Kit’s Crit: The Inferno of Dante (Robert Pinsky)

Dante

Robert Pinsky was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1997-2000, and therefore my expectations for his translation of Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece The Inferno were very high.  I was not disappointed.

Pinsky recreates the medieval world view of religion and society -the original political subtext – the stunning imagery – and the 3-line interlocking stanzas of the terza rima rhyming scheme to great effect

Staying close to Dante’s intent, Pinsky underscores the symbiotic relationship between poetry and love.  He draws parallels between the narrator’s journey from Hell to Heaven with that of Ulysses’ adventures in Homer’s Odyssey, maintaining the power of the original poetry and making it accessible to the modern reader.  The Italian text is printed alongside the revised translation.

Dante’s work has influenced a wide range of intellectuals from Galileo through to the Modernists of the early 20th Century, particularly T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce.  Many artists have chosen to illustrate The Inferno in their own style.  This edition contains 35 interesting monotypes by Michael Mazur, although I personally favor the earlier illustrations of Salvador Dali.

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Hole’s Softer, Softest

Softer, Softest

(Courtney Love, Eric T. Erlandson)

the-witch-525958_640[1]

I tell you everything
And I hope that you won’t tell on me.
And I’d give you anything
I know that you won’t tell on me.

The pee girl gets the belt
It only makes me blind,
Your milk is sour
And I can only cry,

And I can only cower,
And I can only cry,
You have all the power.

I’ve got a blister from
Touching everything I see.
The abyss opens up
It steals everything from me.

The pee girl gets the belt
It only makes me blind,
Your milk is so sick,
Your milk has a dye,

Your milk has a dick,
Your milk has a dye,
Your milk has a dick.

Burn the witch, the witch is dead –
Burn the witch, burn the witch,
Just bring me back her head!

The pee girl gets the belt
The old milk makes me blind,
Your milk is so mean,
Your milk turns to mine,

Your milk turns to cream,
Your milk turns to crime,
Your milk turns to cream,
Your milk turns to crime,

Your milk turns to cream,
Your milk turns to crime,
Your milk turns to cream.

Listen to Softer, Softest here:

(Photo: Public Domain)

(Video: YouTube)

Copyright © 2021 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

The Mystica

untitled

(Photo: Kit Perriman)

 

THE MYSTICA

In solitary non-compliant places

the Mystica rise

against the gravitational tug of nature

thwarting mortal will.

Gnarly limbs that grasp into consciousness

press the rub of time.

Their fingers grapple the swollen currents –

blasted and empty –

swimming away from treacherous  sandbanks,

unchecked by any tide.

A mysterious spell-binding graciousness

captivates the eye

and highlights the worn skeletal echoing

of constant pressure.

Their branches lie bare of verdant feathering

yet will bloom again

as they wrestle the constant drownings that

sap land-locked spirits.

Look! Out of even dead apparitions spring

promises of fresh life.

(Kit Perriman)

Copyright © 2021 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

 

Ella Fitzgerald’s / Frank Sinatra’s “That Old Black Magic”

That Old Black Magic

(Johnny Mercer, Dub Allbritten, Harold Arlen, and Ronnie Self)

witchy woman

That old black magic has me in its spell,
That old black magic that you weave so well,
Those icy fingers up and down my spine,
The same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine.

The same old tingle that I feel inside
And then that elevator starts its ride,
And down and down I go, round and round I go,
Like a leaf that’s caught in the tide.

I should stay away, but what can I do?
I hear your name and I’m aflame,
Aflame with such a burning desire
That only your kiss can put out the fire.

Because you are the lover I have waited for,
The mate that fate had me created for,
And every time your lips meet mine,

Darling, down and down I go, round and round I go,
In a spin, loving the spin that I’m in,
Under that old black magic called love.

Ella Fitzgerald version:

Frank Sinatra version:

Who sings it best?

(Photo: Public Domain)

Copyright © 2021 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

Dr. Hook’s Marie Laveau

Voodoo 8

Marie Laveau

(Shel Silverstein and Baxter Taylor)

 

Down in Louisiana where the black trees grow

lived a voodoo lady named Marie Laveau.

She’d got a black cat tooth and a mojo bone

and if anyone wouldn’t leave her alone

She’d go, “GREEEEEEEEEEEE another man done gone!”

 

She lived in a swamp in a hollow log

with a one eyed snake and a three legged dog.

She’d got a bent bony body and stringy hair

and if she ever saw you messing round there

She’d go, “GREEEEEEEEEEEE another man done gone!”

 

And then one night when the moon was black

into the swamp came Handsome Jack.

A no good man that you all know

and he was looking around for Marie Laveau.

 

He said, “Marie Laveau, you lovely witch,

why don’t you gimme a little charm gonna make me rich?”

He said, “Now gimme million dollars and I’ll tell you what I’ll do,

this very night I’m gonna marry you!”

It’ll be GREEEEEEEEEEEE another man done gone.

 

So Marie did some magic and she shook a little sand,

she made a million dollars and she put it in his hand.

Then she giggled and she wiggled and she said, “Hey, hey,

I’m getting ready for my wedding day.”

