On this website you will find the complete text of the Divina Commedia in a new, color-coded edition. If you want to start right away, go to the bottom of this page. There you will find an overview of my system. You will get hints on pronunciation, learn when to separate or join words, and where to place accents. This will enable you to enjoy the text as it is presented to you under the menu items Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. If you choose the English or German version of my website, you will have the additional advantage of a translation of the Italian original on the opposite page. You don't need any previous knowledge and will quickly become familiar with the system of markings.
However, should you want to know and understand more, then read on. I would still like to tell you what awaits you on this website and how you can get the most out of the information it contains. Under the menu items Pronunciation, Metrics and Accents you will find a more in-depth explanation of the above and a link to current findings in literature and science. You are free to consult these pages at any time, even later.
Since it is not practical to display multicolored fonts on a normal web page, the cantos of the Divina Commedia and the color codes at the bottom of this page are implemented as a flipbook. This is an elegant way to present graphically sophisticated content on the web, in the form of a digital booklet, as it were, reminiscent of a brochure you hold in front of you.
The Divina Commedia consists of a respectable 14,233 lines that satisfy two structural conditions. On the one hand, the individual verses are linked together in the form of the so-called terza rima, a triple rhyming concatenation, on the other hand, each verse must be executed as a hendecasyllable, i.e. it has 11 metrical syllables.
We will not go into the complexities involved here, since any textbook will give you exhaustive information. Suffice it to say that the rhyme has the form ABA – BCB – CDC – DED, i.e. three equal cross-rhymes intertwine in alternation in such a way that a new rhyme always emerges from the middle one. To obtain eleven syllables, the author has a variety of options. He can join or separate syllables and he can shorten or lengthen words.
We are not interested in the theory behind it. We accept that Dante Alighieri knew what he was doing. That within the creative framework offered to him by the languages and dialects used – essentially Italian, Latin and Old Occitan – he created a work that satisfies the two structural conditions mentioned. We only want to read and understand this text.
Perhaps you have already asked yourself why I call my edition a "musical" one. I do not want to owe you the answer. In my opinion, the poem is a sound structure that is only discovered in meaningful reading, in the rhythmic rendering of elevations and depressions. If you pronounce the text aloud, with its own pauses, weightings, and vowel colorations, you will notice that beyond the purely mechanical rendering, a speech melody emerges, a powerfully pulsating sequence of sounds, syllables, and words. Each line contains its special charm and the urge to read on: the dynamic play of these elements in time, the alternation of them, indeed the openness of each further verse becomes a challenge and fascination.
The musicality consists in the fact that you, as the reader, interpret the work and bring it to life, that you transform the stream of sound into a lecture that works as a whole, as an expressive declamation.
How you can achieve this, i.e. how you can read correctly on the one hand, but also where you have freedom of interpretation, we want to learn now. There are essentially three aspects that come into consideration here and I would like to break them down for you: the pronunciation, the meter and the accents.
Let's start with the pronunciation. In the following, I may refer to the scheme at the end of this introduction and explain to you the abbreviations listed there, so that you know which sign is to be pronounced how. Let us confine ourselves to the how and spare ourselves the question of the why. On my web pages on pronunciation – and later on metrics and accents – you will find further explanations, in relevant textbooks what is known about it today.
1. Phonetic signs of the Italian language
A. The critical vowels E and O
While the native speaker - if not subject to a dialect - is able to pronounce critical vowels correctly, the learner cannot rely on safe rules here. Both the e and the o can be pronounced open or closed in Italian. For example, words like quéllo, stélla, or sélva are to be pronounced closed, while words like èra, prèsto, or tèmpo are to be pronounced open. As you can see, I have just given accents to our examples: the so-called accento acuto é and ó for the closed pronunciation, the accento grave è and ò for the open pronunciation.
This is common practice and is also present in other languages. In the original, however, you will not find this designation, or more precisely: not always. Occasionally you will encounter the accento grave, for example in words like caffè or però, but usually there is no such indication, as in our examples in the last paragraph.
Of course, you could consult a good dictionary, look up every single word and make sure there what the modern pronunciation should look like, but then you will no longer be reading, but searching. My edition has done this work for you. In red color above each stressed e and o you will find the correct pronunciation. We don't have to worry about the unstressed e and o, because they are always pronounced closed. The advantage of this color coding is that the original accents are clearly distinguished from the pronunciation accents, i.e. in black you always have the original text in front of your eyes.
