The Prophecy

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“You shall leave everything you love most dearly: this is the arrow that the bow of exile shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste of others’ bread, how salt it is, and know how hard a path it is for one who goes descending and ascending others’ stairs.” —Paradiso, XVII, 55-60

For a man who weeps so much you amaze me. It takes courage to ask what the future holds and more courage to hear it, to look and see

what will become of you as you grow old. You can’t forget, once the words are spoken, though your knees may knock, your blood run cold.

Hope for a happy life will be broken as you listen to your luckless fate unfold. Your fortune-teller’s eloquence a token

of love for you, though his speech is bold. Compassion in his voice, but not pity. He sees your sorrow but will not withhold

the truth. And so before heaven’s Deity you graciously accept what you now know. Nothing can destroy your fealty.

You’ve come so far, and you have far to go. You’ll need God in your corner, by your side, and all the wisdom you’ve gained down below

before arriving in this paradise. You’re armored now, ready for the fight of your life, bullet-proofed against surprise. Darkness cannot overpower your light.