This was a project for my Classical Lit & Thought class senior year. We had to write another canto for Dante's inferno, and this is what I came up with =]
Emerging from the icy depths of the center of Hell, the poets find themselves slowly making their way to the final layer in this pit of despair. Dante is puzzled to see a beautiful spring-like landscape, surprisingly dotted with what appear to be struggling animals in the distance. Dante soon realizes that these animals are the tortured souls of the BETRAYERS and BACKSTABBERS.
Among the tortured souls the Poets quickly recognize BRUTUS again, and BENEDICT ARNOLD. Although unable to converse with these two individuals, Dante and Virgil discover a young boy disconnected from the others. While speaking with the boy, Dante is able to connect with him and begins to wonder why a boy who did so much for the one he loved would be trapped for eternity in despair and torture.
Upon closer inspection to the souls, Dante and Virgil become aware of the clear intent of the punishments given. Virgil explains to Dante that the large sacks of rocks they are forced to carry on their backs are in place of the guilt they should have felt when they did the unthinkable. Because they were so unremorseful, the souls are unable to enjoy the beautiful scenery through the constant river of tears flowing down their faces. With the final circle of Hell behind them, the travelers push forward to finish their journey.
Emerging from the final cold, icy round
My master urged my weary body to finish the journey
I scanned the landscape, and nothing but beauty was to be found.
Perplexed as I was, my master insisted we press on
And he did nothing but push my fatigued soul through
The final moments before we reached the new dawn.
Far in the distance I saw what seemed to be animals of some kind
But upon further inspection I soon discovered
They were the tortured souls of those that had no remorse on their mind.
Stumbling through the maze of souls
My master pointed out those we had already encountered
And then those new to torment that would unfold.
We discovered a young boy no more than sixteen
Distanced from the group
And appeared not wanting to be seen.
Approaching him slowly I began to wonder
'Why is he here? What did he do?
What great force is keeping him under?'
Cautiously I approached him and asked:
"Son what is the meaning of your torture?
What possibly occurred in your past?"
Looking at me, he gasped for air and replied:
"Sir it is nothing but love that keeps me here
And for my one and only love I have died.
He continued: "For her I gave my everything,
And received this eternal torment.
She did not wish to hear my reasoning.
"I was unsure of her love for me, and hard as she tried
I did not listen to her when she begged me to not worry
Because of my insolence, for an eternity she cried.
"On a subject of little matter I was concerned,
And the subject would soon be my demise.
Without her consent I began to search for the answers for which I yearned.
"When I had found the answers for which I had searched,
I sat in doubt of what to do with what I had in hand.
As I made my way to confront her, on edge I was perched.
"Unsure of where next I should turn
I spoke my mind to her
And her cold eyes began to burn.
"I asked her if anything was wrong
To which she replied that everything was fine
And stood in silence for almost too long.
"I confronted the notions I had formed
As she stood still in silence,
Only to be faced with what I had been warned.
"My love calmly told me everything had indeed been alright
Up until this moment when I had forced upon her
She said goodbye and raced off into the night."
I sat in admiration of the courage this boy had,
For the task he had completed was none to easy.
For him I had one final question, of this he was glad.
"My dear boy what is the meaning of all this sorrow?
Surely you must have some explanation for why
All of this would come from one moment to be borrowed?"
To this was his reply: "In all of this I was too vain.
I only began my search for my own benefit,
Not once thinking of what would cause her pain.
"I thought only of myself and what it would bring me,
If I were to know these few simple things.
I never stopped to consider what those simple things could be."
"My child what ever happened to your love?
There must be some answer to your suffering,
Could she be somewhere, lying in wait above?"
"It is quite possible, Sir,
For I was never able
To again speak with her."
With his final response he wandered away,
Forever plagued by his eternal love
And determined to protect his heart from decay.
I turned to my master and began to speak,
But he silenced me quickly
And pointed straight up to a mountain peak.
"That point is where we need to be,
For our time here is running short.
Our pace needs to quicken, we have more to see."
With one last glance back at those we had passed,
And still seeing the young boy separated from the pack,
I speculated the answers to the questions I had asked.
To my master I spoke: "What is the meaning
Of this torture we have seen?
Surely there is some reason in this being?"
"My son there is a reason for everything.
But this reason is something that cannot be explained,
Nor can it be taught by means of a simple thing."
My teacher turned back to me and urged me to hurry.
Contemplating what I had seen,
I knew there would be more to our meaningful journey.
Lagging behind my master I wished to stay.
Possibly to speak with the boy again,
Or to further understand my role in life's play.
With one last look behind me, I moved on toward the stars.