"For I have battled with mine agony, / And made me wings wherewith to overfly / The narrow circus of my dungeon wall, / And freed the Holy Sepulchre from thrall; / And revell'd among men and things divine, / And pour'd my spirit over Palestine" (Lord Byron, “The Lament of Tasso”)
|Eugène Delacroix’s “Tasso in the Madhouse” (1839)|
|François Marius Granet (1775 - 1849): "Montaigne visits Tasso in Prison" (1820)|
His strange relationship to his benefactresses, Lucezia and Leonora d’Este, Princesses at the court of Ferrara, both several years his senior, possibly full of unrequited love, that drew him back to the court of Ferrara like a magnet, his self-denunciation as a heretic with the local inquisition, seven years in the madhouse of St Anna, his dialogues on ethical and philosophical topics he wrote there, being long past the zenith of his poetical genius, but already counted among the great ones of contemporary literature on eye-level with Petrarch and Ariosto and to be awarded with a crown of laurels as king of the poets by Pope Clement VIII on the Capitol in Rome, Tasso died a few days before the ceremony in the convent of Sant’Onofrio on Trastevere Hill, probably just of being Tasso, at the age of 51. English and German poets, from Spenser and Milton to Byron and Goethe, erected various literary monuments in his honour and Tasso and his “La Gerusalemme liberata“ became a milestone in the western art canon.
And more on.