Monday 7 September 2015

Dante's "Inferno", Canto#4: LIMBO ROCKS, Or Not

POST #96
ORIGINAL POEM:  "Inferno" by Dante Alighieri, the first book in the triad "The Divine Comedy", written in the early 14th century.
ORIGINAL SONG: "Limbo Rock", as recorded 1962 by Chubby Checker, used here primarily for music and meter.
PARODY COMPOSED: Giorgio Coniglio, June, 2015.

KEYWORDS: pastiche, poetry, classics, goldenoldy

The lyrics for this Canto are condensed and re-arranged considerably, but the words are primarily Dante’s, preserving to the extent possible the original 14th century Tuscan language. My English translation follows the Italian, with liberal adaptations for modern readers.

Inferno Canto#4: 

(to the tune of "Limbo Rock")

So our boys are on the road
In this all-new episode.
Valley dolorous, no bliss
Lurks inside that dark abyss.
Dante peer down from his ledge
(Limbo’s It. for ‘hem' or ‘edge’)
Now he'll start to learn who dwell
In those horrid rings of Hell. 

“Discendiam nel cieco mondo
Io primo, tu secondo”
Quindi mio guida disse,
L’angoscia l’impallidisce
Primo cerchio mi fé intrar
I sospiri a ascoltar - 
Una gente disdegnata
Perché non è battezzata 

Every Hell-bound guy and guide

Brush their Limbo-fear aside
Planned to stop at Level #1,
Dance and have a little fun.
But first circle that we found
Rang with sorrow – Limbo’s sound 
Limbo’s sin-free folks - despised,
As they’d not been Lim-baptized.

Porta de la fede credi
Non basta loro mercedi,
Dinanzi al cristianesmo
E cotai son io medesmo.
Adorammo mal a Dio
Tai difetti, non altro rio
Sanza spema semo perduti
In disio vivemo tutti.

Portal of the faith you hold
If I may be Limbo-bold
Was no Christ back in B.C.
Couldn’t pray right, damned are we.
Without hope in Limbo-mire
Worthy types locked in desire.
Hey, eternity’s not quick
Hung up in this Limbo-shtick.

Ero nuov’in questo stato
Vidi venir un Beato
Trasseci ombre dei Parenti
E di Moisè l’ubidente
Uscicci mai per merto
Né per su’ parlar coverto 
Altri spiriti salvati - 
Tutti uomini dannati.

Newbie me in Limbo-town
When a Nimble Guy came down
Played St Nick and filled his sleigh
Drove the Forefathers away,
Caused those left to Limbo-wince
Nothing like it ‘fore or since.
Recent dogma you’ll know well – 
Called the ‘Harrowing of Hell’.*

Al pié d’un gran castello -
Intorno un fiumicello
Per sette porte con i savi
Genti v’eran con occhi gravi.
La compagnia si scema
Dell’aura queta a che trema
Mi mena il savio duca
Vegn’ove non è che luca.

We passed through a Limbo-glade
Lamp-lit, Limbo-poles with shades
Reached the Limbo-central square
Virgil’s buds were gathered there.
Quite a Greco-Roman crew
Leaders, sages, poets too.
Had to split, say Limbo-Bye - 
Other fish to Limbo-fry.

Virgil (spoken):
Leaving Town limits
Lower Circle next
How low can we go?

Limbo gets misunderstood - 
It’s Hell’s premier neighborhood.
They house heathens, babes and Jews,
None who’ve pledged and then refused.
Your case takes a diff’rent Twist
Once you’ve danced with John Baptist.
Sinning-Lyte - if that’s your story - 
Best apply to Purgatory. 

Dante (spoken nervously):

"Il Limbo"
G.Stradano, 1587
A drink at LimboBar
Before we get too far?
How low can we go?

* Tradition had held that before the Resurrection, Christ went to Hell to claim the souls of the Old Testament heroes and transport them to Heaven. This ‘Harrowing of Hell’ became official church dogma only in 1215. The event had presumably occurred in A.D.34, when Virgil (who died in A.D.19) was still a relative newcomer to Limbo. 

Canto 1A: Dante’s Song
Canto 4: Limbo Rocks, Or Not (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, and is quite easy. The trick is to clinch the Caribbean rhythm with heavy beats on 2 and 4. and the English lyrics ending just before the 4th downbeat for every line. The Italian lyrics seem to work best dragged out a bit so that there is usually singing on the 4th downbeat. Another nice trick is to to employ the 5,4,3,3, position for the C chord, and then use downward NewYorkstrum for the 4 and 4.5 counts in mos lines (the F9 and G7 chords can even be adapted to do this for the last few line of each verse).
Fadd9 = 0,0,1,0.

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