 

But old Handsome Jack, he said “Good-bye Marie,

you too damn ugly for a rich man like me.”

So Marie started crying, her fangs started shaking,

her body started turning, she started quaking.

She said, “GREEEEEEEEEEEE – another man done gone!”

 

So if you ever get down where the black trees grow

and meet a voodoo lady named Marie Laveau,

And if she ever asks you to make her your wife,

man, you’d better stay with her for the rest of your life

Or it’ll be GREEEEEEEEEEEE….

 

Check out the version below:

(Video: YouTube)

(Photo: Kit Perriman)

Copyright © 2021 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

Feral

A wild woman born

has many flagons of magic

(and still other dungeons

remain in cobweb clasps)

Warrior

She can drop her spells as stepping stones to glamor

turning each lock behind

in the black labyrinth.

(Kit Perriman)

(Photo: Public Domain)

Copyright © 2021 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

 

Chris De Burgh’s Spanish Train

Spanish Train

(Chris De Burgh)

There’s a Spanish train that runs between
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
and people hear she’s running still.

And then they hush their children back to sleep,
Lock the doors, upstairs they creep,
For it is said that the souls of the dead
Fill that train, ten thousand deep.

Well, a railwayman lay dying with his people by his side,
His family were crying, knelt in prayer before he died,
But above his bed just a-waiting for the dead,
Was the Devil with a twinkle in his eye,
“Well God’s not around and look what I’ve found,
this one’s mine!”

Just then the Lord himself appeared in a blinding flash of light,
And shouted at the Devil, “Get thee hence to endless night!”
But the Devil just grinned and said “I may have sinned,
But there’s no need to push me around,
I got him first so you can do your worst,
He’s going underground.

But I think I’ll give you one more chance”
said the Devil with a smile,
“So throw away that stupid lance,
It’s really not your style –
Joker is the name, Poker is the game,
we’ll play right here on this bed,
And then we’ll bet for the biggest stakes yet,
the souls of the dead!”

And I said “Look out, Lord! He’s going to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, He’s going to win.”

Well, the railwayman he cut the cards
And he dealt them each a hand of five,
And for the Lord he was praying hard
Or that train he’d have to drive.
Well, the Devil he had three aces and a king,
And the Lord, he was running for a straight,
He had the queen and the knave, and nine and ten of spades,
All he needed was the eight.

And then the Lord he called for one more card,
But he drew the diamond eight,
And the Devil said to the Son of God,
“I believe you’ve got it straight,
So deal me one, for the time has come
To see who’ll be the king of this place.”
But as he spoke, from beneath his cloak,
He slipped another ace.

Ten thousand souls was the opening bid,
And it soon went up to fifty-nine,
But the Lord didn’t see what the Devil did,
And he said “That suits me fine.
“I’ll raise you high to a hundred and five,
And forever put an end to your sins”,
But the Devil let out a mighty shout, “My hand wins!”

And I said “Lord, oh Lord, you let him win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, don’t let him win.”

the-chess-players[1] (Painting: Moirts Retzch)

Well that Spanish train still runs between,
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
And people fear she’s running still.
And far away in some recess
The Lord and the Devil are now playing chess,
The Devil still cheats and wins more souls,
And as for the Lord, well, he’s just doing his best.

And I said “Lord, oh Lord, you’ve got to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is still on time, oh my soul is on the line,
Oh Lord, you’ve got to win!”

 

Check out this creative slideshow version below!

(Video: YouTube)

Copyright © 2021 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

Charlie Daniels’ The Devil Went Down To Georgia

dancing_devil_2[1]                 The Devil Went Down To Georgia

                                                                                                                    (Charlie Daniels)

 

The Devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind because he was way behind. He was willing to make a deal
When he came across this young man sawing on a fiddle and playing it hot.
And the Devil jumped upon a hickory stump and said “Boy, let me tell you what.

I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player, too.
And if you’d care to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you.
Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the Devil his due.
I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul because I think I’m better than you.”

The boy said, “My name’s Johnny, and it might be a sin,
But I’ll take your bet; and you’re gonna regret because I’m the best there’s ever been.”

Johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard.
Beause Hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the Devil deals it hard.
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold,
But if you lose the devil gets your soul.

The Devil opened up his case and he said, “I’ll start this show.”
And fire flew from his fingertips as he rosined up his bow.
And he pulled the bow across the strings and it made an evil hiss.
And a band of demons joined in and it sounded something like this.

When the Devil finished, Johnny said, “Well, you’re pretty good old son,
But sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done.”

Fire on the Mountain. Run, boys, run!
The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun;
Chicken’s in the bread pan picking out dough.
Granny, does your dog bite? No, child, no.

The Devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat.
And he laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet.
Johnny said, “Devil, just come on back if you ever wanna try again,
I done told you once—you son of a bitch—I’m the best that’s ever been.”
And he played:

Fire on the Mountain. Run, boys, run!
The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun;
The chicken’s in the bread pan picking out dough.
Granny, will your dog bite? No, child, no.

(Video: YouTube)

Copyright © 2021 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved