So I finished the Divina Commedia last night (in what I think is the very fine Mark Musa translation). Dante gives off a sort of M.C. Escher effect : an oscillation, due to the blending of fact and imagination. Is this Paradisal scene for real? No, it's "virtual", it's a pageant; but every element is grounded in Dante's sense of (ideal, philosophical, yet also ultimate) truth; thus the representative, verbal order impinges on "physical" actuality - the surreal order of the prophetic Word... so there's a wavering back and forth, actually a philosophical test of the reader's own beliefs and reasoning...

This passage struck me - Paradiso XXVII, lines 118-120, where Beatrice is beginning to explain the superfast sphere of the Primo Mobile, the surrounding ball of "light" of God's making which encompasses all creation :

"How time can hide its roots in this sphere's vase
and show its leaves stemming through all the rest,
should now be clear to your intelligence."

- it reminded me of the opening stanza of my own long poem, Stubborn Grew -

Time flowers on the lips of whispered clay.
A spring breeze flows through the branches on the terrace.
The city below flutters and flaps, roars
and drones like a resurrected bumblebee.

There is a lot in Stubborn, and Forth of July as a whole, about clay and pottery wheels (partly because my mother was quite a potter while I was growing up). The wheel of time spins through the clay, and the lips of poetry spin their own complementary vortex.

No comments: