Canto 93: Inferno

Study the past, if you would divine the future



sometimes I talk in my sleep
funny how unconscious
I’m at my most awake
Megan Mccorquodale

I sat alone singing the Song of Man,
When every beating heart swam through mine own,
A swirl of swans sang in the summer’s van
& I, a sentinel on Siva’s throne;
His lingam flows
Before me in a flame,
As lovely as the rose Persophone became.

Strange lights & stranger sounds rang out
Above the global babble,
My spirit turning inside out,
The mage in me must dabble,
Assuaging all my deep-felt doubt,
‘Rise up from the rabble,’
& hope beyond all hope my soul may pass
The last oppression of the poet-class!

This is no simple shepherd’s song
Once sung in Sicily,
For right or wrong we bards belong
In stranger company,
Sat at the feet of godhead, pledg’d before infinity.


Poetic Meeting

Now (turned into a Man under obscure measures),
I feel within me the germs of future existences,
lives that shall rise and soar to find higher reaches
Juan Ramón Molina

From Poppi’s field rose enchanting accent,
Dante Alighieri is my name,
Sent to attend poetical descent
Into the ovens of infernal flame!”
“Let it be so,
Let us retrace the ride
That was thine Inferno, when Virgil was thy guide.”

Poet, thy path we have observ’d
From heavenly echelons,
How thro’ thy task ye have conserv’d
Man’s Wars & his raw weapons,
How ye wonder’d what hells reserv’d
For man’s evil actions –
For questions to be illuminated,
My mortal form her rejuvenated.”

The poet led me from the peak
Tho’ all seem’d in my mind –
Forest of teak, bent branches creak
Before us & behind,
Until we reach Hell’s opening by devil’s art design’d


Gates of Hell

lord lord
I have sinned and I confess it
but it isn’t really all my fault
Emmanuel Boundzéki Dongala

Dante trembl’d once more before the gloom,
Then to nook-smitten depths did dissapear,
I join’d him as a robber stalks a tomb;
As deep distance
Echoes a frightful sound,
Sonambulants advance cautiously underground.

“Pray, Dante, stray not far from me,
As into Hades we go,”
Soon rose lung-black cacophony,
Emmuted groans of limbo,
By Acheron, glutting vile sea,
In stagnant, livid flow,
Where Charon waits to ferry fools & kings,
His haunted face bloated with hornet stings.

With old proverbs our pilot paid,
Who blinkless gave no thanks,
But silent stay’d, the boat obey’d,
Sliding tween fetid banks,
Scudding beside a sorry shore, rats scuttling on the planks.

The First Circle of Hell

Ancyent Wisdom

Pardon will he obtain, who will call upon
God, and despise Him not,
And heaven the night he dies.
St Eleath

Girdling circles of this infernal world
Spiral before us to a point unknown,
Thro womby vaultages shriek’d anguish swirl’d,
Like spinning pennies grating round a cone;
Lone fortess rose
A thermaeshetic throng,
Where pagan bards compose in schools of eaglesong.

We stepp’d within those rustic walls,
Pleasant portion of Hades,
Where wise old tribes of gallant souls
Shared the wealth of their degrees,
But as none Gesu’s faith enthralls
Satanus did them seize,
Being too good to wallow in the dark
Condemn’d to dwell within Hell’s only park.

I convers’d with Virgil, Shelley,
Ceasar & Cicero,
Then Homer spoke of poetry,
We listen’d to him flow,
Discussing epic simile til time had swung to go.

Pagan Park

Hell’s Generals

I’ve never seen that before
I say: my fear surprises me
I say: now I understand
Naja Marie Aidt

We pass three praetors of human dross;
First Minos, watcher of the lustful breed,
Cerberus of the wretched gluttinous,
& Pluto, master of the violent creed;
Pray pause our course,
I know many by name,
Who used god-given force to punch & wound & maim.”

