Dante’s Divine Comedy–A Post For The U.L.S., The Underground Library Society, by Robbie Cheadle

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Thank you to Robbie Cheadle, a long time member of the U. L. S. The Underground Library Society!

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Dante’s Divine Comedy

Background

Divine Comedy is a narrative poem, written in Italian and translated to English. Dante Alighieri spent twelve years writing this poem which was completed in 1320. The poem is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

The poem starts with Dante, the protagonist of the poem, finding himself in a dark and wild forest at night. The road towards the sunshine on the other side of a hill is guarded by three beasts which Dante cannot pass. He is in despair when Virgil, a pagan soul from the first circle of Hell, appears and tells him that the beautiful and good Beatrice, a woman who died young and was an object of admiration and desire by Dante, had arrange for him to journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven in an attempt to redeem his soul and return him to the path of virtue.

The first part of the poem, comprising of 33 cantos, depicts Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell which is structured like an upside-down cone. Each circle is smaller and contains more depraved souls and more suffering.  Each circle is devoted to a different kind of sin and the sins are in order of their seriousness according to Dante’s hierarchy. The first circle holds the unbaptised and the pagans who were born before the coming of Christ. The order of the other circles and sins is as follows: lust (circle 2), gluttony (circle 3), greed (circle 4), wrath and depression (circle 5), heresy (circle 6), violence (circle 7), deception (circle 8), and betrayal (circle 9). A three-faced Satan, trapped in the middle of a frozen lake, pays for his sins in the deepest region of circle 9 and chews on the worst betrayers in history, Judas, who betrayed Christ, and Brutus and Cassius, who betrayed Julius Caesar.

The second part of Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, tells the tale of Dante and Virgil’s journey through Purgatory. This is the place where penitent souls endure punishments to cleanse themselves of their former sins before entering Heaven. It is also a place where souls reflect on their sins.

Purgatory is described as a mountain with seven layers aligning with the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, wrath, slovenliness, covetousness, gluttony, and lust. The souls in Purgatory embrace their punishments, unlike the souls in Hell who continuously fight against theirs, as the purging fire is making them holy and readying them to ascend to Heaven.

When Dante and Virgil reach the top of the mountain, Virgil disappears and is replaced as Dante’s guide by Beatrice.

Paradiso is the third and final part of Divine Comedy. The first level of Heaven is the sphere of the Moon and houses souls who broke their vows. Beatrice explains vows in terms of absolute and contingent human will. The second phase is Mercury which contains souls who were just but motivated by fame. Venus (3rd phase) teaches Dante how and why sons end up different to their fathers. Sun (4th phase) explains to Dante the source of the blessed souls’ light. Jupiter (6th phase) explains to Dante the concept of Divine Justice and God’s Mind. In Saturn (7th sphere) Dante sees the golden ladder and meets St. Benedict. The fixed stars (8th phase) is where Dante is examined on faith, hope and charity and Dante goes blind. In the Emphyrean (10th phase), Dante sees the illusion and the real Celestial Rose. Beatrice disappears and is replaced by St. Bernard.

Finally, Dante investigates the Eternal Light and sees the image of the Holy Trinity. God bestows the answer to the mystery of the Incarnation on Dante and his soul is finally at one with God’s.

How did Dante influence the modern world?

Dante played a significant role in developing humanism, the use of language as spoken by ordinary in people in literature, and challenged the dominant role played by the church in society and politics. His ideas helped to generate the cultural and intellectual changes known as the Renaissance, which changed the world.

Dante’s poem also remains an important piece of literature in exploring the implications of human life choices regarding good and evil and makes it clear there are consequences for these choices.

Finally, the Divine Comedy has influenced writing, music, and art for 700 years.

Here is a YouTube video about why people should read Dante’s Divine Comedy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbCEWSip9pQ

Quotes from Divine Comedy

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here.”

“O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?”

“If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.”

“What is it then? Why do you hesitate?

Why do you relish living like a coward?

Why cannot you be bold and keen to start?”

“They had their faces twisted toward their haunches and found it necessary to walk backward, because they could not see ahead of them. …And since he wanted so to see ahead, he looks behind and walks a backward path.”

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robbie

Thank you to Robbie Cheadle!

Please be sure to visit Robbie Cheadle’s wonderful sites:

Robbie Cheadle Books/Poems/Reviews

Robbie’s inspiration

A Wonderful Poem by Robbie Cheadle!

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Here is a wonderful poem from Robbie Cheadle for you to enjoy!

