Friday, February 28, 2014

Fragments From a Longer Work in Progress

2)

What happened to the poet who is my true love?
Where does she sing now in a hell with no circles...?

.... Where does she stand
with her lyre and steady voice, and for whom does she
sing? It cannot be for those left behind. It must
not be for those pressed further on, the fame
of their success so general now I can't tell
one bare body from another, cannot
trust their old promises that if I only do
as they do the exit will be clear....

4)

My true love sings
at a bend in a river,
and all around her summons
a meadow, thistle and timothy,
the straight flight of a sparrow,
the spiral orderings of the spider,
and within all of them a house
founded in concrete,
brick, timbers and glass.
My true love sings, and I see her
now past the house.
There she is singing.
She pulls the lyre closer
all unaware what she made possible.

A meadow is possible.

A house is possible

....until she catches my eye
from across the meadow, from across
flames, and I cannot hear her anymore.

5)

On 38th Street, the four-lane
that passes the fairgrounds, that passes
the for-rent buildings and commerce built
by those who have trained to take charge,
I have turned the steering wheel and looked
for my true love. In air mildly tainted
by hydrocarbons, by the scrub
growing in cracks in concrete medians
where the pedestrians wait and languidly
cross, I have looked, but no one finds
these beings, these loves, these phantoms.
Better make due with broken pavement....

I have stopped looking for my true love.
She is nothing to me now that I'm not afraid,
now that I can rely upon the server substations
nearby in their own frantically-cooled
cybertowns. I would call them necropolises,
but they are anything but dead.
This is the world I have made.


7)

"Do not fear," she says. And I walk
toward her. She does not need to ask me.
And she takes my hands and kisses them
beneath her gray eyes. How steady they are.
Now she smiles and asks me to remember the earth
and the air and the water and the fire.
And I ask her, "How?" and she shakes her head
slowly as if I already know.
And I ask her how,
but she has already answered
and the age of words has already passed,
as if we had all stopped moving
and in doing so the ashen-land
returned to us as a home,
come back as a silence
under the blue sky.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Inferno XII: Riding With a Rancher


Portion of Doré plate for Inferno XII

Riding With a Rancher*

We came from the mountain's top
to the ravine and the cow
who cannot walk to the passage
of stones and had fallen down.

"Mighty loathsome," I thought,
"but fix the blood
that spurs us
as one
to guide from torment
whatever soul
crime touches.
Guide them up to the river,
their heads across the passage
to bed upon the earth for milk."

The which made:
upon the highway he turned the Ford.


Inferno: Canto XII, Longfellow, tr.

