Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Apparently, Warner Bros. has signed a deal to franchise hell itself, as the studio recently announced it has picked up a feature pitch titled Dante’s Inferno, which would bring Dante Alighieri’s legendary poem Inferno to life on the big screen. Tentatively title Dante’s Inferno, the screenplay is being touted as an epic scale love story that revolves around a man braving the nine circles of hell for his love. The film was pitched by relative newcomer Dwain Worrell, who has previously written only two other features, Operator (2015) and Walking the Dead (2010).


Inferno is one of the most famous pieces ever written by Dante Alighieri. It is just one part of a three part epic poem titled The Divine Comedy, which is one of the key writings in Italian literature. The entire set of poetry took twelve years to complete, finishing in the year 1320, just a year before Alighieri passed away. Dante’s Inferno is one of those pieces that is often referenced in passing, but few are actually familiar with the scope of its influence on modern religion. The very concept of hell as a physical place where tortures and pain occur, as well as many of the modern ideas about Satan are a literary construct of Inferno, rather than anything found in the Bible.

charonThe original poem, which begins on Easter weekend in the year 1300, is divided in 100 cantos and split into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Dante himself is the main character who, finding himself lost after the death of his beloved Beatrice, is met in the woods by the long-dead poet Virgil. In Dante’s Inferno, Virgil guides Dante through the nine circles of Hell (Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery), revealing various eternal torments suffered by different kinds of sinners. Although it deals with religious themes, the poem is far from a theological work. Instead, Inferno is a tale about humanity and our moral struggles that simply borrows from various religions and mythology to aid in its literary construct.

According to the outlet, this new version of Dante’s Inferno will see Dante travel “through the nine circles of hell to save the woman he loves.” Although the specifics of this iteration of the tale have not yet been revealed, an attempt to “save” Beatrice is not part of the original poem. In fact, it is Beatrice (in real life, the inspiration for Dante’s “Vita Nuova”) who saves Dante, appearing in the Earthly paradise at the very end of “Purgatorio,” taking over for Virgil and serving as Dante’s guide through “Paradiso.”

The script is in the preliminary stages of development at this point, with no cast or director officially attached. We know that the tale has been pitched as a love story, which will no doubt make the characters and their struggles far more accessible.

Media influence

dantes_inferno_cover_artDante’s Inferno is truly an epic piece that has influenced countless other media, including modern comic books like Hellblazer, which was developed into the television show Constantine. In fact, DC Comics actually released a six-issue Dante’s Inferno comic book series in 2009, tying into the EA video game of the same name. If the film goes well and Warner produces all three parts of The Divine Comedy, then we may well be looking at a film series that is as epic in scale as the Lord of the Rings and Hobbitt trilogies. No release date or filming dates, cast or director have been mentioned, since the project is in the preliminary stages.

Various filmic takes on Dante’s Inferno stretch as far back as Giuseppe de Liguoro’s 1911 silent film, L’Inferno (click here to watch on YouTube) and more recently 1998 movie What Dreams May Come took Dante’s text elements to show actor Robin Williams in a descent into hell to save his wife’s soul. This Warner Bros. version has contemporary competition, however, as Universal Pictures has their own plans for a Dante’s Inferno movie. To be directed by Evil Dead‘s Fede Alvarez, the Universal version is based on the Electronic Arts video game of the same name. Although it its set in the early 14th century, the game version reimagines Alighieri as a Templar Knight and also sets Dante on a mission to save Beatrice’s soul.



His glory, by whose might all things are mov’d,
Pierces the universe, and in one part
Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less.  In heav’n,
That largeliest of his light partakes, was I,
Witness of things, which to relate again
Surpasseth power of him who comes from thence;
For that, so near approaching its desire
Our intellect is to such depth absorb’d,
That memory cannot follow.  Nathless all,
That in my thoughts I of that sacred realm
Could store, shall now be matter of my song.


