A great thing happened today. My friend Jaff Seijas, a most talented and delicate artist, sent me one of his works all the way from Florida:
Gouache and inks on a medieval manuscript fragment. This is perhaps the best gift I got in many years. Now to find a fitting mount and frame for it.
Jaff said the interpretation of the artwork was up to me. Gazing at the collage, my mind is irresistibly drawn to a passage from Dante’s Vita Nuova, the opening dream-vision in which Beatrice makes her first appearance before becoming the poet’s existential fulcrum:
And betaking me to the loneliness of mine own room, I fell to thinking of this most courteous lady, thinking of whom I was overtaken by a pleasant slumber, wherein a marvellous vision was presented to me: for there appeared to be in my room a mist of the colour of fire, within the which I discerned the figure of a lord of terrible aspect to such as should gaze upon him, but who seemed therewithal to rejoice inwardly that it was a marvel to see. Speaking he said many things, among the which I could understand but few; and of these, this:
Ego dominus tuus.In his arms it seemed to me that a person was sleeping, covered only with a blood-coloured cloth; upon whom looking very attentively, I knew that it was the lady of the salutation who had deigned the day before to salute me. And he who held her held also in his hand a thing that was burning in flames; and he said to me,Vide cor tuum.
But when he had remained with me a little while, I thought that he set himself to awaken her that slept; after the which he made her to eat that thing which flamed in his hand; and she ate as one fearing. Then, having waited again a space, all his joy was turned into most bitter weeping; and as he wept he gathered the lady into his arms, and it seemed to me that he went with her up towards heaven: whereby such a great anguish came upon me that my light slumber could not endure through it, but was suddenly broken. And immediately having considered, I knew that the hour wherein this vision had been made manifest to me was the fourth hour (which is to say, the first of the nine last hours) of the night.
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