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We all know that life can thrive in the most inhospitable of places.
                                             Plants grow from volcanic soil.
                                             Bioluminescence crawls beneath
                                               immense pressure on the ocean floor.
                                             Microbes most likely thrive below the icy,
                                                        radioact­ive surface of Europa.
We all know that life—love—perseveres.  
                                         ­                                 It’s nothing new.

But we don’t talk about
                                            how ******* hard that actually is.  
That’s what the strengths perspective is for.  
What resilience gives name to.  

But what if I don't want to?  What if,
                                                                ­  for today,
                                                                ­                     I’d rather the **** not?  
Is that okay?                           Is that allowed?  
That today I'm the vinca vine dying on the ledge?  
Withered up and not drinking any more water.  

Today, I am every succulent that I’ve ever accidentally killed.  
Today, I am excess formaldehyde.  I am a brain floating in a bell jar,
                        undulating in an existence that is an ethical quagmire.
Today, I am in limbo.  Purgatory.  Stasis and static.  
Suspended upside down in a frozen wasteland, Dante style.  

Tomorrow, I will thaw.  
                                Rise from the soil fist first.
write your grief prompt #25: Read this poem, and as quickly as possible, write.
"Happiness grows back / Like saplings after a forest fire / Barren grief / No longer your primary / residence / That old hollowness / Carved out / Washed/ With holy tears / An old topography of loss / You will follow / Back to life"
Crego Nov 2021
Bury me alive
In the tomb that I created
Jaded, complacent, frustrated
Substances left my mind
Completely vacant
Mummify my corpse
Lay it with my mistakes
Confined under infinite sand
In a desert that forsakes
21:10
Michael R Burch Aug 2021
These are my modern English translations of poems by Dante Alighieri.

Little sparks may ignite great Infernos.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In Beatrice I beheld the outer boundaries of blessedness.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

She made my veins and even the pulses within them tremble.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Her sweetness left me intoxicated.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love commands me by dictating my desires.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Follow your own path and let bystanders gossip.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The devil is not as dark as depicted.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

There is no greater sorrow than to recall how we delighted in our own wretchedness.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As he, who with heaving lungs escaped the suffocating sea, turns to regard its perilous waters.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O human race, born to soar heavenward, why do you nosedive in the mildest breeze?
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O human race, born to soar heavenward, why do you quail at the least breath of wind?
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Midway through my life’s journey
I awoke to find myself lost in a trackless wood,
for I had strayed far from the straight path.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

INSCRIPTION ON THE GATE OF HELL
Before me nothing created existed, to fear.
Eternal I am, eternal I endure.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Sonnet: “Ladies of Modest Countenance” from LA VITA NUOVA
by Dante Alighieri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You, who wear a modest countenance,
With eyelids weighed down by such heaviness,
How is it, that among you every face
Is haunted by the same pale troubled glance?

Have you seen in my lady's face, perchance,
the grief that Love provokes despite her grace?
Confirm this thing is so, then in her place,
Complete your grave and sorrowful advance.

And if, indeed, you match her heartfelt sighs
And mourn, as she does, for the heart's relief,
Then tell Love how it fares with her, to him.

Love knows how you have wept, seeing your eyes,
And is so grieved by gazing on your grief
His courage falters and his sight grows dim.



Paradiso, Canto III:1-33, The Revelation of Love and Truth
by Dante Alighieri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That sun, which had inflamed my breast with love,
Had now revealed to me―as visions move―
The gentle and confounding face of Truth.

Thus I, by her sweet grace and love reproved,
Corrected, and to true confession moved,
Raised my bowed head and found myself behooved

To speak, as true admonishment required,
And thus to bless the One I so desired,
When I was awed to silence! This transpired:

As the outlines of men’s faces may amass
In mirrors of transparent, polished glass,
Or in shallow waters through which light beams pass

(Even so our eyes may easily be fooled
By pearls, or our own images, thus pooled):
I saw a host of faces, pale and lewd,

All poised to speak; but when I glanced around
There suddenly was no one to be found.
A pool, with no Narcissus to astound?

But then I turned my eyes to my sweet Guide.
With holy eyes aglow and smiling wide,
She said, “They are not here because they lied.”



Sonnet: “A Vision of Love” or “Love’s Faithful Ones” from LA VITA NUOVA
by Dante Alighieri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To every gentle heart true Love may move,
And unto whom my words must now be brought
For wise interpretation’s tender thought,
I greet you in our Lord's name, which is Love.

