Dante’s Dreams at the Time of the Death of Beatrice, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
It is Love that has my quivering hand,
In one and orange-blossoms the other,
Poppies everywhere, I did understand,
Beatrice, my darken heart be pother.
The earth shakes beneath my unsteady feet,
Winds howl past my ear a message do give,
Say that my feelings are surely effete,
For I, a self-indulgent fool do live.
No escaping the fact that most gracious
Beatrice will have to die someday true.
But let life lacking her be fugacious,
Let this weak subsistence of mine be through.
I feel your spirit leaving my black heart,
Only in death will we not be apart.
Dante Rosette painted this work in 1871. He uses symbolism to make a few points. Dante Alighieri uses capital L when referring to the spirit that controls him, meaning Cupid. In the painting Cupid or Love is the red angel. The orange blossom which Cupid carries is a symbol of unconsummated love, while the poppies are a symbol of death. And the cloth held above her is the burial cloth.
The remaining stanzas and couplet for my poem were developed from several readings of Dante’s La Vita Nuova (the Frisardi translation), especially chapter 14 where Dante talks of his dream of Beatrice’s death. For the courageous reader I have included a link to an English version of LaVita Nuova.
La Vita Nuova
Letter Sent by a Dove, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Tis I with burden to do my bidding.
With heart so eager to speak so boldly
Yet rigid tongue with no ability.
Courage in my garden need be growing
Still the brave male lion does no hoeing.
Stand afar do I and never to be
Or with a rope hang on that lonely tree
But may my attention she awaiting?
Build position with handcrafted letter.
Dip pen in the blood of thy loving heart
And let the hand no heartfelt word deter.
Thy artful pen shall become Cupid dart.
Waxen seal shall capture her heart with love
With thy letter sent by fluttering dove.
The painting used with this poem was done by a Russian artist. However, the name was not clear to me so I am omitted giving credit here. It was used because it show results. We have a male in love with a woman hand does not know how to tell her so. He feels that it is to late to learn the skills necessary to be a smooth talker so he might as well go out and hang himself. But what if she is really interested in him? So he writes her a letter. By the look on her face it looks like is was quite. a love letter.
Paolo and Francesca da Rimini, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1867)
Paolo and Francesca da Rimini
Francesca thou art wife of my brother,
But drawn to thee as a stone to the ground.
As thou endless beauty my lungs smother,
Will creep to thy chambers without a sound.
To press thy moist lips with my fingertips,
While resting my yearning mind on thy breast,
Thinking of the danger between thy hips,
Ought we to listen to others behest?
Love so strong rational it cannot be,
Its strength is like the moon over the sea.
Thy perfect smile so bright has blinded me,
If it meant my sure death I would not flee.
Unholy winds of Hell we now embrace,
For putting our families in disgrace.
Dante meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinità, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Walking every street of Florence in search,
Of a face greater than Aphrodite.
My age has doubled since starting research,
After May Day and persists day and night.
Beatrice where art thou as my eyes wish,
To once again envelope thy beauty.
Some say that my behavior is selfish,
Ruled by you do abdicate my duty.
Is it possible, why can’t it be true?
A vision of beauty is upon me.
My heart begins to race for it is you.
Body turns so rigid as if a tree.
With her gentle smile she sings a hello.
Enraptured by her word I turn and go.
This painting of Dante Alighieri and Beatrice Portinari was done by Henry Holiday in 1894. The poem I wrote is based on Dante’s La Vita Nuova. Dante was around 18 years old when he meets Beatrice for the second time as shown in the painting. The first time was was he 9 and she was 8. Their first meeting was when his father took him to the Portinari house for a May Day party. From that day he was obsessed by her beauty.
Dante went on to marry Gemma Donati, in 1285. They had three sons and one daughter. Beatrice went on to marry Simone de Bardi a wealthy banker, in 1287, but she died three years later. Dante was quite shaken by the event and he went on to write La Vita Nuova. In it he tells about his dream of Beatrice’s death. That will be the focus of a later poem. Prior to Beatrice’s death their paths did cross two more times.
A point I think is worth noting is if Dante was so obsessed with Beatrice why did he marry before her? Was she just a vision? Was she simply a vehicle for Dante to unlock what was in his head?
Portrait of Nini Lopez, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Nini Lopez how my heart yearns for you.
At first glimpse on rue Cortot it was known,
On painting your tender face to be shown.
Flawless skin, soft as early morning dew.
What is before my brush would paint so true.
The stool which you sat did become your throne.
Years together again I am alone.
Shame on me as did not see your adieu.
Monsieur, soon my weaken heart you did take.
Your look was not always a painter’s glance.
Feeling your eyes upon me you did make,
An aching heart burning for your romance.
I am through with teary nights and heartbreak,
For all is lost, you did not take a chance.
Renoir painted this portrait of Nini in 1876. During the period 1874 to 1879 Nini appeared in no less than fourteen of Renoir’s paintings. For some strange reason a cruel nickname of Nini-Gueule-de-Raie, or ” Nini fish face” was given to her. I don’t think that Renoir saw her that way.
In this painting Renoir is experimenting with light coming in from a window. The shadow on the left side of her face only compounds the sadness the viewer feels for this young lady. It is definitely a serious moment and what can be more serious than love.
The Swing, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
My tongue shall be motionless as I watch.
Like the birds of the air I see you fly,
Flushing within, with guaranteed to hotch.
You are near then far by wink of an eye.
You know what you’re doing, look at that smirk.
With every glide the deeper my heart beat.
Soon the great lion will begin to lurk,
In quick moment your soft sweet flesh to eat.
Enough is enough my love come to me.
Show me those jewels that can make you glow.
Where I am, limited to what I see,
Lie next to me sweet love, come down below.
Pleasure of your body is what I seek,
On the swing my interest you did peak.
This is probably the most famous painting done by Jean-Honore Fragonard. He did it as a commissioned piece after several others refused to take on the project. Fragonard painted the work as requested with one exception. The patron wanted a bishop pushing the swing. Fragonard refused but agreed to the woman’s husband pushing the the her lover was hiding in the pushes. The poem is self-explanatory.
The painting was done in 1767, the painting period was referred to Rococo. The Rococo era originated from the French decorative style Racaille meaning ‘decorative shell and rock work’. France was the fashion center of world during this period and its cultural behavior was loosen up a bit.
The Umbrellas, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Will you ever tell me your real name?
Does it forever have to be Grisette?
Oh dear you make it a terrible shame,
When our paths do cross you are ever wet.
Shall search every milliner’s shop yelling,
Où est ma Grisette, with an umbrella,
Held high and a big smile will be wearing.
Shame willing to chance to be your fella.
Under my umbrella you need to be,
As you are chilled. My warmth can give to you.
Clouds are heavy, rain through the night, maybe.
By my side you shake. Red lips are now blue.
Come with me, as my room will keep you warm,
And I watch so you don’t suffer furth’r harm.
This painting was done by Renoir, and he is calling our the viewer attention to the class differences in France. Notice how the young lady in the lower left forefront standouts for two reasons. She is the only Grisette in the painting and the only adult without an umbrella. Grisette refers to a young working-class Frenchwoman which is derived from the cloth used to make their dresses. The model for the Grisette is Suzanne Valadon who was the female dancer in the Danse à Bougival. It is also that that she was a lover of Renoir.
The basis for the poem is simple chivalry and passion. The speaker will do most anything to learn more about this young lady but will not take advantage her. And she places a cat and mouse game with him. Why is it every time they encounter each other she is without an umbrella? If she had one she would be unable to share his and get close to him. But we see there are risks. In the game of love there are risks, here it was her health.