Canto XXV


When I was a poor kid from the trailer parks I never fit in so instead I tried to better myself by reading all the time. I started with Plato and went from there. I hardly understood any of it, but one of the books on the list was Dante’s Inferno and while I didn’t understand most of it this canto stuck with me:

For in my thoughts I had wholly given up the adventure I had started with such haste.

“If I have comprehended well your words your soul is stricken with that cowardice with which so often holds a man back from the performance of great deeds.

“You must shake off this slothfulness at once,” my guide told me. “Greatness is not for the man who lies under covers and sits on feathers; and those who use up their lives without reaching greatness leave as little trace of themselves in the world as smoke does in the air of foam in the water. So rise up and master your exhaustion with the spirit that wins every battle.”

tatSo, all these years later I painted this portrait of Dante and had those words tattooed on my arm. I’d say that one of the things people ask me the most when talking about writing and art is how do I find time to do so much. I don’t know, I don’t think it’s that much, but I promised myself that I would do write and paint every single day I could, and I do it. Every day I do something with a story, my novel, an essay, an article, and my art, even if it’s just something small. I do it. Now, years later, I can’t imagine not doing it every day. A big part of it is because of this quote. I haven’t gotten to greatness yet, but I hope to some day.

By Sean Davis

Sean Davis is the author of The Wax Bullet War, a Purple Heart Iraq War veteran, and the winner of the Legionnaire of the Year Award from the American Legion in 2015 and the recipient of the Emily Gottfried Emerging Leader, Human Rights award for 2016. His stories, essays, and articles have appeared in the the Ted Talk Book The Misfit’s Manifesto (Simon and Schuster), Forest Avenue Press anthology City of Weird, Sixty Minutes, Story Corps, Flaunt Magazine, The Big Smoke, Human the movie, and much more.

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