Through night’s last watch, as winking stars, above,
Kept their high vigil over men, distraught,
Love came to me, with such dark terrors fraught
As mortals may not casually speak of.

Love seemed a being of pure Joy and held
My heart, pulsating. On his other arm
My lady, wrapped in thinnest gossamers, slept.
He, having roused her from her sleep, then made
My heart her feast—devoured with alarm.
He then departed; as he left, he wept.



Excerpts from LA VITA NUOVA
by Dante Alighieri

Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi.
Here is a Deity, stronger than myself, who comes to dominate me.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Apparuit iam beatitudo vestra.
Your blessedness has now been manifested unto you.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Heu miser! quia frequenter impeditus ero deinceps.
Alas, how often I will be restricted now!
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Fili mi, tempus est ut prætermittantur simulata nostra.
My son, it is time to cease counterfeiting.
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ego tanquam centrum circuli, cui simili modo se habent circumferentiæ partes: tu autem non sic.
Love said: “I am as the center of a harmonious circle; everything is equally near me. No so with you.”
―Dante, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Sonnet: “Love’s Thoroughfare” from LA VITA NUOVA
by Dante Alighieri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

“O voi che par la via”

All those who travel Love's worn tracks,
Pause here, awhile, and ask
Has there ever been a grief like mine?

Pause here, from that mad race;
Patiently hear my case:
Is it not a piteous marvel and a sign?

Love, not because I played a part,
But only due to his great heart,
Afforded me a provenance so sweet

That often others, as I went,
Asked what such unfair gladness meant:
They whispered things behind me in the street.

But now that easy gait is gone
Along with the wealth Love afforded me;
And so in time I’ve come to be

So poor that I dread to ponder thereon.
And thus I have become as one
Who hides his shame of his poverty

By pretending happiness outwardly,
While within I travail and moan.



Sonnet: “Cry for Pity” from LA VITA NUOVA
by Dante Alighieri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

These thoughts lie shattered in my memory:
When through the past I see your lovely face.
When you are near me, thus, Love fills all Space,
And often whispers, “Is death better? Flee!”

My face reflects my heart's blood-red dammed tide,
Which, fainting, seeks some shallow resting place;
Till, in the blushing shame of such disgrace,
The very earth seems to be shrieking, “Die!”

’Twould be a grievous sin, if one should not
Relay some comfort to my harried mind,
If only with some simple pitying
For this great anguish which fierce scorn has wrought
Through faltering sights of eyes grown nearly blind,
Which search for death now, like a blessed thing.



Excerpt from Paradiso
by Dante Alighieri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

****** Mother, daughter of your Son,
Humble, yet exalted above creation,
And the eternal counsel’s apex shown,

You are the Pinnacle of human nature,
Your nobility instilled by its Creator,
Who did not, having you, disdain his creature.

Love was rekindled in your perfect womb
Where warmth and holy peace were given room
For this, Perfection’s Rose, once sown, to bloom.

Now unto us you are a Torch held high
Our noonday sun―the light of Charity,
Our wellspring of all Hope, a living sea.

Madonna, so pure, high and all-availing,
The man who desires grace of you, though failing,
Despite his grounded state, is given wing!

Your mercy does not fail, but, Ever-Blessed,
The one who asks finds oftentimes his quest
Unneeded: you foresaw his first request!

You are our Mercy; you are our Compassion;
you are Magnificence; in you creation
Unites whatever Goodness deems Salvation.



THE MUSE

by Anna Akhmatova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My being hangs by a thread tonight
as I await a Muse no human pen can command.
The desires of my heart ― youth, liberty, glory ―
now depend on the Maid with the flute in her hand.

Look! Now she arrives; she flings back her veil;
I meet her grave eyes ― calm, implacable, pitiless.
“Temptress, confess!
Are you the one who gave Dante hell?”

She answers, “Yes.”



I have also translated this poem written by Marina Tsvetaeva for Anna Akhmatova:

Excerpt from “Poems for Akhmatova”
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You outshine everything, even the sun
at its zenith. The stars are yours!
If only I could sweep like the wind
through some unbarred door,
gratefully, to where you are ...
to hesitantly stammer, suddenly shy,
lowering my eyes before you, my lovely mistress,
petulant, chastened, overcome by tears,
as a child sobs to receive forgiveness ...


Dante Criticism by Michael R. Burch

Dante’s was a defensive reflex
against religion’s hex.
―Michael R. Burch


Dante, you Dunce!
by Michael R. Burch

The earth is hell, Dante, you Dunce!
Which you should have perceived―since you lived here once.

God is no Beatrice, gentle and clever.
Judas and Satan were wise to dissever
from false “messiahs” who cannot save.
Why flit like a bat through Plato’s cave
believing such shadowy illusions are real?
There is no "hell" but to live and feel!



How Dante Forgot Christ
by Michael R. Burch

Dante ****** the brightest and the fairest
for having loved―pale Helen, wild Achilles―
agreed with his Accuser in the spell
of hellish visions and eternal torments.
His only savior, Beatrice, was Love.

His only savior, Beatrice, was Love,
the fulcrum of his body’s, heart’s and mind’s
sole triumph, and their altogether conquest.
She led him to those heights where Love, enshrined,
blazed like a star beyond religion’s hells.

Once freed from Yahweh, in the arms of Love,
like Blake and Milton, Dante forgot Christ.

The Christian gospel is strangely lacking in Milton’s and Dante’s epics. Milton gave the “atonement” one embarrassed enjambed line. Dante ****** the Earth’s star-crossed lovers to his grotesque hell, while doing exactly what they did: pursing at all costs his vision of love, Beatrice. Blake made more sense to me, since he called the biblical god Nobodaddy and denied any need to be “saved” by third parties.



Dante’s Antes
by Michael R. Burch

There’s something glorious about man,
who lives because he can,
who dies because he must,
and in between’s a bust.

No god can reign him in:
he’s quite intent on sin
and likes it rather, really.
He likes *** touchy-feely.

He likes to eat too much.
He has the Midas touch
and paves hell’s ways with gold.
The things he’s bought and sold!

He’s sold his soul to Mammon
and also plays backgammon
and poker, with such antes
as still befuddle Dantes.

I wonder―can hell hold him?
His chances seem quite dim
because he’s rather puny
and also loopy-******.

And yet like Evel Knievel
he dances with the Devil
and seems so **** courageous,
good-natured and outrageous

some God might show him mercy
and call religion heresy.



Of Seabound Saints and Promised Lands
by Michael R. Burch

Judas sat on a wretched rock,
his head still sore from Satan’s gnawing.
Saint Brendan’s curragh caught his eye,
wildly geeing and hawing.

I’m on parole from Hell today!
Pale Judas cried from his lonely perch.
You’ve fasted forty days, good Saint!
Let this rock by my church,
my baptismal, these icy waves.
O, plead for me now with the One who saves!

Saint Brendan, full of mercy, stood
at the lurching prow of his flimsy bark,
and mightily prayed for the mangy man
whose flesh flashed pale and stark
in the golden dawn, beneath a sun
that seemed to halo his tonsured dome.
Then Saint Brendan sailed for the Promised Land
and Saint Judas headed Home.

O, behoove yourself, if ever your can,
of the fervent prayer of a righteous man!

In Dante’s Inferno, Satan gnaws on Judas Iscariot’s head. A curragh is a boat fashioned from wood and ox hides. Saint Brendan of Ireland is the patron saint of sailors and whales. According to legend, he sailed in search of the Promised Land and discovered America centuries before Columbus.



RE: Paradiso, Canto III
by Michael R. Burch

for the most “Christian” of poets

What did Dante do,
to earn Beatrice’s grace
(grace cannot be earned!)
but cast disgrace
on the whole human race,
on his peers and his betters,
as a man who wears cheap rayon suits
might disparage men who wear sweaters?

How conventionally “Christian” ― Poet! ― to ****
your fellow man
for being merely human,
then, like a contented clam,
to grandly claim
near-infinite “grace,”
as if your salvation was God’s only aim!
What a scam!

And what of the lovely Piccarda,
whom you placed in the lowest sphere of heaven
for neglecting her vows ―
She was forced!
Were you chaste?



Intimations V
by Michael R. Burch

We had not meditated upon sound
so much as drowned
in the inhuman ocean
when we imagined it broken
open
like a conch shell
whorled like the spiraling hell
of Dante’s Inferno.

Trapped between Nature
and God,
what is man
but an inquisitive,
acquisitive
sod?

And what is Nature
but odd,
or God
but a Clod,
and both of them horribly flawed?



Endgame
by Michael R. Burch

The honey has lost all its sweetness,
the hive―its completeness.

Now ambient dust, the drones lie dead.
The workers weep, their King long fled
(who always had been ****, invisible,
his “kingdom” atomic, divisible,
and pathetically risible).

The queen has flown,
long Dis-enthroned,
who would have given all she owned
for a promised white stone.

O, Love has fled, has fled, has fled ...
Religion is dead, is dead, is dead.



