Monday, August 3, 2015

Dante Alighieri*

Dante Alighieri (1265—1321) is one of the world's most influential poets. He wrote his epic poem The Divine Comedy — which consists of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso — while in exile from his home of Florence. It is an allegory, warning corrupt society to turn from evil, and to truly follow Christ. Rather than writing in Latin, Dante chose to write in an Italian centred on the Florentine vernacular; in so doing he did much to begin to unify the Italian language.

In July, my wife and I visited Dante's Florence, from which he was exiled for the last twenty years of his life. Ironically, the city of Florence for centuries has wanted to have his bones returned to them. The photograph shows me standing at the foot of Dante's statue in Piazza Santa Croce. The statue was erected in 1865 — 150 years ago — to mark the 600th anniversary of his birth.

The following is from Allen Mandelbaum's translation. It is spoken by those in Purgatory on behalf of those still living.

from Purgatorio Canto IX

“Our Father, You who dwell within the heavens—
but are not circumscribed by them—out of
Your greater love for Your first works above,

praised be Your name and Your omnipotence,
by every creature, just as it is seemly
to offer thanks to Your sweet effluence.

Your kingdom’s peace come unto us, for if
it does not come, then though we summon all
our force, we cannot reach it of our selves.

Just as Your angels, as they sing Hosanna,
offer their wills to You as sacrifice,
so may men offer up their wills to You.

Give unto us this day the daily manna
without which he who labors most to move
ahead through this harsh wilderness falls back.

Even as we forgive all who have done
us injury, may You, benevolent,
forgive, and do not judge us by our worth.

Try not our strength, so easily subdued,
against the ancient foe, but set it free
from him who goads it to perversity.

This last request we now address to You,
dear Lord, not for ourselves—who have no need—
but for the ones whom we have left behind.”

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Dante Alighieri: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.