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La Porte d'Enfer

by

Stephen Barile

“Abandon every hope, who enter here.” 

Canto III, Dante’s Inferno.

Auguste Rodin Museum,
At the Hotel Biron,
The flowers in the Jardin d’Orphée
And the Jardin des Sources,
Are washed in sunlight
On a Friday in Central Paris,
After the snowfall on New Year’s Day.
Northeast of the estate
Near Rue de Varenne,
In shadows of the Hôtel de Broglie,
The Galerie des Marbres,
Housing two massive bronze doors
Overwhelming in size.
Commissioned in 1880
By the Directorate Of Fine Arts,
As the main entrance
For the Decorative Arts Museum
That was never built.
The defining work of A. Rodin,
Inspired by L. Ghiberti’s
Gates of Paradise, in Florence,
Depicting the Old Testament.
The theme for the doors
Was left to Rodin, and became
Depictions from Dante’s Inferno.
The Nine Circles of Hell:
Limbo, Lust, Gluttony,
Greed, Wrath, Heresy,
Violence, Fraud and Treachery.
Suffering from above, Three Shades,
The souls of the damned,
Like figures gathered together
With their heads hung low.
From the Seventh Circle of Hell,
The Three Sinners, (Violence,
against others, self, and nature.)
Above the colossal doors, the Poet
(modeled after The Thinker)
Looking down on the Inferno,
Pondering Adam’s ruin of man.
One-hundred-eighty tormented figures,
A chaotic population in agony,
Trapped in ever-lasting struggle
To free themselves from damnation.
The Fortune Tellers
Have their heads on backwards.
Adam and Eve, from Paradiso,
Are rescued from eternal damnation
By Christ on Holy Saturday
In the Harrowing Hell.
Ugolino’s poor offspring
Are dead from starvation.
Contorted figures and fragments

Swirling in chaos, eaten by passions.
A woman rests on her knees,
Back arched, left arm covers
Her eyes, gushing endless tears.
Wailing and blasphemy of the damned,
Punished for an eternity
In a fashion fitting their crime.
Twisted postures of caryatids
Convey a greater sense of tragedy,
There is no hope even in death.
Anguished screams of the uncommitted,
And the opportunists
Concerned only with themselves.
The Rebellion of the Angels
In heaven, led by Archangel Michael,
Against the demonic dragon
And his fellow fallen angels
Who led the world astray.
A portal to the underworld

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Stephen Barile, is a Fresno, California native, educated in the public schools, and attended Fresno City College, Fresno Pacific University, and California State University, Fresno.  He was a long-time member of the Fresno Poet's Association.  Mr. Barile taught writing at Madera Center College, and CSUF, and lives in Fresno.  His poems have been published extensively, including Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, The Heartland Review, Instant Noodle, London Grip, Mason Street Review, Metafore Magazine, New Plains Review, New World Writing Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, OpenDoor, Pharos, Rio Grande Review, Sandy River Review, The San Joaquin Review, and The Write Launch.

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