Virgil Speaks with Dante


Alexander Eden, Emerson College '19

Let’s cut the poetics, Dante,

and let’s pick up the pace, please.

Do you know where we are?
Do you know where I am right now

and what I’m doing for you, Dante?

We are in Hell.
I am in Hell.

And I’m here to take you to Lucifer’s frozen ring

Through the literal planes of torment

Because I owed some woman a favor.

I saved you in those woods, Dante.

I am guiding you on a path to salvation

So could you at least do me the favor of not stopping

Whenever curiosity takes hold to ask me what’s going on?

I am saving your soul, Dante.

You have a soul that can be saved.

You were born with the privilege of being baptized

And you were going to throw paradise away.

I was born without baptism.

I lived a pure life as any.

And how was I rewarded?


Not even a chance to go to Heaven like you, Dante,

I was sent to the first ring of Hell for what I believed.

You turn to me

A poet

And ask me to bottle up all of the horrors from this existence

Into a digestible morsel

But do you not understand that I am as human as you are?

I have seen the deaf and blind bathe in an endless sea of shit.

I have seen lovers blown in an endless wind for the sin of passion.

I have seen men eternally drowning in boiling blood

And you expect me to know why this is all here?

I do not know, Dante,

I do not know why there is so much suffering here

Because torture works in mysterious ways

And I, a poet, have the duty to help others pass through

This torture that I do not even understand.

Now, Dante, the sixth ring is upon us.
Please, let us quickly get to the ninth

And get out of this God damned place!