     Benign Apollo! this last labour aid,
And make me such a vessel of thy worth,
As thy own laurel claims of me belov’d.
Thus far hath one of steep Parnassus’ brows
Suffic’d me; henceforth there is need of both
For my remaining enterprise Do thou
Enter into my bosom, and there breathe
So, as when Marsyas by thy hand was dragg’d
Forth from his limbs unsheath’d.  O power divine!
If thou to me of shine impart so much,
That of that happy realm the shadow’d form
Trac’d in my thoughts I may set forth to view,
Thou shalt behold me of thy favour’d tree
Come to the foot, and crown myself with leaves;
For to that honour thou, and my high theme
Will fit me.  If but seldom, mighty Sire!
To grace his triumph gathers thence a wreath
Caesar or bard (more shame for human wills
Deprav’d) joy to the Delphic god must spring
From the Pierian foliage, when one breast
Is with such thirst inspir’d.  From a small spark
Great flame hath risen: after me perchance
Others with better voice may pray, and gain
From the Cirrhaean city answer kind.

     Through diver passages, the world’s bright lamp
Rises to mortals, but through that which joins
Four circles with the threefold cross, in best
Course, and in happiest constellation set
He comes, and to the worldly wax best gives
Its temper and impression.  Morning there,
Here eve was by almost such passage made;
And whiteness had o’erspread that hemisphere,
Blackness the other part; when to the left
I saw Beatrice turn’d, and on the sun
Gazing, as never eagle fix’d his ken.
As from the first a second beam is wont
To issue, and reflected upwards rise,
E’en as a pilgrim bent on his return,
So of her act, that through the eyesight pass’d
Into my fancy, mine was form’d; and straight,
Beyond our mortal wont, I fix’d mine eyes
Upon the sun.  Much is allowed us there,
That here exceeds our pow’r; thanks to the place
Made for the dwelling of the human kind

     I suffer’d it not long, and yet so long
That I beheld it bick’ring sparks around,
As iron that comes boiling from the fire.
And suddenly upon the day appear’d
A day new-ris’n, as he, who hath the power,
Had with another sun bedeck’d the sky.


     Her eyes fast fix’d on the eternal wheels,
Beatrice stood unmov’d; and I with ken
Fix’d upon her, from upward gaze remov’d
At her aspect, such inwardly became
As Glaucus, when he tasted of the herb,
That made him peer among the ocean gods;
Words may not tell of that transhuman change:
And therefore let the example serve, though weak,
For those whom grace hath better proof in store

     If I were only what thou didst create,
Then newly, Love! by whom the heav’n is rul’d,
Thou know’st, who by thy light didst bear me up.
Whenas the wheel which thou dost ever guide,
Desired Spirit! with its harmony
Temper’d of thee and measur’d, charm’d mine ear,
Then seem’d to me so much of heav’n to blaze
With the sun’s flame, that rain or flood ne’er made
A lake so broad.  The newness of the sound,
And that great light, inflam’d me with desire,
Keener than e’er was felt, to know their cause.

     Whence she who saw me, clearly as myself,
To calm my troubled mind, before I ask’d,
Open’d her lips, and gracious thus began:
“With false imagination thou thyself
Mak’st dull, so that thou seest not the thing,
Which thou hadst seen, had that been shaken off.
Thou art not on the earth as thou believ’st;
For light’ning scap’d from its own proper place
Ne’er ran, as thou hast hither now return’d.”

     Although divested of my first-rais’d doubt,
By those brief words, accompanied with smiles,
Yet in new doubt was I entangled more,
And said: “Already satisfied, I rest
From admiration deep, but now admire
How I above those lighter bodies rise.”

