Favorite poem meme

From lovediamond :

When you see this, post your favorite poem in your journal.

Unfortunately, my favorite poem is too long to post here.  Here’s how it begins:

Midway this life we’re bound upon,
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.

Ay me! How hard to speak of it–that rude
And rough and stubborn forest! the mere breath
Of memory stirs the old fear in the blood;

It is so bitter, it goes nigh to death;
Yet there I gained such good, that, to convey
The tale, I’ll write what else I found therewith.

Just for the heck of it (clue!) I’ll leave it to you to identify the poem. I’ll give you another hint: It may be that the reason why you didn’t recognize it is that I’m using one of many different translations, this one by a noted writer of mysteries.

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  1. wgseligman

    Yes. It’s the opening lines from his epic poem, “The Divine Comedy: Book 1, ‘Hell'”.

    It’s sad that most folks think he only wrote one thing. But I acknowledge that “The Divine Comedy” is the one for which he’s best known, perhaps justifiably so, and the only one I’ve read.

    I have to read “La Vita Nuova” one of these days.

    Oh, and the “noted mystery writer” is Dorothy L. Sayers.

  2. wgseligman

    If you want to (re-)read “The Divine Comedy”, I strongly recommend Sayers’ translation.

    She includes some additional essays on Dante’s allegory. It’s the only place where I’ve seen Christianity described as a way of improving yourself, instead of in the usual missionary terms… and that’s a failing of the modern purveyors of Christianity. If they had emphasized “help yourself to help others” over hellfire and salvation, I might be a Christian now.

    But it’s too late now! Jehovah’s witnesses can stay away!

    Also, for what it’s worth, Sayers preserves Dante’s original rhyming scheme and rhythm over translating from the Italian word-for-word. I like that.

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