His father, an Italian immigrant, died in an automobile accident in , and he was raised by his Italian mother who was illiterate and his three older sisters. In , his family moved to Medford, Massachusetts , where he attended public schools. UMich awarded him their Hopwood Prize for his Homeward to America, [4] a poetry collection which he submitted under the pseudonym "Thomas Aquinas". After the war, Ciardi returned to UKC for the spring semester , where he met and married Myra Judith Hostetter on July 28 who at the time was a journalist and journalism instructor [2]. John Ciardi was a longtime resident of Metuchen, New Jersey.

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How shall I say what wood that was! I never saw so drear, so rank, so arduous a wilderness! Its very memory gives a shape to fear. Death could scarce be more bitter than that place! How I came to it I cannot rightly say, so drugged and loose with sleep had I become when I first wandered there from the True Way.

But at the far end of that valley of evil whose maze had sapped my very heart with fear I found myself before a little hill and lifted up my eyes. Its shoulders glowed already with the sweet rays of that planet whose virtue leads men straight on every road, and the shining strengthened me against the fright whose agony had wracked the lake of my heart through all the terrors of that piteous night. Then rose and pushed up that dead slope at such a pace each footfall rose above the last.

And lo! And it would not pass, but stood so blocking my every turn that time and again I was on the verge of turning back to the wood. This fell at the first widening of the dawn as the sun was climbing Aries with those stars that rode with him to light the new creation. Thus the holy hour and the sweet season of commemoration did much to arm my fear of that bright murderous beast with their good omen.

Yet not so much but what I shook with dread at sight of a great Lion that broke upon me raging with hunger, its enormous head held high as if to strike a mortal terror into the very air. And down his track, a She-Wolf drove upon me, a starved horror ravening and wasted beyond all belief.

She seemed a rack for avarice, gaunt and craving. Oh many the souls she has brought to endless grief! She brought such heaviness upon my spirit at sight of her savagery and desperation, I died from every hope of that high summit.

I was born, though late, sub Julio, and bred in Rome under Augustus in the noon of the false and lying gods. For you are my true master and first author, the sole maker from whom I drew the breath of that sweet style whose measures have brought me honour.

See there, immortal sage, the beast I flee. She tracks down all, kills all, and knows no glut, but, feeding, she grows hungrier than she was. She mates with any beast, and will mate with more before the Greyhound comes to hunt her down. He will not feed on lands nor loot, but honour and love and wisdom will make straight his way. He will rise between Feltro and Feltro, and in him shall be the resurrection and new day of that sad Italy for which Nisus died, and Turnus, and Euryalus, and the maid Camilla.

He shall hunt her through every nation of sick pride till she is driven back forever to Hell whence Envy first released her on the world. Therefore, for your own good, I think it well you follow me and I will be your guide and lead you forth through an eternal place.

There you shall see the ancient spirits tried in endless pain, and hear their lamentation as each bemoans the second death of souls.

Next you shall see upon a burning mountain souls in fire and yet content in fire, knowing that whensoever it may be they yet will mount into the blessed choir. To which, if it is still your wish to climb, a worthier spirit shall be sent to guide you. With her shall I leave you, for the King of Time, who reigns on high, forbids me to come there since, living, I rebelled against his law. He rules the waters and the land and air and there holds court, his city and his throne.

Oh blessed are they he chooses! Worried and frightened, he was comforted by the sight of a hill Mount of Joy , the top of which was sunlit. However, when he tried to climb the hill to reach the brighter regions, he found his way blocked by three savage animals: first a leopard, then a lion, then a she-wolf. Virgil informed him that the three beasts were impassible: the she-wolf would reign until the greyhound came and slew her, and restored peace to Italy.

In the meantime, Virgil would lead Dante to salvation, but first they must pass through Hell. Dante gladly accepted his offer. Analysis: The Inferno is an opaque poem, which lends itself particularly well to complicated interpretation, and no doubt was intended as such. Metaphors and symbolism are found in every line, and to give a complete description of all the interpretations that have been made would be a huge undertaking.

However, in order to fathom the sheer richness of the poem, it is necessary to have an understanding of the more widely accepted interpretations. In Dante was 35 years old: half of the Biblical span of 70 years. The morning spent trying to climb the hill is thus Good Friday. One should note the careful correlation of Christian symbolic time with events in the poem. The dark forest is a metaphor for everything that Dante thought was wrong in This could include inner confusion and sin, the necessary imperfection of the world as opposed to Paradise and God , political corruption, the absence of true authority, the bad behavior of the Pope, etc.

Redemption is associated with struggle, in this case the struggle uphill, which is made impossibly difficult by the continual temptations of sin. The leopard is thought to symbolize lust, the lion pride, and the she-wolf avarice.

Wood of Error Fig. Mount of Joy.


John Ciardi

Allegoric interpretation does not detract from the story as told but is rather an added signifi- cance which one m ay take or leave. I am led by him who waits there, and whom perhaps your Guido held in scorn. With her shall I leave you, for the King of Time, who reigns on high, forbids me to come there since, living, I rebelled against his law. NPR also began making incerno commentaries available as podcastsstarting in November Dante incorporates her into his scheme of the universe, ranking her among the angels, and giv- ing her a special office in the service of the Catholic God. The Divine Comedy English Edition.






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