This morning I will finish my letter to City Council of Eugene Oregon. It will be the most important Art and Culture document ever filed – in any city! It is the story of an old artist and journalist who pens a poem to a young woman he met in the town square, named ‘Belle’. For this he suffers a journey into hell.
Joaquin Miller promoted The City Beautiful movement.
When I discovered Belle Burch had hidden herself, and her involvement with SLEEPS, I bid her to rewrite the poem she sent me, because, I hated it. I accused her of betraying the poor and the homeless with her young vanity. I knew this was a classic tale, and a work of art in progress. When Alley Valkyrie jumps on me from out the dark, I know I am dealing with a She-Demon not unlike the one Dante encountered in Inferno. Note the dates. I met Belle on April 4, 2014.
I refused to remove anything I wrote about Belle in my newspaper ‘Royal Rosamond Press’. Grimm gives the name ‘Rosamond’ to his ‘Sleeping Beauty’. I had just read about Simonetta Vespucci, the muse of Botticelli who died when she was twenty-two. She was called ‘The Queen of Beauty’. Legend has it that Botticelli was buried near her, so that when she awoke from her deep sleep, he will awaken also, to paint her once again.
I knew the She-wolf and Leopard would drag me thru hell, but, as a poet and artist, this was the price I was willing to pay. As a Journalist I refused to betray my peers, lest they suffer my fate. It was………….love at first sight!
I rushed home to write a poem about the street waif who took my number. As an old man, I marveled at my predicament. What of the sex-politics, the idea that some beautiful women fornicate for a new car and washer and dryer. This one, sends me a poem telling me she slept in the street near City Hall.
I send Belle an e-mail informing her of my Rosemond ancestors and the Swan Brothers.
Above is a photograph of Belle’s Brethren. On the left is Kevin ‘King of the Anarchists’ who lived right next door to me for years. My homeless friend, Hollis Williams, lived next door, before he lost his job. Next to him is the skull-masked man. (see below) Then, here is Ambrose, Belle’s lover, who got arrested with her as did the man wearing Duck. Belle hid these from me lest I misjudge her? She got to know everything about me, and wanted to know more. Why? I showed her pics of my work with Hollis. Belle said nothing. If she told the truth, she would have known we are one big happy family.
Why didn’t one of these men champion Belle, confront me, talk to me, negotiate with me? Why did they let Alley Witch do their job, do the dirty work, and do her best to castrate me? The Sleepy one knew I found her, and awoke her. They did not know she was their Sleeping Queen. Alley Valkyrie knew I had captured her, and them! I caught them playing in the dark. I did not know I was – The Competition. Had the Old Man seen his day?
Take note of the snake around Simonetta’s neck. These – children – had not a clue or a care about who they were playing with.
This is not my fault you grew afraid. Welcome to hell!
No one has brought The Inferno and Revelations together on the same page. Add Bosch’s ‘The Last Judgement’ and, you have one hell of a movie…………..and Love Story.
When I was a gifted youth
I do not recall if I studied the artist Sandro Botticelli.
When a man
I wrote my version of ‘The Birth of Venus’
and did a painting of my muse
coming out of the sea.
I must have neglected this great Renaissance Artist,
and his beloved Muse – until now!
But, Since I beheld her, my Belle
and compared her to Simonetta Cattaneo de Candia Vespucci,
do I now behold all the clues of the petals
and the thread
that have brought me through the labyrinth of time,
to adore her once again.
And she recognizes me!
Centuries ago I was buried at her feet
in order to continue my long vigilance,
for she was only asleep.
One day she will awaken, and the City of Flowers
will again bask in her unparelled beauty.
Bella! Mon Belle!
Following the Renaissance of the Miller Brothers
to the top of the hill in the lost city of Fairmount,
I came to the crossroads of time.
When I saw the intersection of Flora and Fairmount,
I knew it would be a matter of days
before I was with my Sleeping Belle, once again,
once upon a time
She is the one I came here for.
After finding the lost tombstone of George Melvin Miller,
the founder of Florence,
I began to see the grand design.
When she came across the piazza de Keasy
while the minstrel sang a song by the Grateful Dead
I had my rose at ready.
When I handed it to her
I heard the lovers complain
Where is my Belle Rose!
This is the Renaissance Rose
that my ancestor employed to write his name,
When I told Belle what kind of work I do,
I described my painting of a woman coming out of the sea.
Many have asked me who she is. Now, I can say;
“She is Belle, the most beautiful woman in Florence.”
We will go there, soon,
to behold the sea, a shell, and the foam
at La Giostra
a jousting tournament was held at the Piazza Santa Croce.
The gallant knight, Giuliano
entered the field bearing a banner
on which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Athene
Her image was painted by Botticelli himself.
Underneath was the French inscription
La Sans Pareille, meaning “The unparalleled one”.
From then on Simonetta became known
as the most beautiful woman in Florence,
the most beautiful woman of the Renaissance.
I salute thee!
Sonnet: “Upon a day, came Sorrow in to me”
on the 9th of June 1290
Simonetta and Marco were married in Florence. According to her legend, Simonetta was instantly popular at the Florentine court. The Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano took an instant liking toward her. Lorenzo permitted the Vespucci wedding to be held at the palazzo in Via Larga, and held the wedding reception at their lavish Villa di Careggi. Simonetta, upon arriving in Florence, was discovered by Sandro Botticelli and other prominent painters through the Vespucci family. Before long she had supposedly attracted the brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano of the ruling Medici family. Lorenzo was occupied with affairs of state, but his younger brother was free to pursue her.
