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"The enjoyment of The Divine Comedy is a continuous process," observed T.S. Eliot. "It is not necessary to understand the meaning first to enjoy the poetry...our enjoyment of the poetry makes us want to understand the meaning."
Arguably the greatest single poem ever written, The Divine Comedy presents Dante Alighieri's all-encompassing vision of the three realms of Christian afterlife. In the Purgatorio, Dante struggles up the terraces of Mount Purgatory, still guided by Virgil, in continuation of his difficult ascent to purity.
"The clean force of the original comes through with astonishing success," said poet and translator Dudley Fitts in praise of John Ciardi's rendition of the Purgatorio. "Dante cannot speak in English, perhaps; but Ciardi has given us the next best thing--a credible, passionate persona of the poet, stripped of the customary guards of rhetoric and false decoration, strong and noble in utterance."