New Sequence in Divining Dante

Today is Dante’s 700th birthday, and to mark the occasion Australia’s Recent Work Press has just published a terrific new anthology called Divining Dante, which opens with my new three-sonnet sequence, “So Tell Me” (video!), in which I put my own spin on three of my favorite episodes from the Commedia. My thanks to editors Paul Munden, Nessa O’Mahony, and Moira Egan!



I. How Did It All Begin?

Ma dimmi: al tempo d’i dolci sospiri,
a che e come concedette amore
che conosceste i dubbiosi disiri?
Inferno 5:118–120

The book was old and we, of course, were young.
Its story had been written (and somehow
this seemed important) in a foreign tongue.

It’s true, by the way: you may feel awful now,
but if you summon happy memories back
you’ll feel worse still. But since you long to know:

One day we met to talk about the book,
which both of us had read. We were alone.
Discussing the kissing scene was all it took—

our will, by then, was something not our own,
climbing and changing us, as roses refashion
arbors, or notes blank staves, tone by sweet tone.

As for the book, that author of our passion,
we closed it then to make a free translation.

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