Del Cavalcanti was a friend and at first a follower in the art of rhyming, Dante Alighieri, whose life is in his intimacy a mighty life of thought and passion, which breaks out in an indefatigable, fluent, ardent apostolate for the triumph of a high moral and political ideality, because circumstances forbid it from being also a life of action.
Already in the lyrics that can be reasonably considered older and that are influenced by the Sicilian and Guittonian poetic tradition and by Cavalcanti’s psychological conventionalism, there is a spiritual sweetness combined with a sweet musicality in which the meaning of the words seems to thin out and fade. But Dante’s lyrical power is fully manifested after he, approaching Guinizelli (who will greet the father of his sweet and graceful rhymes, Purg ., XXVI, 97-99) in the song Women who have intellect of love, inaugurated his “new style”. Then the motif of the angel-woman, a fantastic form of the doctrine of the wise Bolognese, takes place in a series of sonnets and songs, in which the soul of the young poet, trembling with mystical vibrations, lives its magnificent originality in the representation of an ethereal world of ghosts and affections, crossed by a slight note of elegance, which sometimes rises to dark accents of tragedy. Later the poet, recalling beyond the critic’s theories, the anxieties of his aspiring to an art that was an immediate expression of himself, will say the joy of conquest in the famous verses “I’mi son a che when Amor expires me, etc.” ( Purg ., XXIV, 53-54).
According to Mysteryaround, Dante collected about thirty of his lyrics in the Vita Nuova (1293-1294), linking them through prose intended for the most part to make known the occasions and states of mind from which the poems would be born. Thus the libretto which tells the story of Dante’s love for Beatrice is the story of the poet’s intimacy as he saw it in his imagination; the story of the birth and development of an ideality between love and religion, narrated with forms and words and artifices of mystery, which sometimes lift us into the atmosphere of dreams which is pure poetry. But it cannot be denied that not infrequently prose with its subtle psychological and rhetorical analyzes and the overly manifest intent to emphasize the supernatural, breaks the charm by which in the rhymes the doctrine of the new style disappeared absorbed by the great wave of poetry. inspirational of the wonderful young man. It harms the New Life that the critic stands beside the poet.
In the years following Beatrice’s death, other art and style experiences were attempted by Alighieri. Following the aesthetic theory of the Middle Ages, he deepened the pedagogical character of art in some allegorical lyrics and in others openly doctrinal. In the footsteps of the Provençal troubadour Arnaldo Daniello, in four rhymes called stony by the woman’s name or insensitivity, he used a harsh style of realistic images and loud sounds to sing a quivering ardor of sensual passion. From a quarrel with Simone Donati’s friend Forese he took occasion to three angry sonnets, in which the mystical gentleness of the poet of the new style descends to the plebeian vulgarity of the vulgar Florentine. Finally, the crowning glory of his training as a poet, he wrote the song Three women around cor son come me , in which allegorism, realism and representative perfection appear admirably fused in the unity of a dramatic inspiration.
In the first years of his exile, to which he was condemned in 1302, Dante set his hand to the Convivio , in which the tradition of vulgar prose formed in the thirteenth century on the classical and medieval Latin type, begins to live the life of a high and vigorous intellect, and generates the first great example of Italian doctrinal prose. Thus the cosmopolitan scholastic science is nationalized, inserting itself in the new Italian spiritual life and making itself “new sun”, which illuminates the new world created by the fervor of rebirth. Probably in the same year that the Convivio (1307) Dante left the treatise De vulgari eloquentia in the fourteenth chapter of the second book, intended to regulate the Italian literary language. With it, despite the errors of his age, Dante made work of outstanding historical importance; he had admirable insights into truths discovered by modern linguistic science; he showed a lively sense of the spiritual unity of the nation, captured in its greatest sign, the language; he affirmed for art the necessity of study alongside inspiration, which was an omen and perhaps the norm of all the great Italian literature.
Both works of doctrine and apostolate, one for a moral and political purpose, the other for a literary and civil purpose, the Convivio and the De vulgari eloquentia are interrupted to lead to the Divine Comedy , in which not only the ‘austere and acute and profound rationality but also the ardent passion and the illuminating imagination, all in short, in its vast and powerful unity the spirit of Dante, revealed itself to the readers. The medieval doctrine of the allegorical style, which had already modestly served the encyclopedic science of Brunetto Latini in the rhyming Tesoretto , and with better dignity given teachings of religion and morals in the solid and agile prose of the Introduction to the virtues by the Florentine Bono Giamboni, allowed Dante to depict human life guided to its ends by the two supreme authorities, the Empire and the Papacy, during the journey through the three kingdoms of the afterlife, under the guidance of Virgil first and then of Beatrice. Dante, a citizen of the Guelph Florence, arrived at these concepts by degrees, which the Comedy reflects until the full maturity of thought, which was at the arrival of Arrigo VII, when the exile believed the triumph of justice and peace on earth to come. , and to hasten it he made himself an apostle of his doctrine and his political faith in a Latin treatise – Monarchia – in which the vigor of the syllogism joins the ardor of the passion, in the epistles to the princes and peoples of Italy, to Arrigo himself, to the Florentines, full of biblical solemnity, and in the firm and precise prophecy of the XXXIII of Purgatory , that the poet rhyme before the death of Arrigo in August 1313 frustrated its fulfillment.
Taken up and composed in a time when the saddest reality denied any hope of good, and the great Dante’s soul, greedy for good, was pining in dramatic anguish, Hell is populated by human figures dominated by strong passions, large characters, of sharp profiles of vulgar men: the drama of the soul is in the creation of the imagination. Imminent, or present, the Italian expedition of Arrigo (autumn 1310), the poet calmed himself in confident hope, and wrote the Purgatory , where the life of the shadows, all closed in the brief moments of their revelation, is a calm and serene forgetful melancholy of worldly passions: the anxious expectation of the creative spirit is in the sweetly heartfelt elegy of creation. Heaven _ it is the work of recent years; years of sadness for the renewed condemnations of the implacable homeland, but comforted by faith in divine providence, which would one day carry out his will, which is justice, in a better humanity.
In his last years the poet, whose fame was already spreading widely, certainly experienced the generosity of Cangrande della Scala and Guido Novello da Polenta. In Verona in January 1320 he publicly supported a thesis on physical geography, and from it derived the pamphlet, claimed to Dante, Quaestio de aqua et terra ; from Ravenna, where he apparently had set up room as early as 1318 and was revered as a teacher, he held his poetic correspondence with Giovanni del Virgilio, a reader of rhetoric in Bologna. The two eclogues with which Dante replied to the Bolognese master are documents of art and life, singular in beauty and importance.