Rodin: and a world ignorant of the Inferno

It said in the literature that he always carried a battered copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy in his pocket. I love Rodin’s sculptures – particularly the dancers. But in the garden of the Rodin Museum, we looked at the sculpture of Ugolino devouring his children and we asked ‘what’s that about?’. Why is it that tonight, this has come back to me?

My education – fine and broad as it was – did not include Dante. So in my formation as one who writes poetry, what was the effect of not being learned in this uber-influence on the world of European & english language art. Discuss.

I like the thought of all art having a landscape and a history – where the personal meets the wider artistic world that it inhabits –  but I think just now that the core of my world is not hell – or it might be and I am unknowingly a haunting in one of the less interesting parts.  It’s clear that very many artists, in very many contexts and languages have reached for the handle of the highly ornate Port d’Enfer – passed through it, finding there – like water – their own level. And having found it, have brought back images of it, which might (if you didn’t know about the Inferno) be reflections of their own condition on a highly polished surface. I am standing, in my imagination, in the mirror gallery at the palace of the Sun King.

What I’m trying to work out is where is my place with a door. Is it the door of a Japanese temple where a woman by virtue of her royal birth gets to preside in place of a local goddess for a small while, gathering shells on the banks of the nearby river, reciting tanka – afterwards returning to the city to resume life as normal. Or, perhaps I am well versed in being drawn to the door of sorrow, and the summerlands that lie behind it.

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