Robbie’s inspiration

Diana from Myths of the Mirror blog has a writing challenge underway. You can find it here: https://mythsofthemirror.com/2022/01/09/writing-challenge-the-teetering-tbr-pile/.

Poets and writers are challenged to write a poem or story about their TBR. I have used poetic license and written a poem about how my TBR came into existence.

 

 

The Invasion by Robbie Cheadle

Into my library, so full

“Wake up and make room”

Orwell roared like a bull.

***

Shakespeare, Hardy, and Austen

Regarded him with distain

“You’re ‘cleared out’ trash!

You may not remain.”

***

“Now don’t be unkind,

you’re also not new.

We’ve been disregarded

and we’re in quite a stew.”

***

“Fine, we’ll move forward

and you go in behind”

Before I could stop them

my shelves were redesigned.

***

What a fabulous sight

to see the outcasts stowed

It filled my heart with delight

‘though the shelves overflowed.

***

And that was the start

of my sanctuary for books

Some people find it strange

and give me odd looks

***

“Books are inanimate

They can’t speak to you”

What nonsense they talk

If only they knew.

Please be sure to visit Robbie’s blogs:

Robbie’s inspiration

Robbie Cheadle Books/Poems/Reviews

 

A Review Of House Bird By Robert Fillman

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Robert Fillman’s new book House Bird is an excellent collection of his poetry, and it clearly positions him as one of the best poets in the U. S. A. Mr. Fillman has previously published a chapbook, November Weather Spell, and between both books, he is clearly a top-level poet. His work combines honesty, observation, powerful images, and reflections on life.

Mr. Fillman explores what exists on the surface of life and what goes below it also. This is a powerful confluence that illuminates his experiences as well as how we, the readers, view the world. His poetry explores the ordinary in life and transforms it into the extraordinary.

It is difficult to choose my favorite poems from this collection, because they are all excellent. Still, I would offer “House Bird” which gives the title of the book and “Blessing” as my two favorites, but I emphasize that they are all excellent poems!

If you love poetry, please do yourself a favor, and get this book. You will see that Robert Fillman is an extraordinary poet.

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Amazon

BarnesandNoble.com

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An Interview With The Poet Robert Fillman

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It is my honor and pleasure to interview the extraordinary poet and my friend, Robert Fillman. Robb is not only an excellent poet, but he is also a deeply talented teacher, a devoted family man, and an honorable human being.

Robb has his debut full-length collection of poetry, House Bird, available now on Amazon for preorder.  Like his other fine work, I am sure this will be an excellent book, and I am very excited to get my copies!

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CF (Charles French): Robb, welcome to my blog, and congratulations on your new collection! How does it feel to have your first full-length book of poetry published?

RF (Robert Fillman): Thank you for the kind words– and for inviting me to speak about my work, Chuck. I’m extremely excited to bring the poems of House Bird into the world. I set a goal for myself
some years back: to publish my first full-length collection of poetry by the time I was forty,
and I’ve managed to reach that goal with a few months to spare, so I couldn’t be happier
about its release!

Cf: Do you have a particular approach to writing poetry?  For example, do you focus first on an image and go from there? Or is your approach varied?

RF: I do have a basic approach. I tend to write each poem-draft in a single sitting. When I’m trying to write a poem, I can start with almost anything– an image, a word, a musical phrase that has been repeating in my mind, some fact or piece of trivia I’ve come across, a stray comment I may have overheard. I just need something to get the poem started. After that, I write my poems one word at a time, building phrases, and then lines, and then stanzas (if the poem calls for those), letting the narrative or the idea or the emotion (or the you-name-it) carry me forward. I never know where the poem is going, or where it will eventually end. It is as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader, and that’s the real joy of writing a poem. Every poem I’ve written has emerged in that fashion.

CF: How often do you write?

RF: These days I try to write poetry a few times a week. When I was younger, I maintained an almost-daily writing regimen, which, in hindsight, was probably self-defeating and unhealthy. I found myself growing restless and frustrated when I wasn’t meeting my self-imposed deadlines and writing goals, and looking back, even though I was publishing quite a lot, I wasn’t as happy. Over the years, I’ve learned that poetry needs space to breathe. I need to give myself the mental and emotional freedom to let the ideas simmer and bubble to the surface more naturally. During the semester especially, when I am teaching four or five courses, it is sometimes difficult even to find the time to write. So in committing myself to a few hours per week, where I am deliberately setting aside time for the craft, and not over-committing myself–I find that I come back to the work fresher and more energized.

