Paolo and Francesca da Rimini, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
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.
This painting is the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and was completed in 1867. It was Rossetti who put the thought into my head of doing a few poems on Dante Alighieri. Because he was so moved by the poet, Rossetti changed his name to Dante. Rossetti has painted other works relating to Dante Alighieri one of which I will use for another poem.
This poem is based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto V. Dante and Virgil are on the second ring of Hell. Francesca tells her story, but there is more as Dante is using relationship with Paolo as a case study to explain his concept of Hell. We will not get into that.
Francesca was the wife of Gianciotto Malatesta, called “the Lame” was the older brother of Paolo, called “the Fair.” It was an arranged marriage between the two families to matters of state. Paolo was charming and handsome and moved by the beauty of Francesca. Eventually Gianciotto became aware of his wife’s affair with his brother and he murder both of them.
Paolo knew it meant death for him if he were discovered. He was willing to accept that. The unholy wind that I used is the concept of Dante. He explains the circles of Hell as spinning being blown by winds. Both Paolo and Francesca knew that they would bring disgrace to their families because of the ruling positions.
The painting was done by Ary Scheffer in 1855.