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Nov 23, 2018 12:32
Cavalcanti`s desire to return to Tuscany is clearly described. He feels his life goes toward its end, thus he sent his soul to the woman he loves. This desire, recurring and iterative in his poetry , is the wish that Eliot doesn`t want to have anymore. The whole poem Ash Wednesday seem to be a reply to Cavalcanti`s ballatetta. One wishes to return, while the other wish to not return again. In Cavalcanti the woman is earthly Paradise: honor and be honored by her is the meaning of life. His poetry almost reaches the boundaries of idolatry. Whereas in Dante, woman is an image of beauty and truth, in Cavalcanti, the level of ambiguity is higher.
In this sonnet, the poet celebrates a painting that represents either the Holy Virgin or his own woman. The ambiguity of the expression “Donna mia” cannot be ultimately solved. Either ways, we know by the reply of Guido Orlandi that the interpretation based on idolatry was more than a possibility. In other words, the Italian poet playfully remarks the noble desire for a woman to be the peak of human religious sentiments, the most valuable of the mystique experience of life. The Woman is God; this not meaning one woman per se it is, but that the desire for women itself represent the divinity. It is not matter of a single relationship, like that of Dante and Beatrice, but of a potency that becomes act . This process of love that recurs and that at its peak annihilates the mental faculties of the lover is divine. Eliot`s reply to Cavalcanti is unambiguous: her woman is the “Lady of Silence, a Mother, a Veiled Woman” . He renounced her blessed face; which is perhaps the most significant act that he performs in his poetry: the renounce of the woman for God. He renounced her voice and face, her physical appearance, because he has to build something more important. If Dante unveils a word and his hidden order, Eliot has the aim of constructing something. The process is the opposite, one deduces, the other induces it. However, the role of the woman in the Eliot`s poem is halfway between Dante and Cavalcanti. For the latter, the woman is a constant and turbulent desire that almost annihilates our conscience while for the second the lowed one possess such a otherworldly force that acts as a bridge between the man and the divine. Eliot sees the desire as something that helps him to reach spiritual safety but in a way that does not resemble that one explored by Dante. (...)
The desire has eaten him alive. Only the bones remain. The second part starts with the word Lady; clearly Eliot wants to specify the domain under which all the words that follow refer. Then he talks about these white leopard that have eaten all his flash. The whole scene seems having much to do with erotic desire; there is passion and passivity, with the poet subjected to the hunger of these three animal. Even the number may be a hint for erotic desire. Anyway, after this meal, the Lady emerges as a bridge to the divine.
Her resemblance to the Virgin make them shine. This love, which has wore out the man, is a holy love. The process of love is not iterative and circular as in Cavalcanti; there is something that is rejected by carnal love and constitutes the premise for spiritual safety and body rebirth.
According to Eliot, there is something indigestible that erotism rejects and that stays that as a premise for atoning. The Lady, in a white gown, does not communicate with his lover, she is a pure image; an image of pure contemplation. Whereas in the Italian poet, everything is love talks, in Eliot is silence contemplation dried desire and bones.