Ran this morning despite Home Office warnings that rain was expected, and sure enough, when I got to St Andrew’s — the point farthest from home — the intermittent mist coalesced into a steady (but light) rain. Home, prayers, Duolingo lessons, and now off to work on tonight’s homily. I bought a copy of Alasdair Gray’s version of The Divine Comedy to source the passage I’ll work with (Mansfield College has one biblical reading plus one extracanonical reading for Evensong) (I don’t make the rules), and I was delighted to read what Gray did with it:
ENTER THROUGH ME, CITY OF ENDLESS WOE.
ENTER THROUGH ME ETERNAL AGONY
ENTER TO JOIN THE WHOLLY LOST BELOW
CREATIVE LOVE, CREATIVE INTELLECT,
ESTABLISHED ME FOR ALL ETERNITY.
INFINITE JUSTICE IS MY ARCHITECT.
NOTHING EXISTED BEFORE I WAS MADE.
NOTHING EXISTING WILL ESCAPE MY SCOPE.
ALL YOU WHO ENTER HERE, ABANDON HOPE!
These fearful words carved deeply I could see
above a great dark doorway, so I cried,
“O Master, do these words apply to me?”
Like a good teacher giving calm advice,
“Don’t think that I mislead you,” he replied.
“By now you should have lost your cowardice.
I am assigned (recall) to help you view
the final state of those dead sinners who
chose to corrupt the goodness of their minds.”
Smiling to cheer me on, he took my hand
and led me in beside a dreadful band
who hurt my ears with horrid lamentation.
Screams, wails, howls, groans and other ugly cries
went blasting by us in a starless dark
with skirls of rancorous denunciation,
wild curses yelled in tongues of every nation
or hoarsely growled, or hissed in execration,
mingled with bitter moaning, sobs and sighs
that had me weeping too in emulation.
This madly squealing, roaring, snarling throng
arms flailing, clutching hands and trampling feet,
went reeling, shambling, charging, tumbling by,
like sands in whirlwinds, birling round and round
until their foggy billows hid the sky.
(Canto III, lines 1–33)
Now all I have to do is develop a short homily to birl round and round Gray’s text…