O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dante, The Divine Comedy, Hell, III, 82-136

LA DIVINA COMMEDIA  di  Dante Alighieri

Canto III

   Ed ecco verso noi venir per nave
un vecchio, bianco per antico pelo,
gridando: «Guai a voi, anime prave!

   Non isperate mai veder lo cielo:
i' vegno per menarvi a l'altra riva
ne le tenebre etterne, in caldo e 'n gelo.

   E tu che se' costì, anima viva,
pàrtiti da cotesti che son morti».
Ma poi che vide ch'io non mi partiva,

   disse: «Per altra via, per altri porti
verrai a piaggia, non qui, per passare:
più lieve legno convien che ti porti».

   E 'l duca lui: «Caron, non ti crucciare:
vuolsi così colà dove si puote
ciò che si vuole, e più non dimandare».

   Quinci fuor quete le lanose gote
al nocchier de la livida palude,
che 'ntorno a li occhi avea di fiamme rote.

   Ma quell' anime, ch'eran lasse e nude,
cangiar colore e dibattero i denti,
ratto che 'nteser le parole crude.

   Bestemmiavano Dio e lor parenti,
l'umana spezie e 'l loco e 'l tempo e 'l seme
di lor semenza e di lor nascimenti.

   Poi si ritrasser tutte quante insieme,
forte piangendo, a la riva malvagia
ch'attende ciascun uom che Dio non teme.

   Caron dimonio, con occhi di bragia
loro accennando, tutte le raccoglie;
batte col remo qualunque s'adagia.

   Come d'autunno si levan le foglie
l'una appresso de l'altra, fin che 'l ramo
vede a la terra tutte le sue spoglie,

   similemente il mal seme d'Adamo
gittansi di quel lito ad una ad una,
per cenni come augel per suo richiamo.

   Così sen vanno su per l'onda bruna,
e avanti che sien di là discese,
anche di qua nuova schiera s'auna.

   «Figliuol mio», disse 'l maestro cortese,
«quelli che muoion ne l'ira di Dio
tutti convegnon qui d'ogne paese;

   e pronti sono a trapassar lo rio,
ché la divina giustizia li sprona,
sì che la tema si volve in disio.

   Quinci non passa mai anima buona;
e però, se Caron di te si lagna,
ben puoi sapere omai che 'l suo dir suona».

   Finito questo, la buia campagna
tremò sì forte, che de lo spavento
la mente di sudore ancor mi bagna.

   La terra lagrimosa diede vento,
che balenò una luce vermiglia
la qual mi vinse ciascun sentimento;

   e caddi come l'uom cui sonno piglia.

Charon, by G. Dorè


The Divine Comedy

by  Dante Alighieri

[translated  by  James Finn Cotter]

Canto III

 And look! coming toward us in a boat,
          An old man, his hair hoary with age, rose
          Yelling, "Woe to you, you wicked souls!
            "Have no hope of ever seeing heaven!
          I come to take you to the other shore,
          To endless darkness, to fire, and to ice.
             "And you over there, the living soul,
          Get away from those who are already dead!"
          But when he saw that I had not moved off,
              He said, "By other routes, by other harbors,
          Not here -- you shall cross over to this shore.
          A lighter skiff will have to transport you!"
               And my guide: "Charon, do not rack yourself!
            This deed has so been willed where One can do
           Whatever He wills — and ask no more questions."
              With these words he silenced the wooly cheeks
          Of the old ferryman of the livid marshes
          Who had two rings of flame around his eyes.
              Those souls, however, who were weak and naked
          Began to lose color and grind their teeth
          When they heard the ferryman's cruel words.
              They called down curses on God and their parents,
          The human race, the place, the time, the seed
          Of their conception and of their birth.
              At that they massed all the closer together,
          Weeping loudly on the malicious strand
          Which waits for those who have no fear of God.
             The demon Charon, with burning-ember eyes,
          Gave a signal and gathered all on board,
          Smacking lagging stragglers with his oar.
                As in the autumn the leaves peel away,
          One following another, until the bough
          Sees all its treasures spread upon the ground,
               In the same manner that evil seed of Adam
          Drifted from that shoreline one by one
          To a signal — like a falcon to its call.
               So they departed over the dark water,
          And even before they landed on that side
         Already over here a new crowd mustered.
               "My son," my kindly master said to me,
          "Those who have perished by the wrath of God
          Are all assembled here from every land,
               "And they are quick to pass across the river
           Because divine justice goads them on,
          Turning their timidity to zeal.
              "No good soul ever crossed by this way.
          If Charon, therefore, has complained about you,
          You now know clearly what he meant to say."
               Just as he finished, the blackened landscape
          Violently shuddered — with the fright of it
          My memory once more bathes me in sweat.
               The harsh tear-laden earth exhaled a wind
          That hurtled forth a bright-red flash of light
          That knocked me right out of all my senses,
              And I fell as a man drops off to sleep.

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