To further the impression of it upon my brain I continued to recite the first Canto under my breath as I walked to Uni, this was about 35 minutes away at super walk speed and offer plenty of time for practice. This too must have looked a bit strange, if any one could have focused on me as I whooshed past in my black Bolivian hat, a concentrated stare on my face, with lips whispering in some arcane language. At any rate I was too busy to gawk at any potential gawkers.
For all that effort I recited the first Canto only twice before another person. One of those times, however, it was shared with some kangaroos. My friend and I while on pilgrimage up Mount Ainslie, had chosen our picnic spot by a wattle grove on the hillside, it turned out that the same spot was also the secret Kanga Klan's resting spot and the kangaroos that bounded in from all over the mountain stopped with some surprise to see us, uninvited guests, plonked down not some feet away from their pregnant females. I had been so caught up in the drama of the poem that I hadn't noticed all this and when finished my friend whispered with almost fear in his voice, "We have company". Four or five giant male grey kangaroos where standing bolt upright in a ring around us, for all appearances an interested audience. Never-the-less, once the performance was over I thought it might be best if we acted like well mannered guests and departed before we had out stayed our welcome...needless to say there was no encores.
I recently treated myself with a visit to Archive Fine books in Brisbane city. I love it there, walk in the door and suddenly you've left the consumer glitz and entered the quite sanctuary of old and rare books. What popped off the shelf in the first few minutes was two wonderful William Blake books - one of them William Blake's Watercolours of The Divine Comedy. The picture above is his version of The Stygian Lake with the Angry Sinners Fighting (Canto 7, The Inferno) is from the book I bought. Since William Blake is my favourite poet and artist this book is a real treasure for me. It's a beautiful folio size book with very good quality prints. There's not a lot of writing about it but this is mainly a picture book anyway, which doesn't bother me one bit.
I also got my current copy of The Divine Comedy from Archive Books some years back. I wanted the translation that had been the focus of my earlier devotion, which is by the Reverend Henry Francis Cary. My edition is very old, you can feel the typeface imprinted on the page and the pages are unevenly cut, there's and inscription on the inside dated Easter 1928 and it evidently belonged to a school at some point.
While I'm no longer word perfect on my recitation of Dante's Divine Comedy I'll leave you with a small slice of the Cary translation:
In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct: and e'en to tell,
It were no easy task, how savage wild
That forest, how robust and rough its growth,
Which to remember only, my dismay
Renews, in bitterness not far from death.
Yet, to discourse of what there good befel,
All else will I relate discover'd there.