Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In Place of a Curse

“Abandon all Hope, Ye Who Enter Here”
curse inscribed above
the Gate to Hell in Dante’s Inferno ~ 14th C
translated by John Ciardi in 1954
Dante Illuminating Florence with His Poem
by Domenico di Michelino (1417–1491)

After years of working with Dante's Divine Comedy, twentieth - century poet John Ciardi was inspired, in this poem, to offer an alternative fate:

In Place of a Curse
by John Ciardi (1916 - 86)

At the next vacancy for God, if I am elected,
I shall forgive last the delicately wounded
who, having been slugged no harder than anyone else,
never got up again, neither to fight back,
nor to finger their jaws in painful admiration.

They who are wholly broken, and they in whom
mercy is understanding, I shall embrace at once
and lead to pillows in heaven. But they who are
the meek by trade, baiting the best of their betters
with extortions of a mock-helplessness,

I shall take last to love, and never wholly.
Let them all in Heaven—I abolish Hell—
but let it be read over them as they enter:
“Beware the calculations of the meek, who gambled nothing,
gave nothing, and could never receive enough.”

For more on this theme see my current post
~ "Let Them All In" ~
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker:
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

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