The Final Revelation of a Departed God’s Divine Plan
by Michael R. Burch

Here I am, talking to myself again . . .

******* at God and bored with humanity.
These insectile mortals keep testing my sanity!

Still, I remember when . . .

planting odd notions, dark inklings of vanity,
in their peapod heads might elicit an inanity

worth a chuckle or two.

Philosophers, poets . . . how they all made me laugh!
The things they dreamed up! Sly Odysseus’s raft;

Plato’s Republic; Dante’s strange crew;

Shakespeare’s Othello, mad Hamlet, Macbeth;
Cervantes’ Quixote; fat, funny Falstaff!;

Blake’s shimmering visions. Those days, though, are through . . .

for, puling and tedious, their “poets” now seem
content to write, but not to dream,

and they fill the world with their pale derision

of things they completely fail to understand.
Now, since God has long fled, I am here, in command,

reading this crap. Earth is Hell. We’re all ******.

Keyword/Tags: Dante, Italian, translation, sonnet, Italian sonnet, crown of sonnets, rhyme, love, affinity and love, Rome, Italy, Florence, terza rima
Pia V May 2021
He peeled away time, like dead skin on fingertips
An irritant needing of disposal like all wasted things
Each layer increasingly painful to touch, but demanding an attention too strong to protest
Not knowing what exactly lies at the end, but tightly grasping the edges of his mind’s ferry as it lurched deeper in
Scraping into the recesses of inferno, past showy flames
Stopping only at the bottom, hitting solid ground, still and cold
A modest ghost land, non-boasting
Completely justified by its own barrenness
Indisputably, the first instance
There he laid himself to rest a while
Coddled in the dirt
A sense of security reminiscent of the womb where it started, back to the beginning
And while lying there, seeking comfort through this fever chill of a journey, looking up he saw it
What it must have been all along
A childhood memory, living only in the mind, but living all the same
A defining moment
Something simple, whose significance couldn’t be challenged, but whose existence was something uncertain
A mystery only partially figured out
But enough to know when to stop
Just a reverie, he reassured himself
And with that piled on each layer again and again until he reached the surface once more
Back to a familiar setting, cool and breathable
Maybe suggestive of a lower level
But probably not.
Matt Nov 2020
Demons build their nest in your throat

Strangulating

Led by a black eyed goat

Baphomet

You sin then renounce your sins

Hypocrisy

And lay down your arms to the battle within

Damnation
Rhys Hebbs Oct 2020
Why is it,
the best of mankind’s minds all dwell
on the tortured side of hell?
For those within their high ivory towers,
far from the tortured toiling
of the boiling broth below
hold the keys to change
but fail to unlock that
which the doors of hope bestow.
Granted,
not all those that survive the swell of the Devils ****** spell
become patron Saints
through their pain,
but the very act of survival
means that their miraculous revival
can put life into those long dead
with that earned wisdom
birthed from the dungeons within their heads.
For Dantes rocky road
is for those alone
whose abodes
are bestowed
within the land of no mans code,
who bare the weight of tomorrow’s load,
until they don’t
Anthony Pierre May 2020
Love borne in briers of a lonely heart
May bloom eternally on heaven's stage
So sweet the lustre that lovers impart
Like ink from a poet's pen on a page

When eternity comes bouquets decay
And letters of love fade into the night
Then mourning comes like a worn out cliche
Uncertainty grow to strangle you tight

Shudder not now my friend the end of love
When its curtains fall; take your final bow
free it of corpus chains to fly above
the empty trails of bards feet left on snow

When the last sonnet can't mend love's sorrow
Toss in Dante's burning heart your arrow
For lovers and haters alike
Samara May 2020
Quiet in my velvet dreams
gleaming with beauty queens
ultraviolet veneers
under crystal clear chandeliers

Awake. Never quite getting the reckoning.
Instead you're beckoning
me to your charade of promise
but I'm stuck in the forest
where you're my Charon
following me to the limestone,
dragging me back to the gates
and I know you mean well, but it doesn't resonate.

I've abandoned all hope and entered
Feeling like I've surrendered
What is it I will remember
when we get to November?
Biting my arm
in moments of harm
or
braiding my hair
with you just being unaware?

It all seems silly
like a grand facade really
where I can't see why anyone
can buy into becoming a chameleon.
Why take it so serious
when it just feels delirious?
What is it we're racing to
at the end, it's the same view.
Who is it for?
I really must make sure.

Waiting for my Virgil
To guide me through the hurdles.
He's no where to be seen
as I choke on my amphetamines.
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