The Eternal Party: Dante’s Search

Painting in oil: Dante and Virgil in the UnderworldFilippo Napoletano (1622)

The Eternal Party: Dante’s Search
I searched for you, love, beneath whispered breaths
in midnight parties, sly laughter, and golden cupolas of intrigue,
champagne slippers climbing into leather hearses made for speed:
there where Virgil’s ghostly shade to each descending circle of hell
led where adulterous lovers yearn for unbroken vows and hands
that reach eternally for the other, never meeting, where traitors
in Mardi Gras faces feast on each other’s flesh, a banquet of greed
where the streamers fly past diamond-clad fingers and the champagne
courses through covetous mouths and envious eyes and consuming desire.

Never was I so glad:
Love, you were not there!


Linked to dVerse Poetics "Cheers!", 11/22/2022: "in short: write a poem in a form of your choice with a drinking connection."

12 thoughts on “The Eternal Party: Dante’s Search

  1. Poor Dante has no happy ending yet again, Dora, even after the ‘whispered breaths / in midnight parties, sly laughter, and golden cupolas of intrigue’. I love the ‘hands / that reach eternally for the other, never meeting’ and the sounds in ‘champagne /courses through covetous mouths’.

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  2. The spirits unloosed (uncorked?) here are effervescent demonics, the shrill and wild drunken abandon become eternal grooves in Hell in Dante’s high medieval imagination. As John Hollander once pointed out, Dante can traverse these places without getting stuck with the damned by remaining “wrapped in the meters” – Virgil’s cloak, the lyric perfection which ever yearned for Beatrice and for which no Hell could devour. That alone allowed the poet a means to course “through covetous mouths and envious eyes and consuming desire” without getting stuck there. Amen!

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