Guy Raffa, “Longfellow’s Great Liberators: Abraham Lincoln and Dante Alighieri” (2016)




“Living with Dante’s vision of the afterlife also gave Longfellow some perspective on the war. On May 8, 1862, soon after translating Paradiso, he reflected, ‘Of the civil war I say only this. It is not a revolution, but a Catalinian conspiracy. It is Slavery against Freedom; the north against the southern pestilence.’ The reality of this moral disease hit home when he visited a local jeweler’s shop. There he saw ‘a slave’s collar of iron, with an iron tongue as large as a spoon, to go into the mouth.’  ‘Every drop of blood in me quivered,’ he wrote, ‘the world forgets what Slavery really is!’ ”

[ …]

Guy Raffa, Not Even Past, January 18, 2016