The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 298 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).

    His words make music of so sweet a kind
      That the Soul hears and feels, and cries, Ah, me,
      That I want power to tell what thus I see!

And because I know not how to tell it, I say that my soul laments, saying, “Ah, me, that I want power.”  And this is the other unspeakable thing, that the tongue is not a complete and perfect follower of all that the intellect sees.  And I say, “That the Soul hears and feels;” hearing, as to the words, and feeling, as to the sweetness of the sound.


Now that the two ineffable parts of this matter have been discussed, we must proceed to discuss words that describe my insufficiency.

I say, then, that my insufficiency arises from a double cause, even as in a twofold manner the exalted nature of my Lady surpasses all, in the way which has been told.  For I am compelled, by the poverty of my intellect, to omit much of the truth concerning her which shone into my mind like rays of light, but which my mind receives like a transparent body, unable to gather up the ends thereof and reflect them back.  And this I express in that following part:  “First, all that Reason cannot make its own I needs must leave.”  Then, when I say, “And of what can be known,” I say that not even to that which I do understand am I sufficient, because my tongue is not so eloquent that it could tell that which is discoursed in my thoughts concerning her.  It may be seen, therefore, that, with respect to the Truth, it is very little that I shall say; and this redounds to her great praise, if well considered, in that which was the main intention.  And it is possible to say that this form of speech came indeed from the workshop of Rhetoric, which on every side lays its hand upon the main intention.  Then, when it says, “If my Song fail,” I excuse myself for my fault, which ought not, then, to be blamed when others see that my words are far below the dignity of this Lady.  And I say that, if the defect is in my rhymes, that is, in my words, which are appointed to discourse of her, for this are to be blamed the weakness of the intellect and the abruptness of our speech:  “blame wit and words,” which are overpowered by the thought, so that they cannot follow it entirely, especially there where the thought is born of love, because there the Soul searches more deeply than elsewhere.  It would be quite possible for any one to say:  Thou dost excuse and accuse thyself all in one breath, which is a reason for blame, not for escape from blame, inasmuch as the blame, which is mine, is cast on the intellect and on the speech; for, if it be good, I ought to be praised for it in so much as it is so; and if it be defective, I ought to be blamed.  To this it is possible to reply, briefly, that I do not accuse myself, but that I excuse myself in truth.  And therefore it is to be known, according to the opinion of the Philosopher in the third book of the

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The Banquet (Il Convito) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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