1/19/2013

Dante and Beatrice: the Role of the Muse


'In that book which is my memory...
on the first page that is the chapter
when I first met you,
appear the words...
Here begins a new life.'

~Dante, first line of La Vita Nuova, his earliest work

'Such was the living light encircling me,
leaving me so enveloped by its veil
of radiance that I could see no thing.'

~Dante Paradiso, Canto XXX, summit of his last work

From the time he met her as a child, to their 'courtly love' as young adults, Dante's muse was Beatrice. He hardly knew her, hardly met her, yet devoted all his works to her inspiration. She died at 24. In the final book of the Divine Comedy, it is the beauty of her light that guides him to the beatific vision of divine light. He keeps turning to gaze at her face, and she chastises him for gazing at her beauty, rather than the self-luminous rose of beauty itself.

She merges into the rose, to take her place among the celestial choirs, as Dante enters into the final vision, the radiance of pure love.

Through the personal form, we merge into the personal formless. But it is never IMpersonal.

Bow down to your muse in gratitude.

No comments: