He saw her and his heart raced. The hormones did not race.
All was irrelevant except being with her. It did not matter that he did not know her. He had come to this planet only to be with her.
Instinctively he knew that she was not for him. He just wanted more knots, obstructing the flow of energy in him, to be untied.
Dante, a nine year old child, saw Beatrice Portinari for the first time on a sunny Florentine afternoon. She was eight. Dantes father took his son to a party at the Portinari house. The two children did not get a chance to speak a single word to each other.
Dante wrote of his first sight of Beatrice, “She was wearing a delicate crimson robe tied with a belt and the moment I saw her I say in all truth that the spirit of love in the innermost depths of my heart began to tremble in such a way that it overtook my whole being ,,,,,,, the beginning and end of life’s happiness had been revealed to me”.
After the first encounter, Dante frequented different parts of Florence, in the hope of running into Beatrice and catching at least a glimpse of her – unsuccessfully !
Nine years later, the two met again. She was walking along the bank of the river Arno in Florence, accompanied by two older women and dressed in white. Her beauty was astounding to the young man. She turned and greeted him, her salutation filling him with such joy that he retreated to his room to think about her. He fell asleep and had a dream. She appeared in his dream. The scene of the dream became the subject of the first sonnet in the New Life (La Vita Nuova) dedicated to her memory.
The two never met again. Beatrice died a few years later at the young age of twenty-four, in 1290. After her death, Dante continued to hold an abiding love and respect for the woman.
Beatrice opened Dante’s heart to love and most probably this is the first written record of non-sensual love at first sight in world history.
Love opened his mind to another level of consciousness and he went on to write The Divine Comedy describing his journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided by the spirit of first Roman poet Virgil who lived more than a thousand years before him.
My tributes to all mothers, this day.