the gate

Tadeusz Różewicz
Translated by Joanna Trzeciak

Lasciate ogni speranza
Voi ch'entrate
*

abandon hope
all ye who enter here

the inscription at the entrance to the inferno
of Dante's Divine Comedy

courage!

behind that gate
there is no hell

hell has been dismantled
by theologians
and deep psychologists

converted into allegory
for humanitarian and educational
reasons

courage!

behind that gate
the same thing begins again

two drunken grave-diggers
sit at the edge of a hole

they're drinking non-alcoholic beer
and munching on sausage
winking at us
under the cross
they play soccer
with Adam's skull

the hole awaits
tomorrow's corpse
the "stiff" is on its way

courage!

here we will await
the final judgment

water gathers in the hole
cigarette butts are floating in it

courage!

behind that gate
there will neither be history
nor goodness nor poetry

and what will there be
dear stranger?

there will be stones

stone
upon stone
stone upon stone
and on that stone
one more
stone

___________________________________________________________________________________

* Inferno (Dante) (Wikipedia). Source. About the Poet. Illustration: Gustave Doré, "Gate of Hell", Gate of Hell Gallery (The University of Texas at Austin).

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