     Whence, after utt’rance of a piteous sigh,
She tow’rds me bent her eyes, with such a look,
As on her frenzied child a mother casts;
Then thus began: “Among themselves all things
Have order; and from hence the form, which makes
The universe resemble God.  In this
The higher creatures see the printed steps
Of that eternal worth, which is the end
Whither the line is drawn.  All natures lean,
In this their order, diversely, some more,
Some less approaching to their primal source.
Thus they to different havens are mov’d on
Through the vast sea of being, and each one
With instinct giv’n, that bears it in its course;
This to the lunar sphere directs the fire,
This prompts the hearts of mortal animals,
This the brute earth together knits, and binds.
Nor only creatures, void of intellect,
Are aim’d at by this bow; but even those,
That have intelligence and love, are pierc’d.
That Providence, who so well orders all,
With her own light makes ever calm the heaven,
In which the substance, that hath greatest speed,
Is turn’d: and thither now, as to our seat
Predestin’d, we are carried by the force
Of that strong cord, that never looses dart,
But at fair aim and glad.  Yet is it true,
That as ofttimes but ill accords the form
To the design of art, through sluggishness
Of unreplying matter, so this course
Is sometimes quitted by the creature, who
Hath power, directed thus, to bend elsewhere;
As from a cloud the fire is seen to fall,
From its original impulse warp’d, to earth,
By vicious fondness.  Thou no more admire
Thy soaring, (if I rightly deem,) than lapse
Of torrent downwards from a mountain’s height.
There would in thee for wonder be more cause,
If, free of hind’rance, thou hadst fix’d thyself
Below, like fire unmoving on the earth.”

     So said, she turn’d toward the heav’n her face.


Read on-line or download the complete Dante’s The Divine Comedy The Vision of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell (Project Gutenberg). Source text: Coming Soon  and Screen Rant. Source for Gustave Doré’s illustrations from The vision of Purgatory and Paradise by Dante Alighieri (London and New York: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin [1868?]: The Word of Dante.

William Skakespeare

Posted: April 24, 2013 in poetry
Tags: ,


O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journey’s end in lovers’ meeting–
Every wise man’s son doth know.

What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,–
Then come kiss me, Sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.


26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616

Little is known about Shakespeare’s early years. His father, John Shakespeare, was a glover and dealer in commodities and was a man of some standing in the local community. His mother,Mary Arden, was of higher social class. Shakespeare seems to have attended the local grammar school at Stratcord-upon-Avon, where he was born, but no records remain.

In 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than he was, and they had three children by 1594: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. However, he became a leading member of the newly formed acting company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (who became the King’ Men at the acession of James I) and he remained with them for the rest of his career. In 1599 the company occupied the Globe Theatre in London and 1608 took over Blackfriars as a winter house. Shakespeare lived and worked in London, but this family remained in Stratford. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616. He was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare’s genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called “bardolatry”. In the 20th century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. Shakeaspeare’s plays are still performed with more regularity than those of any other playwright and film versions frequently appear.



From you have I been absent in the spring… (Sonnet 98)

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
 Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
 As with your shadow I with these did play.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
 And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
 As any she belied with false compare.

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck (Sonnet 14)

 Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy;
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons’ quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find.
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert:
 Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
 Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
 So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
 So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


Sonnet 100: Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget’st so long

 Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget’st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend’st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, resty Muse, my love’s sweet face survey
If time have any wrinkle graven there;
If any, be a satire to decay,
And make time’s spoils despisèd everywhere.
 Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life;
 So thou prevent’st his scythe and crooked knife.


Honor to Woman, a poem by Schiller

Posted: March 8, 2013 in poetry, women
Tags: ,

8th March, International Woman’s Day.

by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Honor to woman! To her it is given
To garden the earth with the roses of heaven!
All blessed, she linketh the loves in their choir
In the veil of the graces her beauty concealing,
She tends on each altar that’s hallowed to feeling,
And keeps ever-living the fire!


From the bounds of truth careering,
Man’s strong spirit wildly sweeps,
With each hasty impulse veering
Down to passion’s troubled deeps.
And his heart, contented never,
Greeds to grapple with the far,
Chasing his own dream forever,
On through many a distant star!
But woman with looks that can charm and enchain,
Lureth back at her beck the wild truant again,
By the spell of her presence beguiled–
In the home of the mother her modest abode,
And modest the manners by Nature bestowed
On Nature’s most exquisite child!


Bruised and worn, but fiercely breasting,
Foe to foe, the angry strife;
Man, the wild one, never resting,
Roams along the troubled life;
What he planneth, still pursuing;
Vainly as the Hydra bleeds,
Crest the severed crest renewing–
Wish to withered wish succeeds.

