Rodger Kamenetz, “Dante at the Gates of Hell”

“From time to time I will be offering examples of encounters with images from poetry.  The point is to show what we might learn from the poets about how to better engage with images in our dreams.

“In the opening of Canto III of Inferno, ‘Dante’ and ‘Virgil’ stand before the gates of hell. The first nine lines are in capital letters.

PER ME SI VA NELLA CITTÀ DOLENTE
THROUGH ME ONE ENTERS THE CITY OF WOE..

“The gate itself is speaking to the poets (and to us the readers).

“This gate has spoken to me for 47 years, since I took the Italian to heart–memorized the lines in a language I do not really know. But I loved Dante and loved the sound, and I think part of the beauty of reading in a foreign language is you slow down, you don’t read it like you read the newspaper or the internet, you take time to translate the words and feel them.

“There is another language that has become foreign for too many of us, the language of images. We have forgotten how to read images, how to respond to them. To gain benefit from our dreams, we must learn how to stand before the images.

“I believe reading poetry written at a high level can teach us how to do this.  That is what I hope to show in this series.” […]    –Rodger Kamenetz, Encountering Images, Series 1: Dante at the Gates of Hell, December 23, 2020