“Queste parole di colore oscuro
Vid’io scritte al sommo d’una porta….”
—Inferno, III, 10-11.
Out of the stuff we must regard as petty,
He fashioned what in verse is most sublime.
Italians often manage this: spaghetti
Covered with blood for sauce, truth shaped from crime,
Mere temporary things transcending time,
And Heaven touched through Hell. If you should bet
Against these guys, you’d likely lose your dime
And even writhe in infinite regret.
Dante’s place in this company is set.
By such a student, Vergil is outdone.
My first infernal trip I won’t forget:
It was enlightening — and even fun.
I gaze on Dante’s words and cannot cope.
Facing such standards, I abandon hope.