Rhymes and reasons

As he continues to mull the embryonic and derivative verse fragment from Proteus, Stephen turns his mind to the Divine Comedy, apparently hoping that this masterpiece of rhyming verse will offer hints for how to turn rhymes like "mouth" and "south" into a poem. Far from discovering poetic inspiration, he sees only how meager his talent is compared to Dante's. This fact is perhaps ironically suggested by the headline of this section, "RHYMES AND REASONS," which plays on the expression "without rhyme or reason." But Stephen does have some interesting reasons for thinking about Dante's rhymes. Jumping back and forth between a passage in Purgatorio 29 and one in Inferno 5, and then forward to another in Paradiso 31, he explores the quirky idea that rhymes may be like people––colorful people.

John Hunt 2023

Amos Nattini's illustration of the procession in canto 29 of the Purgatorio, with the three brightly colored women at middle left, part of a collection published in 1939. Source: perpetualastonishment.weebly.com.

Gustave Doré's 1857 llustration of Paolo and Francesca in Inferno 5.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Illustration from the cover of R. E. Houser's The Cardinal Virtues, featuring the purple shade iconographically associated with these four virtues.
Source: www.amazon.com.

Gustave Doré's llustration of Mary as heaven's queen in Purgatorio 31.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

15th century representation of the 1356 Battle of Poitiers, with gold-on-red oriflamme standard visible at upper left, held in the Morgan Library and Museum, New York City. Source: Wikimedia Commons.