For the Emperor who governs from on high
Wills I not enter His city, where no may appear
Who lived like me in rebellion to His law.
His empire is everything and everywhere,
But that is His kingdom, His city, His seat of awe.
Happy is the soul He chooses for that place!
Poet, please—by God you did not know—
Help me escape this evil that I face
And worse. Lead me to witness what you have said,
Saint Peter’s gate, and the multitude of woes—
Then I could feel the terror begin to ease
That churned in my hearts lake all through the night.
As one still panting, ashore from dangerous seas,
—The Divine Comedy
Looks back at the deep he has escaped, my thought
Returned, still fleeting, to regard the grim defile
That never left any alive who stayed in it.