Evelyn Underhill, “Jacopone da Todi Poet and Mystic, 1228-1306 – A Spiritual Biography”, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1919
Italian translation by Claudio & Massimo Peri (Tau Editrice, Todi, 2019)
AN EXTRAORDINARY CHARACTER
Preface, page V
“Three types of mind should find pleasure in Jacopone’s work and personality. First, those interested in Christian mysticism; for he is among the most profound and individual of the thirteenth-century mystics,. Next, lovers of poetry; who even though they may not sympathise with his religious attitude, cannot fail to admire the magnificent poems in which it is expressed: mystical love-songs matching in the sphere of spiritual passion the most beautiful lyrics of his Tuscan and Bolognese contemporaries. Last, those who care for the Italy of St. Francis and his descendants – though without special inclination to its mystical though or poetry – may be attracted by the human and tempestuous story of this man who was a friend of the heroes of the Fioretti, and who suffered in the interests of those ideals which they represent”.
How much I would have liked
to read these words in the contribution of some Italian literary critic! And how grateful I feel to Evelyn Underhill for having written them in 1919, revealing to English-speaking readers the beauty of Jacopone’s Laudas!