It happened upon me at that time in my life
When my years of strife had led me full into my years,
Yet not so full as those of he who journeyed with Virgil
O’er ten score years past into the bellicose realm of Satan.
Yet almost more wonderful things have I seen
And so do I string together poorly, this narrative, of which,
In my mind, is so delicately rich that the similes and metaphors,
The kind of which I use here, shall but poorly described that which I have felt.
I pray that the spirit and the son of God may deal appropriately, my heart melt
Of sin if he rightly and divinely feels that what I have written may bring him blame
And not glory and riches to his name by my pen.
I found myself in a dense forest
Where neither Hound treads nor hawk flies
It was as a Green tropica of death, like those over which our neighbors hold sway in the Americas
My breath came in hot rapidity
I was near unto death, and cried out to the Lord,
My sword, my rapier, had long since fallen like that of Damocles.
Like Innes, I was soon to be dead.
Yet I cried out to the Lord and instantly fell on my face in a swoon.
When I came to, I was not in hell, as my unshriven soul supposed.
Indeed, driven as I knew I was from the land of the living, I thought I was in Alligheri’s Paradiso.
I made the sign under which the Crusaders fought, and wandered into the valley, that other Eden.
The sun did shine brightly upon the lush valley where fruits as virgin Canaan grew
The trees were as high and as broad as curst Babel.
The breeze blowing through their leaves was ever fresh and new.
And in the center, where two rivers converged was a pool,
As white as opal and as blue as sapphire-jewel.
And before this pool was a maid, clothed in royal purple,
As of Rome or Greece or early Byzantium.
My words can only poorly describe her.
Her hair was a lustrous auburn flaxen,
Like unto the product of the philosopher’s stone,
Her eyes as blue as the Aegean or Mare Nostrum
(Though my travels had not taken me very far south of my native Lisbon).
Her complexion and structure was as that of a statue of Signor da Vinci and Michelangelo.
The truth told, they would be hard-pressed to capture but a speck of her beauty.
There were no towers wrought by human hands in the place,
Yet she had dwelt in the towers of Solomon.
Though I was somewhat of a friend of Jesuits,
I desired nothing more than to cast my banner near her,
Said I, kneeling there, in a voice soft,
“Pray thee, lady. Is this the third journey of which Dante spoke,
And are you the honored Jewess of which all ruled by Rome speak?”
“No sir. I am Antikea, outcast of Priam’s city,
For before Paris broke the seventh commandment of our Lord and sought the lips of Helen, I did court him,
And, as a jilted lover, I cried out to your God whom I did not know,
And he brought me to this place to wait for the man who would be my Solomon. I know now that you are he.”
My heart flooding with joy at her words, I declared, “In truth, Antikea Angelorum, I have found greater comfort than by Lady Philosophia to Boethius in chains.
Fair Antikea, Signorita di los Angelos, the World of Man drives the Wheel of Fate,
But God, if but resign the reigns, drives the team of our Destiny.”
And so, I dwelt in bliss and love in that midden-paradiso.
“I beseech thee thee, reading dons:
Find an Antikea
In a Paradissia.
They are not in flesh and bone
But inside la Corazon.”