“What is Love?”

In La Vita Nuova Dante speaks of a sonnet he wrote in response to a friend that asked him what Love was. This is the poem.

Love and the noble heart are but one thing,
Even as the wise man tells us in his rhyme,
The one without the other venturing
No more than reason from a reasoning mind.
Nature, disposed to love, creates Love king,
Making the heart a dwelling-place for him
Wherein he lies quiescent, slumbering
Sometimes a little, now a longer time.
Then beauty in a virtuous woman’s face
Pleases the eyes, striking the heart so deep
A yearning for the pleasing thing may rise.
Sometimes so long it lingers in that place
Love’s spirit is awakened from his sleep.
By a worthy man a woman’s moved likewise.

In his explanation of the poem, he divides it into two larger sections. “In the first I speak of Love as he is in potentiality; in the second I speak of him as potentiality made actual. The second part begins: Then beauty…” [emphasis mine]

Love as an abstract is not to be considered, because Love and a noble heart are like Reason and a reasoning mind. Love considered as potentiality is potential in the noble heart, asleep. Nature ordered this so. Love then awakens by the ministration of the spirit of the eyes and become actuality. Any other thoughts? This is not a cross post for my class. Though I may after corrective/refining comments do so.

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