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Early Italian Poetry and Woman - Essay Example

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In the thirteenth century, Europe witnessed a shift from sacred to secular literature, and in Italy, compilations of poetry that expressed the poet’s experiences became popular…
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Download file to see previous pages 3). Through this form of poetry, poets were able to reflect inwards to their own voice, which provided them a mode through which to discover themselves. However, the medium of the written word also enabled the separation of the “speaker from the spoken”, in which the author was able to construct an “alter ego” that could express the actual speaker’s unrestrained feelings (Holmes 2000, p. 4). This shift also marked a shift towards authorship of the autobiographical, in which the Italian poets of the middle ages utilized the written word as a “confessional self-portrait”, where the words represented the poet’s innermost thoughts on such themes as life, religion, salvation, loss, etc. (2000, p. 7). Through a critical look at selected poems by Guinizelli, Dante, and Petrarch, the central theme of love will be discussed, as it is portrayed through the character of the heavenly or angelic idealized woman. Prior to a critical reading of the poetry, a brief biographical discussion on the poets is necessary to understanding the importance of the literary genre. In several of his poems, Dante referred to Guido Guinizelli as the “father of me and father of my betters” for having founded the school of poetry referred to as the dolce stil nuovo (Lambdin & Cooner Lambdin 2000, p. 248). Born in 1230, in Bologna, Italy, Guinizelli founded the new style of poetry, which included the literary contributions of several Bolognese poets, including the prominent poetry by Dante. Unlike the Sicilian poets, “Guinizelli’s analogies, metaphors, poetic language, and concept of love reflect his effort to write not from the heart but from the head, and to analyze love and its effects” (Lambdin & Cooner Lambdin 2000, p. 248). ...
248). His most well-known poem, “Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore” critically analyzes courtly love by emphasizing the central importance of internal integrity as the true source of nobility, rather than basing nobility on status. He goes on to compare the noble love between a woman and man to the relationship between God and the angels. Dante used the image of Guinizelli’s noble lady in his anthology of works, entitled Vita nuova, and Dante accredits Guinizelli for playing the “role of both poetic father and prophet in establishing the dolce stil nuovo manifesto as the poetic vehicle for articulating philosophic truth through love” (Lambdin & Cooner Lambdin 2000, p. 249). Guinizelli’s most famous successor was Dante Alighieri, who was born in Florence in 1265. Seeing his life-long love, Beatrice Portinari, at the age of nine served as inspiration for his entire artistic career, and the love story between Dante and Beatrice unfolds in Dante’s Vita nuova, which was written after (and inspired by) the deep emotional impact of Beatrice’s death in 1290 (Lambdin & Cooner Lambdin 2000, p. 118). During the political turmoil in Florence at the end of the 13th century, Dante was exiled from Florence until his death; according to Dante’s first biographer, Boccaccio, the meeting with Beatrice and his exile from Florence was the two more important events in Dante’s life which strongly impacted his artistic work. Written between 1293 to 1294, Vita nuova consists of thirty-one poems written to, and about, Beatrice, whom he viewed as “representative of divine goodness and beatitude on earth”; and it is in this anthology that Dante rejects ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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