CF: Can you talk about how you decided on the title for your book? Does it have special significance?

RF: That’s a great question. House Bird derives its name from a poem in the collection. It’s an ekphrastic poem based on the painting “Bird in the House” by the American realist painter Andrew Wyeth. When I wrote that poem I was trying to put into words all the subtlety and calm and sadness and muted tones that spring from Wyeth’s palette. I was trying to pull from thin air the unsayable narratives latent in that visual medium. I’m not sure if I accomplished the goal successfully, but I had fun trying, and I was proud of the end result. “House Bird,” I think, is emblematic of the type of poetry I try to write: understated, quiet, shrouded in what’s-not-said, things always left a little up in the air. I think a bird-in-the-house also works as a metaphor for my poems, which are often about exploring the beautiful ordinariness of domestic life. The same way that a bird may inadvertently venture into a domicile and, simultaneously, feel at-home and out-of-place in its surroundings, this is the unsettling tension that the speakers navigate in so many of my poems.

CF: How can readers find your book?

RF: The book has been published by Terrapin Books, and it is available for purchase from their website. Readers can also find House Bird on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online. Locally, it is being sold by Firefly Bookstore, in Kutztown, PA, which is probably my favorite book shop in the area. They have a wonderful, friendly staff, and they are really committed to supporting regional writers. I’m honored to have my work on display in their local authors section. If anyone is in the Kutztown area on the evening of Monday, March 7th at 6 p.m., they should stop by for my book launch. I’ll be reading from House Bird and signing copies.

House Bird is available at the following locations/sites:

terrapinbooks.com

amazon.com

barnesandnoble.com

fireflybookstore.com

CF: You are also the author of a chapbook, November Weather Spell, which I will add is excellent, and I recommend it to anyone reading this interview. Can you speak a bit about this chapbook?

RF: Thanks for the kind words about the chapbook, Chuck. In many ways, my debut collection, House Bird, is an extension of the themes I began exploring in November Weather Spell—what it means to be a son, a husband, a father; how memory is fluid; the way in which the events of our past are always present, their meanings changing along with us as we age. The seeds of House Bird began with November Weather Spell. There are even a few poems in the 2019 chapbook which have made their way into the full-length book, almost as a way of showing how old wounds brought into a new light can alter how we see them, allowing them the space to reverberate in new ways.

Robb has given us one poem to read from his new book!

Blessing

Leaving the old place for the last

time. Got the trash out, a couple

boxes in the car, the final

walk-through over. It’s amazing

to see the place empty. I hope

the new owners will find as much

happiness as we did. As I’m

about to lock away the years,

abandon the memories of

dancing in the dark and my wife’s

full pregnant belly warm against

my ear while I listen for our

daughter’s first thoughts, I wonder if

the energy we leave behind

from living well is a blessing.

Just in case I rub hands across

plaster, squeeze every brass doorknob,

make my way outside, where I raise

my arms beneath the full moon, cast

a spell at the point of the roof

aiming to protect every brick,

every shingle of crumbling slate.

(This poem first appeared in Third Wednesday (Volume XIV, No. 3, Summer 2021). 

Once again, thank you to Robert Fillman for this interview! Please be sure to find a copy of his book. I am sure you will enjoy it.

A Shakespearian Sonnet for Valentine’s Day

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(www.pixabay.com)

Sonnet # 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me prov’d,

I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

William Shakespeare

Grief Songs by Elizabeth Gauffreau–A Review

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Grief Songs by Elizabeth Gauffreau is a beautiful and compelling collection of poetry and photographs.

Gauffreau is a skilled story-teller, and her poetry and pictures create moving portraits of her family that draw the reader into her lovingly created images and remembrances.

Gauffreau uses the traditional Tanka form for her poetry, and she shows great skill in weaving her stories and memories together. For those who love poetry and family, this book will engage them and make them want to find their own family photos.

Grief Songs is an excellent book of poetry, it is lyrical and lovely, and I give it my complete recommendation. It will capture you and move you.

Beautifully done!

Grief Songs is available at Amazon

Please visit her wonderful website: lizgauffreau.com

5 stars

A New Poem by Robert Fillman

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I am very honored and pleased to announce that my friend and extraordinary poet, Robert Fillman has a new poem out. He will also have a new book of poetry, House Bird, out in 2022.

The poem appears in Sheila-Na-Gig online.