But woman at peace with all being, reposes,
And seeks from the moment to gather the roses–
Whose sweets to her culture belong.
Ah! richer than he, though his soul reigneth o’er
The mighty dominion of genius and lore,
And the infinite circle of song.


Strong, and proud, and self-depending,
Man’s cold bosom beats alone;
Heart with heart divinely blending,
In the love that gods have known,
Soul’s sweet interchange of feeling,
Melting tears–he never knows,
Each hard sense the hard one steeling,
Arms against a world of foes.

Alive, as the wind-harp, how lightly soever
If wooed by the zephyr, to music will quiver,
Is woman to hope and to fear;
All, tender one! still at the shadow of grieving,
How quiver the chords–how thy bosom is heaving–
How trembles thy glance through the tear!


Man’s dominion, war and labor;
Might to right the statue gave;
Laws are in the Scythian’s sabre;
Where the Mede reigned–see the slave!
Peace and meekness grimly routing,
Prowls the war-lust, rude and wild;
Eris rages, hoarsely shouting,
Where the vanished graces smiled.

But woman, the soft one, persuasively prayeth–
Of the life that she charmeth, the sceptre she swayeth;
She lulls, as she looks from above,
The discord whose bell for its victims is gaping,
And blending awhile the forever escaping,
Whispers hate to the image of love!


Tradução para o Português: Maria do Sameiro Barroso

Honrai as mulheres! Elas entrançam e tecem
Rosas sublimes na vida terrena,
Entrançam do amor o venturoso laço
E, através do véu casto das Graças,
Alimentam, vigilantes, o fogo eterno
De sentimentos mais belos, com mão sagrada.


Nos limites eternos da Verdade, o homem
Vagueia sem cessar, na sua rebeldia,
Impelido por pensamentos inquietos,
Precipita-se no oceano da sua fantasia.
Com avidez agarra o longe,
Seu coração jamais conhece a calma,
Incessante, em estrelas distantes,
Busca a imagem do seu sonho.
Mas, com olhares de encanto e fascínio,
As mulheres chamam a si o fugitivo,
Trazendo-o a mais avisados caminhos.
Na mais modesta cabana materna
Foram deixadas, com modos mais brandos,
As filhas fiéis da Natureza piedosa.


Adverso é o esforço do homem,
Com força desmesurada,
Sem paragem nem descanso,
Atravessa o rebelde a sua vida.
Logo destrói tudo o que alcança;
Jamais termina o seu desejo de luta.
Jamais, como cabeça da Hidra,
Eternamente cai e se renova.

Mas, felizes, entre mais calmos rumores,
Irrompem as mulheres, num instante de flores,
Propiciando zelo e cuidadoso amor,
Mais livres, no seu concertado agir,
Mais propensas que o homem à sabedoria
E ao círculo infindável da poesia.


Severo, orgulhoso, autárcico,
O peito frio do homem não conhece
Efusivo coração que a outro se ajuste,
Nem o amor, deleite dos deuses,
Das almas desconhece a permuta,
Às lágrimas não se entrega nunca,
A própria luta pela vida tempera
Com mais rudeza ainda a sua força.

Mas, como que tocada ao de leve pelo Zéfiro,
Célere, a harpa eólica estremece,
Tal é a alma sensível da mulher.
Com angustiada ternura, perante o sofrimento,
O seu seio amoroso vibra, nos seus olhos
Brilham pérolas de orvalho sublime.


Nos reinos do poder masculino,
Vence, por direito, a força,
Pela espada se impõe o cita
E escravo se torna o persa,
Esgrimem-se entre si, em fúria,
Ambições selvagens, rudes,
E a voz rouca de Éris domina,
Quando a Cárite se põe em fuga.

Porém, com modos brandos e persuasivos,
As mulheres conduzem o ceptro dos costumes,
Acalmam a discórdia que, raivosa, se inflama,
Às forças hostis que se odeiam
Ensinam a maneira de ser harmoniosa,
E reúnem o que no eterno se derrama.