The place where to descend the bank we came   Was alpine, and from what was there, moreover,   Of such a kind that every eye would shun it.  Such as that ruin is which in the flank   Smote, on this side of Trent, the Adige,   Either by earthquake or by failing stay,  For from the mountain's top, from which it moved,   Unto the plain the cliff is shattered so,   Some path 'twould give to him who was above;  Even such was the descent of that ravine,   And on the border of the broken chasm   The infamy of Crete was stretched along,  Who was conceived in the fictitious cow;   And when he us beheld, he bit himself,   Even as one whom anger racks within.  My Sage towards him shouted: "Peradventure   Thou think'st that here may be the Duke of Athens,   Who in the world above brought death to thee?  Get thee gone, beast, for this one cometh not   Instructed by thy sister, but he comes   In order to behold your punishments."  As is that bull who breaks loose at the moment   In which he has received the mortal blow,   Who cannot walk, but staggers here and there,  The Minotaur beheld I do the like;   And he, the wary, cried: "Run to the passage;   While he wroth, 'tis well thou shouldst descend."  Thus down we took our way o'er that discharge   Of stones, which oftentimes did move themselves   Beneath my feet, from the unwonted burden.  Thoughtful I went; and he said: "Thou art thinking   Perhaps upon this ruin, which is guarded   By that brute anger which just now I quenched.  Now will I have thee know, the other time   I here descended to the nether Hell,   This precipice had not yet fallen down.  But truly, if I well discern, a little   Before His coming who the mighty spoil   Bore off from Dis, in the supernal circle,  Upon all sides the deep and loathsome valley   Trembled so, that I thought the Universe   Was thrilled with love, by which there are who think  The world ofttimes converted into chaos;   And at that moment this primeval crag   Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow.  But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near   The river of blood, within which boiling is   Whoe'er by violence doth injure others."  O blind cupidity, O wrath insane,   That spurs us onward so in our short life,   And in the eternal then so badly steeps us!  I saw an ample moat bent like a bow,   As one which all the plain encompasses,   Conformable to what my Guide had said.  And between this and the embankment's foot   Centaurs in file were running, armed with arrows,   As in the world they used the chase to follow.  Beholding us descend, each one stood still,   And from the squadron three detached themselves,   With bows and arrows in advance selected;  And from afar one cried: "Unto what torment   Come ye, who down the hillside are descending?   Tell us from there; if not, I draw the bow."  My Master said: "Our answer will we make   To Chiron, near you there; in evil hour,   That will of thine was evermore so hasty."  Then touched he me, and said: "This one is Nessus,   Who perished for the lovely Dejanira,   And for himself, himself did vengeance take.  And he in the midst, who at his breast is gazing,   Is the great Chiron, who brought up Achilles;   That other Pholus is, who was so wrathful.  Thousands and thousands go about the moat   Shooting with shafts whatever soul emerges   Out of the blood, more than his crime allots."  Near we approached unto those monsters fleet;   Chiron an arrow took, and with the notch   Backward upon his jaws he put his beard.  After he had uncovered his great mouth,   He said to his companions: "Are you ware   That he behind moveth whate'er he touches?  Thus are not wont to do the feet of dead men."   And my good Guide, who now was at his breast,   Where the two natures are together joined,  Replied: "Indeed he lives, and thus alone   Me it behoves to show him the dark valley;   Necessity, and not delight, impels us.  Some one withdrew from singing Halleluja,   Who unto me committed this new office;   No thief is he, nor I a thievish spirit.  But by that virtue through which I am moving   My steps along this savage thoroughfare,   Give us some one of thine, to be with us,  And who may show us where to pass the ford,   And who may carry this one on his back;   For 'tis no spirit that can walk the air."  Upon his right breast Chiron wheeled about,   And said to Nessus: "Turn and do thou guide them,   And warn aside, if other band may meet you."  We with our faithful escort onward moved   Along the brink of the vermilion boiling,   Wherein the boiled were uttering loud laments.  People I saw within up to the eyebrows,   And the great Centaur said: "Tyrants are these,   Who dealt in bloodshed and in pillaging.  Here they lament their pitiless mischiefs; here   Is Alexander, and fierce Dionysius   Who upon Sicily brought dolorous years.  That forehead there which has the hair so black   Is Azzolin; and the other who is blond,   Obizzo is of Esti, who, in truth,  Up in the world was by his stepson slain."   Then turned I to the Poet; and he said,   "Now he be first to thee, and second I."  A little farther on the Centaur stopped   Above a folk, who far down as the throat   Seemed from that boiling stream to issue forth.  A shade he showed us on one side alone,   Saying: "He cleft asunder in God's bosom   The heart that still upon the Thames is honoured."  Then people saw I, who from out the river   Lifted their heads and also all the chest;   And many among these I recognised.  Thus ever more and more grew shallower   That blood, so that the feet alone it covered;   And there across the moat our passage was.  "Even as thou here upon this side beholdest   The boiling stream, that aye diminishes,"   The Centaur said, "I wish thee to believe  That on this other more and more declines   Its bed, until it reunites itself   Where it behoveth tyranny to groan.  Justice divine, upon this side, is goading   That Attila, who was a scourge on earth,   And Pyrrhus, and Sextus; and for ever milks  The tears which with the boiling it unseals   In Rinier da Corneto and Rinier Pazzo,   Who made upon the highways so much war."  Then back he turned, and passed again the ford.

*I sense I've jumped the shark. I'll keep jumping.

A Brief Interrogation

Public domain image

[Curtain rises. A wooden stool sits in a smoky spotlight. A woman in her late thirties, well-dressed, enters and sits down.]

INTERROGATOR: [Off stage, deep voiced] Good evening.

[Pause.]

WOMAN: That's funny.

INTERROGATOR: What is?

WOMAN: You always say "good evening" first.

INTERROGATOR: And?

WOMAN: It's just funny.

INTERROGATOR: Okay. How are you doing tonight?

WOMAN; I think you already know.

INTERROGATOR: Probably. But sometimes you like to spin out a description. We also have some time on our figurative hands, yet time, as they say, is a terrible thing to waste.

WOMAN: Tell me about it.

INTERROGATOR: So...?

WOMAN: Not much, okay? Not much. Same old crap. Same old job. I drive home to dirty dishes.

INTERROGATOR: Well, I think we've heard this before.

WOMAN: You're the one asked, okay?

