On reading a new biography of Dante


His book? Revenge. Humiliated rage
in terza rima. All his wounded pride
ran from the quill-tip. Nearly every page

was fury, shouted from the losing side
out of his exile, under a threat of death
earned by his vacillating. Now allied

with one mad faction, now straining for breath
to woo the other, jockeying for fame,
move after proud wrong move, he stoked the wrath
that banished him. The book that made his name
whispers an undertext: conniver, toady,
weighing which powers to bless and which to shame.

Fast-forward seven centuries. How odd
that rage now seems to speak the mind of God.

Maryann Corbett

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Maryann Corbett would be pleased to hear them.