The whole thing would be enough for us in its simple exclusiveness, but unfortunately a first complication spoils our anticipation. You will find beside the open and closed e and o also those of ambivalent as well as tending open or tending closed nature. What is this all about?
Let me tell you that there are first words that are not pronounced open or closed with complete certainty, but at least usually so. In bestia or scendere, the first e is usually pronounced closed, but it can also be pronounced open - depending on the regional origin of the speaker - without this being a mistake. It is obvious that here one should follow the trend - or let us better say the tendency - and pronounce these words closed. Conversely, one would tend to pronounce open words like integro or tempio open, even if the closed pronunciation is possible. This applies analogously to the closed or open o, such as dopo and feroce in the first case, aurora and dimora in the second.
You can see on this occasion that conventional punctuation is failing us, in letterpress as well as on the web. You will find the required special signs of a tendential alignment, the colon below and the accent above the vowel only in the flipbook.
There you will also come across the second group of words incriminated by us above: the ambivalent e and o. You suspect that here a decision in one or the other direction of pronunciation is not possible. With these words - there are not many – the Italian has not committed itself. You are free to pronounce the words open or closed. Perhaps we may say that in the north of Italy the closed pronunciation tends to prevail, in the south the open pronunciation, but let's not insist on that. And in the center of Italy, in the regions of Tuscany and the provinces adjacent to it, this supposed clarity is lost. In addition to the implementation of standard Italian, each of these regions still has a dialect structure that wants to be deciphered word by word. We may leave all this to the linguist. It is enough for us to know that here a commitment is not necessary or possible.
The reader will have noticed that we do not mark some monosyllabic words, even though they are stressed, such as elementary grammatical particles like e, che, de, le, me, ne, se, te or o, lo, non, con. Since these words, if they do not have an accent, are usually pronounced closed, we have not marked them in order to keep the text more readable. An open pronunciation results for example with lei, no or with verb forms of the indicative present like ho, do, so. Even if the correct pronunciation might be known, we have explicitly marked these words so that the reader can be sure that unmarked monosyllables are always to be pronounced closed.
In cases where an apostrophe obscures the word origin, such as in se' or me', which is first a vowel shortening of sèi, then a syllable shortening of mèglio, and has nothing to do with the monosyllabic closed pronouns me or se, the correct open pronunciation is explicitly set by accent. Verse 36 of the second canto from the Inferno offers both truncation forms (Italian: apocope or troncamento): se' savio; intendi me' ch'i' non ragiono. Interesting here is the me', which does not mean: understand me, but understand better!).
B. The critical consonants S and Z
Let's return to the next dilemma, the s and z. With these consonants, voiceless and voiced pronunciation is possible. Similar to the above, there are rules and exceptions to the same. In order to read fluently, you would like to know how to pronounce each word. Our edition has done the work for you. An unmarked s and z is always pronounced unvoiced, an ṣ and ẓ with a dot below the consonant voiced. Sì, selvaggio, and stilo are therefore pronounced unvoiced, quaṣi, ṣmarrito, and viṣo voiced. Anzi, grazia, and sanza (senza) are voiceless, ẓanca, ẓucca, and ẓuffa voiced. They are words that appear in the Divina Commedia.
Fortunately, we have no tendentious pronunciation options here, but we also encounter ambivalent options. Please visit the pronunciation website for more information. Suffice it to say that leading lexicons still consider these words as voiceless, while in the practice of today's Italian, the voiced pronunciation prevails. Let's take words like cosa or casa. Each of you will want to pronounce these words voiced, even if you find the opposite in the dictionaries. I'm going with the current linguistic reality here and recommending that you choose the voiced pronunciation for the ambiguous s and z. Two dots under the consonant mark the ambivalence.
C. Special characters and hybrid forms
At the end of the first page of the flipbook in the appendix you will find a number of cryptic characters that I would like to explain to you right away. All these words are related to the phenomenon of dieresis which we now want to familiarize ourselves. On the page on metrics I will give you deeper insights.
As I told you, a poet is free to change the number of metrical syllables by shortening or lengthening words, in order to arrive at the magic number eleven at last, which defines a hendecasyllable.
