the first I address Death by certain proper names of hers. In the second, speaking to her, I tell the reason why I am moved to denounce her. In the third, I rail against her. In the fourth, I turn to speak to a person undefined, although defined in my own conception.
Some days after the death of this lady, I had occasion to leave the city I speak of, and to go thitherwards where she abode who had formerly been my protection; albeit the end of my journey reached not altogether so far. And notwithstanding that I was visibly in the company of many, the journey was so irksome that I had scarcely sighing enough to ease my heart's heaviness; seeing that as I went, I left my beatitude behind me. Wherefore it came to pass that he who ruled me by virtue of my most gentle lady was made visible to my mind, in the light habit of a traveller, coarsely fashioned.
He appeared to me troubled, and looked always on the ground; saving only that sometimes his eyes were turned to- wards a river which was clear and rapid, and which flowed along the path I was taking. And then I Transcribed Footnote page : lady's society was worthy of heaven, and that person was Beatrice. Printer's Direction: V. This sonnet has three parts.
contnetinore.cf: Donna Gentile
In the first part, I tell how I met Love, and of his aspect. In the second, I tell what he said to me, although not in full, through the fear I had of discovering my secret. In the third, I say how he disappeared. On my return, I set myself to seek out that lady whom my master had named to me while I jour- neyed sighing. And because I would be brief, I will now narrate that in a short while I made her my surety, in such sort that the matter was spoken of by many in terms scarcely courteous; through the which I had oftenwhiles many troublesome hours.
And by this it happened to wit: by this false and evil rumour which seemed to misfame me of vice that she who was the destroyer of all evil and the queen of all good, coming where I was, denied me her most sweet salutation, in the which alone was my blessedness. And here it is fitting for me to depart a little from this present matter, that it may be rightly under- stood of what surpassing virtue her salutation was to me.
To the which end I say that when she ap- peared in any place, it seemed to me, by the hope of her excellent salutation, that there was no man mine page: And now, resuming my discourse, I will go on to relate that when, for the first time, this beatitude was denied me, I became possessed with such grief that parting myself from others, I went into a lonely place to bathe the ground with most bitter tears: and when, by this heat of weeping, I was somewhat relieved, I betook myself to my chamber, where I could lament unheard.
And there, having prayed to the Lady of all Mercies, and having said also, page: Whereupon, remembering me, I knew that I had beheld this vision during the ninth hour of the day; and I resolved that I would make a ditty, before I left my chamber, according to the words my master had spoken.
And this is the ditty that I made:—. Printer's Direction: VI. Note: The indentation of line 31 is likely a typographical error. In the other stanzas the seventh line is always aligned with the sixth, and in this line conforms to that same pattern. This ditty is divided into three parts.
In the first, I tell it whither to go, and I encourage it, that it may go the more confidently, and I tell it whose com- pany to join if it would go with confidence and without any danger. In the second, I say that which it behoves the ditty to set forth.
In the third, I give it leave to start when it pleases, recommending its course to the arms of Fortune. And therefore I say that this doubt I intend to solve and clear up in this little book itself, at a more difficult passage, and then let him understand who now doubts, or would now contradict as aforesaid. After this vision I have recorded, and having written those words which Love had dictated to me, I began to be harassed with many and divers thoughts, by each of which I was sorely tempted; and in especial, there were four among them that left me no rest.
And by each one of these thoughts I was so sorely assailed that I was like unto him who doubteth which path to take, and wishing to go, goeth not.
And if I bethought myself to seek out some point at the which all these paths might be found to meet, I dis- cerned but one way, and that irked me; to wit, to call upon Pity, and to commend myself unto her. And it was then that, feeling a desire to write some- what thereof in rhyme, I wrote this sonnet:—. Printer's Direction: VII. This sonnet may be divided into four parts. In the first, I say and propound that all my thoughts are concerning Love.
In the second, I say that they are diverse, and I relate their diversity. In the third, I say wherein they all seem to agree.
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In the fourth, I say that, wishing to speak of Love, I know not from which of these thoughts to take my argu- ment; and that if I would take it from all, I shall have to call upon mine enemy, my Lady Pity. After this battling with many thoughts, it chanced on a day that my most gracious lady was with a gathering of ladies in a certain place; to the which I was conducted by a friend of mine; he thinking to do me a great pleasure by showing me the beauty of so many women. Printer's Direction: p Editorial Description: DGR's marginal note to the first part of the first complete paragraph on page , with a line sketched in to highlight the passage beginning with "But as soon as I had thus resolved But as soon as I had thus resolved, I began to feel a faintness and a throbbing at my left side, which soon took possession of my whole body.
Whereupon I remember that I covertly leaned my back unto a painting that ran round the walls of that house; and being fearful lest my trembling should be dis- cerned of them, I lifted mine eyes to look on those ladies, and then first perceived among them the ex- cellent Beatrice. And when I perceived her, all my senses were overpowered by the great lordship that Love obtained, finding himself so near unto that most gracious being, until nothing but the spirits of sight remained to me; and even these remained driven out of their own instruments because Love entered in that honoured place of theirs, that so he might the better behold her.
Whereupon my friend, who knew not what to conceive, took me by the hands, and drawing me forth from among them, required to know what ailed me. Then, having first held me at page: And then, because I hoped that peradventure it might come into her hearing, I wrote this sonnet. This sonnet I divide not into parts, because a di- vision is only made to open the meaning of the thing divided: and this, as it is sufficiently manifest through the reasons given, has no need of division.
True it is that, amid the words whereby is shown the occasion of this sonnet, dubious words are to be found; namely, when I say that Love kills all my spirits, but that the visual remain in life, only out- side of their own instruments. And this difficulty it is impossible for any to solve who is not in equal guise liege unto Love; and, to those who are so, that is manifest which would clear up the dubious words.