John Palcewski (forioscribe) wrote,
John Palcewski

Al Cor Gentil

Al cor gentil ripara sempre amore. Love always finds shelter in the gentle heart.

Guido Guinizelli in the 13th century founded a school of poetry that came to be known as dolce stil nuovo, or “sweet new style,” which was praised by Dante Alighieri in Purgatorio. Disdaining formal Latin, Guinizelli wrote in an Italianized Tuscan vernacular.

He believed that only a noble or gentle heart could contain love, which meant that love itself was not ennobling. He was the first Italian poet to elevate his lover to a divine status. In describing her as an angel he was, he said, praising God for creating her.

Dante understood and admired Guinizelli's poetry, and in a flattering paraphrase of one of its lines, said: "Love and the gentle heart are one and the same thing."

By the way, in the sixth stanza of Guinizelli's "Al Cor Gentil" is this:

Lady, when my soul stands before him, God will say to me, "How could you presume?"

Perhaps this gave T.S. Eliot an inspiration. He repeats the word presume several times in Prufrock. Here’s one of the stanzas:

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?


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