INTERROGATOR: I'm just saying this is all incredibly familiar. I don't have to tell you that. Or do I? You always come here the same way. Always defeated. Always feeling sorry for yourself. Gets kind of old, if you ask me.

WOMAN: Can I have a cigarette?

INTERROGATOR: No.

WOMAN: Then what good are you?

INTERROGATOR: Please....

WOMAN: Okay, well, here's what I'm just saying. I'm just saying I had a long day. I'm just saying I'm tired. I'm just saying I can think of a million other places I'd rather be and million other things I'd rather be do besides sitting here. Got that?

INTERROGATOR: And yet here you are. And what exactly is it you have better to do? Stare at the walls? Watch another edition of Extreme Houseboat Makeovers? Or you could visit friends. What about Marie? She's some kind of a head case, huh? You really need a better class of friends. People who make something of their lives. These losers really drag you down, don't they? Of course there are people from work you could call up. How about Mark? But can you believe they don't fire that slacker and promote you?

WOMAN: You just don't let up, do you?

INTERROGATOR: Let's just say we're both tenacious. Let's also say the situation could be much worse if we added, oh, let's call them "enhancements".

WOMAN: Oh, so we're going to bring out the towels and the buckets of water and the planks? You're sick.

INTERROGATOR: We could make more progress that way, and we have so much work to do.

WOMAN: What work?

INTERROGATOR: See? I really have to keep reminding you, don't I? Well, you're in a dead-end job, your mother hates you, you're unmarried and you're going to die alone because you are thirty... eight... years.... old.

WOMAN: I don't believe you! I don't believe me! What the hell am I doing here? And you know what? My life isn't that bad. Not bad at all. I have friends. I like to work out. The freaking sun rises every day and I don't have to take this from some stuck-up guy!

INTERROGATOR: [Chuckles.]

WOMAN: What?

INTERROGATOR: What makes you think I'm a guy?

WOMAN: The voice.

INTERROGATOR: Fair enough. Really. But you'd have a difficult time proving my gender in court of law.

WOMAN: Sounds like you're trying to get away with something.

INTERROGATOR: Now that you mention it, I always do, or at least most of the time.

WOMAN: Congratulations. Some of us actually have responsibilities. And it's not like you're doing much to help me. I keep coming back here day after day, and all I get is this smug crap. What have you done for me lately? You ever think of that while you're puffing away over there?

INTERROGATOR: Hmm. Point taken. And maybe you're right about me. Maybe I'm just a big bother. I don't see why I couldn't go away for a while. Give us both a vacation. What do you say?

WOMAN: Good idea.

INTERROGATOR: Let's try it.

WOMAN: Okay.

INTERROGATOR: [Silence.]

WOMAN: [silence]

INTERROGATOR: [Silence.]

WOMAN: [Fidgets]

INTERROGATOR: [Silence.]

WOMAN: I'd have to say I like silence a lot better.

INTERROGATOR: [Voice has changed to a woman.] It was good for me too.

WOMAN: [Laughs.] Somehow I always knew. [Stands, bows, walks offstage. Curtain.]


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Random Comments on Two Hells

1. A few months ago the blogger committed a number of plants to the abyss of BONSAI HELL!!! Even in--perhaps because of--the depths of an unusually nasty winter, he is anxious to exhume the trees and see which ones will come back to life. He can only report that the juniper and the boxwood still show signs of their evergreen. It remains, however, too cold to bring them out of Hell into--what, Purgatory?

2. The Dante erasure project continues with more difficulty, mostly because the eraser insists on much more conventional sentence structure while also attempting to wrest the resulting poems from the narrative and imagery of the Longfellow translation. So it goes. In the meantime the blogger fears, as at all times, descending into the stygian poetic depths reached by James Franco.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The One-letter Pronoun

Public domain image

From grade school to high school teachers enjoined some of us never to use the word "I" in our compositions. I don't recall ever receiving an explanation for this commanded omission.  Teachers also banned "you" for which one could substitute the word "one" ("one" presumably being distinguished from "you" as the one who read the book report about The Lord of the Flies that I wrote for Mrs. Mitchell). Dancing around the first-person pronoun proved in the long run to be a marvelous formal restriction, akin to the sorts poets impose upon themselves, that led to better writing. Certainly Mrs. Mitchell, my high school freshman English teacher, would have approved of this analogy. She was one of those conservatives who worries that wearing blue jeans all the time makes people lax. But I (oh, I) digress.

