Leigh Hunt's "Rimini"
Leigh Hunt's Story of Rimini (1816) recounts the legendary love
of Francesca da Rimini and her brother-in-law, Paolo Malatesta, which is
found in Dante's Inferno (5.73-138), in a style at once richly
textured like a medieval tapestry and linguistically contemporary. His
explanation for the illicit love was that the youthful Francesca was
married to Paolo as a stand-in for his haughty older brother and fell
love with him at first sight. This quotation comes from the beginning of
Canto 2, after the groom's elaborate wedding party arrives with the
surrogate Paolo as "the very poetry of nature" (2.47) to fetch the bride.
In 1815 Hunt had become
something of a mentor to both Mary
Godwin and Percy Bysshe
Shelley, and he
was to remain one of their warmest friends. Indicative of how close this
circle was, Hunt's Story of Rimini was dedicated to Lord Byron.