Friday, February 02, 2007

Elegy for my Grandmother -- a Poetry Friday post

Initially, I thought to post a poem by an African-American poet, this being Black History Month. Then I reconsidered and thought about putting up a poem for ground-hog's day, this being February 2nd and all. Here's a link to the (poorly written) rhyming proclamation read this morning in Punxsatawney, declaring spring is around the corner. But then something happened to change my mind.

This morning at around 6:30, my grandmother died. She was over 90 years old, and in relatively ill health but in good spirits until, earlier this week, she suffered a massive stroke. Her name was Dorothy, but everyone called her Mommie Dot -- 2 or her 3 kids (my Dad was the holdout and called her "Mom"), her eight grandchildren and (in many cases) their spouses, her 10 great-grand children (with more on the way), and even friends of the family. She is much-loved and will be missed.

From La Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri

A portion of
XXXI: His canzone mourning Beatrice

The grieving eyes for pity of the heart
have so suffered the pain of tears,
that having conquered none remain.
Now, if I wish to ease their sadness,
that leads me step by step to death,
I must speak to find my help.
And so remembering how I spoke
of my lady, while she was alive,
sweet ladies, freely with you,
I do not wish to speak with others,
unless they have the gentle hearts of women:
and I will speak of her, weeping,
since she has gone suddenly to Heaven,
and has left Love grieving with me.

Beatrice has gone to the highest Heaven,
to the realm where the angels have peace,
and stays with them, and has left you ladies:
no quality of coldness took her,
or of heat, as it is with others,
but it was only her great gentleness:
since light from her humility
pierced the skies with so much virtue,
that it made the Eternal Lord marvel,
so that a sweet desire
moved him to claim such greeting:
and called her from the heights to come to him,
since he saw our harmful life
was not worthy of such a gentle one.

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