Dieresis is the word lengthening of a diphthong, that is, a double vowel. Such diphthongs are generally pronounced as one syllable, but there are also words that are pronounced as two syllables. One then speaks of a Hiatus (Italian: Iato). As we will see later, I have explicitly marked the hiatus with a bar | so that you do not have to worry about it.
The critical case that interests us here occurs when the poet wants to lengthen a word that is usually spoken as one syllable, and in fact this is possible with certain words, though we need not be interested here in the linguistic requirements of this maneuver. If the poet places two dots over the first or second vowel, he indicates that he wants to turn one syllable into two. Let us take as an example the mentor Beatrice, idealized by Dante. In the form not further designated, the ea would be considered one syllable, i.e., a simple diphthong. However, when the e carries the dieresis, i.e., our lady wants to be addressed as Bëatrice, the ea changes into two metrical syllables. We also encounter an analogous transformation with io and ïo or with suo and süo and many other words.
It is only important for us to know that such doubling is sometimes, but unfortunately not always, explicitly entered in the original text. The reader, in order to solve the riddle, would have to search for the origin of each of these words, and that cannot be expected. We want to make the hidden explicit. In our edition, all doublings that are not designated but that are supposed to be real are also entered in red supplementary. Thus you know whether there is a dieresis or not.
I would like to mention that you may or may not apply the dieresis to the pronunciation. So you can consciously pronounce or stretch the two vowels separately, but you can also do without it. brings us to a new, important insight: the pronunciation is independent of the metric within certain limits. It rests on it, but it is not slavishly subordinate to it. The execution (Italian: Esecuzione) - they say - is the responsibility of the performer, indeed the freedom that comes with it makes the special charm of an individual performance.
For the sake of completeness, let us add that in a few cases it was necessary to resolve a dieresis occurring in the original text. For example, an ïo is replaced by an io, which is indicated by a red dot on the i.
Overall, it can be stated that we have implemented our own designation especially in cases deviating from the original text, i.e. when a dieresis was missing in the original or when an existing dieresis had to be resolved. The page on metrics contains more detailed information.
2. Phonetic signs of Latin
When pronouncing Latin, you are faced with various options. As is well known, long vowels are distinguished from short vowels, and as is also well known, there are competing schools of pronunciation, namely the classical, the ecclesiastical, and the academic. My web page on pronunciation provides more information.
In the text, I have entered long, short, and ambivalent vowels in green, so that you can try your luck here. All of the vowels, not only e and o, can occur long and short, the y as a foreign vowel admittedly only short. Examples of long vowels would be: tē, nōn, quī, laudāmus, and lūgent; ĕt, quŏd, ĭn, ăb sŭb, or AegῨpto, however, are of short vowel nature. The bar above the long vowel and the curved bar above the short vowel correspond to the signature you also find in dictionaries.
Would you like to get past Latin in a simple way, without getting lost in the demanding details of the relevant pronunciation variants? Then heed the tip I give you on my pronunciation page and go the way of the Italian native speakers. They pronounce the e and o in the stressed case always open, in the unstressed case always closed and adhere to the Italian model with regard to the consonants. The famous opening verse of the last canto of Inferno - Vexìlla règis pròdeunt infèrni - then contains, in addition to the three open, stressed e and o vowels, the soft g common in Italian. Here you can also see that the last, actually short e of īnfĕrnī is stressed, rather than one of the long i's, reminding us that there is no simple relation between quantity and dynamics, that is, length and stress.
With all this said, we do not want to claim that Dante also made use of this simplification, but at least we have the certainty of pronouncing the Latin as it is common among his successors, the Italians, today, so that - since it is an Italian work after all - there is a certain coherence. Also, one should not forget that the Divina Commedia was not conceived in the classical Latin period, but in the Middle Ages, where a national pronunciation of Latin had probably already established itself.
3. Phonetic signs of Old Occitan (the Lingua d'Oc)
The Divina Commedia contains a few lines in the Old Occitan language: they are put into the mouth of the troubadour Daniel Arnaut and betray - if one may believe modern speculations of a Maria Soresina - not only Dante's admiration for this language and its poets, but also his closeness to the great heresy of the Middle Ages, Catharism.
