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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beauty and Horror within the same pages

by J. R. Wagner

Disclaimer: There are those that interpret what I am about to share with you as a religious text.  I do not agree with this perspective and merely enjoy the writing, which is superior in many, many ways.

"As little flowers, which the chill of night
has bend and huddled, when the white sun strikes,
grow straight and open fully on their stems,
so did I, too, with my exhausted force;
and such warm daring rushed into my heart
that I--as one who has been freed--began:"

"Through me the way into the suffering city,
Through me the way to the eternal pain
Through me the way that runs among the lost.
Justice urged on my high artificer;
my maker was divine authority,
the highest wisdom, and the primal love
Before me nothing but eternal things
were made, and I endure eternally
Abandon every hope, who enter here."

These two excerpts were written within the same book separated by only a few pages.  The beauty of the first and the horror of the second contrast so strongly that few would believe that they were written by the same author within the same text.

They were written by Dante Alighieri in his 1301 work; The Divine Comedy.

Admittedly I know little of the history of this book as I read the pages -that is how I prefer to read a controversial piece of writing so I can formulate my own interpretation. 

What I do know is that the first excerpt is one of the most beautiful collection of lines ever assembled.  I also know the second is one of the most terrifying.  To imagine them both within the same text separated by two pages is staggering (for me, anyway). 

Is anyone familiar with Dante's works? -or any works that contain such stark contrasts?

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