The Moon

Posted: April 26, 2012 in poetry
Tags: , ,

5 short poems to the Queen of the Night…

THE SADNESS OF THE MOON (by Charles Baudelaire)

The Moon more indolently dreams to-night
Than a fair woman on her couch at rest,
Caressing, with a hand distraught and light,
Before she sleeps, the contour of her breast.

Upon her silken avalanche of down,
Dying she breathes a long and swooning sigh;
And watches the white visions past her flown,
Which rise like blossoms to the azure sky.

And when, at times, wrapped in her languor deep,
Earthward she lets a furtive tear-drop flow,
Some pious poet, enemy of sleep,

Takes in his hollow hand the tear of snow
Whence gleams of iris and of opal start,
And hides it from the Sun, deep in his heart.


I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
As you might try a jewel in your hair.
I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
Alone, or in one ornament combining
With one first-water start almost shining.

I put it shining anywhere I please.
By walking slowly on some evening later,
I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
And brought it over glossy water, greater,
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.

SONG OF THE MOON (by Claude McKay)

The moonlight breaks upon the city’s domes,
And falls along cemented steel and stone,
Upon the grayness of a million homes,
Lugubrious in unchanging monotone.
Upon the clothes behind the tenement,
That hang like ghosts suspended from the lines,
Linking each flat to each indifferent,
Incongruous and strange the moonlight shines.

There is no magic from your presence here,
Ho, moon, sad moon, tuck up your trailing robe,
Whose silver seems antique and so severe
Against the glow of one electric globe.

Go spill your beauty on the laughing faces
Of happy flowers that bloom a thousand hues,
Waiting on tiptoe in the wilding spaces,
To drink your wine mixed with sweet drafts of dews.

THE MOON (by Robert Louis Stevenson)

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

TO THE MOON (by Giacomo Leopardi)

Oh gracious moon, now as the year turns,
I remember how, heavy with sorrow,
I climbed this hill to gaze on you,
And then as now you hung above those trees
Illuminating all. But to my eyes
Your face seemed clouded, temulous
From the tears that rose beneath my lids,
So painful was my life: and is, my
Dearest moon; its tenor does not change.
And yet, memory and numbering the epochs
Of my grief is pleasing to me. How welcome
In that youthful time -when hope’s span is long,
And memory short -is the remembrance even of
Past sad things whose pain endures.

I dedicate this post to my friend Lima Verde

“The Birth of Venus” (in Italian: Nascita di Venere) is a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a fully grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore (which is related to the Venus Anadyomene motif). The painting is held in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

The iconography of “The Birth of Venus” is very similar to a description of the event (or rather, a description of a sculpture of the event) in a poem by Angelo Poliziano, the “Stanze per la giostra”. Written between 1475-8, the poem includes a fictional description of reliefs cast by Vulcan for the doors of the Temple of Venus. It would seem likely that Botticelli would have known this text when he painted his Birth of Venus. In any case, both Poliziano and Botticelli were working in the context of the Medici court in Florence. Cosimo de Medici established a Platonic Academy modelled on the classical example of Plato’s own Akademia. In describing the imagined reliefs cast by Vulcan, Poliziano was employing a literary form that became popular in the Late Antique world known as ekphrasis, where one artistic form emulates another artistic form. The relationships of the arts, most specifically painting and poetry, was related to a famous dictum in Horace’s Ars Poetica, “ut pictura poesis,” or literally “As painting so is poetry.” This comparison and rivalry between painting and poetry was an important way artists tried to elevate their status above the manual arts. The following is an excerpt from Angelo Poliziano’s poem “Stanze per la giostra”:

In the stormy Aegean, the genital member is
 seen to be received in the lap of Tethys, to drift
 across the waves, wrapped in white foam, be-
 neath the various turnings of the planets; and
 within, both with lovely and happy gestures, a
 young woman with nonhuman countenance, is
 carried on a conch shell, wafted to shore by
 playful zephyrs; and it seems that heaven re-
 joices in her birth.

