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)
SOPR’ONNE LENGUA, AMORE
“His legend tells us that trying, as all true lovers must, to tell something of the ineffable Truth, and snatching for this purpose at vivid images and suggestive phrases, Jacopone alarmed those timid souls who preferred the neatness of a rigid faith, and did not like to hear God defined ‘now in one way and now in another’. Accused, as many other mystics have been, of ‘fantastic and even heretical opinions’ he therefore composed the great lauda “Sopr’onne lengua, amore” for the express purpose of confuting his critics. We may well doubt whether he achieved its object… It is one of the most remarkable descriptions of ecstasy to be found in Christian literature…
In these poems, Jacopone appears not only as a poet and mystic, but also as a Christian philosopher of high attainment. In them his soaring genius for divine things, his remarkable hold upon metaphysical reality, find full expression. Students of the mystics will note with interest the many points of contact between his vision of the Absolute and that of Plotinus [and St. Augustine]…, but the practical and personal character of his teaching assures us that he took from them nothing which had not been tested in the fires of his own spiritual life. Moreover, he brought to these doctrines a personal contribution: that contribution which the religion of Jesus made and still makes to the intuitions of philosophy”.
I would like you to read and reread
these words again. You must agree that ignoring the Spiritual Biography written by Evelyn represented, for Italian readers, a serious amputation of their ability to understand Jacopone.