I know it's a few days late for a Valentine's post, so instead think of this as a love poem for any day.
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.’
La Vita Nouva is a collection of poems that Dante wrote about his love for Beatrice, perfect and unspoiled with daily life.
Along with the poems are Dante's commentaries on poetry in general, which are worth looking through, he has a few beautiful memories that obviously triggered the poems, but mostly he talks about skill and form of poetry. We tend to think of poetry springing fully formed out of our head like Athena, but Dante talks about the hours of moving one word, changing one line, and perfecting the feeling. Most interesting for me is when he speaks of dulling the emotion so that the art shines through better.
This poem in particular poem is perfect in it's description of innocent but knowing beauty. The lady knows she is lovely and distributes it as a gift rather than hoarding it for one person or debasing it with sexuality. If only people were able to have this confidence all the time. To bring light without darkness and give without losing or taking.
The top picture is of Dante's tomb in Ravenna, a lovely little town with few tourists, a great bakery and lots of mosaics. The bottom picture is little reader and I watching a carousel in Florence, sadly there were no brass rings.