Our relationship to landscapes fascinates me. Partly it’s our reaction to a physical landscape, as when we are bowled over by a view of the sea, rolling hills, desert, meadow or mountains. But it’s also the idea of a place and its cultural or personal resonance – you may love mountains but have a more emotional reaction to them in Switzerland than Canada (as I have, for example).
This phrase by Dante evokes many possibilities – it could be that the land in question is generous in providing the conditions for a ‘sweet life’, or it could be that a simple love of a particular place makes life there sweeter. Or both.
The magnetic pull of place works strongly on me. My return to Switzerland decades after spending the first years of my life here felt like a salmon’s source-seeking instinct. And coming back has given me a deep sense of rootedness and stability which will stay with me even if I end up living somewhere else – it was a call that needed answering. We are curious creatures.
‘This land is the sweet life.’ (Paradise, Canto 24)
Source: Dante,The Divine Comedy, trans. Clive James (New York: Liveright Publishing, 2013), p. 482
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