THERE is a place within the depths of hell Call'd Malebolge, all of rock dark-stain'd With hue ferruginous, e'en as the steep That round it circling winds. Right in the midst Of that abominable region, yawns A spacious gulf profound, whereof the frame Due time shall tell. The circle, that remains, Throughout its round, between the gulf and base Of the high craggy banks, successive forms Ten trenches, in its hollow bottom sunk. As where to guard the walls, full many a foss Begirds some stately castle, sure defence Affording to the space within, so here Were model'd these; and as like fortresses E'en from their threshold to the brink without, Are flank'd with bridges; from the rock's low base Thus flinty paths advanc'd, that 'cross the moles And dikes, struck onward far as to the gulf, That in one bound collected cuts them off. Such was the place, wherein we found ourselves From Geryon's back dislodg'd. The bard to left Held on his way, and I behind him mov'd. On our right hand new misery I saw, New pains, new executioners of wrath, That swarming peopled the first chasm. Below Were naked sinners. Hitherward they came, Meeting our faces from the middle point, With us beyond but with a larger stride. E'en thus the Romans, when the year returns Of Jubilee, with better speed to rid The thronging multitudes, their means devise For such as pass the bridge; that on one side All front toward the castle, and approach Saint Peter's fane, on th' other towards the mount. Each divers way along the grisly rock, Horn'd demons I beheld, with lashes huge, That on their back unmercifully smote. Ah! how they made them bound at the first stripe! None for the second waited nor the third. Meantime as on I pass'd, one met my sight Whom soon as view'd; "Of him," cried I, "not yet Mine eye hath had his fill." With fixed gaze I therefore scann'd him. Straight the teacher kind Paus'd with me, and consented I should walk Backward a space, and the tormented spirit, Who thought to hide him, bent his visage down. But it avail'd him nought; for I exclaim'd: "Thou who dost cast thy eye upon the ground, Unless thy features do belie thee much, Venedico art thou. But what brings thee Into this bitter seas'ning? " He replied: "Unwillingly I answer to thy words. But thy clear speech, that to my mind recalls The world I once inhabited, constrains me. Know then 'twas I who led fair Ghisola To do the Marquis' will, however fame The shameful tale have bruited. Nor alone Bologna hither sendeth me to mourn Rather with us the place is so o'erthrong'd That not so many tongues this day are taught, Betwixt the Reno and Savena's stream, To answer SIPA in their country's phrase. And if of that securer proof thou need, Remember but our craving thirst for gold." Him speaking thus, a demon with his thong Struck, and exclaim'd, "Away! corrupter! here Women are none for sale." Forthwith I join'd My escort, and few paces thence we came To where a rock forth issued from the bank. That easily ascended, to the right Upon its splinter turning, we depart From those eternal barriers. When arriv'd, Where underneath the gaping arch lets pass The scourged souls: "Pause here," the teacher said, "And let these others miserable, now Strike on thy ken, faces not yet beheld, For that together they with us have walk'd." From the old bridge we ey'd the pack, who came From th' other side towards us, like the rest, Excoriate from the lash. My gentle guide, By me unquestion'd, thus his speech resum'd: "Behold that lofty shade, who this way tends, And seems too woe-begone to drop a tear. How yet the regal aspect he retains! Jason is he, whose skill and prowess won The ram from Colchos. To the Lemnian isle His passage thither led him, when those bold And pitiless women had slain all their males. There he with tokens and fair witching words Hypsipyle beguil'd, a virgin young, Who first had all the rest herself beguil'd. Impregnated he left her there forlorn. Such is the guilt condemns him to this pain. Here too Medea's inj'ries are avenged. All bear him company, who like deceit To his have practis'd. And thus much to know Of the first vale suffice thee, and of those Whom its keen torments urge." Now had we come Where, crossing the next pier, the straighten'd path Bestrides its shoulders to another arch. Hence in the second chasm we heard the ghosts, Who jibber in low melancholy sounds, With wide-stretch'd nostrils snort, and on themselves Smite with their palms. Upon the banks a scurf From the foul steam condens'd, encrusting hung, That held sharp combat with the sight and smell. So hollow is the depth, that from no part, Save on the summit of the rocky span, Could I distinguish aught. Thus far we came; And thence I saw, within the foss below, A crowd immers'd in ordure, that appear'd Draff of the human body. There beneath Searching with eye inquisitive, I mark'd One with his head so grim'd, 't were hard to deem, If he were clerk or layman. Loud he cried: "Why greedily thus bendest more on me, Than on these other filthy ones, thy ken?" "Because if true my mem'ry," I replied, "I heretofore have seen thee with dry locks, And thou Alessio art of Lucca sprung. Therefore than all the rest I scan thee more." Then beating on his brain these words he spake: "Me thus low down my flatteries have sunk, Wherewith I ne'er enough could glut my tongue." My leader thus: "A little further stretch Thy face, that thou the visage well mayst note Of that besotted, sluttish courtezan, Who there doth rend her with defiled nails, Now crouching down, now risen on her feet. Thais is this, the harlot, whose false lip Answer'd her doting paramour that ask'd, 'Thankest me much!'—'Say rather wondrously,' And seeing this here satiate be our view."