This was a strange segment of Hell,
Peopl’d by men of violence,
Who revel’d when their soldiers fell,
& deem’d killing thrilling romance –
I saw Monty, Patton, Rommel
With three Marshalls of France,
Where now, instead of battle’s thumping drum,
They were consign’d to a constant boredom,

Who sat, it seem’d, a mile apart
Upon a dull, wide plain,
& when they start to drift or dart,
Good converse to obtain,
A thick mist falls & when it rose sat far apart again.

Fourth Circle of Hell

Just Desserts

The night is full of mystery,
Whose understanding is
In trying no more to understand
William Montgomerie

We further delv’d, by wolves, ‘neath carrion,
Crossing the Styx its sewer made us spew,
Singed by the lava-flowing Phlegathon
The bens of Hell rose darkling into view;
Pangs of terror,
An angry nest of thieves,
Once joyous with honour now forced to fend for leaves.

Round stinkweed shrub a scrum did break,
Won by some toothless hoodlum,
Who gorged it down like it was steak –
Hermann Goering look’d on glum,
Who once had made Albion quake,
Turn’d London to a slum –
Now forced to bear, thro an eternal gloom,
Asthma, marasmus, spasm, qualm & rheum.

A whistle separates the drones,
Imps whip them back to work
Breaking great stones with vulture bones,
Sulphur stings those that shirk,
“Let us dive deeper,” said Dante & led me thro the murk.


Eternal Tortures

O Lord, I am submitting myself to you
I am entangled in these worldly bonds
I am attracted by Karma & its consequences

Encountering the last few laps of Hell
We improvis’d steep course thro’ Caina,
Our eyes upon a dreary vision fell,
Pale-faced & shrunk in weary demeanour;
Some demon shade,
Its eye-pits flicking flame,
Clutch’d tight a crooked blade… Herr Hitler was his name.

He was placed so close to evil,
With the sins of treachery,
Those high sinners of the Devil
Who betray their own country
& in its destruction revel,”
There for eternity,
Hounded by hosts of hungry mosquitoes,
He was condemn’d to dwell on all his woes.

As ev’ry victim stood in train,
& endless stretch’d the queues,
His shade was slain, heinous pain,
Then for the next renews –
Leaving him screaming, “Mercy!” we drudge on thro’ glooping ooze.


Heart of Hell

Into eternal darkness borne away,
May we not ever on Time’s sea, unthwarted,
Cast anchor for a day?
Alphonse de Lamartine

The Tuscan singer brings us further, far,
The way was swift, once walk’d by him before,
Cross icy swathes of the Cocytus scar,
Where sediments of ev’ry slavish shore,
Tear-cluster’d salts,
Muster ungodly bridge –
My master climbs then halts upon its midway ridge,

There saw a ghoulish city,
Walls of flesh, contorted bone,
Shewing murderer’s no pity
Body’s used for building stone,
Eternity of agony!
Above them thrust the throne,
Perch’d high upon a mile-long citadel
Satanus sat surveyance over Hell.

Above the slime of swarmy things
Dark demons foul the air,
Drumm’d summons brings them beating wings
Toward that craggy chair,
Our staffs shone light upon the path circling the spiral stair.



Why do you heave apart my stone?
The feeble dead are all I own;
my wealth is nothing more than bone
Saint Gregory the Theologian

She-vampyres crowd around us as we climb,
At last we reach the shrieking citadel
Demons of the dark recesses of time
Swirl round Satanus in a carousel;
Hell’s parliament
One egocentric stage –
The Dark Lord must lament the passing of an age.

“My brave, proud comrades of the fall,
The mortal wound is changing,
No longer must war be our goal,
Agenda re-arranging,
Mars should be sent to some black hole,
Interstellar ranging –
Where gods are in council there I shall go
Archangel midst that archipelago.”

“Now we are done here,” Dante said,
Down from Dis descending,
Hells’ phantoms fed our clammy dread
Til the stairwells ending,
& there we part as I to heaven watch’d my friend ascending.


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