Inferno of Dante Alighieri

new verse translation by Michael Valerie!

Canto 1
Canto 2
Canto 3
Canto 4
Canto 5
Canto 6
Canto 7
Canto 8
Canto 9
Canto 10
Canto 11
Canto 12
Canto 13
Canto 14
Canto 15
Canto 16
Canto 17
Canto 18
Canto 19
Canto 20
Canto 21
Canto 22
Canto 23
Canto 24
Canto 25
Canto 26
Canto 27
Canto 28
Canto 29
Canto 30
Canto 31
Canto 32
Canto 33
Canto 34



Il Rap de Enea, Assalti Frontali

the ruling class, future of our immature children

I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
the children’s future jives not with Gelmini.
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
better to tell Mariestella no than try on mini-finery;
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night —
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night.

Hey, they call me Aeneas — I went up to Iqbal Masih
and got a little green t-shirt, really classy tee, which
states: “I love my school and protect it.” Not one
bit the only master, Gelmini is just one solely;
I understand how great they are — I’m at elementary
level and already working two weeks at my school.
You say that they’re young people and I have a lot to  prepare,
but we’re all under assault and I’m giving myself a project:
not only am I certain, I’m with my mommy, along with my
master teachers, & we built a country shed with all the
pillows made from bags of hair, and the grand doormats
that won’t take one bit — all the same, the ones on
time are ever, I mean forever, at the reunion;
so that they’ll have something to say, I’m playing a bit of
football. They’re all in distress every hour, every moment
looks like a great big disgrace overcame my own world.

I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
the children’s future jives not with Gelmini.
I’ve an idea…

I have a pair of teachers, master Mari and Simona, &
come to think of it, I don’t know how to tell you
which is the better, with twenty l’il friends, what a marvel;
we’re every one together, from morning to afternoon
this is public school, everybody’s education,
the schooling that these scoundrels want to be cheeky —
I’m shedding flakes, slinging balloons:
now I’ve taken what backs Gelmini up,
districts 137 and 133.
But if they take Berlusconi’s way, I comprehend the reason
this school room will be empty, will be missing a piece,
which I’m sending them home to resume, from noon to
middle of the night. We’re the kids of a real sick Italy,
that demands them to be assets in the privatized schools,
so let’s shut the world down and chug like a choo-choo:
long live the public schooling system, at full time.

I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
the children’s future jives not with Gelmini.
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
better to tell Mariestella no than try on mini-finery;
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night —
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night.

I am not afraid, have no fear; and this is Aeneas’s
rhyme against tyranny. I’m not afraid, no, not
a fear — I want to be together with my own people
close to culture, & if this is the crisis that will
settle the problem? Let’s all be united together
at the university crib, since we have to win and
make it happen — this is a kinky wave of crowds
full time. If these are witches, dwarves, the returns
and little people, then I’m making rap of Aeneas
and do defend my interest in tomorrow, so too
the special boys and girls which complete the story,
but always recall: the cho-mo’s paying the bill.

This is Aeneas’s flow, oh yeah Aeneas über-rap,
This is Aeneas’s rap on the education system,
This is Aeneas’s flow, oh yeah Aeneas über-rap,
This is Aeneas’s rap, let’s cut the soldiers off.

Quelli che benpensano (Those Normative Conformists), Frankie HI-NRG

They’re here around me, all about me; lots of times we be making promise without keepin’ it, but unless it’s in self-interest, the end is just the point of it: center of all that’s possible, the greatest stake’s a joke, the conquering imperative, & not to involve any else in the logic of the game, th’ only rule — being shrewd: not a scruple, no respect for one’s own kind, since the latest are the last ones if the first just can’t be touched. There’re so many, cocky with the less strong, doormats for the powerful, in charge of responses — they’re all the same identity, watch ’em: they’re behind in dress up masks, & no way to tell them apart. Coming up like lizards, even if they buy a line of ‘pardon’ then. They make who they want known in their circle they form: they spend, get big and are that one they hold…

They’re ’round about me, but do not converse with me — they are like I am, but feel it to be better… (repeat)

And like suppositories inhabit blisters “full optional,” with dogs louder than 120 decibels and dwarfs not even found at Disneyland, they live in fear of maybe looking poor: they show off what they have, envy all the rest, then buy it up — in mounting escalation they build with the neighbor: they get off the green and as high as the sky, with a bigger halo on their head than St. Mark from the bible. They’re the ones who on Sunday wash their cars, ones that go flashing by over the pavement with their kids in the dark, middle-men like the class they come from, ground-based like the missiles they resemble. Tight like wads, they’re powdered in flour, turn into drunks, & then get mixed up under a tree — boom! Noses white like Fruit of the Loom, they get redder than the next level in Doom. . . .