C 100
You would call the foam real, the sea real, real
 the conch shell and real the blowing wind; you
 would see the lightning in the goddess’s eyes,
 the sky and the elements laughing about her; the
 Hours treading the beach in white garments, the
 breeze curling their loosened and flowing hair;
 their faces not one, not different, as befits sisters.

CI 101
You could swear that the goddess had emerged
 from the waves, pressing her hair with her right
 hand, covering with the other her sweet mound
 of flesh; and where the strand was imprinted by
 her sacred and divine step, it had clothed itself
 in flowers and grass; then with happy, more than
 mortal features, she was received in the bosom
 of the three nymphs and cloaked in a starry gar-

CII 102
With both hands one nymph holds above the
 spray-wet tresses a garland, burning with gold
 and oriental gems, another adjusts pearls in her
 ears; the third, intent upon those beautiful
 breasts and white shoulders, appears to strew
 round them the rich necklaces with which they
 three girded their own necks when they used to
 dance in a ring in heaven.

CIII 103
Thence they seem to be raised toward heav-
 enly spheres, seated upon a silver cloud: in the
 hard stone you would seem to see the air trem-
 bling and all of heaven contented; every god
 takes pleasure in her beauty and desires her hap-
 py bed: each face seems to marvel, with raised
 eyebrows and wrinkled forehead.

CIV 104
Finally the divine artisan formed his self-portrait,
 happy with such a sweet prize, still bristly and
 scabrous from his furnace, as if forgetting every
 labor for her, joining his lips with desire to hers,
 as if his soul burned completely with love: and
 there seems to be a much greater fire kindled
 within him than the one that he had left in

The model for Venus in this painting has traditionally been associated with Simonetta Vespucci – who had been a muse for Botticelli,  and was seen as the model for female beauty throughout Florence – especially for the Medici family for whom this painting had been created. There is added credence to this suggestion from the fact that she was born in the Ligurian fishing village of  PortoVenere – called Port of Venus because there was a little Temple to Venus there from 1st Century BC. The other model for the pose of Venus in the painting was possibly the Medici Venus – a first century BC statue depicting Aphrodite in a Venus pudica pose. It is actually a marble copy  of an original bronze Greek sculpture,  that Botticelli would have has an opportunity to study whilst visiting the sculpture school or the Platonic Academy which flourished at the family home of the Medici in Florence.

The unusual feature of Botticelli’s early paintings is that they are based on mythologies, not religious paintings – which at the time must have itself been something of a shock to people outside the Neoplatonic, Humanist circle of friends of the Medici. Botticelli’s early style was to create visual poetry, unlike Ghirlandaio and even his own teacher Fra Filippo Lippi, he was not trying to construct space within the picture frame and he made no attempt to model solid three dimensional people; instead his figures float flatly on the front of the picture against a decorative landscape backdrop with their form defined by a thin outline. The story of “The Birth of Venus” is well described below by a Homeric hymn but it’s relevance to the painting is disputed as the poem was only published, by the Greek refugee Demetrios Chalcondyles, in Florence in 1488 – five years after the painting was completed as a wedding gift for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici in 1483.

Of august gold-wreathed and beautiful
Aphrodite I shall sing to whose domain
belong the battlements of all sea-loved
Cyprus where, blown by the moist breath
of Zephyros, she was carried over the
waves of the resounding sea on soft foam.
The gold-filleted Horae happily welcomed
her and clothed her with heavenly raiment.

In 1989, English director Terry Gilliam, inspired by the Botticelli painting, made a beautiful scene in his movie “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” where actress Uma Thurman plays Venus and Oliver Reed plays his husband Vulcan.

The professional photographer Alex Vanzetti also inspired by the painting made the amazing photography below:

Who lives in a clamshell above of the sea? From pop artist Elen Ameli Lin: “Botticelli’s little bit changed picture Birth of Venus. Sophie is Venus, SpongeBob is Zephyr, Sandy is his wife, and Patricia – is Horae.”

Read more about The Birth of Venus:
Read the poem “Stanze per la giostra”: