Thursday, July 16, 2009

Aimless Reading: The D's, Part 3.1 (Dante Alighieri)

The Purgatorio
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Alighieri, Dante
Ciardi, John
The Purgatorio

Again, no recollection of when or where I bought this. I may have stolen it from my brother, but I feel like I only took the Inferno from him and that I bought the other two volumes on my own. As I think back on the summer I recounted in the pervious post, I can't say for certain if I read the entire DC at that time or just the first volume. I am pretty sure I read the whole thing.

Anyhow, my parents' basement, where I read all of this, was built into a sort of sub-living room. It had dark brown, wall-to-wall carpeting, light-colored-wood-paneled walls and a pop-tile drop ceiling. 7 or 8 steps led down to the basement from the living room. A small storage close stood to the left at the bottom of the steps. Straight ahead was the wall of the "work" room, which was the enclosed center around which the living area and game area were built. The whole basement was a shaped like a U around the "work" room.

So, down the stairs, turn right, walk through a short corridor to the living area, turn left, the wall of the work room is still on your left and the outer wall of the house with two windows on your right, then left again to the game area the third wall of the work room on your left, the one with the door leading inside.

The living area contained a sofa bed and television and video game console (Atari, as I recall). The game area had a small pool table. The work room was built to hide the furnace and drain and it had a concrete floor, storage shelves and a work bench. No one in my family knew how to use tools of any kind, which didn't stop the neighbor who built the basement (a CIA agent!) from building one for us.

I was not allowed to smoke in the house, but I often used the work room as my smoking area. I would extinguish my cigarettes by dropping them down the drain that caught the water expelled from the air conditioning system. I also did a lot of drinking and getting high in the basement. When I finished a bottle of something, I would pop up on of the ceiling tiles and toss the bottle into the ceiling. One time I popped a ceiling tile and something like $10,000 fell out of the ceiling. Stunned, I ran upstairs to tell my mother. She took the money and told me it was cash from my father's parking business. Apparently that was how he hid our college money from the I.R.S.

Another time, a friend visited from NY and we spent the evening smoking Swisher Sweets cigars in the work room. I think we got caught that night and my friend was sent to stay with another friend. Next morning my father held up the plastic wrapper from the cigar box and demanded -- which one of you brought the PCP? I had to laugh. He was so completely clueless about and fearful of drug culture that it made him paranoid.

Our house was broken into through one of the two basement windows when I was a teenager. The crooks broke a window, despite the fact that the other of the two windows was unlocked. They stole some costume Jewelry and my father's briefcase, which contained a book of blank payroll checks. The briefcase was found in the woods up the street. It had been unlocked also, but the brilliant thieves broke it open with a crowbar. They got caught because they forged one of the checks and convinced some sap to co-sign at the bank. I think the poor guy got stuck with the bill.

The Purgatorio begins:

For better waters now the little bark
of my indwelling powers raises her sails,
and leaves behind that sea so cruel and dark.

Now I shall sing that second kingdom given
the soul of man wherein to purge its guilt
and so grow worthy to ascend to heaven.

Yours am I, sacred muses! To you I pray.
Here let dead poetry rise once more to life,
and here let sweet Calliope rise and play

some far accompaniment in that high strain
whose power the wretched Pierides once felt
so terribly they dared not hope again.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I think you did steal it from me. At least you were able to finish it. Guess I didn't (and still don't) have a very long attention span in HS.