William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

Dante - Poem by William Bell Scott

Before the dawn of modern day,
Saint Francis and Saint Dominic
Forgathered on sweet Fiesole.
They waled from all the young and quick
The tenderest heart on all the earth,
Now, said they, this thin heart and we
Shall make a bond, and it shall be
'Tween poetry and sulphurous fear;
Nor any more shall love make mirth
In Italy our garden dear,
Nor manhood's virtues hold a part
In our Italian rhythmic art.

So then, from market or from well,
The women ran when Dante passed,
The cruel sight-seer back from Hell
Had borne with him an evil blast;
And though from Paradise at last
He brought some flowers of asphodel,
The compact hath not passed away
Made then upon sweet Fiesole.

A celtic saint the tale once told,—
Ere Dante's birth the tale was old—
That he in faith, with mortal eyes
Had been uplifted through the skies,
And saw the winged in Paradise.
He had been hand led down below
Where Purgatorial sulphurs flow,
And round the furthest confines there
Had seen the vast high wall of Hell:
But not even angel-guides could tell
What horrors Satan might prepare
For inmates at the Judgment-knell;
As yet it was a waste, no soul
Till then might reach that hopeless goal,
But Dante forestalled time, full well
He knew the pits and filled all Hell.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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