Monday, April 1, 2019

Guido Guinizelli

Guido Guinizelli (c. 1230—1276) is an Italian poet; he became a judge in his native city of Bologna, but in 1274 was exiled. Guinizelli transformed what he had learned from the Provençal poets, and became a significant influence on such Italian poets of the following generation, as Guido Cavalcanti and Dante Alighieri.

His poetic theme is romantic love — particularly from the perspective of an unsuccessful suitor — with the acknowledgement that love is of God. “Guinizelli's poetry can be briefly described as a conciliation between divine and earthly love with deep psychological introspection.”

In the following selection — translated by Robert Edwards — he expresses the sadness of his unrequited love to his Lord. Later in the poem, he imagines himself before the judgement of God, who reproaches the poet’s preoccupation with the lady: “All praises are due to me alone”. The poet lamely replies, “She had the likeness / Of an angel from your kingdom. / It’s not my fault I fell in love with her.” His lines are likely to flatter the woman, but his excuse doesn’t even seem to convince himself. I suspect he wants us to see through his defence, so we will be cautious of how much devotion we give to anything besides God.

from Lady, love compels me

I’m driven to paint the air
Since I’ve been led to this end:
I toil and I gain nothing.
Alas, that I was given to this!
Love has led me to this end:
I am the saddest of all men.
Oh, Lord Jesus Christ,
Was I the only person born
To be in love forever?
Since my lady has seen it,
It’s better that I should die at once:
Perhaps she will feel compassion.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.