At La Giostra (a jousting tournament) in 1475, held at the Piazza Santa Croce, Giuliano entered the lists bearing a banner on which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Athene painted by Botticelli, beneath which was the French inscription La Sans Pareille, meaning “The unparalleled one”. It is clear that Simonetta had a reputation as an exceptional beauty in Florence, but the whole display should be considered within the conventions of courtly love; Simonetta was a married woman, a member of a powerful family allied to the Medici, and any actual affair would have been a huge political risk.
Giuliano won the tournament, and Simonetta was nominated “The Queen of Beauty” at that event. It is unknown, and unlikely, that they actually became lovers.
Simonetta Vespucci died just one year later, presumably from tuberculosis, on the night of 26–27 April 1476. She was twenty-two at the time of her death. She was carried through the city in an open coffin for all to admire her beauty, and there seems to have been some kind of posthumous popular cult in Florence. Her husband remarried soon afterward, and Giuliano de Medici was assassinated in the Pazzi conspiracy in 1478, two years to the day after her death.
Botticelli finished painting The Birth of Venus around 1486, some ten years later. Some have claimed that Venus, in this painting, closely resembles Simonetta. This claim, however, is dismissed as a “romantic myth” by Ernst Gombrich, and “romantic nonsense” by historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto:
The vulgar assumption, for instance, that she was Botticelli’s model for all his famous beauties seems to be based on no better grounds than the feeling that the most beautiful woman of the day ought to have modelled for the most sensitive painter.
Some, including Ruskin, suggest that Botticelli also had fallen in love with her, a view supported by his request to be buried in the Church of Ognissanti – the parish church of the Vespucci – in Florence. His wish was carried out when he died some 34 years later, in 1510. However this had been Botticelli’s parish church since he was baptized there, and he was buried with his family. The church contained works by him.
There are some connections between Simonetta and Botticelli. He painted the standard carried by Giuliano at the joust in 1475, which carried an image of Pallas Athene that was very probably modelled on her; so he does seem to have painted her once at least, though the image is now lost. Botticelli’s main Medici patron, Giuliano’s younger cousin Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, married Simonetta’s niece Semiramide in 1482, and it is often thought that his Primavera was painted as a wedding gift on this occasion.
The poem begins on the night of Maundy Thursday on March 24 (or April 7), A.D. 1300, shortly before dawn of Good Friday. The narrator, Dante himself, is thirty-five years old, and thus “midway in the journey of our life” (Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita) – half of the Biblical lifespan of seventy (Psalm 89:10, Vulgate; Psalm 90:10, KJV). The poet finds himself lost in a dark wood (selva oscura), astray from the “straight way” (diritta via, also translatable as “right way”) of salvation. He sets out to climb directly up a small mountain, but his way is blocked by three beasts he cannot evade: a lonza (usually rendered as “leopard” or “leopon“), a leone (lion), and a lupa (she-wolf). The three beasts, taken from the Jeremiah 5:6, are thought to symbolize the three kinds of sin that bring the unrepentant soul into one of the three major divisions of Hell. According to John Ciardi, these are incontinence (the she-wolf); violence and bestiality (the lion); and fraud and malice (the leopard); Dorothy L. Sayers assigns the leopard to incontinence and the she-wolf to fraud/malice. It is now dawn of Good Friday, April 8, with the sun rising in Aries. The beasts drive him back despairing into the darkness of error, a “lower place” (basso loco) where the sun is silent (l sol tace). However, Dante is rescued by a figure who announces that he was born sub Iulio (i.e. in the time of Julius Caesar) and lived under Augustus: it is the shade of the Roman poet Virgil, author of the Aeneid, a Latin epic.
On the evening of Good Friday, Dante is following Virgil but hesitates; Virgil explains how he has been sent by Beatrice, the symbol of Divine Love. Beatrice had been moved to aid Dante by the Virgin Mary (symbolic of compassion) and Saint Lucia (symbolic of illuminating Grace). Rachel, symbolic of the contemplative life, also appears in the heavenly scene recounted by Virgil. The two of them then begin their journey to the underworld.
Vestibule of Hell
Dante passes through the gate of Hell, which bears an inscription ending with the famous phrase “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate“, most frequently translated as “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”[nb 1] Dante and his guide hear the anguished screams of the Uncommitted. These are the souls of people who in life took no sides; the opportunists who were for neither good nor evil, but instead were merely concerned with themselves. Among these Dante recognizes a figure implied to be Pope Celestine V, whose “cowardice (in selfish terror for his own welfare) served as the door through which so much evil entered the Church”. Mixed with them are outcasts who took no side in the Rebellion of Angels. These souls are forever unclassified; they are neither in Hell nor out of it, but reside on the shores of the Acheron. Naked and futile, they race around through the mist in eternal pursuit of an elusive, wavering banner (symbolic of their pursuit of ever-shifting self-interest) while relentlessly chased by swarms of wasps and hornets, who continually sting them. Loathsome maggots and worms at the sinners’ feet drink the putrid mixture of blood, pus, and tears that flows down their bodies. This symbolizes the sting of their guilty conscience and the repugnance of sin. This may also be seen as a reflection of the spiritual stagnation in which they lived.