| Quote #7
Just as a crossbow that is drawn too taut
Language is seen here as an outlet for intense, bottled-up emotion. Dante compares his shame to a “crossbow that is drawn too taut [and] snaps both its cord and bow when it is shot [so that] that arrow meets its mark with feeble force.” Because his confession is so affected by the deep emotion he feels, the words he uses to describe it do not move Beatrice or his readers. As established in Inferno, Dante considers human speech a faculty of the intellect, completely separate from that of the physical body. Here, however, he finds that the two cannot so easily be separated.
| Quote #8
[Beatrice]: “Take note; and even as I speak these words,
Beatrice charges Dante to practice his craft with virtue, to always write with truth.
| Quote #9
[Beatrice]: “But from now on the words I speak will be
After charging Dante to write with clarity and truth, Beatrice imposes the same sentence on her speech, promising that “from now on the words I speak will be naked” so that Dante with his “still-crude sight” will understand them. Emphasis here is put on not only the truth of the speaker’s words but on the comprehension of the listener as well. Both need to function in order for language to work properly.