These are questions that must be asked,

Questions of great importance:

Can Renaissance or Reformation

Have roots soiled in darkness?

What if I inquired about

Alighieri or Aquinas:

Would you dare foolishly say

They’re both children of blindness?

How about Venerable Bede,

Was he without Light’s seed?

Did Charlemagne not plant a tree

That advanced Latinity?

Boethius’ wise Lady,

Her Muses’ Consoling

The soul, mind, and heart of many—

Possibly yours, including?

Between the fall of mighty Rome

And rise of Renaissance,

Did not a light still flicker on,

A blessing and assurance?

What is it that you call darkness?

And what do you call light?

In that missional-age, incarnate,

There was a holy fight.

Dear Petrarch, are you all that’s left:

Alone, faithful, and wise?

Seven thousand stand straight-kneed,

Refusing to kiss the mire.

Do you mistake those past for fools?

Is this new age so great?

Can we cast aside the wise, strong few

Whose womb carried this age?

What about the silent masses,

Your ancestors of virtue—

Unknown, unheard, living justly—

Who laid the ground for you?

For in-between yourself and Rome

(I dare think long before),

Wisdom reigned upon the earth,

For wisdom is much more.

It is marrow and health to bones

Who bow before the Light

That darkness cannot comprehend,

The Light that does give life.

And if you’re wise you’ll see the truth,

The truth that stands between

Yourself and the ignorant claim:

“Study the past? . . . No need.”

Look close; you’ll see. You must. I beg.

The past is so much more.

You stand, held up in strong hands:

Your founding—Men of Yore.

So go ahead and cast aside,

If you must cast aside at all,

The thought that trickles down to you,

“Rome vanished with the fall.”

For that which made Rome great and wise,

At least for her short time,

Was not those forums that you see—

Rome kept virtue alive.

Can Renaissance or Reformation

Have roots soiled in darkness?

Of course they can’t. Impossible.

Their Spirit is outside us.

Now we stand at a new dawn.

Progress at its finest?

It can be if we recall

These wise words of Aquinas:

“Thus the sun which possesses light perfectly, can shine

by itself; whereas the moon has the nature of light

imperfectly, sheds only a borrowed light.”[1]

Citation Information

Cherish Nelson, “The Gravity of Sin: Truth in the Grotesque in Dante’s Inferno,” An Unexpected Journal 3, no. 3. (Fall 2020), 72-78.

Direct Link:

[1] Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica: Complete Edition, trans. by The Father of the English Dominican Province (Catholic Way Publishing, 2014) Loc. 37996, Kindle.