Tuesday, November 28, 2017

[GBM] Live. Love. Be Eaten.

G. Doré for Dante's Purgatorio

Canto 3 of Adone opens with an invective against the evils of "love," not simply as a feeling but rather Love as a cosmic power, i.e. basically, the human condition as such. As an example of the wide range of meanings implied here: In line 6, the classical reference to a snake hidden in a field had been already reused as a symbol of Beauty (Torquato Tasso, Rime, no. 650), but also of Fortune (Dante, Inferno 7.84).


Beautiful butterflies rush to sweet light,
incautious pilots cut through quiet waves:
the former burn their wings in roaring fire,
the latter are swallowed by water depths.
Often arsenic in gold, and habitually does
a stiff snake lie hidden among flowers;     "stiff": Aesop to La Fontaine
and often in a sweet and fragrant fruit
can a putrid worm live, concealed.     "putrid": a Baroque word if any