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Poi da questo spirito si move
Lo quale spiritel spiriti piove
Che di ciascuno spirit' ha la chiave
No wonder Orlandi, though himself addicted to the casuistry of love, observed," Through too much subtlety the thread is broken." This Guido Orlandi is not an engaging personage. Perhaps none of the group can be accused of undue modesty,—Lapo Gianni, for example, speaks of his own "noble intellect,"—but in self-conceit Orlandi surpasses them all. To Dante he says, with an air of ineffable patronage,
A poetical joust. J r •
"Willingly I spare thee "; while he was indiscreet' enough to break a lance with the passionate Guido Cavalcanti, who had ventured on the seemingly harmless expression, " would make Love weep." Orlandi rebukes him for this. "True love," he declares, "neither laughs nor weeps "; and, having referred the sciolist to Ovid, winds up with the comical threat, "Of my cross-bow beware, and stand in dread." The other replied in a strain of characteristic pride and contempt; but as Orlandi was by no means crushed, he continued to act as a foil to his far superior antagonist. It is not too much to say that poets like Guido Orlandi and Gianni Alfani owe whatever importance they possess to their being, as it were, rebellious satellites of Guido Cavalcanti.
It is extremely probable that a sonnet of Orlandi, Onde si muove, e donde nasee Amove? gave rise to what
was considered then and long afterwards Cavalcanti's masterpiece, although he himself states that
CuvalcaiUi. . .
it was written at the request of a lady. 1 refer to his celebrated ode, Donna mi prega perch' io vofflio dire, in which he discourses, but in the driest and dreariest fashion, on the nature of Love. I have dwelt so long on this topic that I may well be excused from analysing the poem, which to-day has no worth as literature. It is pleasanter to turn to those sides of Cavalcanti's poetry which are more directly human, —to his love for the forosetta, for the young lady of Toulouse, for Monna Lagia; to his satire of the Frati Minori, and the pretended miracles of Madonna di San Michele, which no doubt confirmed his inherited reputation as an unbeliever; and, lastly, to his bitter exile, of which Dante was the unwilling instrument, and that pathetic swan-song, Pereh' i' non spero di tornar giammai. His ballatette are singularly pure and fresh, and reproduce, especially in the dialogue, somewhat the manner of the old French pastourelles.
In Cino da Pistoia the Tuscan lyric, instead of contemplating love as something external, as matter for
scientific investigation, becomes introspec
Cino da ristoia. . ° . r
tive, and analyses its effects on the human heart. Cino thus stands in approximately the same relation to Petrarch as Guinicelli to Dante, only that Petrarch is so resolute a Melchizedek. His verse breathes a profound melancholy, and this melancholy does not arise wholly from the vicissitudes of love. Statesman and exile, some of his best efforts were inspired by yearning for his country.
"Deh quando revedro '1 dolce paese
sings he, in one place; and in his answer to Dante's plaintive sonnet the regret again asserts itself as the master-feeling. It is superfluous to point out how the sense of banishment must have been a bond of union for the two poets, and the partnership in sorrow is consecrated by Cino's affectionate address—" Beloved brother mine, with pains enwrapt."
Side by side with this thought, this aspiration, this
intensity of emotion, there flourished a poetry which
may be called, by comparison at least, the
Modish poetry. * .
poetry of common life. While Cavalcanti's proud spirit, like Milton's, "dwelt apart," the gay society of Tuscany held on its way, and the young spendthrifts of Siena actually formed a club — the hrigata godereccia or spendereccia whereof Dante speaks —for dissipating their fortunes in wanton extravagance. This world of fashion had its laureate in Folgore di San Gemignano, who composed a "garland " of sonnets setting forth what each month had to offer in the shape of fresh amusements. They were parodied by an Aretine poet, Cene di la Chitarra, who appears to have taken umbrage at the swagger of Folgore, and who therefore opposed to the garish glitter of the courtly scene - paintings the plain and humble realities of the country. Folgore wrote a second "garland" on the days of the week.
Still more realistic were the sonnets of Cecco Angiolieri. Cecco was a thorough Bohemian, who detested family life and loved drinking and gambling. Rmiixm. There were, he says, three things in which he delighted—
"Cioe la donna, la taverna, e '1 dado."
He had, to be sure, some excuse in a niggardly father, and his ugly wife was always quarrelling with him. For these ills he sought and found consolation in the company of a shoemaker's daughter, Becchina. Cecco unbosoms himself without reserve, even where the obligation to be silent is heaviest. He anticipates with eagerness his father's death. It seems an eternity in coming, and when at last it does come, tells the denizens of hell not to despair because one—himself, to wit—has escaped thence. Whatever may be thought of Cecco's sentiments, it is impossible not to admire the vigour, the pungency, the directness of his style, which are felt as a welcome relief after the mist and moonshine of the dolee stil nuovo. His very exaggeration makes you laugh, and that in spite of your desire to be a moral person and a good Christian. Who can fortify himself against the dare-devil humour of a sonnet like this?
"If I were fire, I would burn up the world;
If I were wind, with storms I would it shake;
I f I were Death, I to my sire would hie;
If 1 were Life, I would not with him stay;
My mother also should not live but die.
And was yestreen, the pretty wenches I
Would keep, old ugly ladies give away."
Such was the incorrigible sinner whom Dante tried, but failed to reclaim.
From what has been said, it is evident that Dante,
as a young man, was in close personal relations with
other poets of the time. Indeed, during
Young Dante. ... .
his lyrical period he freely identifies himself with them.
"Guido, I would that you, and Lapo, and I
Might be bewitcht and to a barque consign'd,
So that nor Chance, nor outer weather sly
And Monna Vanna, and Monna Bice, then,
And there be alway talk of love outpouiM,
Even in the Commedia there are traces of this brotherhood, and Dante checks his sense of superiority with a forse. At present, however, attention must be confined to the Vita Niwva and Canzoniere.
The Vita Nuova paints the devious course of Dante's love for Beatrice. The meaning of nuova in this con