Wednesday 19 July 2023

Dante's Inferno, Canto#3: "A TRIP DOWN THE ACHERON RIVIERA"


ORIGINAL POEM:  "Inferno" by Dante Alighieri, the first book in the triad "The Divine Comedy", written in the early 14th century.
ORIGINAL SONG: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", 1976 by Gordon Lightfoot, used primarily for music and meter.
PARODY COMPOSED: Archaic quasi-Italian and English lyrics by Giorgio Coniglio, May 2015.

Charon herding souls onto his boat
"The Last Judgment" Michelangelo

Charon herds souls of the damned.
Painting by Gustave Dore, 1890. 

"The Vestibule of Hell
 and the Souls Mustering
 to Cross the Acheron River"
William Blake 1827.

The Italian lyrics for this revised Canto are primarily Dante’s. Some lines were re-arranged, but to the extent possible the original 14th century Tuscan language was preserved. My English translation follows the Italian, with liberal adaptations for modern readers.
See also the collaboration of G. Lightfoot and W. Shakespeare in my post of Aug '14  


(to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald")

Accounts linger on from Old Testament on down
Of the fiery pit Jews call Gehenna.
You probably knew that our Dante passed through,
And the year Thirteen Hundred was when-a.

“Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore
Facemi la divina Podestate
Per me si va ne l’etterno dolore
Lasciat’ ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”

The tour started badly, we recount to you sadly,
With a big screen predicting the weather,
“At this Rehab-resort, no rainstorms to report –
And you’ll surely be roasted for ever.”

Queste parole di colore oscuro
Vid’io scritte al sommo d’una porta.
Per ch’io: “Maestro il senso lor m’e duro.”
Elli: “Qui ogne viltà sia morta.”

The ‘agreement’ on monitor, in font and hue somber
Conflicted with my inner wish-list.
“This Hotel,” it is said, “never gives up her dead.”
Virge explained, “Here all fear is extinguished.”

Virgil (sotto voce):
Siam venuti al loco ov’i’t’ho detto
(E poi che la sua mano a la mia puose),
Qui si convien lasciare ogni sospetto
(E poi mi mise a le segrete cose).

Pretend you’re a dope, play along, give up hope,
They are only programmed to receive here;
We’ll pay cash when we checkout, then we’ll get the heck out
With these exit-wristbands up our sleeves, here.

Quivi sospiri, pianti e alti guai
Risonavan per l’aere sempre tinta
Per ch’io al cominciar ne lagrimai
Alla gente par duole sì vinta.

In Fore-Hell, dark the air with deep sighs and despair
- Swarms of tormented waverers squealing.
This sight was so creepy, it made me quite weepy,
But old Virgil was not too revealing.

Dietro a una ’nsegna sì lunga tratta venia
Di gente, ch’i’ non averei creduto
Un’ombra ho riconosciuto, che fece il gran rifiuto
La fama e giustizia lo sdegna.

Stung by insects (no DEET), whirled one shade I did meet,
Celestine, who’d St. Pete’s Seat vacated,
Crewed for the apathetic, chased banners, frenetic.
His successor – B. 8th *, was well-hated.   
This helpful map shows the river Acheron surrounding the Rings
Vidi genti a la riviera d’un gran fiume
Di trapassar parevan sì pronte
“Che è quell ch’i’ discerno per lo fioco lume?”  
(Virgil)“Si fier conte su lo rio d’Acheronte”

I saw folks lighting up in some packed smoking-lounge
Like lured birds they had gathered at the ferry-a
(Too many metaphors!), Adam’s seed on the shore,
For their trip down the Acheron Riviera.

Ed ecco! verso noi venire per nave
Un vecchio nocchier a lo blanco pelo
Gridando: “Guai a voi anime prave!
Non isperate mai veder lo cielo.”

And lo! There did float up before us in a boat
Red-necked good-old-boy demon named Charon.
“Do y’all understand where the Wrath-of-God lands?”
He inquired. The crowd answered with groans.   

“E tu che se’ costi, anima viva,
Pàrteti da cotesti che son morti.”
Ma poi che vide ch’io non mi partiva
Disse: “Per altra via, per altri porti.”

This ferryman said, he could only take the dead
Yelled out, "Fella, you’re alive, I can’t row ya.”
Virge gave him some lip, and I didn’t lose my grip;
He caved, ”’Gainst rules, but guess I can stow ya.” 

Figliuol mio, (disse‘l cortese maestro),
Quelli che muion ne l’ira di Dio
Tutti convegnon qui d’ogne paese
E pronti son a trapassar lo rio.

My son (preached my teacher), these polyglot creatures,
Have pissed off their superior, our Father;
When sent farther below, these late souls don’t tarry-o
Here they eerily, eagerly gather.

Quinci non passa anima buona
E però, se Caron di te si lagna 
Ben puoi sapere che’ l suo dir suona,

If Charon seems to care that you haven’t paid your fare
Recall, you’re not a routine ticket-holder.
As a bona-fide shade, I have already paid.

La mente di cui la paura mi bagna.

Your assurance won’t make me feel bolder.

La buia terra tremò e diede vento
E balenò una luce vermiglia
La qual mi vinse ciascun sentimento
E caddi come l’uom cui sonno piglia.

The crossing on Wrath-of-God’s deck that strange night,
- I was struck by deep sleep, can’t remember
What remains are the sights and the terrifying sounds
Of a fierce wind, red light and a tremor.

Bad mem’ries live on, from Old Testament on down
Of the brownfield site known as Gehenna
A park they’ll instate when they decontaminate
But completion date – hard to know when-a.

* B. 8th or Boniface VIII, the pope who succeeded Celestine was Dante’s enemy.  

Canto 1A: Dante’s Song
Canto 3: A Trip Down the Acheron Riviera (see below)
Canto 6: Dante, Go and See (Crayfish Étouffée

(Click on any chord-chart slide to advance to 'presentation/singalong' mode.)

  The chord pattern is the same for all verses.
Gsus2=0,2,3,0;  Asus(4)=2,2,0,0

Compare with Lightfoot's original.......

The [Asus] legend lives on from the [Em] Chippewa on down
Of the [G] big lake they [D] call Gitche [A] Gumee [Asus]
The [A] lake, it is said, never [Em] gives up her dead
When the [G] skies of No[D]vember turn [A] gloomy. [Asus]


No comments:

Post a Comment