The designation does not cause any difficulties here. Similar to Italian, we distinguish open and closed e and o as well as voiced and unvoiced s and z. There are no tendential and ambivalent variants. Since the stress of the other vowels is also not likely to be known and can only be found in special dictionaries, we have accentuated all vowels - i.e. also the u, i and a - in the case of stress. It is therefore easy to take the correct pronunciation from the text.
As for the sound of Old Occitan, which is a mixture of Italian and French, probably closer to the former language, I would like to refer to the Internet, where there are a few audio recordings (e.g. those of the Associazione Espaci Occitan). Significant here are probably above all the vowel shifts from o to u as well as from u to ü. Also, we may openly admit that the correct pronunciation is not easy to grasp, since Occitan underwent an evolution and knew regional variation, which is of interest in that Daniel Arnaut lived in southern France, but Dante may have had in mind the idiom known in northern Italy.
We essentially stick to modern dictionaries and treatises and accept the remaining uncertainty in the knowledge that our phonetic transcription yields no more, but also no less than others, i.e. is a fair attempt to add its own flair to the few lines of Daniel Arnaut.
With pronunciation, you have cleared an important hurdle on the way to a satisfying recitation of the Divina Commedia. Two special features remain to be mastered, the metrics and the accents, and here too, you will get everything you need in my color-coded markings.
1. Sinalefe and Dialefe
With the metric, which may occupy us first, we get along with four signs. Let us turn first to the sinalefe and the dialefe. When looking at the text, you must have noticed two characters in particular that stand between two words, or more precisely, two vowels: once the little hat or caret (ʌ) and once a kind of superscript v (v). The little hat denotes the so-called sinalefe. It states that the last vowel of a word and the first of the following one are considered as one syllable. You can bring this fact into the pronunciation, but you do not have to. Let us consider one of the whole famous verses of the Divina Commedia, the last line of the Inferno:
|(I 34, 139):||E quindiʌuscimmoʌa riveder le stelle.|
The i of quindi and the u of uscimmo, as well as the o of the same word and the a are fused to one syllable by means of the sinalefe, so that the eleven syllables of the hendecasyllable result as desired. When reciting, you now have the option of reading the first sinalefe, but not the second, if you want to insert a caesura after the uscimmo. However, you can also choose any other reading. I believe that the sinalefe is a fascinating and also in its own way significant linguistic phenomenon and should be read if possible, i.e., I would read both sinalefi. I also like to take the motivation for this from music. Indeed, composers have often taken the vowel connection on one note and thus set it compositionally, such as Verdi in "la donnaʌè mobile" (Quinario [five-syllable verse:] Rigoletto) or Mozart in Le Nozze di Figaro (Decasillabo [ten-syllable verse]): "Non piùʌandrai, farfalloneʌamoroso," where the librettist specified the meter.
Reference books offer you an impressive, if not overwhelming, list of permissible or inadmissible requirements of the sinalefe and its counterpart, the dialefe yet to be presented, as well as the meticulous description of the exceptions or the undecided cases. For at times, in order to arrive at the magic number of eleven syllables, a poet had to go to the limit of the rules, indeed quite beyond them, which is tantamount to saying that otherwise analogous cases are at one time joined, at another time, when it seems opportune, separated. You can lean back in peace. Because for all verses I have relieved you of the work and have made a coherent designation of the word connections and separations.
So while the sinalefe connects two words, the dialefe separates them. The final vowel of a word and the initial vowel of the following word are considered two syllables. The visual separation and the metrical one coincide, and the separation is also obvious in the pronunciation. Let's pick a suitable example:
|(I 6, 43):||Eviova lui: «L'angoscia che tuvhai»|
The three adjacent vowels are all marked here with an dialefe as to be separated. It is interesting that also the h does not count as a consonant, but falls silent, as it were, making room for the a, which is separated as a vowel from the u before. It also becomes clear that monosyllabic words typically stand for themselves, i.e. are separated from the others.
Nevertheless, we want to note that the correct partitioning of the sinalefi and dialefi has to consider a number of criteria and finally, in critical cases, only a complex hierarchy of these conditions yields the correct solution or - in some cases - the correct solution variants, so that the reader will appreciate being able to rely on our markings.
2. Hiatus and intervocalic I
There remain two further signs extending the meter. Above I already informed you that a diphthong, i.e. two adjacent vowels, usually counts as one syllable, but in the case of the so-called hiatus as two syllables. Words such as ga|etta, pa|ura, or po|eta are striking examples of this from the Divina Commedia. A bar between the vowels indicates the hyphenation.
