Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

selves but little concern for the strict observance of
their vows. Guittone, however, if the phrase may be
forgiven, '' meant business." He looked back with
something like horror on his past career, wherein he
had composed worldly Troubadour songs and prated
about love as the only source of excellence.

"Then was I from my birth to middle-age
Pent in a foul, unhonour'd, noisome stye,
Where wholly wallow'd I."

He now regards Love as a sickness to be remedied by prayer and fasting, and if he still writes poetry, and poetry of an artistic kind, he has undoubtedly changed his tone. The Troubadours, in their repertory of forms, had a verse for enumerating the things that bring pleasure to the poet. To Bertran de Born the supreme bliss was the joy of battle, while the Monk of Montaudan found his delight in founts and flowers, in the song of birds, in maiden loveliness. Far otherwise is it with the Aretine penitent, who confesses himself pleased with the chaste and loving wife, with the widow that minds her house, with the conscientious prelate, with the monk — is there a sly touch here ?—that gads not about in a world on which he is supposed to have turned his back. Thus morals and religion, as well as politics, furnish material for poetry, and not only for poetry but for prose, since Guittone practised both.

Fra Guittone, then, is an important link in the evolutionary chain, but Heaven forbid the thought that he is an attractive writer! A dialectical manner,

[ocr errors]

an incessant baptism of Cicero and Aristotle, Boethius and Seneca—if that be your liking, perhaps Guittone may serve. But his borrowings of pagan sentiment are not all. He of purpose confounds Latin and Italian. In other words, he uses Latin and Italian vocables ad libitum; and though Italian was a language barely able to lisp, insists on its adapting itself to the complicated Latin period. This is one reason of his obscurity, though other causes were contributory. The Troubadours had what they called rims cars, or "dear rhymes." These "dear rhymes" the Italians imitated in their canzoni equivoche, so named because words similar in sound, but dissimilar in sense, are made to rhyme therein. Such rhymes have always been permissible in Italian,—they may be found, for instance, in Tasso,—but the employment of them was a fixed principle with Guittone, Chiaro Davanzati, Monte Andrea, and others affecting the "chiuso parlare" or "oscura rima.":

Anintcrmtdi- The passage in which Dante alludes to mufrmp. Guittone may be termed classical:—

"'O brother, now I see,' he said, 'the knot
Which me, the Notary, and Guittone held
Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.'" 2

The words are put into the mouth of Buonagiunta of Lucca; and the originator of the "sweet new style"

1 For further information respecting Guittone, the reader may be referred to L. Romanelli, Di Guittone d' Arezzo e ddlc sue opere, C&mpo-baeso, 1875; and W. Koken, Guittone von Arezzo Dichtung und scin Verhaltniss zu Guinieelli von Bologna, Leipzig.

5 Puryatorio, xxiv. 54-56.

H

was Guido Guinicelli (or Guinizelli) of Bologna, whom

Dante calls

"the father
Of me and of my betters, who had ever
Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of love." •

For general purposes the schools may be distinguished as the Sicilian and the Tuscan, but between them stands an intermediate, transitional group composed almost entirely of Florentines. Such were Chiaro Davanzati, Maestro Francesco, Maestro Rinuccino, Maestro Migliore, The Complete Damsel, and Pacino Angiolieri. Of these, by far the most important is Chiaro Davanzati, already mentioned as a follower of Guittone.

But Chiaro in his time played many parts. First he essays the Provencal style, developing a theme Chum of Sordello: Bel cavalier me plai que per Dnmnmti. amor^ Then, in emulation of Guittone, he discourses on the mysteries of theology, and renounces ordinary love as of the Devil. Towards the end of his career — he was dead in 1280 — he succumbed to the influence of Guinicelli. Yet, through all these phases and fashions, he manifests a freedom and spontaneity which are full of augury. In his writings, as in those of his countrymen and contemporaries generally, may be remarked a tendency to greater ease and naturalness, especially in those dialogues betwixt lady and lover, of which examples have been left by Chiaro himself and a certain — surely this was a nickname—Ciacco dell' Anguillaia. In compositions like these, archaisms, and Provenqalisms, and Guittone's "dear rhymes" and precious periods, give way to a grace and eloquence founded on simplicity. Doubtless the reason is that the Florentines had begun to feel at home in these half-foreign modes, on which they were now to bestow the impress of their own artistic temperament.

1 Purgatorio, xxvi. 97-99.

This assertion of the native Florentine element is symbolised by Rustico di Filippo, a man of plebeian Rustico di birth, and apprenticed by his father to the FiKppo. 8illj. trade. Nevertheless, he appears to have been of some little note, as Brunetto Latini addressed to him, when rather more than thirty, his Favolello. Rustico is a noticeable mixture of Democritus and Heraclitus, being equally strong in humour and pathos. The insipidities of the Troubadour lyric he exchanged for the passionate breath of deep feeling, and, singing the pangs of love, wept in good earnest. But Rustico can laugh as well as weep, though some have detected in his most boisterous mirth an undertone of melancholy. He delighted in drawing portraits of singular people, and drew them in a way that reminds us of Peter Pindar :—

"When Messer Messerino God did make,
It was believed He wrought a miracle;
Since of each kind the creature doth partake,
Bird, beast, and man were satisfied right well.
For in its throat it counterfeits a drake,
And in its shapely loins giraffe I spell,
While in its vermeil face—a dainty cake !—
A man 'twill be, according as they tell.

Again, in singing it is like a crow,
And, as to knowledge, 'tis a beast outright,
And man in vesture doth it imitate.

God, when He made it, little had to do,

But 'twas His wish to demonstrate His might,
So strange a thing it pleased Him to create."

I referred above to the Favolello, a poetical epistle

addressed to Rustico by Brunetto Latini1 (d. 1294 or

1295), probably from France. Several cir

Brunetto Latini. 'r , * . . .,

cumstances have conspired to raise Latini s fame higher than is, perhaps, his due. First, there is the well-known passage in the Inferno, especially the line—

"M' insegnavate come 1' uom s' eterna."

And, secondly, there is Villani's testimony regarding his services to the Florentines. These allusions show that, in his age and country, Latini was an important civilising force; nor can we well resist the conclusion that Dante felt himself under specific obligations to him. It is not a forced or unnatural interpretation of the famous line that Dante owed the idea of the Commedia to Latini's prior experiment, the Tesoretto. Formally, the origin of the Tesoretto was as follows: Latini had gone to Spain as envoy of the Republic of Florence. In returning he met on the plain of Roncesvalles a scholar on a bay mule coming from Bologna.

1 Latini or Latino? It is extremely difficult to say. A man ought to know his own name, and Brunetto calls himself Latino, once in rhyme. On the other hand, Latino is opposed to Italian usage in the case of surnames. If Latino, why not Bumetto, for which there is equally good MS. authority?

« AnteriorContinuar »