They’re ’round about me, but do not converse with me — they are like I am, but feel it to be better… (repeat)

All in themselves, lord by God, hands that are pressed between the church’s banking houses on Sunday — hands of hypocrites — hands that do things which are not otherwise told of, the other hands taking care of who knows what — & they’re shocked upset. — hands that sign petitions then to divest, slick hands like castor-oil, hands that brandish their baton, that get filled up with bling, hands up behind brothers’ back. These people, as the night cannot go on, these do come to hoes while their babies watch the TV: they put them in charge, people who buy “classy,” who are upper class in calling ’em “the Academies,” nightmares in plastic who want to torch every weed but only light the one up that gives them their charity nightly, when they hide from me within the veiled face of the black moon that’s theirs.

They’re ’round about me, but do not converse with me — they are like I am, but feel it to be better… (4x…)

Antonio Gramsci, The Tenth Canto of Dante’s Inferno

4.78. Debate on “structure and poetics” in the Divine Comedy according to Benedetto Croce and Luigi Rosso. Reading of Vincent Morello as a “vile corpus”. Writing of Fidele Romani on Farinata. On the Saints. Question of the “indirect representation” and of the captions in the picture-show: the subtitles have an artistic value? — do they contribute to the representation of its character traits? Yes, surely — so far as they fix judgment of the actor and more pragmaticly characterize a given personality. The case of Shaw’s Don Giovanni, with the treatise of John Tanner appended: this appendix is a caption, from which a talented actor is able and obliged to extract fundamentals through interpreting them. The Pompeii-esque image of Medea, who slays the children she had with Jason: Medea is depicted as blindfolded: the painter did not know how, or wanted not, to represent this look. (Yet this is the case with Niobe, also in works of sculpture: covering her face would have signified removing the meaning from the work). Farinata and Cavalcante: Guido’s father and father in law. Cavalcante is punished by the squad. No one noticed that whether he was displeased with Cavalcante’s drama, the condemned man’s torment was not actually seen among that group: the formal structure should have led to an aesthetic judgment, most precise one of the canto, since every form of punishment gets represented in act. The work On the Saints made note of the severity comprised in the canto by the fact that Farinata’s character changes with a line: after being made, poetry becomes structure; it explains; it goes from Cicero to Dante. Farinata’s poetic representation is brought back to life in marvelous manner by Romani: Farinata is a series of sculptures. Then Farinata recites his tagline. Isidore del Lungo’s book on the Chronicle of Dino Compagni: in which is fixed the date of Guido’s death. It’s odd that the scholars did not think first of using Canto Ten to determine this date within approximation (who did it?). All the same, the check up performed by Del Lungo is useful in interpreting Cavalcante’s outward appearance and for explaining the execution of duty done, from Dante to Farinata.

What’s Cavalcante’s position, what is his form of torture? Cavalcante sees the past and sees what is to come, but does not see in the present, in a fixed space of the past and of the future into which the present moment is included. Guido was alive in the past, will be dead in the future, but as for the present? — is he dead or living? This is what tortures Cavalcante, the worry his own, one’s only over-riding thought. When he speaks, he asks about his son; when he hears “was”, the copula in past tense, he insists on response and on deferring one, doubts it not any longer: his son has died; he vanishes, into the red-hot sepulcre.

How does Dante represent this dramatic scene? He insinuates it to the reader, does not make it a representation; he gives the reader the basics so that the drama may be reconstructed, and these elements are given in the structure. Yet still there is one dramatic passage and it comes before the tagline. Three remarks: Cavalcante appears not dexterous and manly like Farinata, but humble, broken down, perhaps on his knees and he demands in uncertain way to know of his son. Dante responds, indifferent, or nearly so, and uses the word which refers to Guido in the imperfect. Cavalcante suddenly picks up on this fact and shouts hopelessly. He has a doubt, not real certainty; he demands further explanations in three questions, in which is an ensemble of states of mind. “Why did you say: he ‘was’?” — “Isn’t he still alive?” — “Does the sweet light not still strike his eyes?” In the third question, there is all the fatherly affection of Cavalcante; the typical human “life” is seen in a pragmatic state, in the enjoyment of the light, which the condemned and the dead have lost. Dante takes a while to reply and then the doubt in Cavalcante ceases. Farinata however is not shaken. Guido being his daughter’s husband, this sentiment has no real power in it at that moment. Dante emphasizes this force of his in mind. Cavalcante’s slouching down but Farinata keeps up appearances, keeps head still, moves not a muscle. Cavalcante falls on his back — Farinata does not make any despondent move; Dante has a negative analysis of Farinata in suggesting the (three) movements from Cavalcante: the twisting up of appearance, the head falling back, his back bending. Nevertheless there is something of the changed man even in Farinata. His reply is no longer such other as it had first appeared.

