Leonard Kress, “That Day We Read No More” (2019)

A vengeful sheering Great Lakes wind,
uprooting trees, flinging roof shingles—
split stumps and flayed branches. A whole dangle
of modifiers. Infinitives finding
syntax amid the wreckage. I can almost
make out the spoken scrawl, part malignant rant,
and part avowal, part warning and part advance
directive. Yet what I hear most is boast

when winds subside: Love led me to betray,
and the agony that betrayal once begot
afflicts me now, like you, who’ll stay
to hear my tale. You, like me, who sought
to authorize illicit love—you’re doomed
like some obsessive-compulsive, forever caught

in the act of betrayal. Forever damned.
Give me details, I demand, hoping
our stories do not match. There’s no stopping,
she says—Francesca, mother, who charmed
Paolo with her quizzing glance. I asked
my would-be lover to admit out loud
with certain sighs he wanted me. He held
his breath long as he could. And then, unmasked,

indifference and restraint abandoned, distance
obliterated—we agreed to read
together the tale of Lancelot’s romance
with his King’s wife Guinevere, and the bed
in which they found delight. That pleasure is
now pain—in inverse proportion to the deed.

Leonard Kress’s poem “That Day We Read No More,” a rewriting of Inferno 5, was published in The Orpheus Complex by Main Street Rag Press in 2009. It is available for purchase on the Main Street Rag website. The poem was featured in NonBinary Review #19, a 2019 collection of poems dedicated to Dante’s Inferno, available from Zoetic Press. Many thanks to the author for permission to publish the poem on Dante Today.

Deborah DeNicola, “The Big Enigma” (2021)

“The Big Enigma” is a poem included in the collection The Impossible by Deborah DeNicola, published by Kelsay Books in 2021. Of the inspiration for the poem, DeNicola explains, “In the end of the Inferno, there are souls under the ice. Only their faces are visible and they cry tears that freeze and poke them in the eyes. My poem references this because it is about a heart break that was very hard to get over. I never knew why this person madly loved me for quite a while and then went cold. And more to the point, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get over it for a long, long time, hence, the title ‘The Big Enigma’ and the reference to torment” (DeNicola, in a personal email communication).

The Impossible is available for purchase on Amazon. Our thanks to the author for permission to reprint.

Anthony Valerio, Dante in Love (2017)

Dante in Love is a modern re-telling of the immortal love story of Dante and Beatrice. The power and beauty of their original story of unrequited love shines through with new insights and accessible prose.”    —Amazon

See Anthony Valerio’s website for more information

“Speciale San Valentino: innamoratevi a Gradara rileggendo la storia di Paolo e Francesca”

valentines-day-special-fall-in-love-in-gradara-2021

“San Valentino è un’occasione speciale e eccezionalmente per le coppie di innamorati che verranno a pranzo qui abbiamo elaborato un menù a base di pesce – dice Andrea Chiarion (Ristorante Il Bacio di Gradara) – ma per tutti gli innamorati, ogni sabato abbiamo preparato la proposta “Smart box,” ovvero una cena per due da asporto, con vino e dolce dedicati a chi si ama.

“Gradara è il luogo dell’amore celebrato e proibito. Ogni anno la rocca è meta di tantissimi visitatori. Cambiano magari i partner, ma a quella magia non si rinuncia. La ProLoco organizza eventi, momenti e occasioni per le coppie nella rassegna “Gradara d’Amare.”  E anche se il Covid ha scombinato le regole, il borgo si colora di rosso passione anche in questo anno difficile con gli itinerari guidati (su prenotazione)in cui partecipare a una “passeggiata raccontata” nel borgo, in compagnia di dame, cavalieri e di un simpatico giullare, poi ristoranti, negozi, bar aperti. Passato e presente si incontrano in questo borgo, tra questi scorci, a testimoniare che l’amore non ha mai fine.” [. . .]    —

Elena Ferrante, Storia del nuovo cognome (2012)