College brought the first relaxation of the rules against "I". An anthropology professor told a friend of mine that the dreaded pronoun could enter a scholarly paper so long as it arrived with a footnote and properly cited sources. In my junior year a professor announced to the astonishment of our honors seminar that he believed one ought to use the first person, and further that not doing so avoided taking responsibility for one's arguments.

At about the same time I discovered some poets had shyness about the first-person pronoun that rivaled the squeamishness of freshman composition. Their substitute for "I" was "you". I noticed this trend first in fellow dabblers in poetry but found it in abundance in the work of Richard Hugo. This way of photoshopping the lyric I out of poetry became my usual way of writing poems. Some people read poems written in this manner, misunderstand the strategy and feel that statements within the poem--"you go", "you wake up"--issue nasty, unwanted commands to the audience, when in fact the poet's intent was to remove the egocentric authority of the omitted "I". Of course that lyric I never refers to anyone in particular anyway, however closely it may resemble the poet. But the need for these kinds of pronouns in lyric poetry (or representation in any literature) is nearly intrinsic, so we are probably stuck with these confusions forever.

Others object to the use of "I"--or at least they keep a sneer ready for its appearance--because the word serves as a marker for the writing of the self-centered and whiny. Personally, I'm not sure how you can write a decent, informal email without liberal application of the first-person pronoun. We can find other pronouns to substitute, but they never really work out. I knew a woman who consistently referred to herself in the third person or by her proper noun: a habit that was immediately noisome in a person who turned out to be dangerous. Substitution using the second person singular pronoun is possible and sounds deeply insane. We have sometimes substituted using the first-person plural, which has the advantage of manufacturing consensus, but doing so identifies us with a royal ego.

Lately I've developed a new dislike of "I". My reason is none of the ones above and considers only the power of phrases. "I" shares with all pronouns a lack of definition. "She" is not so definite as the proper noun "Melissa Klein" nor as crisp as the expression "the woman who consistently buys Kenya AAA blend." Pronouns offer the opportunity to leave out information: at best as a shorthand for something described elsewhere and at worst described not at all. In common with the dreaded passive verbs, pronouns can suck energy out of a sentence. But "I" sucks more than the other pronouns. "He hits the ball" and "she walks the dog", but "I only exist and think about him hitting the ball and see her walk the dog". Even when "I" arrives to you in words such as "I slap you in the face" there's a deep lack of definition in the agent of action that "he" or "she" will never quite have. Who is this "I"? You know who you are. I need footnotes. And footnotes are very, very boring to read. In short: "I" is the "to be" of pronouns.

I'm left in a predicament, but at least I don't have the vapors over it, as the abundance of "I" attests in this post. Still, I see paragraphs shot full of holes and hear the giant, sucking sound that can only be I.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Inferno XI: Thy Genesis


Public domain image
Thy Genesis



Rocks upon rocks!
Spirits hereafter hate in heaven
because fraud
may be used with reason
by our neighbor.
And ruin and arson
and violence can be done
with conscience
and confidence
within hypocrisy, flattery
falsification, theft,
and the like.

There is a circle
where the point is clear enough,
and the people
within the fat lagoon
whom the wind and the rain encounter
are looking well once more.

Nature takes course
from its art.
Carefully find your art
that is, as it were,
thy Genesis
and puts hope now
on quivering fishes.




Inferno: Canto XI, Longfellow, Tr.

