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“There is a place down there, not saddened by torments but only by darkness, where the laments do not sound as shrieks but are sighs.”

—Purgatorio, VII: 29–31

What he did not do, his cause for grief.
An eternity of regret.
One long dark night without relief.

Time to brood, never to forget
what he’s missing, joy that might have been,
the prize he wants but cannot get.

It seems cruel, given that his sin
is a mild one, considering all.
His error being one of omission,

unlike the one that caused the first Fall,
an act that brought creation to its knees,
that grieves us still and appalls

every living soul, made us unfree,
kills us even down to this day.
Virgil was blind. He just couldn’t see

that God was God. He had no way
to know the future. Gripped by the past,
he walked in darkness. Here his sorrows lay,

his place of undoing, his lot cast
with blameless victims of a sad fate.
The first of poets lives among the lost,
cursed by knowledge that arrived too late.

—Angela O’Donnell

Image by David Stanley via Creative Commons. Image cropped.