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Francesca Says More

December 16, 2014

By Olena Kalytiak Davis

In the 13th century Francesca da Rimini, stuck in an arranged marriage, shared the story of the knights Lancelot and Galehot’s love triangle with Queen Guinevere, with her husband’s brother Paolo. It struck a cord, and overcome by passion they began a ten-year affair. When her husband finally caught them at it, he murdered them both. In the Inferno Dante meets Francesca and Paolo in the second circle of hell, reserved for the lustful.

Davis calls this poem, one of a series about Francesca, a “shattered sonnet”, and includes it in her latest collection The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems (click here).

that maiden thump was book on floor, but
does it really matter who kissed who
first or then who decided to go further?
lower? faster? naturally, we took
turns on top. now here, now there, and up
and down…once it started no one even thought to think to stop.
so, we have holes inside our souls,
but mustn’t we begin by filling others’?
god gave us lips and hands and parts
that cannot possibly be saved for prayer. nor by.
i will not name name, claim fame by how well
or who I fucked or why, it happens all the time.
and it’s you, white pilgrims, whom next galehot seeks.

fuck. we didn’t read again for weeks.

Olena Kalytiak Davis

One Comment leave one →
  1. Karen Craig permalink
    December 28, 2022 10:24 am

    I’ve just discovered your posts on various poets/poems and am very much enjoying reading them! Hope you don’t mind some further information relating to Dante’s Paolo and Francesca verses which will allow you to fully appreciate their beauty and power! In the Lancelot and Guenevere romance Dante is referring to, Galehot is the courtier who serves as the intermediary between Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, delivering their love messages to each other, not a knight in a love triangle with them. (The other person in their love triangle is King Arthur.) When Dante has Francesca say “Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse”, “The book and its author were our Galeotto”, she is expressing how the book, with its tale of adulterous love, made them aware of their love for each other (also adulterous).
    Thus also Davis’s line “it’s you, white pilgrims, whom next galehot seeks.” You are next among those he will cause to fall in love. Thanks for all the great posts!

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