Upon the margin of a lofty bank   Which great rocks broken in a circle made,   We came upon a still more cruel throng;  And there, by reason of the horrible   Excess of stench the deep abyss throws out,   We drew ourselves aside behind the cover  Of a great tomb, whereon I saw a writing,   Which said: "Pope Anastasius I hold,   Whom out of the right way Photinus drew."  "Slow it behoveth our descent to be,   So that the sense be first a little used   To the sad blast, and then we shall not heed it."  The Master thus; and unto him I said,   "Some compensation find, that the time pass not   Idly;" and he: "Thou seest I think of that.  My son, upon the inside of these rocks,"   Began he then to say, "are three small circles,   From grade to grade, like those which thou art leaving.  They all are full of spirits maledict;   But that hereafter sight alone suffice thee,   Hear how and wherefore they are in constraint.  Of every malice that wins hate in Heaven Injury is the end; and all such end   Either by force or fraud afflicteth others.  But because fraud is man's peculiar vice,   More it displeases God; and so stand lowest   The fraudulent, and greater dole assails them.  All the first circle of the Violent is;   But since force may be used against three persons,   In three rounds 'tis divided and constructed.  To God, to ourselves, and to our neighbour can we   Use force; I say on them and on their things,   As thou shalt hear with reason manifest.  A death by violence, and painful wounds,   Are to our neighbour given; and in his substance   Ruin, and arson, and injurious levies;  Whence homicides, and he who smites unjustly,   Marauders, and freebooters, the first round   Tormenteth all in companies diverse.  Man may lay violent hands upon himself   And his own goods; and therefore in the second   Round must perforce without avail repent  Whoever of your world deprives himself,   Who games, and dissipates his property,   And weepeth there, where he should jocund be.  Violence can be done the Deity,   In heart denying and blaspheming Him,   And by disdaining Nature and her bounty.  And for this reason doth the smallest round   Seal with its signet Sodom and Cahors,   And who, disdaining God, speaks from the heart.  Fraud, wherewithal is every conscience stung,   A man may practise upon him who trusts,   And him who doth no confidence imburse.  This latter mode, it would appear, dissevers   Only the bond of love which Nature makes;   Wherefore within the second circle nestle  Hypocrisy, flattery, and who deals in magic,   Falsification, theft, and simony,   Panders, and barrators, and the like filth.  By the other mode, forgotten is that love   Which Nature makes, and what is after added,   From which there is a special faith engendered.  Hence in the smallest circle, where the point is   Of the Universe, upon which Dis is seated,   Whoe'er betrays for ever is consumed."  And I: "My Master, clear enough proceeds   Thy reasoning, and full well distinguishes   This cavern and the people who possess it.  But tell me, those within the fat lagoon,   Whom the wind drives, and whom the rain doth beat,   And who encounter with such bitter tongues,  Wherefore are they inside of the red city   Not punished, if God has them in his wrath,   And if he has not, wherefore in such fashion?"  And unto me he said: "Why wanders so   Thine intellect from that which it is wont?   Or, sooth, thy mind where is it elsewhere looking?  Hast thou no recollection of those words   With which thine Ethics thoroughly discusses   The dispositions three, that Heaven abides not,--  Incontinence, and Malice, and insane   Bestiality? and how Incontinence   Less God offendeth, and less blame attracts?  If thou regardest this conclusion well,   And to thy mind recallest who they are   That up outside are undergoing penance,  Clearly wilt thou perceive why from these felons   They separated are, and why less wroth   Justice divine doth smite them with its hammer."  "O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,   Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,   That doubting pleases me no less than knowing!  Once more a little backward turn thee," said I,   "There where thou sayest that usury offends   Goodness divine, and disengage the knot."  "Philosophy," he said, "to him who heeds it,   Noteth, not only in one place alone,   After what manner Nature takes her course  From Intellect Divine, and from its art;   And if thy Physics carefully thou notest,   After not many pages shalt thou find,  That this your art as far as possible   Follows, as the disciple doth the master;   So that your art is, as it were, God's grandchild.  From these two, if thou bringest to thy mind   Genesis at the beginning, it behoves   Mankind to gain their life and to advance;  And since the usurer takes another way,   Nature herself and in her follower   Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.  But follow, now, as I would fain go on,   For quivering are the Fishes on the horizon,   And the Wain wholly over Caurus lies,  And far beyond there we descend the crag."  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Inferno X: The Ruined Cemetery





Public domain image

The Ruined Cemetery

Along a path
and the city wall
I follow back
to these tombs.
They have left
their cemetery
upon this side
concealed
from the Tuscan city.

Speaking modestly
the sepulchre's words:

"A shadow is my name
that was so full,
not the sweet light upon
the open face
of your human state.
You have moved along
the radiance
of the journey:
the wall along a path
that strikes into a valley."

Inferno: Canto X, Longfellow, tr.