There is also the phenomenon of the intervocalic i. Here, even three vowels are adjacent, with the i in the middle. Let us look at three examples: a|iuto, bu|io, no|ia. In them, the first vowel establishes a syllable, with the i beginning the second vowel group, which is then forms a diphthong, i.e., counts as a further syllable, so that the three vowels form two syllables. The bar also acts as a separator.
Neither the hiatus nor the intervocalic i are shown in the original text. It would therefore not be possible for the learner to know how to treat adjacent vowels. Our edition marks all vowel separations, providing thus a simple decision criterion. If neither a dieresis is placed above a vowel, nor a bar between two vowels, then adjacent vowels are counted as one syllable. Otherwise, these two signs mark the separation of vowels into two syllables.
We are now prepared for the final challenge of a successful pronunciation of the Divina Commedia: the accents. And as simple as their arrangement may seem at first glance, as differentiated is their linguistic implementation. I may reveal to the reader that here we can no longer get by with the classical knowledge = the few basic schemes of literature. In order to achieve the goal of a musical implementation of the great poem, i.e. to reproduce the subtlety of the intonation, it was necessary to develop our own accent scheme. The page on accents will introduce you to my thoughts in detail. Here, in the introduction, we want to turn only to the result, i.e. understand what which symbol means and how to read it.
As you can see from our flipbook at the bottom of this page, there are five accent structures, i.e. accents or accent combinations, which we will now look at in turn.
1. Strong and weak accents
Classical theory in Italian assumes a two-valued accent dynamic, i.e., that a vowel is either stressed or unstressed. We have taken the liberty of introducing a third quantity here, i.e. we want to assume a weakly emphasized utterance in addition to the strongly emphasized standard accent. It is thus possible to realistically represent the pronunciation of those words that lie between the strong and the missing stress. The strong accent is numbered in bold, the weak accent with normal font, unaccented syllables remain unmarked. Next to each verse is its mark in blue font. Strong stresses on the critical syllables 4 to 8 of each verse are also underlined in it. Examples from the Divina Commedia can immediately illustrate this. Let us take the beginning of the poem:
|(I 1, 1):||Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita||2 6 8|
|mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,||4 8|
|ché la diritta via era smarrita.||4 6 7|
In the first line, the second and sixth syllables are strongly accented, the nostra, on the other hand, is weakly accented, since it is not so distinctively pronounced, but nevertheless not entirely unaccented. In addition, the sixth syllable in the critical center is underlined in the text. The second line finds two strong markings at positions 4 and 8 and, being in the center, also underlined in the text. The stress on dirìtta in line three is noticeable, but less strong than on vìa and èra, so a weak mark suffices here. The two stressed central syllables are marked in the text: the adjacency at positions 6 and 7 forms the so-called counteraccent, an intriguing extension of the classical schemes of the hendcasyllable. The reader can find more about this on the corresponding web page on the accents.
2. Alternative accents
We are still left with three accent structures. With them we enter the realm of logic, which exhausts the possibilities. For in fact not always only one reading is meaningful. Thus, it may happen that one has to decide on the accentuation of two words, i.e. one has to choose between accentuating one and not the other. We are dealing here - as is readily apparent - with the exclusive or, the so-called aut. In our edition, we call these accents alternative accents and denote them with a slash. These alternative accents can, but do not have to lie next to each other, i.e. also words are apart can alternate in such a way.
Let's take the two examples from the appendix booklet and save the content:
|(I 1, 11):||tant'era pien di sonno a quel punto||1/2 4 6|
|(I 4, 94):||Così vid' i' adunar la bella scola||2 3/4 6 8|
In the first example, there is an alternation between position 1 and 2. Thus, one can stress the first syllable with tànt'era, but also the second syllable with tant'èra. Since the fourth syllable pièn is also stressed (albeit weakly), stressing both syllables one and two is omitted.
In the second example, the syllables 2 and 6 are strongly stressed. In between, one could weakly stress the vìd with a slight caesura after Così, or leave it unstressed and emphasize the i mildly. The alternation indicates that at least one of the two syllables should be stressed, even if weakly. Thus, one does not leave both completely unstressed and, of course, course not emphasized either.