WOE to thee, Simon Magus! woe to you, His wretched followers! who the things of God, Which should be wedded unto goodness, them, Rapacious as ye are, do prostitute For gold and silver in adultery! Now must the trumpet sound for you, since yours Is the third chasm. Upon the following vault We now had mounted, where the rock impends Directly o'er the centre of the foss. Wisdom Supreme! how wonderful the art, Which thou dost manifest in heaven, in earth, And in the evil world, how just a meed Allotting by thy virtue unto all! I saw the livid stone, throughout the sides And in its bottom full of apertures, All equal in their width, and circular each, Nor ample less nor larger they appear'd Than in Saint John's fair dome of me belov'd Those fram'd to hold the pure baptismal streams, One of the which I brake, some few years past, To save a whelming infant; and be this A seal to undeceive whoever doubts The motive of my deed. From out the mouth Of every one, emerg'd a sinner's feet And of the legs high upward as the calf The rest beneath was hid. On either foot The soles were burning, whence the flexile joints Glanc'd with such violent motion, as had snapt Asunder cords or twisted withs. As flame, Feeding on unctuous matter, glides along The surface, scarcely touching where it moves; So here, from heel to point, glided the flames. "Master! say who is he, than all the rest Glancing in fiercer agony, on whom A ruddier flame doth prey?" I thus inquir'd. "If thou be willing," he replied, "that I Carry thee down, where least the slope bank falls, He of himself shall tell thee and his wrongs." I then: "As pleases thee to me is best. Thou art my lord; and know'st that ne'er I quit Thy will: what silence hides that knowest thou." Thereat on the fourth pier we came, we turn'd, And on our left descended to the depth, A narrow strait and perforated close. Nor from his side my leader set me down, Till to his orifice he brought, whose limb Quiv'ring express'd his pang. "Whoe'er thou art, Sad spirit! thus revers'd, and as a stake Driv'n in the soil!" I in these words began, "If thou be able, utter forth thy voice." There stood I like the friar, that doth shrive A wretch for murder doom'd, who e'en when fix'd, Calleth him back, whence death awhile delays. He shouted: "Ha! already standest there? Already standest there, O Boniface! By many a year the writing play'd me false. So early dost thou surfeit with the wealth, For which thou fearedst not in guile to take The lovely lady, and then mangle her?" I felt as those who, piercing not the drift Of answer made them, stand as if expos'd In mockery, nor know what to reply, When Virgil thus admonish'd: "Tell him quick, I am not he, not he, whom thou believ'st." And I, as was enjoin'd me, straight replied. That heard, the spirit all did wrench his feet, And sighing next in woeful accent spake: "What then of me requirest?" If to know So much imports thee, who I am, that thou Hast therefore down the bank descended, learn That in the mighty mantle I was rob'd, And of a she-bear was indeed the son, So eager to advance my whelps, that there My having in my purse above I stow'd, And here myself. Under my head are dragg'd The rest, my predecessors in the guilt Of simony. Stretch'd at their length they lie Along an opening in the rock. 'Midst them I also low shall fall, soon as he comes, For whom I took thee, when so hastily I question'd. But already longer time Hath pass'd, since my souls kindled, and I thus Upturn'd have stood, than is his doom to stand Planted with fiery feet. For after him, One yet of deeds more ugly shall arrive, From forth the west, a shepherd without law, Fated to cover both his form and mine. He a new Jason shall be call'd, of whom In Maccabees we read; and favour such As to that priest his king indulgent show'd, Shall be of France's monarch shown to him." I know not if I here too far presum'd, But in this strain I answer'd: "Tell me now, What treasures from St. Peter at the first Our Lord demanded, when he put the keys Into his charge? Surely he ask'd no more But, Follow me! Nor Peter nor the rest Or gold or silver of Matthias took, When lots were cast upon the forfeit place Of the condemned soul. Abide thou then; Thy punishment of right is merited: And look thou well to that ill-gotten coin, Which against Charles thy hardihood inspir'd. If reverence of the keys restrain'd me not, Which thou in happier time didst hold, I yet Severer speech might use. Your avarice O'ercasts the world with mourning, under foot Treading the good, and raising bad men up. Of shepherds, like to you, th' Evangelist Was ware, when her, who sits upon the waves, With kings in filthy whoredom he beheld, She who with seven heads tower'd at her birth, And from ten horns her proof of glory drew, Long as her spouse in virtue took