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?