On Hearing a Loved One's Fate ...              E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle [1]

He spoke

And then it seemed

The mist and perhaps my mind swirled round

A sickening looping helix

From that still small sphere of heat.

In the chill of a dusk we descended

Beneath a frosted sickle moon

Descended into the Stygian blackness

Of land above a still lake

From which no lunar gleam escaped

The frigid darkness was intense, solid

Consuming all my senses -

I heard no sound of beast nor hunting owl -

I think we passed through a gap in time

Then no hedge nor tree was seen

No path nor sign in this unknown land,

This bleak and barren void without shape or hue.

It seemed we had voyaged together long

Yet we had not travelled long or far

I thought I knew,

Yet could not tell, our way

Or even whence we came

We could not venture on or back

Rooted to the spot as the cold drained

Mind and motion, yet still preserved

Some degree of subtle chill

That could mark a further frisson of icy fear

Over my numb flesh.

Struck dumb by his voice, unmanned by this omen

Blinded by his ebon light,

I could only sense

This new ill around us in the evil swirling mists

Phantasms seemed to dip and close

Ever closer around and around

Their shapes a darker, denser emanation

Of evil in that gloom - no sound escaped

Something ice grey shifting in the foul miasma

Some greater cold which froze my senses

Sensing infernal depths of pain,

I knew her lost, yielding

In this descent into the ice depths - 

Seeing the pit from which none return

Time passed as our destiny froze.

Somewhere I found water and drank:

My numbed brain struggled up and up

I was blind as tears froze in my eyes

Knowing I was her guide

When we and all else were lost

I slumped into an offered chair.

Then time itself froze

And in freezing held us suspended

Between life itself and the deepest depths.


She spoke

A lovely murmur

And then I felt

The shades of dark receding

Although my evil spectres close by

Would not let me from their grasp;

That awful emanation still held her

And I knew its ice grip would never melt.

But night was come again and it was time to leave

Somehow a path opened -

A way away from that voice of the deepest depth

Whose sepulchral tones foretold doom

Terminating time - 


A glimpse of time

Stretched thin


But her murmur was as the flowing water

That marks the way:

The doors rolled back

And we walked out once more under the stars


1. Literally "we emerged to see - once more - the stars" [Inferno 34.139]


◄ At the Grave

Grassland ►


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