Dante and the Companioned Journey 1

Dante and his Poem

Dante and his Poem

Readers of The Word in the Wilderness, my compilation of a poem a day for Lent, will know that all this coming week we are sharing our Lenten Pilgrimage with Dante. Now in that book I have alternated 3 passages from Robin Kirkpatrick’s brilliant new translation of the Commedia with 3 poems from my own sequence of nine poems ‘On Reading the Comedia’, which comes at the end of my book The Singing Bowl. As readers of The Word in the Wilderness make that journey this week I thought some of them might be interested in the full sequence from which my three poems were taken and would perhaps like to hear me read them, so I am reposting that sequence on this blog, starting today with the opening poem In Medias Res, itself a response to the opening of Dante’s poem, which opens  ‘in the middle of the path of our life’

This poem is from my collection The Singing Bowl  published by Canterbury Press and is also available on Amazon here

If English readers would like to buy my books from a proper bookshop Sarum College Bookshop here in the UK always have it in stock.

I am happy to announce to North American readers that copies of The Singing Bowl and my other books are readily available from Steve Bell Here

As with other posts I have read it onto ‘audio boom’ so you can hear it by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title

In Medias Res

And so I start again, here in the middle,

The middle of a life I scarcely know,

How many guesses left to get the riddle?


The woods are dark and darker shadows grow.

I followed someone here, but lost her leading,

With nothing but my lostness left to show.


The voice that drew me on is faint and fading

But something else is creeping up behind

Over whose heart, I wonder, are we treading?


My shadow-beasts can scent, though they are blind

All three are here, the leopard, lion, wolf,

My kith and kin, the emblems of my kind.


They’ve come to draw me back across the gulf

Back from the path I wanted to have chosen.

Fall back, they call, you can’t run from yourself


Fall to the place where every hope is frozen…

But not his time, this time I choose to choose

The other path, path of the dead and risen,


To try the hidden heart of things, to let go, lose,

To lose myself and find again the voice

That called and drew me here, my freeing muse.


Begin again she calls, you have the choice,

Little by little, you can travel far,

Learn to lament before you can rejoice


Sing to the shadows, sing and do not fear

But sing them into love little by little

Begin the song exactly where you are.


And so I start again here in the middle


Filed under imagination, Poems

12 responses to “Dante and the Companioned Journey 1

  1. Absolutely wonderful, Malcolm. And not just because the Divine Comedy is one of my favourite pieces of poetry 😀
    In 2013, one of my daughters gave me Clive James’ (yes – that’s what I thought initially!) translation (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/144724219X/ref=rdr_ext_tmb) for my birthday. I loved it. It is very different to Kirkpatrick’s translation and is more reminiscent of the Sayers’ translation – which we used at school, and with which I am most familiar. It was a delight to read a fresh translation. So I will supplement my use of your devotional material with dips into James!
    Bless you 😀

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks. I’ve just embarked on the Clive James too and I think it’s highly readable. The way he incorporates explanatory material into the text takes a little getting used to but I think it works well and keeps the flow

  2. I love this poem Malcolm.
    Diana xo

  3. Thank you, my friend… Powerful words that speak to a pastor who is walking through a very dark time with a bullying congregation…

  4. Pingback: Dante and the companioned journey 2: Through the Gate | Malcolm Guite

  5. Pingback: Dante and the companioned journey 3: Vexilla Regis | Malcolm Guite

  6. Pingback: Dante and the companioned journey 4: De Magistro | Malcolm Guite

  7. Pingback: Friday Pick 145 | talktodiana

  8. Pingback: Frodo’s Dark Journey | Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings

  9. Pingback: Dante and the Companioned Journey 2: Through the Gate | Malcolm Guite

  10. Pingback: Dante and the companioned journey: De Magistro | Malcolm Guite

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.