From Paradiso XXXI 1-12 etc:
CANTO XXXI In fashion, as a snow-white rose, lay then Before my view the saintly multitude, Which in his own blood Christ espous'd. Meanwhile That other host, that soar aloft to gaze And celebrate his glory, whom they love, Hover'd around; and, like a troop of bees, Amid the vernal sweets alighting now, Now, clustering, where their fragrant labour glows, Flew downward to the mighty flow'r, or rose From the redundant petals, streaming back Unto the steadfast dwelling of their joy. Faces had they of flame, and wings of gold; The rest was whiter than the driven snow. And as they flitted down into the flower, From range to range, fanning their plumy loins, Whisper'd the peace and ardour, which they won From that soft winnowing. Shadow none, the vast Interposition of such numerous flight Cast, from above, upon the flower, or view Obstructed aught. For, through the universe, Wherever merited, celestial light Glides freely, and no obstacle prevents. All there, who reign in safety and in bliss, Ages long past or new, on one sole mark Their love and vision fix'd. O trinal beam Of individual star, that charmst them thus, Vouchsafe one glance to gild our storm below! If the grim brood, from Arctic shores that roam'd, (Where helice, forever, as she wheels, Sparkles a mother's fondness on her son) Stood in mute wonder 'mid the works of Rome, When to their view the Lateran arose In greatness more than earthly; I, who then From human to divine had past, from time Unto eternity, and out of Florence To justice and to truth, how might I choose But marvel too? 'Twixt gladness and amaze, In sooth no will had I to utter aught, Or hear. And, as a pilgrim, when he rests Within the temple of his vow, looks round In breathless awe, and hopes some time to tell Of all its goodly state: e'en so mine eyes Cours'd up and down along the living light, Now low, and now aloft, and now around, Visiting every step. Looks I beheld, Where charity in soft persuasion sat, Smiles from within and radiance from above, And in each gesture grace and honour high. So rov'd my ken, and its general form All Paradise survey'd: when round I turn'd With purpose of my lady to inquire Once more of things, that held my thought suspense, But answer found from other than I ween'd; For, Beatrice, when I thought to see, I saw instead a senior, at my side, Rob'd, as the rest, in glory. Joy benign Glow'd in his eye, and o'er his cheek diffus'd, With gestures such as spake a father's love. And, "Whither is she vanish'd?" straight I ask'd. "By Beatrice summon'd," he replied, "I come to aid thy wish. Looking aloft To the third circle from the highest, there Behold her on the throne, wherein her merit Hath plac'd her." Answering not, mine eyes I rais'd, And saw her, where aloof she sat, her brow A wreath reflecting of eternal beams. Not from the centre of the sea so far Unto the region of the highest thunder, As was my ken from hers; and yet the form Came through that medium down, unmix'd and pure, "O Lady! thou in whom my hopes have rest! Who, for my safety, hast not scorn'd, in hell To leave the traces of thy footsteps mark'd! For all mine eyes have seen, I, to thy power And goodness, virtue owe and grace. Of slave, Thou hast to freedom brought me; and no means, For my deliverance apt, hast left untried. Thy liberal bounty still toward me keep. That, when my spirit, which thou madest whole, Is loosen'd from this body, it may find Favour with thee." So I my suit preferr'd: And she, so distant, as appear'd, look'd down,
|Wiki Common Last Plate of William Blake's Illustrations of Dante|
"Dante and Beatrice" redirects here. For the painting by Henry Holiday, see Dante and Beatrice (painting).
According to Dante, he first met Beatrice when his father took him to the Portinari house for a May Day party. At the time, Beatrice was eight years old, a year younger than Dante. Dante was instantly taken with her and remained so throughout her life even though she married another man, banker Simone dei Bardi, in 1287. Beatrice died three years after the marriage in June 1290 at the age of 24. Dante continued to hold an abiding love and respect for the woman after her death, even after he married Gemma Donati in 1285 and had children. After Beatrice's death, Dante withdrew into intense study and began composing poems dedicated to her memory. The collection of these poems, along with others he had previously written in his journal in awe of Beatrice, became La Vita Nuova.
According to the autobiographic La Vita Nuova, Beatrice and Dante met only twice during their lives. Even less credible is the numerology behind these encounters, marking out Dante's life in periods of nine years. This amount of time falls in line with Dante's repeated use of the number three or multiples of, derived from the Holy Trinity. It is more likely that the encounters with Beatrice that Dante writes of are the two that fulfill his poetic vision, and Beatrice, like Petrarch's Laura, seem to blur the line between an actual love interest and a means employed by the poet in his creations.
Following their first meeting, Dante was so enthralled by Beatrice that he later wrote in La Vita Nuova: Ecce Deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur michi ("Behold, a deity stronger than I; who coming, shall rule over me.") Indeed, Dante frequented parts of Florence, his home city, where he thought he might catch even a glimpse of her. As he did so, he made great efforts to ensure his thoughts of Beatrice remained private, even writing poetry for another lady, so as to use her as a "screen for the truth".
Dante's courtly love for Beatrice continued for nine years, before the pair finally met again. This meeting occurred in a street of Florence, which she walked along dressed in white and accompanied by two older women. She turned and greeted him, her salutation filling him with such joy that he retreated to his room to think about her. In doing so, he fell asleep, and had a dream which would become the subject of the first sonnet in La Vita Nuova.
In this dream, a mighty figure appeared before him, and spoke to him. Although he could not make out all the figure said, he managed to hear "Ego dominus tuus", which means "I am your Lord". In the figure's arms was Beatrice, sleeping and covered by a crimson cloth. The figure awoke Beatrice, and made her eat Dante's burning heart. An English translation of this event, as described in La Vita Nuova, appears below:
This was the last encounter between the pair, since Beatrice died eight years later at the young age of twenty-four in 1290.
The manner in which Dante chose to express his love for Beatrice often agreed with the Middle Ages concept of courtly love. Courtly love was a secret, unrequited and highly respectful form of admiration for another person. 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, it is perhaps unusual that he did. But he did, and there are clues in his works as to why:
Dante saw Beatrice as a saviour, 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.