About the Author
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265. Considered Italy's greatest poet, this scion of a Florentine family mastered in the art of lyric poetry at an early age. His first major work is La Vita Nuova
(1292) which is a tribute to Beatrice Portinari, the great love of his life. Married to Gemma Donatic, Dante's political activism resulted in his being exiled from Florence to eventually settle in Ravenna. It is believed that The Divine Comedy
—comprised of three canticles, The Inferno, The Purgatorio
, and The Paradiso
—was written between 1308 and 1320. Dante Alighieri died in 1321.
John Ciardi was a distinguished poet and professor, having taught at Harvard and Rutgers universities, and a poetry editor of The Saturday Review. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1955 he won the Harriet Monroe Memorial Award, and in 1956, the Prix de Rome. He died in 1986.