Dante’s Prayer

Dante’s Prayer
I have listened to this song by Loreena McKennitt dozens of times, but never really heard the lyrics. I read them for the first time and felt a tingling up my spine. She adapted this from the first Canto in Dante’s Inferno. I couldn’t find the recording to post it. It’s from her album “Book of Secrets.”

Dante’s Prayer

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone
I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and fire
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars
Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly cares
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me

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One thought on “Dante’s Prayer

  1. meldenius

    I just realized that people unfamiliar with Dante’s work may not get the imagery in the song. The “dark wood” refers to the opening of Inferno, an image of our confused, ignorant state in unbelief–overgrown paths, priests of pride, tilling sorrows of stone are all images of the pain and confusion of unbelief. Dante repeatedly uses the Stars as an image of Divine love and revelation–it’s the first thing he sees when he emerges from the Fire and Ice of Hell. The Ocean and the Sea are from the line I quoted in my last blog, the sea over which the angel brings the souls about to begin their road toward redemption. The mountain is the Mt. Purgatory–salvation worked out. The Fount of Forgiveness is at the top of that mountain, redemption achieved. I love the way McKennitt wove all these images together.

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