delight. Of gold and silver ye have made your god, Diff'ring wherein from the idolater, But he that worships one, a hundred ye? Ah, Constantine! to how much ill gave birth, Not thy conversion, but that plenteous dower, Which the first wealthy Father gain'd from thee!" Meanwhile, as thus I sung, he, whether wrath Or conscience smote him, violent upsprang Spinning on either sole. I do believe My teacher well was pleas'd, with so compos'd A lip, he listen'd ever to the sound Of the true words I utter'd. In both arms He caught, and to his bosom lifting me Upward retrac'd the way of his descent. Nor weary of his weight he press'd me close, Till to the summit of the rock we came, Our passage from the fourth to the fifth pier. His cherish'd burden there gently he plac'd Upon the rugged rock and steep, a path Not easy for the clamb'ring goat to mount. Thence to my view another vale appear'd
AND now the verse proceeds to torments new, Fit argument of this the twentieth strain Of the first song, whose awful theme records The spirits whelm'd in woe. Earnest I look'd Into the depth, that open'd to my view, Moisten'd with tears of anguish, and beheld A tribe, that came along the hollow vale, In silence weeping: such their step as walk Quires chanting solemn litanies on earth. As on them more direct mine eye descends, Each wondrously seem'd to be revers'd At the neck-bone, so that the countenance Was from the reins averted: and because None might before him look, they were compell'd To' advance with backward gait. Thus one perhaps Hath been by force of palsy clean transpos'd, But I ne'er saw it nor believe it so. Now, reader! think within thyself, so God Fruit of thy reading give thee! how I long Could keep my visage dry, when I beheld Near me our form distorted in such guise, That on the hinder parts fall'n from the face The tears down-streaming roll'd. Against a rock I leant and wept, so that my guide exclaim'd: "What, and art thou too witless as the rest? Here pity most doth show herself alive, When she is dead. What guilt exceedeth his, Who with Heaven's judgment in his passion strives? Raise up thy head, raise up, and see the man, Before whose eyes earth gap'd in Thebes, when all Cried out, 'Amphiaraus, whither rushest? 'Why leavest thou the war?' He not the less Fell ruining far as to Minos down, Whose grapple none eludes. Lo! how he makes The breast his shoulders, and who once too far Before him wish'd to see, now backward looks, And treads reverse his path. Tiresias note, Who semblance chang'd, when woman he became Of male, through every limb transform'd, and then Once more behov'd him with his rod to strike The two entwining serpents, ere the plumes, That mark'd the better sex, might shoot again. "Aruns, with rere his belly facing, comes. On Luni's mountains 'midst the marbles white, Where delves Carrara's hind, who wons beneath, A cavern was his dwelling, whence the stars And main-sea wide in boundless view he held. "The next, whose loosen'd tresses overspread Her bosom, which thou seest not (for each hair On that side grows) was Manto, she who search'd Through many regions, and at length her seat Fix'd in my native land, whence a short space My words detain thy audience. When her sire From life departed, and in servitude The city dedicate to Bacchus mourn'd, Long time she went a wand'rer through the world. Aloft in Italy's delightful land A lake there lies, at foot of that proud Alp, That o'er the Tyrol locks Germania in, Its name Benacus, which a thousand rills, Methinks, and more, water between the vale Camonica and Garda and the height Of Apennine remote. There is a spot At midway of that lake, where he who bears Of Trento's flock the past'ral staff, with him Of Brescia, and the Veronese, might each Passing that way his benediction give. A garrison of goodly site and strong Peschiera stands, to awe with front oppos'd The Bergamese and Brescian, whence the shore More slope each way descends. There, whatsoev'er Benacus' bosom holds not, tumbling o'er Down falls, and winds a river flood beneath Through the green pastures. Soon as in his course The steam makes head, Benacus then no more They call the name, but Mincius, till at last Reaching Governo into Po he falls. Not far his course hath run, when a wide flat It finds, which overstretchmg as a marsh It covers, pestilent in summer oft. Hence journeying, the savage maiden saw 'Midst of the fen a territory waste And naked of inhabitants. To shun All human converse, here she with her slaves Plying her arts remain'd, and liv'd, and left Her body tenantless. Thenceforth the tribes, Who round were scatter'd, gath'ring to that place Assembled; for its strength was great, enclos'd On all parts by the fen. On those dead bones They rear'd themselves a city, for her sake, Calling it Mantua, who first