by | Dec 6, 2019

In Dante’s Inferno, when trying to describe,

the houses of Hell’s lamentations 

the torments, the trials, laid quick to ascribe

amidst the curses and blessings of nations

Where above good St. Peter looks on from afar

with the Righteous who have given their life

their path it is lit by the Bright Morning Star

who keeps at bay all their trouble and strife.


What then is this Hell, the unpitying flood

from the banks and the ditches of pain

with the splinters from hawthorns, the flesh and the blood

cries for comfort, for comfort, in vain

so what is this Hell, but a Syrian child

playing with friends, in a city, or town

whose legs are blown off, by a war raging wild

as the bombs and the missiles rain down.


This Hell, that guides the tongues of the rich

who proclaim from the pulpits and stage

through the eye of a needle, a flick of the switch,

as this Hell is spelled out on the page

Meanwhile, in another place, to the West and the South

in Civilisation’s Crucible’s dust

another child lays starving, with wide open mouth

where this Hell is in want of a crust.


In Dante’s Meridian, the voiceless and quiet

where the summit is reached with his eyes

and false gods stand angry, most ready to riot

where the tiny flames buzz round like flies

Yet Hell here, defined as a line to a pit

where destinations are summarised in sentence

and the walls built to protect those determined most fit

are paid with wages of sin and repentance.


Where is this Hell, we’re most eager to find

if in the Book we can determine or measure

the disgruntled, the outraged, all one of a kind

find succour in life’s juicy pleasure

For Dante, he searched and stretched his mind’s eye

while his feet sought to gain final entry

for the Righteous, the Pure, they need not hear the cry

of the children who starve by the century.


The children, the children, the children you say,

playing games while the Earth is parlaying

who will fulfil their own calling as guileless they play

while rulers count fortunes delaying

This Hell that awaits is already here,

for the children who can’t see tomorrow

the trafficked, the stolen, their eyes filled with fear,

who yearn for a life they can borrow.


And finally Dante, with his glorious rhymes

while the greats subjugate to his stature

sallies forth from the torment of his turbulent times

and scrapes his fingers at his first fallen nature

While Hell, such as it is, neatly tied in a knot,

while the children of nations, implore us

as we look away, to view all that we’ve got

and ignore what is dying before us.

© copyright – Stephen Newman 2019