“Why? Why hang back? Why keep a coward
In the cupboard of your heart? Why not be bold and dare"
(Canto II, lines 121-122)
This morning, I wanted to write a poem, but I didn't have much time, and I felt even more empty when I tried to come up with ideas for a poem. So I flipped through the Bang text and pulled out 6 lines, leaving space between those lines.
Then I went back and created stanzas to go with the lines. When I started, I thought it might be a warm up exercise, something that would lead me to a different poem altogether. Or I thought I might be modernist by removing the scaffolding of the Dante lines when I was done. Or I thought I might have 6 small poems.
In the end, I wrote a single poem of six stanzas, with the Dante lines integral to the poem--so I won't be removing them.
It was a fruitful way to compose a poem. I've had similar success with T. S. Eliot and Coleridge--I should do this more often!
In case you'd like to play along too, but don't have a copy of Dante's Inferno handy, here are the lines that I pulled out:
--Between the pit and the high hard enscarpment
--Just like when a fog lifts gradually
--Lethe you'll see later, after we leave this abyss
--The good never board the boat
--We walked like Franciscan monks
--But I have a free arm when I need it