chose the spot, Nor ask'd another omen for the name, Wherein more numerous the people dwelt, Ere Casalodi's madness by deceit Was wrong'd of Pinamonte. If thou hear Henceforth another origin assign'd Of that my country, I forewarn thee now, That falsehood none beguile thee of the truth." I answer'd: "Teacher, I conclude thy words So certain, that all else shall be to me As embers lacking life. But now of these, Who here proceed, instruct me, if thou see Any that merit more especial note. For thereon is my mind alone intent." He straight replied: "That spirit, from whose cheek The beard sweeps o'er his shoulders brown, what time Graecia was emptied of her males, that scarce The cradles were supplied, the seer was he In Aulis, who with Calchas gave the sign When first to cut the cable. Him they nam'd Eurypilus: so sings my tragic strain, In which majestic measure well thou know'st, Who know'st it all. That other, round the loins So slender of his shape, was Michael Scot, Practis'd in ev'ry slight of magic wile. "Guido Bonatti see: Asdente mark, Who now were willing, he had tended still The thread and cordwain; and too late repents. "See next the wretches, who the needle left, The shuttle and the spindle, and became Diviners: baneful witcheries they wrought With images and herbs. But onward now: For now doth Cain with fork of thorns confine On either hemisphere, touching the wave Beneath the towers of Seville. Yesternight The moon was round. Thou mayst remember well: For she good service did thee in the gloom Of the deep wood." This said, both onward mov'd.
THUS we from bridge to bridge, with other talk, The which my drama cares not to rehearse, Pass'd on; and to the summit reaching, stood To view another gap, within the round Of Malebolge, other bootless pangs. Marvelous darkness shadow'd o'er the place. In the Venetians' arsenal as boils Through wintry months tenacious pitch, to smear Their unsound vessels; for th' inclement time Sea-faring men restrains, and in that while His bark one builds anew, another stops The ribs of his, that hath made many a voyage; One hammers at the prow, one at the poop; This shapeth oars, that other cables twirls, The mizen one repairs and main-sail rent So not by force of fire but art divine Boil'd here a glutinous thick mass, that round Lim'd all the shore beneath. I that beheld, But therein nought distinguish'd, save the surge, Rais'd by the boiling, in one mighty swell Heave, and by turns subsiding and fall. While there I fix'd my ken below, "Mark! mark!" my guide Exclaiming, drew me towards him from the place, Wherein I stood. I turn'd myself as one, Impatient to behold that which beheld He needs must shun, whom sudden fear unmans, That he his flight delays not for the view. Behind me I discern'd a devil black, That running, up advanc'd along the rock. Ah! what fierce cruelty his look bespake! In act how bitter did he seem, with wings Buoyant outstretch'd and feet of nimblest tread! His shoulder proudly eminent and sharp Was with a sinner charg'd; by either haunch He held him, the foot's sinew griping fast. "Ye of our bridge!" he cried, "keen-talon'd fiends! Lo! one of Santa Zita's elders! Him Whelm ye beneath, while I return for more. That land hath store of such. All men are there, Except Bonturo, barterers: of 'no' For lucre there an 'aye' is quickly made." Him dashing down, o'er the rough rock he turn'd, Nor ever after thief a mastiff loos'd Sped with like eager haste. That other sank And forthwith writing to the surface rose. But those dark demons, shrouded by the bridge, Cried "Here the hallow'd visage saves not: here Is other swimming than in Serchio's wave. Wherefore if thou desire we rend thee not, Take heed thou mount not o'er the pitch." This said, They grappled him with more than hundred hooks, And shouted: "Cover'd thou must sport thee here; So, if thou canst, in secret mayst thou filch." E'en thus the cook bestirs him, with his grooms, To thrust the flesh into the caldron down With flesh-hooks, that it float not on the top. Me then my guide bespake: "Lest they descry, That thou art here, behind a craggy rock Bend low and screen thee; and whate'er of force Be offer'd me, or insult, fear thou not: For I am well advis'd, who have been erst In the like fray." Beyond the bridge's head Therewith he pass'd, and reaching the sixth pier, Behov'd him then a forehead terror-proof. With storm and fury, as when dogs rush forth Upon the poor man's back, who suddenly From whence he standeth makes his suit; so rush'd Those from beneath the arch, and against him Their weapons all they pointed. He aloud: "Be none of you outrageous: ere your time Dare seize me, come forth from amongst you one, Who having heard my words, decide he then If he shall tear these limbs." They shouted loud, "Go, Malacoda!" Whereat