Spiritual Journeys Essay, Research Paper
The Tale of Saigyo and The Inferno both trace the unique journeys of two interesting figures, Saigyo and Dante. The two journeys are differing in that one is a journey through the life of a Buddhist monk, and the other is a journey through the different circles of hell.
The Tale of Saigyo is a poetic biography of the late Heian poet Saigyo (1118-1190), one of the most loved and respected poets in Japanese literary history. Its anonymous author followed the venerable poem-tale tradition by using 128 of Saigyo s finest and best-known poems and weaving around those facts and legends about the poet. Saigyo s poetry is largely concerned with a love of nature and devotion to Buddhism. The result is a biographical journey through his life. Saigyo moves from the life of a brilliant and favored young poet at the Heian imperial court, through a Buddhist awakening that leads him to cast off his worldly life and family ties to transform himself into a wandering monk.
Similar to The Tale of Saigyo, in The Inferno, Dante begins his spiritual journey with the visit to the land of the dead. He does this because his poem s spiritual pattern is not classical but Christian: Dante s journey to hell represents the spiritual act of dying to the world, and hence it coincides with the season of Christ s own death. In Dante s poem, he is an exponent of classical reason. He is also a historical figure and is presented as such in The Inferno. In addition, The Inferno represents a false start during which Dante, the character, must be disabused of harmful values that somehow prevent him from rising above his fallen world. Despite the regressive nature of The Inferno, Dante s meetings with the roster of the damned are among the most memorable moments of the poem. For example, the Neutrals, Ulysses, Francescada Rimini, and Filipo Argenti are just to name a few that imposed them upon the reader s imagination with tremendous force.