Madeleine Klebanoff-O’Brien, drawings of Dante’s cosmos


Harvard University undergraduate, Madeleine Klebanoff-O’Brien, ’22, “whose research focused on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, concluded her fellowship by creating a fully image-based research product. She illustrated Dante’s entire cosmos with visual details pulled from Houghton sources, including depictions of Earth’s elements inspired by medieval astronomical texts and drawings of angels based on 14th-century woodcuts. To explain the map’s symbolic elements to an average viewer, Klebanoff-O’Brien also made an image-based commentary…”    –Anna Burgess

See full article with many images, Anna Burgess, The Harvard Gazette, September 23, 2020

Richard Gotch Robinson, “Dante’s Commedia: An Unfinished Introduction”

“Who is there today who would dare bring out a book which covers virtually all aspects of life, and say – this is the way it all works? This is the nature of the universe in which we live, and this is the truth about some of the people in it, and what will happen to them when they die. And, by the way, I am going to show you the hidden structure of humanity and tell you just what your lives are all about. For this is what Dante Alighieri did some seven hundred years ago, when he wrote his great work the Commedia. The word commedia or comedy meant in those days just that it was a story with a happy ending as distinct from a tragedy. Later readers added the word divina, so that nowadays we speak of the Divine Comedy. […]”

See full text here.  See his poem “Dante” here.

Born Bristol, England 1930. In 1948, Robinson studied Dante with poet and Everest climber Wilfred Noyce, then Trinity College Dublin (Icarus Prize for Poetry). He spent thirty-five years publishing and bookselling in London (Robinson & Watkins), designed and published the first issues of Temenos for Kathleen Raine. Publications: Eternity, Time & The Soul (2005); Selected Poems (2009); Ventura County Beginnings (2011); Down to Earth – a novella (pending).

Ying Zheng, poetry (2020)

Out of the Ante-Inferno
After Gustave Doré’s Charon, the Ferryman of Hell

Fear not the wrath of God!
Those who are beckoned here
Know better than to comply.

Below the sullen skies,
Where stars hardly survive,
Stand pale precipices

Guarding the dim muzzle
Of a deadly, sodden
Passage, and listening

To it ceaselessly burp,
Bellow, bawl, and belch
Out a whirl of white spume.

Forward! Forward! The oar
That no one can wrench free
From his grip grunts and gasps,


Read the full poem here, along with two others: “Inferno” and “Dante and Beatrice.”

Ying Zheng was born and grew up in Shanxi, China, where she received her first Master’s degree from Shanxi University, and has since been working for the English Department of Taiyuan Normal University. In 2019, she earned her second Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, England. While in Lancaster, she had the privilege of studying a module on “Visualising the Poem” under Professor Paul Farley. Under the guidance of Dr. Eoghan Walls, her first poetry tutor and mentor, she completed a portfolio of ekphrastic poetry mainly based on visual arts on the subject of Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy. Currently she is pursuing PhD studies at Renmin University of China, Beijing, China. In a recent national creative writing competition held by Sun Yat-Sen University, she won the second prize with her poem “The Heavily Armoured Eyes.”

CIX, Hello Chapter 3: Hello, Strange Time (2020)

See the video teaser trailer here 

Contributed by Justin Meckes

Radiohead, “Pyramid Song,” Amnesiac (2001)

“According to Colin Greenwood, it was the image of ‘people being ferried across the river of death’ that most affected Yorke. This is reflected in the song’s many references to Dante’s imaginary journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, Divine Comedy. These include the black-eyed angels, a moon full of stars and jumping into the river.”    –Anonymous user on

Contributed by Justin Meckes

For an academic take on Radiohead’s Dantesque influences, see the discussion of “Pyramid Song” in Brad Osborn, Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead (Oxford UP, 2017), p. 192 [log-in required]:

“In addition to depicting images directly correlating to the song’s lyrics, the song’s music video suggests further allusions to this scene—Dante’s fifth circle of Hell—not directly found in those lyrics (‘let us descend now unto greater woe; already sinks each star that was ascending’).19 The greater woe of the music video is the environmental fallout of a warming planet—precisely what Yorke identifies as Dante’s ‘lukewarm’ (both literally in terms of global temperature, and figuratively regarding humankind’s collective inertia for change). Global warming reappears continually in Radiohead’s multimedia output. Take for example the short Kid A promotional video—affectionately refereed to by fans as ‘blips’—that promoted ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ (2000–10). In this video the iconic ‘minotaur’ that accompanies nearly all of the Kid A and Amnesiac artwork is reimagined as a polar bear stranded on a sinking floe of ice. What immediately follows cements the link between global warming and Dante. As the polar bear slowly sinks to the tune of ‘I will see you in the next life,’ a sinister, red-eyed, black-cloaked minotaur sails across the river—now blood-red—in a tiny row boat brandishing a sickle.”

See also Giulio Carlo Pantalei, “The Middle Ages of Postmodernism: Dante, Thom Yorke, and Radiohead,” Dante e l’arte 6 (2019): 127-142.

Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (1963)


“I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’…”  A reference to Pier delle Vigne, Inf. 13?

(Contributed by Lorenzo Hess, Bowdoin, ’23)

African American Interpretations of Dante’s Divine Comedy

The virtual symposium “African American Interpretations of Dante’s Divine Comedy,” sponsored by the Cesare Barbieri Endowment for Italian Culture and hosted by Trinity College, was held via Zoom on October 4, 2020. Video of the event, featuring Sherman Irby, Dennis Looney, Carl Phillips, and Cornel West, and moderated by Dario Del Puppo and Matthew Collins, can be viewed by clicking here.

“You are warmly invited to an event organized by Dario Del Puppo and Matthew Collins, hosted by Trinity College in Hartford, on African American receptions of the Commedia. Though originally planned as an in-person gathering, which would have included a debut of Sherman Irby’s Purgatorio jazz composition, we are still delighted that we can proceed through digital means.

“It will now be a shorter e-event via Zoom, featuring Dennis Looney (author of Freedom Readers), poet Carl Phillips, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Sherman Irby, and philosopher and public intellectual Cornel West.

“We will start at 4:00pm this Sunday, October 4, and will wrap up around 5:30pm (NB: Eastern Time).”   –Cesare Barbieri Endowment for Italian Culture

Watch the recording of the symposium, held virtually via Zoom on October 4, 2020, here.


Inf. 26, Fabian Alfie and Mary Watt for “Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time”

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time
 is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

Purg. 2, Alison Cornish and Leonardo Chiarantini for “Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time”

“Dante has just arrived in Purgatory and runs into an old friend — but finds he cannot embrace him. The souls in this canto share a moment of nostalgia for their earthly life and affections when Dante’s friend Casella sings one of Dante’s canzoni, a poem about love. Alison Cornish and Leonardo Chiarantini explore this canto’s relationship to life in a pandemic: the experience of moving into a new state of being, with new laws, where community must be forged in new ways; the importance of thinking globally, communicating across time-zones; the longing for and the strangeness of a simple hug between friends. Lock-down is its own kind of purgatory. Every day, there are failed embraces.” But, like Dante, we move forward.”    –Katherine Travers

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

Wear a Mask


” ‘Lasciate ogni Speranza, voi ch’entrate.’ Abandon all hope, ye who enter.  The words inscribed on the gates of hell, according to Dante Alighieri in the “Divina Commedia,” could be the best way to describe the tumultuous year we have experienced so far. No matter the age, generation or social status, every single human being on the planet has been affected.  The novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, has upended human life as we knew it. Long are the days when we could go out to our favorite pub, restaurant or store and enjoy a genuinely good time. Nowadays, we leave our houses with a new fear. Will we get it on our trip to get groceries? Will we get it from that group of careless people that refuse to wear a mask or social distance? If I get it, will I die? Will I infect my loved ones? Will I see them die?” […]    –Jorge Luis Galvez Vallejo, Iowa State Daily, July 30, 2020