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Poets of Divine Love

The Rhetoric of Franciscan Spiritual Poetry

Alessandro Vettori

Publication Year: 2004

St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1181-1226) and Jacopone da Todi (c.1236-1306) were but two exemplars of a rich school of mystical poets writing in Umbria in the Franciscan religious tradition. Their powerful creations form a significant corpus of medieval Italian vernacular poetry only now being fully explored.Drawing on a wide range of literary, historical, linguistic, and anthropological approaches, Vettori crafts an innovative portrait of the artists as legends and as poets. He investigates the essential features of emerging Franciscan tradition, in motifs of the body, metaphors of matrimony, and musical harmony. Vettori also explores the relationship of Francis's poetic mission to Genesis, the relationship between erotic love and ecstatic union in both poets' work, and the poetics of the sermon.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Adviso to Reader

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pp. xi-xii

All primary texts by Francis of Assisi and Iacopone da Todi appear in the original Italian as well as in an English translation.Whenever the translations adopted stray too much from the Italian, I have substituted my own literal translation and indicated so....

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pp. xiii-xxii

Francis of Assisi and Iacopone da Todi stand alone as the only two Franciscan poets in the Italian literary canon.1 Both belong to the beginning period of the Franciscan Order: one at the beginning of the thirteenth century and the dawn of Italian poetry and literature; ...

Part One

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1. Theater of Nudity

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pp. 3-39

In 1205 Francis of Assisi stands in the piazza of his hometown, takes off his clothes, and walks completely naked before his fellow citizens. He stands naked before the people and naked before God....

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2. Mysticism of Sexual Union

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pp. 40-58

Reading thirteenth-Century Franciscan Texts through the lens of the Edenic myth in the Book of Genesis reveals that adoption of nudity as a chief human trait is complemented by matrimonial union as a theological and poetic topos. Franciscan mysticism considers humanity...

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3. Harmony of the Cosmos

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pp. 59-78

The Interactive Union of male and female as specular reflection of God’s love for human beings inspires and animates Franciscanism and its theology according to the matrix of the Book of Genesis...

Part Two

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4. Origins of the Canon

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pp. 79-111

THE STRUCTURAL SYMBOLISM of “The Canticle of Brother Sun,” combined with its unembellished rhetoric, epitomizes Francis of Assisi’s desire to return to the uncontaminated first stage of creation.Theologically, a return to the beginning implies the radical...

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5. Theology of Ravishment

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pp. 112-144

THE INTRICATE DYNAMICS of erotic and agapic love, which originated in the dualistic perception of Neoplatonic thought, rose in status in thirteenth-century theology. In the latter part of the Middle Ages, new concepts and ideas about love led to a new sensitivity toward forms of love different from those that had...

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6. Ecstasy of Agapic Love

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pp. 145-171

AFTER LAUDA 34 Iacopone abandons the battle of two contrasting forms of love.The pacification of carnal and agapic love opens the way for an increased presence of divine love in the collection. From this point on, the poet’s ascetic progression includes a more...

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7. Symphony of the Ineffable

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pp. 172-192

WITH THE SUBLIMITY of mystical union between Anima and Christ achieved in Lauda 71, the remaining portion of Iacopone’s canzoniere focuses on the intricate consequences of this rare religious occurrence.The poet’s closeness to God leads to reflections...

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pp. 193-196

Francis of Assisi and Iacopone da Todi are mystics and poets.Their mysticism permeates their lives and works and infuses an indelible imprint on their poetic achievements. Despite their opposing theological perspectives, their mysticism...


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pp. 197-204


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pp. 205-218


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pp. 219-226

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248339
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823223251
Print-ISBN-10: 0823223256

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2004