The On Being Project

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“Questo muro”
The Poetry Radio Project

“Questo muro”

Quando mi vide star pur fermo e duro
turbato un poco disse: "Or vedi figlio:
tra Beatrice e te è questo muro."
(When he [Virgil] saw me standing there unmoving,
he was a bit disturbed and said, "Now look, son,
between Beatrice and you there is this wall.")
 -Dante, Purgatorio XXVII

You will come at a turning of the trail to a wall of flame After the hard climb & the exhausted dreaming you will come to a place where he with whom you have walked this far will stop, will stand beside you on the treacherous steep path & stare as you shiver at the moving wall, the flame that blocks your vision of what comes after. And that one who you thought would accompany you always, who held your face tenderly a little while in his hands— who pressed the palms of his hands into drenched grass & washed from your cheeks the soot, the tear-tracks— he is telling you now that all that stands between you & everything you have known since the beginning is this: this wall. Between yourself & the beloved, between yourself & your joy, the riverbank swaying with wildflowers, the shaft of sunlight on the rock, the song. Will you pass through it now, will you let it consume whatever solidness this is you call your life, & send you out, a tremor of heat, a radiance, a changed flickering thing?

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