As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
When lulled Argus, baffled, swooned and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
So played, so charmed, so conquered, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
Nor unto Tempe, where Jove grieved a day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kissed, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.
The poem speaks of the two lovers in Dante’s poem The Inferno. Paolo and Francesca fall in love while reading a book, but Francesca’s husband finds the lovers together and kills them. Dante and Virgil meet in Hell.
The Kiss by Rodin. Rodin created this sculpture for The Gates of Hell, inspired by the story of the lovers in Dante’s Inferno.