I come now to the final part my sequence of nine poems reflecting on the exprerience of reading, and re-reading Dante’s Commedia. By the end of the Paradiso Dante has taken us to the very limits of human thought and expression, to the brink of a reality which is beyond language, and yet which is the true source of all reality. That source is Love, ‘the Love that moves the sun and the other stars’, and the whole purpose of the poem is that we learn and choose also to be moved by, and find our peace, in that Love.
To describe his journey, Dante used the astronomy of his day, but the truth of his message does not depend on one scientific model, or another, but on what lies behind the reality they model. In this poem I have tried to hint at the exprerience of reading Dante with our own, equally marvelous and mysterious cosmology in mind.
If you have enjoyed reading these poems you may be interested to know that a Special Edition of them has been printed and bound in Florence by Aureo Anello Books. Printed in William Morris Troy Font, in a numbered limited edition of 250, these little chapbooks, with parchment covers, are being offered for a suggested donation of €15,00, to help the work of Anchoress and Dante Scholar Sister Julia Bolton Holloway who helps look after the famous ‘English Cemetry’ in Florence, where Elizabeth Barett Browning and other poets are buried. For Julia’s wonderful suite of web resources for Dante, Mother Julian, and mediaeval theology, start exploring here. The special page telling you how to obtain Aureo Anello’s limited editions including my Dante poem is here.
I am Grateful to Margot Krebs Neale for the beautiful image of the rose, as usual you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play button.
9 The Rose
A white rose opens in a quiet arbour
Where I sit reading Dante, Paradise
Unfolding in me, opens hour by hour,
In sunlight and amidst the hum of bees
On a late afternoon. I think of how
Everything flowers, the whole universe
Itself is still unfolding even now
Sprung from a stem of singularity
Which petals time and space. I think of how
The very elements that let my body be
Began and will continue in the stars
Whose light and distance frame our mystery,
And how my shadowed heart still loves, still bears
With every beat that animates my being,
Eternal yearnings through the turning years.
I turn back to the lines that light my seeing
And lift me to the limits of all thought
And long that I might also find that freeing
And enabling Love, and so be caught
And lifted into His renewing Heaven.
Evening glimmers, and the stars come out,
Venus is shining clear, my prayers are woven
Into a sounding song, a symphony,
As all creation gives back what is given
In music made to praise the Mystery
Who is both gift and giver. Something stirs
A grace in me beyond my memory
I close the book and look up at the stars.
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If you missed the earlier episodes, here are the links to the other poems in this sequence:
Previous poems in this Dante Series: