Calder Classics

Found Poems

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The Creative Writing Crew: Edie Lipsey, Nicholas Perez, Anna Westwig, and Johanna Von Maack

The Creative Writing Crew: Edie Lipsey, Nicholas Perez, Anna Westwig, and Johanna Von Maack

“The following poems are 'found' poems, taken from Dante's Il Convito, or The Banquet. Dante Alighieri was a resident of Florence; it was here that he wrote his most famous work: the Divine Comedy. Our creative writing students used Dante's words to make their own poems. The poems are meditations on the links between love and loss, power, and objectification, and the search for an authentic voice.”

  • Alyssa Northrop, Teacher of the Creative Writing Course

The Original

Il Convito (The Banquet) by Dante Alighieri

    Ye who the third Heaven move, intent of thought,
      Hear reasoning that is within my heart,
      Thoughts that to none but you I can impart:
    Heaven, that is moved by you, my life has brought
      To where it stands, therefore I pray you heed
      What I shall say about the life I lead.

    To you I tell the heart's new cares: always
      The sad Soul weeps within it, and there hears
      Voice of a Spirit that condemns her tears,
    A Spirit that descends in your star's rays.
      Thought that once fed the grieving heart was sweet,
      Thought that oft fled up to your Father's feet.

    There it beheld a Lady glorified,
      Of whom so sweetly it discoursed to me
      That the Soul said, "With her I long to be!"
    Now One appears that drives the thought aside,
      And masters me with so effectual might
      That my heart quivers to the outward sight.

    This on a Lady fixes my regard
      And says, "Who seeks where his salvation lies
      Must gaze intently in this Lady's eyes,
    Nor dread the sighs of anguish!" O, ill-starred!
      Such opposite now breaks the humble dream
      Of the crowned angel in the glory beam.

    Still, therefore, the Soul weeps, "The tender stir,"
      It says, "of thought that once consoled me flies!"
      That troubled one asks, "When into thine eyes
    Looked she? Why doubted they my words of her?"
      I said, "Her eyes bear death to such as I:
      Yet, vainly warned, I gaze on her and die.

    "Thou art not dead, but in a vain dismay,
      Dear Soul of ours so lost in thy distress,"
      Whispers a spirit voice of tenderness.
    "This Lady's beauty darkens all your day,
      Vile fear possesses you; see, she is lowly
      Pitiful, courteous, though so wise and holy.

    "Think thou to call her Mistress evermore:
      Save thou delude thyself, then shall there shine
      High miracles before thee, so divine
    That thou shalt say, O Love, when I adore,
      True Lord, behold the handmaid of the Lord,
      Be it unto me according to thy Word!"

    My song, I do believe there will be few
      Who toil to understand thy reasoning;
      But if thou pass, perchance, to those who bring
    No skill to give thee the attention due,
      Then pray I, dear last-born, let them rejoice
      To find at least a music in my voice.

Our Students’ Re-Workings

The Banquet by Johanna Von Maack

Ye who move within my heart

heaven is you.

My life has new cares

you discoursed to me,

with her I long to be.

My heart quivers to the

Lady, I gaze intently in the Lady's eyes.

When into thine eyes

I gaze on her and die.

Thou art not dead

whispers a spirit voice

this lady

possesses you

she is so wise and holy.


Found by Anna Westwig

My heart quivers, now crowned.

Grieving is to bear tenderness,

a courteous beauty once fed

glorified anguish, thy distress

within my heart. I pray you heed

whispers: the mistress possesses you.

O love, understand thy toil

is so divine but a dream it breaks.

Ill-starred lady shall delude thee

reasoning new cares and vile music.

My eyes find death, wise and holy

you tender handmaid master me.

Unordered word bank

Unordered word bank

The Banquet by Nicholas Perez

Heaven thought reasoning my heart

I pray you lead always, condemn

tears. Spirit once fed up

Lady glorified whom so sweetly said: I long to be!

One that drives and masters might

This lady fixes my regard, says intently

dread the signs of anguish, O

the crowned angel

therefore consoled me.

one asks why doubt her such as I?

I gaze on her not dead, but in a vain

tenderness. This lady possesses,

she is so wise and holy.


by Edie Lipsey

Move, intent within my heart

to impart Heaven. You, my life, you--

the heart's sad soul condemns her tears

a star's rays sweet

that fled

glorifies so sweetly to me.

The Soul said I long to be one and masters

my heart.

Says who lies in this Lady's eyes

anguish ill-starred breaks the humble dream

still the soul weeps

troubled doubted my words

her eyes bear death

vainly I gaze on her and die.

Dead in vain dear soul so lost in distress,

whispers beauty darkens all

vile lowly pitiful and holy

think to call her, delude thyself shine

miracles so divine

O love behold me

My song will be few who understand

but pray I to find music in my voice

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