The reader sees here that each of these interpretations is a matter of style or nuance. Therefore, we do not write down iron figures, but rather possible, perhaps even preferable, solutions. Everyone is invited to write down their own options and prepare them for their presentation. It is crucial that we have a notational scheme that allows us to write out explicitly what we are doing and how we are interpreting. And it is precisely the dynamic and logical diversity of its accent structures that helps us to do this.
3. Inclusive accents
This of course also applies to the two remaining possibilities, whereby our attention is initially directed to the inclusive variant: the logical and/or, which operates under the term non-exclusive disjunction or vel. Here one can stress one syllable, the other, or both. The examples from our booklet indicate the direction:
|(I 1, 23):||uscito fuor del pelago a la riva,||2.4 6|
|(I 27, 123):||tu non pensavi ch'io löico fossi!".||1.2 4 7|
The dot in the right marking of the first verse indicates that there is an inclusion between the strongly stressed syllables two and four. Thus, one can stress syllable two, syllable four, or both. In the second line, an inclusion is placed between the first and second position of the otherwise weakly stressed syllables. The reader is thus left to decide whether to stress the first, the second, or both weakly. (Surely you have noticed the dieresis above the o of löico. It indicates that we are dealing here with two metrical syllables (lo and i). Etymologically, it may refer to the Latin logicus, which in g separates the two adjacent vowels. Since the diphthong io takes up one syllable here, we get - as you can easily verify by recounting - a hendecasyllable of eleven syllables).
4. Optional accents
But what should we do if we are not sure whether to stress or not to stress a syllable, or more precisely, if we want to preserve both possibilities as meaningful? Now this is where the optional accent structure comes in. The bracket around an accent or accent group is meant to denote that the linguistic element enclosed in this way may be stressed or left unstressed.
In our booklet we have picked out two examples, optionally strong and optionally weak accents. Let's look at them briefly:
|(II 18, 50):||è da matera ed è con lei unita,||(1) 4 (6) 8|
|(II 18, 40):||«Le tue parole e 'l mio seguace ingegno»,||(2) 4 (6) 8|
In the first example, syllables 1 and 6 are optional and, although strongly stressed, can also be weakly stressed or omitted, which allows us to make the last important observation that the option here can take effect in two ways: once as a reduction and then as a dissolution of the accentuation. In the weak optional variant of syllables 2 and 6 of the last example, the only choice is between weak accentuation or dissolution of the same.
As mentioned above, these examples represent only two basic types of optional accent combinations. A look at our edition quite soon shows you a never-ending variance of further such forms. For in principle, the freedom of realization inherent in the option is possible between any groups of words and accents. Also, our structural modules can be combined with each other in the most diverse ways, in order to represent also more complex structures. There are no limits to the imagination or implementation. Their comprehension will not cause you any difficulties, since all signs are familiar to you, as well as the principles of their association. Feel free to consult the flipbook at the bottom of this page for instructions in individual cases.
Dear Reader! You now know everything you need to read my digital edition with pleasure. You know the signs and their meanings. You are familiar with the pronunciation, have gained insight into important basic principles of metrics, and have a trivalent accent scheme at hand that gives you great freedom in the dynamic shaping of the text.
With every line you conquer while reading, you will penetrate deeper into the poem and its world, with every line you will understand Dante better. My system will become a matter of course for you. You will absorb it and eventually use it unconsciously, like a ladder that helped you ascend and which, having reached the top, you can finally leave behind.
So, I may grant one last wish and invite you to go on this journey. Discover the Divina Commedia for yourself! Let yourself be enchanted and seduced by it! Immerse yourself in a world of literature, enjoy the powerful sound of poetry and the feelings and images that blossom from it, and penetrate to those visions of the human that reflect in the foreign what is profoundly one's own. For ultimately, the journey through the cosmos is also a journey inward: into the abysses, the challenges, and the liberation of our existence.
I would be happy if my work may accompany you in this, if my system of colored codifications and interpretations facilitates your entry, deepens your understanding, and allows you to grasp a text that leads you to the heart of the Italian language, that language which, in Dante's work, has barely changed over the centuries, as a gift of an endangered and companion to his fellows and posterity. Deprived of his homeland, lost in the world, he was free in his work, he found the inspiration to give language to the essence of our humanity and to set a monument to its strongest force: love.