[Forese]: “But tell me if the man whom I see here
is he who brought the new rhymes forth, beginning:
‘Ladies who have intelligence of love.’”
I answered: “I am one who, when Love breathes
in me, takes note; what he, within, dictates,
I, in that way, without, would speak and shape.”
“O brother, now I see,” he said, “the knot
that kept the Notary, Guittone, and me
short of the sweet new manner that I hear.
I clearly see how your pens follow closely
behind him who dictates, and certainly
that did not happen with our pens; and he
who sets himself to ferreting profoundly
can find no other difference between
the two styles.” (Purg. XXIV, 49-63)
This passage is designed to feed Dante’s ego. Donati Forese, a fellow poet and friend, recognizes Dante by quoting the opening line of Dante’s “Vita Nuova,” suggesting that the poem is already considered a classic, widely memorized by scholars and students alike. As if this were not self-serving enough, author-Dante has his friend admit that his own work is not as good as his own: “I clearly see how your pens follow closely behind him who dictates, and certainly that did not happen with our pens.” This unambiguously sets up Dante’s dolce stil novo style of poetry as the supreme form, not to be rivaled by anyone else.