But night is reascending, and ’tis time
That we depart, for we have seen the whole.
You surely know the feeling: You are reading a book, you marvel at the language (in this case Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s for my Italian is woefully insufficient), you follow the story line, and yet you know for sure that there is so much more in these lines, between them, under them, above them, within them, than you have been able to grasp just yet. What a pleasure! Dante’s Divine Comedy is such a treasure.
They say that Dante has shaped our concept of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Quite so. The more serious reading starts when you put the book down, and while I climbed out of the Inferno last night following Virgil and Dante, glad to be moving on to Purgatory finally, it was assuredly not the last time I looked upon the condemned souls below, pondering.
This, for example:
For with the vilest spirit of Romagna
I found of you one such, who for his deeds
In soul already in Cocytus bathes,
And still above in body seems alive!