CONFIDENCE MAN

I am very honored and pleased to announce that my friend and extraordinary poet, Robert Fillman has a new poem out.

After tossing my duffel bag
on the bench, I cinch the drawstring
to my sweatpants. And that is when
I remember the locker room
at the college: the sting of bleach,
the rhythm of slamming metal
doors, guys stepping out of showers
in towels, that long wall of white
urinals, each man evenly
spaced, holding himself, head down, not
saying a word, the loud whooshing
spray from a flush, my big brother
stretching beside me in his loose
tank-top and knee-length tennis shorts.
I hear him snickering as he
elbows me in the ribs while I
bend at the hips, Hey, here he comes,
‘Naked Guy,’ and I look to see
his thick head of white hair, still wet,
that seemed to brag to us younger
guys, his whole body glistening
as he strides out from the shower
like some minor god. How I’d kill
to have such courage, every inch
exposed, my eyes trying not to
linger on his shape, the brown age-
spots, trying not to think about
how those wrinkles and slack skin lines
are more vivid, more distinctive
with every tense step, every slap
of foot against ceramic tile—

Robert Fillman

Robert Fillman is the author of the chapbook November Weather Spell (Main Street Rag, 2019). His poems have appeared in The Hollins Critic, Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, Salamander, Spoon River Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review,and others. His criticism has appeared in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, The College Language Association Journal, and The Explicator. He currently teaches at Kutztown University, where he is a member of the English and Professional Writing departments. His debut full-length collection, House Bird, will be published by Terrapin Books in 2022. www.robertfillman.com

Here is the cover of his upcoming book:

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Please Join the U. L. S. in honor of National Banned Books Week

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In honor of National Banned Books Week, I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S., the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post. I put this request out several times over the course of a year, because I hope to have more people join in the cause.

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.

In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. The type or genre of the chosen piece does not matter.  There is no restriction on what you would become. You do not, however, actually have to memorize  the book now. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.

I have had several other bloggers join the U. L. S. Join the movement!

I hope many of you choose to join.

If you are a member and wish to add another book that you might become, you are welcome to do another post!

In the past, I have mentioned that I would become one of the following books: The Lord Of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you do wish to do a post, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com  and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.

Charles F. French

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I am looking forward to hearing from new members!

Please, come and join in the fun!

Banned Books Week September 26-October 2, 2021

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This week, from September 26 through October 2 of 2021 is National Banned Books Week. Book banning and censorship is a crucial issue that should unite readers and writers. Throughout the world and humanity’s history, governments, churches, and other institutions have banned or attempted to ban and censor books.

Most of us are familiar with the images from Nazi Germany in which thousands of books were burned by the Fascists. All banning, however, is not so explicit. Sometimes in the United States of America, books are challenged, especially in the context of not being allowed to be taught in the classroom.

I oppose all such censorship. As a writer, it is an obscenity; as a teacher, it is an imposition of chosen ignorance; as a reader, it is an intolerable abomination. We must unite and oppose book banning, in all of its forms.

Fight for your freedom to choose what to read.

Here are several important links about this issue:

Banned Books Week

American Library Association

I will later, this week, in honor of this important cause put out another call for readers to become part of my unofficial group that opposes censorship–The Underground Library Society, The U. L. S.

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In the meantime, I ask all of you this question: what is a book that has been banned or challenged that you love?

I choose To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

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Robbie Cheadle Reads Her Poetry from Behind Closed Doors a collection of unusual poems. 

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Please view Robbie Cheadle reading her poem “Do you want it enough” from her book of poetry Behind Closed Doors a collection of unusual poems

I give Robbie Cheadle’s book of poetry Behind Closed Doors a collection of unusual poems my highest recommendation. Robbie Cheadle is an excellent writer of both fiction and poetry, and her work continues to be of the highest quality.

In this collection of poems, Robbie Cheadle deals with a wide variety of issues and uses a variety of forms of poetry, among them Tanka, limericks, and haiku, and she does this with great passion and control of her art. The poetry in her book is powerful, compelling, and evocative.

Several of the poems resonated with me in particular, including “Opportunity”, “Hope”, “Making a splash”, “Perspective”, “Lockdown in poverty”, and “I saw a fish a-swimming”.

Choosing these poems to highlight was difficult, because Robbie’s work is excellent throughout the book. 

If you enjoy poetry, you need to get and read this book!

Please visit Robbie Cheadle’s wonderful sites:

Roberta Writes

Robbie’s Inspiration

Robbie Cheadle–Books/Poems/Reviews

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