“Ma adesso, a Ischia, aveva incontrato Lila e avevo capito che lei era stata fin dall’infanzia—e sarebbe stata sempre in futuro—il suo vero unico amore. Eh sì, era andata di sicuro a questo modo. E come rimproverarlo? Dov’era la colpa? C’era, nella loro storia, qualcosa d’intenso, di sublime, affinità elettive. Evocai versi e romanzi come tranquillanti. Forse, pensai, aver studiato mi serve solo a questo: a calmarmi. Lei gli aveva acceso la fiamma in petto, lui per anni l’aveva custodita senza accorgersene: ora che quella fiamma era divampata. Cos’altro poteva fare se non amarla. Anche se lei non l’amava. Anche se era sposata e quindi inaccessibile, vietata: un matrimonio dura per sempre, oltre la morte. A meno che non lo si infranga condannandosi alla bufera infernale fino giorno del Giudizio.”   –Elena Ferrante, Storia del nuovo cognome (p. 237)

Jasmine Serna’s Measuring Love with Cups

“One of the most profound ways I’ve learned to see the world is based off a lesson in a class I took about Dante’s The Divine Comedy. My professor Dr. Glyer was explaining Dante’s vision of heaven in Paradiso.

“She brought up many different sized cups to the front of the classroom — some were tall and skinny, others short and wide, some small, others big. She explained that the cups represented each person’s capacity to love. The bigger the cup, the bigger the capacity to love.

“She explained that our cups were always changing while we’re alive. All of our little daily actions — from returning an item someone dropped, to listening to a friend in need, to showing patience for children — increase or decrease our cup size.

“Then she explained that in Dante’s spheres of heaven, the cup size we end up with at the end of our lives determines where we’ll end up in heaven. No matter our cup size, though, all of our cups will be completely full.”   –Jasmine Serna, Medium, 2019

Margaret Wertheim on Science and God

“Centuries after Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, contemplated the relationship between science and religion, and decades after Carl Sagan did the same in his exquisite Varieties of Scientific Experience, physicist-turned-science-writer Margaret Wertheim offers perhaps the most elegant and emboldening reconciliation of these two frequently contrasted approaches to the human longing for truth and meaning.

“Wertheim is the creator of the PBS documentary Faith and Reason, author of deeply thoughtful books like Pythagoras’s Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender War and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet, and cofounder of The Institute for Figuring — ‘an organization dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and engineering’.”

“[Wertheim:] ‘I don’t know that I believe in the existence of God in the Catholic sense. But my favorite book is the Divine Comedy. And at the end of the Divine Comedy, Dante pierces the skin of the universe and comes face-to-face with the love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe that there is a love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe in Dante’s vision.'”   –Maria Popova, “Dante and the Eternal Quest for Nonreligious Divinity,” Brainpickings, 2015

See the full article here.

Natsume Sōseki, The Wayfarer (Kojin) (1912)

“[I]t gradually becomes clear that marriages good and bad, arranged and romantic are constants in this narrative. Suffering from a kind of existential crisis, Ichiro’s marriage to Nao is in trouble. Ichiro even suspects that his feckless younger brother Jiro has been carrying on with Nao, and voices despairing references to Paolo and Francesca from Dante’s Inferno. The third part of the book covers the period after they all return to Tokyo from their travels. As Ichiro and Nao’s marriage continues to deteriorate, Nao is tight-lipped, refusing to argue or complain, while Ichiro seems close to a nervous breakdown.”   –B. Morrison, “The Wayfarer (Kojin), by Natsume Sōseki” (March 22, 2010)

See also our post on Sōseki’s 1908 novel The Miner.

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.

#stoacasacondante, Flashmob in honor of Dantedì 2020

The Società Dante Alighieri promoted a flashmob on the first annual celebration of Dantedì (25 March 2020), while Italy and much of the world was under shelter-in-place orders due to the spread of COVID-19. Below, the message from the President of the Società Dante Alighieri, Andrea Riccardi:

“mentre il coronavirus ci tiene separati dai luoghi e dalle persone che amiamo, l’Amore e Dante ci uniscono. La Società Dante Alighieri invita tutti ad aprire le finestre delle proprie case, a leggere due terzine del V Canto dell’Inferno (Divina Commedia), a registrare le letture con gli smartphone e a condividere i video nei social network con hashtag #stoacasacondante e #Dantedì.

“Ecco il testo da leggere: «Amor, ch’al cor gentil ratto s’apprende, prese costui de la bella persona che mi fu tolta; e ‘l modo ancor m’offende. Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona, mi prese del costui piacer sì forte, che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona».”  —ladante.it

For news coverage, click here.