'The Barque of Dante,' by Eugene Delacroix

‘The Barque of Dante,’ by Eugene Delacroix

As the sun sets this evening, Holy Thursday, you might give a thought to the beginning of Dante’s Inferno. In the poem’s first canto, Dante awakens in the forest sometime during the night of Holy Thursday — which is to say, on the morning of Good Friday:

Midway in the journey of our life

I cam to myself in a dark wood,

for the straight way was lost.


Ah, how hard it is to tell

the nature of that wood, savage, dense and harsh —

the very thought of it renews my fear!

Thus begins his journey. On Easter Sunday morning, he and Virgil emerge from Hell. I wish you all courage and grace on your own paschal pilgrimage this weekend. I will not be blogging on Good Friday. Some posts will appear, but that’s only because I will have written them on Thursday. I will only be approving posts intermittently, so please be more patient than usual. Thanks.

By the way, I strongly, strongly, strongly urge you to listen to the BBC’s radio dramatization of Purgatorio and Paradiso online (Inferno is no longer available). They will both go away tomorrow. If you are planning to read Paradiso with us online in the weeks to come, I can’t think of a better preparation than to listen to Stephen Wyatt’s wonderful play; each episode is only one hour.

(That above painting by Delacroix depicts events in Canto 8 of Inferno.)

UPDATE: I’m going to be on WSJ Live, the live online broadcast of the Wall Street Journal, at noon Eastern time today (Friday), talking Dante. Click through to watch. I’ll be interviewed via Skype from my back porch, here at the Mothership. Watch out for photobombing chickens.