Daily Update: Monday, April 6th, 2015

04-06 - First Meeting of Petrarch and Laura in the Church of Santa Chiara at Avignon by Marie Spartali Stillman

Alleluia! Today is Easter Monday, the Second Day in the Octave of Easter. With no Saints to honor, we note that on this date in 1327, the Italian poet Petrarch first saw Laura, awakening in him a lifelong passion for her.

This date, which was Good Friday in 1327, the twenty-three year old Italian poet Francesco Petrarca, having given up his vocation to be a priest, saw a young woman called “Laura” in the church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon; this sight awoke in him a lasting passion, celebrated in the Rime sparse (Scattered rhymes). Later, Renaissance poets who copied Petrarch’s style named this collection of 366 poems Il Canzoniere (Song Book). Laura may have been Laura de Noves, the wife of Count Hugues de Sade (an ancestor of the Marquis de Sade). There is little definite information in Petrarch’s work concerning Laura, except that she was lovely to look at, fair-haired, with a modest, dignified bearing. Laura and Petrarch had little or no personal contact. According to his “Secretum”, she refused him for the very proper reason that she was already married to another man. He channeled his feelings into love poems that were exclamatory rather than persuasive, and wrote prose that showed his contempt for men who pursue women. Upon her death in 1348, the poet found that his grief was as difficult to live with as was his former despair. While it is possible she was an idealized or pseudonymous character – particularly since the name “Laura” has a linguistic connection to the poetic “laurels” Petrarch coveted – Petrarch himself always denied it. His frequent use of the Italian phrase “l’aura” is also remarkable: for example, the line “Erano i capei d’oro a l’aura sparsi” may both mean “her hair was all over Laura’s body”, and “the wind (“l’aura”) blew through her hair”. There is psychological realism in the description of Laura, and Petrarch’s love is by no means conventional, unlike some clichéd women of troubadours and courtly love. Her presence causes him unspeakable joy, but his unrequited love creates unendurable desires, inner conflicts between the ardent lover and the mystic Christian, making it impossible to reconcile the two, his quest for love a hopeless, endless agony. Laura is unreachable – the few physical descriptions are vague, almost impalpable as the love he pines for, and such is perhaps the power of his verse, which lives off the melodies it evokes against the fading, diaphanous image that is no more consistent than a ghost. Laura is too holy to be painted; she is an awe-inspiring goddess. Sensuality and passion are suggested rather by the rhythm and music that shape the vague contours of the lady.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading. Richard was not doing well (throwing up), and I gathered up the trash and put the trash can out on the curb. Richard got dressed and we got in the truck to go to work; we were at the end of our driveway (not a long driveway either), when Richard had to open the door of the truck to throw up again. He then decided to call in, and I headed to work, driving my car. Once at work I was on Mini Baccarat all day. I called the Pharmacy and renewed one prescription. It was a very slow day in the Pai Gow and Mini Baccarat pit; the only interesting thing that happened was that the Powers that Be moved Tour and Travel to the front doors of the casino (where Valet used to be), and Valet moved to the back doors of the casino, where Tour and Travel used to be. Obviously, this would not have happened if someone Very High Up on the food chain had not said it was a Good Idea; but Tour and Travel has been at the back doors so long that there is a very long covered loading lane there for buses, while at the front doors the covered loading lane is a circular drive which is not long enough to allow any given bus to be all the way flush to the drive.

After work I went to the Pharmacy and picked up my prescription. I then called Richard; he did not answer, so I was somewhat concerned about him. (Turned out he had his phone in the hat in the bedroom, and he was in the living room watching TV.) I went to Wal-Mart for some groceries, and accidently picked up the wrong OTC medication that had been recommended for him by Deborah (I picked up Imodium instead of Emetrol). When I was almost home Richard called me back. Once home, I read the morning paper, then I took a nap until about 5:30 pm. Richard went to bed, and when I asked him if he wanted me to go get some Emetrol for him, he said no, that he would continue using Pepto-Bismol. He was still throwing up, and as of now he is not certain that he will be able to go to work tomorrow. And, I am getting rather tired of waiting on the next Android update (from what they call KitKat to Lollipop; Android is addicted to cutesy names for their operating systems). I downloaded something that is supposed to go ahead and load up Lollipop on my Android, but I will mess with it tomorrow, when I don’t have to get up to go to work the next day.

Tomorrow is Easter Tuesday (Alleluia), and the Third Day in the Octave of Easter. Tomorrow is also the Memorial of Saint John Baptiste de la Salle, Priest, and the birthday of my friend Danette in Louisiana (1955). It is our Friday at the casino, but I do not plan at all on signing the Early Out list and coming home early (if I do so at all, I’d rather do it next Tuesday, which is the day I have my Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club in the evening). In the afternoon I will try to stay awake to do stuff. Tomorrow evening our #3 Ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing a home game with New Orleans, and our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a home game with the Golden State Warriors (including tomorrow night’s game, there are six games left in the regular NBA season).

Our Parting Quote on this Easter Monday (Alleluia) afternoon comes to us from Corin Redgrave, English actor and political activist. Born in 1939 in Marylebone, London, he was the only son and middle child of actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. He was educated at the independent Westminster School and at King’s College, Cambridge. Redgrave played a wide range of character roles on film, television and stage. On stage, he was noted for performances by Shakespeare (such as Much Ado About NothingHenry IV, Part 1, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest) and Noel Coward (notably a highly successful revival of A Song At Twilight co-starring his sister Vanessa Redgrave and his second wife, Kika Markham). For his role as the prison warden Boss Whalen in the Royal National Theatre production of Tennessee Williams’s Not About Nightingales, Redgrave was nominated for an Evening Standard Award, and after a successful transfer of the production to New York, his performance garnered him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play, in 1999. On screen he is best known for his roles in such acclaimed and diverse films as A Man for All Seasons (1966), Excalibur (1981) as the doomed Cornwall, In the Name of the Father (1993) as the corrupt lead police investigator, Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) as Hamish, the fiancee of Andie MacDowell’s character, and Persuasion (1995). In 1996 he wrote a memoir about his strained relationship with his father titled Michael Redgrave – My Father, which incorporates passages from Michael’s diaries. It was also noted for revealing his father’s bisexuality. In 2005, Redgrave had just finished an engagement playing the lead in King Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London when he suffered a severe heart attack. In 2008, he returned to the stage a highly praised portrayal of Oscar Wilde in the one-man-play De Profundis. In 2009, he starred in Trumbo, which opened only hours after the death of his niece, Natasha Richardson. Redgrave was a lifelong activist in left-wing politics. With his elder sister Vanessa, he was a prominent member of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party. More recently, he became a defender of the interests of the Romani people. Both Redgrave and his second wife, Kika Markham, expressed support for Viva Palestina, a humanitarian convoy, led by British MP George Galloway, attempting to break the siege of the Gaza Strip (died 2010): “Our goal is to ring the alarm bells about the human rights abuses our government is sanctioning, and to act as a focus for people who want to stand up against them.”

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