Dante’s People

Beata Beatrix. By Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 1870. The Tate, London

Authentic synchronicity appeals to me greatly. Not forced. Not contrived. Just lined up like a composed fluke of sorts. Well, not a fluke. Like destiny. Like it had to be. Just so. Just like it ended up being. Inevitable. As William Barrett said, the best art is inevitable.

Dante Rossetti paints Dante’s Beatrice in honor of his own lost love, Elizabeth Siddal. The elder Dante wrote Vita Nuova to honor and recreate his lost love, Beatrice. Dante Rossetti based the painting above on that depiction. Beatrice and Elizabeth. Love after love. Death walks with us and alters us in profound ways. The creation of art, like the creation of life, is given its profundity — when it earns it — because of death, because of its temporary nature. Beginning and end without end.

Why Dante today, you ask? Well, it just so happens that we have a new prose poem by George Spencer that deals with Dante’s people in a very interesting way. Not in the same way as the painting above, and not in the same century. Not even in the same country. You could say it inevitably loses a bit of syncronicity in the translation. On the other hand, neither Dante ever knew the joys of the New York subway or modern attire.


Dante’s People
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