Now onward goes, along a narrow path   Between the torments and the city wall,   My Master, and I follow at his back.  "O power supreme, that through these impious circles   Turnest me," I began, "as pleases thee,   Speak to me, and my longings satisfy;  The people who are lying in these tombs,   Might they be seen? already are uplifted   The covers all, and no one keepeth guard."  And he to me: "They all will be closed up   When from Jehoshaphat they shall return   Here with the bodies they have left above.  Their cemetery have upon this side   With Epicurus all his followers,   Who with the body mortal make the soul;  But in the question thou dost put to me,   Within here shalt thou soon be satisfied,   And likewise in the wish thou keepest silent."  And I: "Good Leader, I but keep concealed   From thee my heart, that I may speak the less,   Nor only now hast thou thereto disposed me."  "O Tuscan, thou who through the city of fire   Goest alive, thus speaking modestly,   Be pleased to stay thy footsteps in this place.  Thy mode of speaking makes thee manifest   A native of that noble fatherland,   To which perhaps I too molestful was."  Upon a sudden issued forth this sound   From out one of the tombs; wherefore I pressed,   Fearing, a little nearer to my Leader.  And unto me he said: "Turn thee; what dost thou?   Behold there Farinata who has risen;   From the waist upwards wholly shalt thou see him."  I had already fixed mine eyes on his,   And he uprose erect with breast and front   E'en as if Hell he had in great despite.  And with courageous hands and prompt my Leader   Thrust me between the sepulchres towards him,   Exclaiming, "Let thy words explicit be."  As soon as I was at the foot of his tomb   Somewhat he eyed me, and, as if disdainful,   Then asked of me, "Who were thine ancestors?"  I, who desirous of obeying was,   Concealed it not, but all revealed to him;   Whereat he raised his brows a little upward.  Then said he: "Fiercely adverse have they been   To me, and to my fathers, and my party;   So that two several times I scattered them."  "If they were banished, they returned on all sides,"   I answered him, "the first time and the second;   But yours have not acquired that art aright."  Then there uprose upon the sight, uncovered   Down to the chin, a shadow at his side;   I think that he had risen on his knees.  Round me he gazed, as if solicitude   He had to see if some one else were with me,   But after his suspicion was all spent,  Weeping, he said to me: "If through this blind   Prison thou goest by loftiness of genius,   Where is my son? and why is he not with thee?"  And I to him: "I come not of myself;   He who is waiting yonder leads me here,   Whom in disdain perhaps your Guido had."  His language and the mode of punishment   Already unto me had read his name;   On that account my answer was so full.  Up starting suddenly, he cried out: "How   Saidst thou,--he had?  Is he not still alive?   Does not the sweet light strike upon his eyes?"  When he became aware of some delay,   Which I before my answer made, supine   He fell again, and forth appeared no more.  But the other, magnanimous, at whose desire   I had remained, did not his aspect change,   Neither his neck he moved, nor bent his side.  "And if," continuing his first discourse,   "They have that art," he said, "not learned aright,   That more tormenteth me, than doth this bed.  But fifty times shall not rekindled be   The countenance of the Lady who reigns here,   Ere thou shalt know how heavy is that art;  And as thou wouldst to the sweet world return,   Say why that people is so pitiless   Against my race in each one of its laws?"  Whence I to him: "The slaughter and great carnage   Which have with crimson stained the Arbia, cause   Such orisons in our temple to be made."  After his head he with a sigh had shaken,   "There I was not alone," he said, "nor surely   Without a cause had with the others moved.  But there I was alone, where every one   Consented to the laying waste of Florence,   He who defended her with open face."  "Ah! so hereafter may your seed repose,"   I him entreated, "solve for me that knot,   Which has entangled my conceptions here.  It seems that you can see, if I hear rightly,   Beforehand whatsoe'er time brings with it,   And in the present have another mode."  "We see, like those who have imperfect sight,   The things," he said, "that distant are from us;   So much still shines on us the Sovereign Ruler.  When they draw near, or are, is wholly vain   Our intellect, and if none brings it to us,   Not anything know we of your human state.  Hence thou canst understand, that wholly dead   Will be our knowledge from the moment when   The portal of the future shall be closed."  Then I, as if compunctious for my fault,   Said: "Now, then, you will tell that fallen one,   That still his son is with the living joined.  And if just now, in answering, I was dumb,   Tell him I did it because I was thinking   Already of the error you have solved me."  And now my Master was recalling me,   Wherefore more eagerly I prayed the spirit   That he would tell me who was with him there.  He said: "With more than a thousand here I lie;   Within here is the second Frederick,   And the Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not."  Thereon he hid himself; and I towards   The ancient poet turned my steps, reflecting   Upon that saying, which seemed hostile to me.  He moved along; and afterward thus going,   He said to me, "Why art thou so bewildered?"   And I in his inquiry satisfied him.  "Let memory preserve what thou hast heard   Against thyself," that Sage commanded me,   "And now attend here;" and he raised his finger.  "When thou shalt be before the radiance sweet   Of her whose beauteous eyes all things behold,   From her thou'lt know the journey of thy life."  Unto the left hand then he turned his feet;   We left the wall, and went towards the middle,   Along a path that strikes into a valley,  Which even up there unpleasant made its stench.