Welcome, dear scribe, to hell.

You have, through some unfathomable twist of destiny, arrived in a dark and lonesome wood, wherein the straight road no longer lies. Here, in these hallowed pages, you will read of a descent into the depths of the inferno, where light is but a memory. Here, you will find The English Cantos.

Like Dante before him, the poet James Sale takes us on a journey into a contemporary vision of hell and heaven, based off his near-death experience in Ward 17 of Bournemouth General. The English Cantos is an epic told in 33 cantos, using the terza rima of Dante, standing four-square against the meaninglessness of post-modernism. As Virgil guided Dante, so too Dante will guide James on this incredible journey. Follow its progress:

Canto 1 – “It had to be – that long descent began”

Canto 2 – “Another depth beckoned.”

Canto 3 – “My soul in living now wanted to hide “

Canto 4 – “And how I ran – in terror from those cries”

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Here are what some people have said about The English Cantos:

“To attempt a Dantesque canto is plucky, daring, and audacious. ”

-Buceli de Werse, poet

“As others have said, this is an ambitious project to begin, but I think Mr. Sale has met the challenge and begun with a bang. The writing is spectacular, peppered throughout with quotable moments (and many people in the comments have already begun quoting it), interesting metrical variations, and interesting rhymes and slant-rhymes. And the subject matter… well, let us just note what a bold task it is to take on a project like this.” – J. Simon Harris, poet and translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy

“I am in awe!”

Carol Smallwood, poet

“Extraordinary and powerful, and a demonstration of how traditional style and references can speak directly to contemporary concerns and that ‘meaningless of post-modernism’ that James Sale mentions. I look forward to more instalments, in the hope that they will help us all rediscover spirituality and put aside at least some of the materialism of the world today.”

-David Orme, author

“I absolutely love this poem. It takes you through a whole range of emotions and the personal hell James went through with his own ill health. You really feel the pain and then the joyous recovery.”

-Sue Kerr, reader & book-club leader