Per me si va ne la citta’ dolente.
Per me si va ne l’etterno dolore.
Per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore;
fecemi la divina podestate,
la somma sapienza e’l primo amore.Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto III
Many a wayward mortal have wondered through the gates of woe leaving hope at the wayside on the twisting labyrinthine path. Down. Down. Down into the endless chasm populated by the nightmares of Homer, Ovid, Virgil, Dante, and the host of mankind.
While the earth above was constantly changing. Empires rising and falling, generations being born, growing old, and dying. The underworld remained antithetically static. When Odysseus delved down the well trodden path, Queen Juno stumbled into the bleak abyss, and Orpheus went in search of his lost love, all came upon many of the same old inmates in the ‘Dungeon of the Damned’*…
The passage above is from Dante’s own journey into hell, carved above the gate that is never shut. It is written in Dante’s own stanza form: Terza Rima. This follows a fairly complex ABA BCB rhyme structure. It’s a lot more effective in Italian where almost all words end in the masculine or feminine suffixes and so rhyme is easier, but I’ve given it a go for this piece.
“So… Hungry …”
Eternal eyes follow your snaking hands
Ambrosial delights too tantalizing
In halls aloft, on clouded kingdom stands
A selfish heart, translucent mask disguising
If Xenia of divines, dare thee defile
Promethean soul entombed in endless writhing
“Please… Just. One. Bite…”
From Profane recipe you sought to test
Grieving goddess alone eats, all else deplore
Fates un-spun, ivory decorum blessed
Abyssal depths, in Karagöl evermore
Barren voice climbs the parched ascent
Far seeking hopes cast nets to foreign shore
“Polluted stream. I beg. Just a sip…”
Accursed be the house you built with blood
A charnel pit of stolen guilt and pride
Brace of suckling veal, encrusted in ochre mud
A fathers daughter taken for a bride
Adrift Aegean tides, winds of princess slain
Wars chasmic tremors, east and west divide
“Aarghhh! Why do you recoil from my touch?”
*Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV 451-479, Translation by A.D. Melville