3/05/2008

La Divina Commedia

All this talk of Paisley and betrayal from some of his former supporters has led me to think about Dante's "Divine Comedy".

The most difficult and yet most rewarding piece that I have ever read.

While at Uni my ex was struggling to get to grips with a book, or long poem, and asked would I help. I asked what it was and she said Dante's "Divine Comedy".

As I was a fan of the movie "Seven" I had already heard a bit about what the book contained, Dante's path through hell, purgatory and heaven.

As someone who enjoys poetry, a fact about me that many are not aware of, I decided to give it a shot. It was a bastard to begin with!

The sheer length and complexity not to mention the multiple significance of meanings made it difficult but with sheer persistence and a little help I began to enjoy it.

Divine Comedy is an allegory, a history of the human soul as it struggles through different levels and realms from sin through to purification and then to the divine.

Despite the numerous meanings and interpretations the central tenant and indeed its reason for being was his love of Beatrice.

This was Dante's great love; he met her once when he was eight and later when he was older. He only spoke to her once but his love for her reached the stars. He was in an arranged marriage from the age of 12, as was the custom in Florence, but he felt a love that he could hardly describe for this woman.

She married and later died at the young age of 24, to say that Dante was devastated would be an understatement. In his book "La Vita Nuova" he describes this thoughts upon her passing

“When I recall that nevermore, alas!,
That lady shall I see
On whose account I mourn with such dismay,
My grieving thoughts about my heart amass
Such sorrow that I say:
'My soul, why dost thou not depart from me?'"

After her death in 1290 his love, or perhaps obsession is a better term, intensifies to the point where she becomes his personification of heavenly enlightenment.

When you read Divine Comedy it becomes apparent that man, as represented by Virgil, or logic can only take us so far. Virgil leaves after Purgatory because as a pagan he is unable to enter the splendour of paradise and must reside in Limbo. It was woman, as represented by Beatrice, that brings us the rest of the way.


Vide Cor Meum

According to Dante it is only through the feminine that we can experience the transcendence and blessedness of paradise.

Anyone who has never read Divine Comedy should give it a try, I found it captivating and yet somewhat sad.

This book was about the agony of his soul, his monument to Beatrice and his yearning for a love that never was and perhaps was never meant to be.

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