To a Student Who Refuses to Read More of The Inferno After Learning None of It Is True*
by Matt Donovan
Pliny tells us Zeuxis rendered the grapes with such care crows circled back all afternoon to peck at the work he’d done.
Interesting factoid: Pliny the Elder died on August 25, AD 79, while attempting to rescue Pomponianus (a friend of Pliny’s) and his family from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that had just destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. (Professor Wikipedia)
Not a believer in Dante’s Inferno? Then, how about Purgatorio? We’ll be reading Dante’s Purgatorio in the Global Reading Group next Lenten season. Pre-read salon is already up and active. Free and open to all readers, writers and those searching for redemption. Click here to join.
From Vellum by Matt Donovan, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.
As I drew nearer to the end of all desire, I brought my longing’s ardor to a final height, Just as I ought. My vision, becoming pure,
Although I’m good at establishing deadlines and deliverables in my work, I tend to fall apart when it comes to personal goal setting. Perhaps, you are like this too. So—instead of bemoaning my failure as a human being, I decided to be bold and dynamic. I find short-term goals are more doable than long so here are this month’s goals:
1. Work up to running (jogging?) the 3 mile loop in my hood. I’m a walker not a runner so vamos a ver on this one.
2. Memorize a stanza from Paradiso each morning–in English and Italian. As Caroline Kennedy explains, “If we learn poems by heart, we will always have their wisdom to draw on, and we gain an understanding that no one can take away.”
I’ll be reading from the Paradiso each morning at 7 am at the Post before my walk/run. Come join me!
This morning I picked up Mary Jo Bang’s contemporary version of Dante’s Inferno and took it to the post. I let the wind select the passage.
I ended up on page 74, deep in mud and in the 5th level of hell. This is place reserved for those who lived sullen or angry lives.
I was standing there staring
At a swamp of naked people covered in mud,
All of whom looked as if they were furious.
What I love about Dante is that he reels me into this fantastic journey down into the depths of hell but I end up in the innards of my own life—and how I live it. I must admit. I struggle with anger. Fortunately, there are ways put it aside. For me, it is with yoga.
So, today I give thanks for The Well and Prana Yoga. If you find yourself in Marfa, Texas or Oaxaca, Mexico, check them out. They are both very special places.