Rubrica a cura di Sinclair de Courcy Williams – Talking Dante – EPISODE 15
I’ll tell you first of other things I saw … then of the good I found … This very short phrase defines just about (quasi) the whole (l’intero) of the Divine Comedy. Dante certainly makes a huge (enorme) distinction between 1) the good and 2) all other things. The fact is that The Divine Comedy is a poem about failure (che parla di un fallimento) – a failure of a particular sort, however – a failure that sounds much more like a success! In Paradiso, Canto XXXIII, Dante arrives to the very edge (il confine stesso) of the universe and looks out across what he calls the Empyrean (Empireo – the ultimate heavenly sphere – sfera celestiale – beyond the boundaries of the universe – al di là del cosmo). At that moment, you, the reader, get a shiver (un brivido) running up and down your spine (spina dorsale). This is the end of the poem, you have come all this way with Dante, you have read all these words – and now at last you are about to (sei sul punto di) learn something really important. Dante is looking directly at the mystery of God, and in a moment he is going to tell you (ti dirà) what he has seen! But he doesn’t (ma non lo fa). ‘Veder voleva’ he says (I wanted to see): ‘Ma non eran da ciò le proprie penne’ (but the wings of my imagination were not up to it – non eran da ciò): ‘A l’alta fantasia qui mancò possa’ (at this point my great imagination fell completely short). And that, after all, is probably the whole point (il messaggio) of the poem. There is nothing we can say about the good. We can’t even really imagine it. What we can try to understand and to know is all the other things – the things that are here in front of our eyes, the things that have gone on (che si sono svolte), that are going on or that will go on as we try to live our lives. That’s where the poetry lies (è lì che nasce la poesia). Not in resolving impossible mysteries, but in what is happening here and now, yesterday, today and tomorrow. We must concentrate on that – on all the other things, on all the rest. And when we struggle (lottiamo) and we try to find the words to talk of the great multiplicity of experience, and to write the poem about that endeavor (sforzo), well, in the end it is there that (è lì che) the real miracle can come about (avvenire): the darkness can become light! And then, as Irish poet, W.B. Yeats, put it (disse) – and then ‘a terrible beauty is born (nasce una terrible bellezza)’.