Dante and Beatrice
When he first saw her, at a party in her father's palace, Durante degli Alighieri was nearly nine and Beatrice Portinari a few months younger. She was dressed in soft crimson, with a girdle around her waist. He fell in love with her on the spot. Being only eight, he didn't declare his love, but "from that time forward, love fully ruled my soul". For nine years, he hung out in places she might visit and caught glimpses of her, but they never spoke. Then one day, in Florence, in 1283, he saw her walking down the street, accompanied by two older women. As they passed each other, she said hello. Dante was so overwhelmed ("I seemed to experience the height of bliss"), he retired to his room to think about her, fell asleep and dreamed a dream that became La Vita Nuova. Long betrothed to another, Dante was married off at 21. Beatrice married someone else a year later but died at only 24. Dante remained devoted to her for the rest of his life, and her spirit, emblematic of transcendent love, informs all the Divine Comedy.