Dante does not make Farinata ask just “to be informed”, he questions such because he is amazed at being struck by Cavalcante’s passing. He wants the knot that prevents them from replying to Cavalcante to be loosened; he perceives that he is at fault in front of Cavalcante. The structural part is not only structure, then: it is also poetics — it is a necessary element in the drama which has taken place.

Dante e Machiavelli

You have to free Dante’s political discourse from the entire system previous, reducing the formulation to its exact historical meaning in context. That is, in terms of the significance Dante possesses as a fundamental basis of Italian culture, his thought and its philosophy come to have a practical capacity for subtle persuasiveness through prompting a political ideology on nationality as a question: But the need to exclude such precepts would have held its own specific value categorically, in native sense of order. Past solutions of the underlying situation in question help in finding the resolution of presently analogous problems by which the method of cultural critique is born in the discipline of intellectual activity, but is itself never able to state that the actual answer derives naturally from an origin of the prior solution: Creation of itself is from within its contextual reality and in that, solely. This condition is not absolute because its stipulation must not be carried out to absurdity—in which case it slips into empiricism: the highest materialism, extreme of sensed experience. It’s a need of knowing how to establish historical eras that in their totality take the place of specified problems, and up to now in their starting to come up have given no indication of what’s fundamental to an answer. So I would say that Dante closes the Medieval Era (a period of the middle ages), while Machiavelli designates an age of the Modern world successively takes place by pin-pointing its own questions and the contextual solutions in a manner already quite broadly clear in depth. Believing that Machiavelli derivatively depends on or may be, is linked to Dante—that’s a blatant historical mistep. So, it is purely a romantic fiction of the mind that the factual edifice of relations between State and Church (cf. F. Coppola); based on Dante’s model “in Croce and Aquila”. According to Machiavelli’s The Prince and Dante’s conclusion of De Monarchia there is no naturalistic connection, and even the less so as relates to the nation-state and medieval kingdom. The contingency locating an essential relation amongst the intellectual phenomena of Italian categories selected in various epochs comprises fixedly national “rhetoric”: The true story gets mixed up with the grubby shade of history. (At that, one would not say the fact fails to be meaningful; it does not have a scientific value, that’s it. It is a political precept; and still less, a secondary fundamental of weaker importance, than a structuring principle of politics—ideological for small groups that struggle with the overarching nature of culture and government).

Seems to me the political doctrine of Dante ought to be reduced to the basic element of Dante’s biography (that would in no way be able to express and act itself through Machiavelli), not in the general sense as though cognitive activity of the protagonist is the essence of all biography and what matters is not only what its subject does, but even that which it imagines and conceives of reality. But in the sense that such a doctrine lacks all power to produce the desired effects historically of cultural (i.e. Pragmatism), as it was unable to possess it also matters only as a basic part of the personal denouement of Dante after his faction’s defeat and exile from Florence. Dante submits to undergo an extreme process of transformation in his political convictions, in his opinions, his desires; in his modality of thinking in general. This proceeding holds as consequence his detachment from all. It is true that his re-alignment’s ability to be called “Ghibelline” awareness only by way of saying in every case there should be a “new Ghibelline” consciousness superior to the former factionalism, but also better than Guelph doctrine: The reality, its discourse is not that of a political theory, but one of a utopia colored politically by reflection on the past, and is above all a synthesis of contingency in heirarchizing as doctrine that which was only poetical subject in the process of formation, of changing state, nascent—a poetic appearance of spirit that had its crowning achievement in the Divine Commedy would be within its “structure” as a continuation of the contingent (put now in verse) organizing its feelings into a mathesis in “poetry” like a savage denunciation without passion and drama enacted. In addition to the common struggles internally, which were a turnabout from destruction to massacre, Dante dreams about a civilization better than “il Comune,” that would be superior to the Church that suppored the Black Guelphs, as well over the old Empire that maintained the Ghibellines; dreams of a pattern that imposes one law over all on every part, and more. It’s a victory in the war of class struggle that dreams its abolition of this war under the banner of an arbitrary power. But the victory, along with all the hostility, empassioned sufferings of winning it is also a “learned” precept that recognizes theoretical doctrines and the story of the past. What’s passed presents them with an Augustan blueprint of Rome and its own medieval reflection, the Holy empire of the Germanic country. It wants for them to supercede the present, but with their eyes turned anew to the past. Machiavelli too held his eyes to the passed, but in far an other way from Dante and the rest.