“Dante’s Inferno as Limericks and Comics”

“Circle I (the unbaptised)

Underway with the underworld herewith,
and I’m with – no, you’re with – fine, we’re with
the dwellers of Hades
born BCs, not ADs –
not all, but the ones you’d have beer with.

[. . .]

Circle VII

‘By these treestumps, my Master, what’s signified?’
‘These souls are eternally lignified.
We saw others scream
in an ichorous stream:
for the violent, no ending is dignified.’

Circle VIII

The fraudsters inhabit these cum-pits,
the forgers and classical strumpets.
And going down levels
we stumble on devils
whose derrières double as trumpets”    –Harry Cochrane and Leonardo Cardini, The Florentine, February 26, 2020

 

David Shapiro, “Dante and Beatrice (at Forty-Seven)”

David Shapiro’s “Dante and Beatrice (at Forty-Seven)” appeared in vol. 29, no. 5 of the American Poetry Review (full text available here). Here is how it begins:

“are kitsch six inches of a gold bronze toy
sculpture on my wife’s dead grandmother’s
delicate endtables ours
separated by a red grace and pink
candles and some smaller
horribly-shaped vegetable-like candles pointing
Dante looks like the mayor showing not pointing
of a small-town corruption
in a small cap he wears not against the
winter a cruel righteous careerist
grim as glucose and morose to boot
boasting of pride like a tiger on a street
Beatrice in nightgown her sin hope
a girl always about to go to bed
by herself and her long ringlets
as voluptuous as her nightgown
She is sexual and sad and refuses
to look at that businessman of words
all this is a gift from Mickey Mouse who
said when he saw them it had to be
for me Goofy who took the sleep
out of the Comedy and took the
flowers and took the fathers, too
until what was left for a fatuous cento
like a student who translates
all vulgarity into ancient Greek a mistake

So if a person loves you they could say
I want to be in Hell with you forever
like two bats summoned on a windy
word by a poet having a mid-life decision

[. . .]”

Read the rest of the poem in The American Poetry Review 29.5 (2000).

“Bang’s Purgatorio

“Heading over waters getting better all the time
My mind’s little skiff now lifts its sails,
Letting go the oh-so-bitter sea behind it.

The next realm, the second I’ll sing,
Is here where the human spirit get purified
And made fir for the stairway to heaven.

Here’s where the kiss of life restores the reign
Of poetry—O true-blue Muses, I’m yours—
And where Calliope jumps up just long enough

To sing backup with the same bold notes
That knocked the poor magpie girls into knowing
Their audacity would never be pardoned.”    –Excerpt from Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio, The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

Illustration by Berke Yazicioglu.
See more about Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio here.

Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı, “Otuz Beş Yaş” (1946)

“Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı’s poem entitled ’35 years old,’ when translated from Turkish to English, references coming to the middle of your life, 35 years old, like Dante did when he took his journey to hell (referenced in Canto 1). The line reads, ‘35 years old, that is half way through life, we are in the middle of our lives like Dante.'” –Su Ertekin-Taner

The collection Otuz Beş Yaş was published in 1946. Here is the opening of the poem, in the original Turkish:

“Yaş otuz beş! yolun yarısı eder.
Dante gibi ortasındayız ömrün.
Delikanlı çağımızdaki cevher,
Yalvarmak, yakarmak nafile bugün,
Gözünün yaşına bakmadan gider.”

Read the full poem here.

Contributed by Su Ertekin-Taner, The Bolles School ’22

“Beauty Awakens the Soul to Act” by Angelica Hopes

“We visited the house of Dante Alighieri. It’s rebuilt to celebrate the place of Dante Alighieri’s birth and its location is based on old documents reported from 13th century of the houses of the Alighieri family. [. . .]

“On the first floor, documents of the 13th century Florence and the younger days of Dante, his baptism in the Baptistery of Santa Maria del Fiore, his public life, his election in the office of prior of the town and his participation in political/military struggles, there are plastic model of the Battle of Campaldino and interesting weapons of that time.

“Going to the 2nd floor, shows the documents in connection with his painful exile in 1301, year of condemnation. In the 3rd floor, there’s the collection of documents on the fortune of Dante through the centuries, iconography. While sitting inside, admiring the historical artefacts and rich information on the influences of Florentine history to Dante Alighieri’s work, I was speechless and absorbed the moment with gratitude reflecting from my English term paper project in fourth year high school on the Divine Comedy, twenty three years later here I am and I got a copy of La Divina Commedia in its original language.” [. . .]     –Angelica Hopes, Landscapes of a Heart, October 27, 2012.

“Mary Jo Bang Discusses Purgatorio

“Well. And I think that the other aspect of the note is my trying to rationalize my own translation decisions. So, for instance, in in one of the cantos, in one of the early cantos in Purgatorio, Dante and Virgil encounter Belacqua, who is lounging in a shadow and being very sarcastic about Dante’s hurry to get up to the top of Mount Purgatory. He says, Fine, Mr. Lightning Bolt, you go right on up to the top. And at that point, Dante realizes who he is. And commentators link this to a bookseller that Dante used to know who would sit around all day. And Dante was always teasing him about his laziness. And so he’s using him as an example. But this. You go right on up, Mr. Lightning Bolt.”    –Mary Jo Bang, in an interview with Kevin Young for The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

See excerpts from Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio here.

“I Have Wasted My Life,” Justin Phillip Reed (2020)

The poem “I Have Wasted My Life” by American poet and essayist Justin Phillip Reed invents the neologism “alighieried”: “No, / I alighieried down this sunken navel / to also cape for waste.” Read the full poem on Poetry Daily here (featured on January 23, 2020).

Contributed by Silvia Valisa (Florida State University)

“Why Roberto Bolaño Haunts Latin Literature”

“A frustrated poet, he turned to prose in his 30s to pay his bills—and shone. Many of his novels may seem facile, packed with talky introspection and postpubescent brooding, but in fact are densely layered tales, with scores of narrators, soaked in erudition and mordant social comment. A ferocious reader, Bolaño wrote with Cervantes, Dante, and Homer looking over his shoulder.”    –Mac Margolis, Newsweek, April 16, 2012

“The 34 Greatest Poets of All Time”

Dante Alighieri

Birthplace: Florence, Italy

Famous poem: Divine Comedy

Famous quote: ‘Consider your origin; you were not born to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.’

[. . .]

Poetry — one of the most important and time-honored forms of literature in the world — brought us greats like William Shakespeare and W.B. Yeats to ancient poets like Homer and Dante Alighieri to American treasures like Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.”    –Mo Elinzano, Deseret News, March 20, 2015

Dante’s Inferno – A Modern Rendition

“With your kindest indulgence, Dear Reader, I wish to interpret the work
of the Poet, embracing his views and perceptions. At times if through quirk
or ineptness the rendering fails to achieve any part of this task,

you’ll excuse my attempt to extrapolate, gently, respectfully, filled
with appropriate zeal, a degree of contemporization instilled
in the quest for connections with centuries past. This is all that I ask.

[. . .]

This poetic interpretation of Dante’s Inferno seeks to maintain much of the original intent of the work while updating it with carefully veiled references to current-day political and economic issues. It is written in classical poetic form, with strict anapestic hexameter meter and an ‘aabccb‘ rhyming scheme. Accent marks have been added to the first appearance of many mythical names to assist the reader with pronunciation.”    –Paul, DanteInferno.org