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

 

What Dante did with Loss by Jan Conn

What Dante Did With Loss is Jan Conn’s fourth book of poems. Central to this powerful new collection is a suite of poems charting the explosive emotions surrounding her mother’s suicide. Other poems range from meditations on South American flora and fauna to postmodern encounters with immortality.

“Jan Conn was brought up in Asbestos, Quebec. She now lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and works as a professor of Biomedical Sciences whose research is focused on mosquitoes, their evolution and ecology. She has published seven previous books of poetry.”    —Véhicule Press, 1998.

You can purchase Conn’s book of poetry through Véhicule Press or through Amazon.

“Ivresse” by Pablo Neruda

“Hoy que danza en mi cuerpo la pasión de Paolo
y ebrio de un sueño alegre mi corazón se agita:
hoy que sé la alegría de ser libre y ser solo
como el pistilo de una margarita infinita:

“oh mujer -carne y sueño-, ven a encantarme un poco,
ven a vaciar tus copas de sol en mi camino:
que en mi barco amarillo tiemblen tus senos locos
y ebrios de juventud, que es el más bello vino.

“Es bello porque nosotros lo bebemos
en estos temblorosos vasos de nuestro ser
que nos niegan el goce para que lo gocemos.
Bebamos. Nunca dejemos de beber.

“Nunca, mujer, rayo de luz, pulpa blanca de poma,
suavices la pisada que no te hará sufrir.
Sembremos la llanura antes de arar la loma.
Vivir será primero, después será morir.

“Y después que en la ruta se apaguen nuestras huellas
y en el azul paremos nuestras blancas escalas
-flechas de oro que atajan en vano las estrellas-,
¡oh Francesca, hacia dónde te llevarán mis alas!”

–Pablo Neruda, “Ivresse”, 1904-1973.

Pablo Neruda was a 20th-century Chilean poet. The poem “Ivresse” is a part of The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, which you can purchase on Amazon.

John Barr’s Dante in China

“In John Barr’s poems, the ancient masters encounter the modern world. Dante on a beach in China beholds the Inferno: ‘Flaring well gas night and day, / towers rise as if to say, / Pollution can be beautiful.’ Bach’s final fugue informs all of nature. Villon is admonished by an aging courtesan. Aristotle finds ‘Demagogues are the insects of politics. / Like water beetles they stay afl oat / on surface tension, they taxi on iridescence.’ And his afterlife: ‘When three-headed Cerberus greeted him / Socrates replied: I won’t need / an attack dog, thank you. I married one.'” [. . .]    —Red Hen Press, 2018.

You can purchase a copy of Dante in China on Indiebound.