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”
Canto 9 (extract) – “I do not know how long that tunnel was”
Here are what some people have said about The English Cantos:
“Riveting, horrific, terrifying . . . this pulled me in inexorably and forced me to keep reading, even through the pain. Dante would be proud.
“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