one advanc'd, The others standing firm, and as he came, "What may this turn avail him?" he exclaim'd. "Believ'st thou, Malacoda! I had come Thus far from all your skirmishing secure," My teacher answered, "without will divine And destiny propitious? Pass we then For so Heaven's pleasure is, that I should lead Another through this savage wilderness." Forthwith so fell his pride, that he let drop The instrument of torture at his feet, And to the rest exclaim'd: "We have no power To strike him." Then to me my guide: "O thou! Who on the bridge among the crags dost sit Low crouching, safely now to me return." I rose, and towards him moved with speed: the fiends Meantime all forward drew: me terror seiz'd Lest they should break the compact they had made. Thus issuing from Caprona, once I saw Th' infantry dreading, lest his covenant The foe should break; so close he hemm'd them round. I to my leader's side adher'd, mine eyes With fixt and motionless observance bent On their unkindly visage. They their hooks Protruding, one the other thus bespake: "Wilt thou I touch him on the hip?" To whom Was answer'd: "Even so; nor miss thy aim." But he, who was in conf'rence with my guide, Turn'd rapid round, and thus the demon spake: "Stay, stay thee, Scarmiglione!" Then to us He added: "Further footing to your step This rock affords not, shiver'd to the base Of the sixth arch. But would you still proceed, Up by this cavern go: not distant far, Another rock will yield you passage safe. Yesterday, later by five hours than now, Twelve hundred threescore years and six had fill'd The circuit of their course, since here the way Was broken. Thitherward I straight dispatch Certain of these my scouts, who shall espy If any on the surface bask. With them Go ye: for ye shall find them nothing fell. Come Alichino forth," with that he cried, "And Calcabrina, and Cagnazzo thou! The troop of ten let Barbariccia lead. With Libicocco Draghinazzo haste, Fang'd Ciriatto, Grafflacane fierce, And Farfarello, and mad Rubicant. Search ye around the bubbling tar. For these, In safety lead them, where the other crag Uninterrupted traverses the dens." I then: "O master! what a sight is there! Ah! without escort, journey we alone, Which, if thou know the way, I covet not. Unless thy prudence fail thee, dost not mark How they do gnarl upon us, and their scowl Threatens us present tortures?" He replied: "I charge thee fear not: let them, as they will, Gnarl on: 't is but in token of their spite Against the souls, who mourn in torment steep'd." To leftward o'er the pier they turn'd; but each Had first between his teeth prest close the tongue, Toward their leader for a signal looking, Which he with sound obscene triumphant gave.
IT hath been heretofore my chance to see Horsemen with martial order shifting camp, To onset sallying, or in muster rang'd, Or in retreat sometimes outstretch'd for flight; Light-armed squadrons and fleet foragers Scouring thy plains, Arezzo! have I seen, And clashing tournaments, and tilting jousts, Now with the sound of trumpets, now of bells, Tabors, or signals made from castled heights, And with inventions multiform, our own, Or introduc'd from foreign land; but ne'er To such a strange recorder I beheld, In evolution moving, horse nor foot, Nor ship, that tack'd by sign from land or star. With the ten demons on our way we went; Ah fearful company! but in the church With saints, with gluttons at the tavern's mess. Still earnest on the pitch I gaz'd, to mark All things whate'er the chasm contain'd, and those Who burn'd within. As dolphins, that, in sign To mariners, heave high their arched backs, That thence forewarn'd they may advise to save Their threaten'd vessels; so, at intervals, To ease the pain his back some sinner show'd, Then hid more nimbly than the lightning glance. E'en as the frogs, that of a wat'ry moat Stand at the brink, with the jaws only out, Their feet and of the trunk all else concealed, Thus on each part the sinners stood, but soon As Barbariccia was at hand, so they Drew back under the wave. I saw, and yet My heart doth stagger, one, that waited thus, As it befalls that oft one frog remains, While the next springs away: and Graffiacan, Who of the fiends was nearest, grappling seiz'd His clotted locks, and dragg'd him sprawling up, That he appear'd to me an otter. Each Already by their names I knew, so well When they were chosen, I observ'd, and mark'd How one the other call'd. "O Rubicant! See that his hide thou with thy talons flay," Shouted together all the cursed crew. Then I: "Inform thee, master! if thou may, What wretched soul is this, on whom their hand His foes have laid." My leader to his side Approach'd, and whence he came inquir'd, to whom Was answer'd thus: "Born in Navarre's domain My mother plac'd me in a lord's retinue, For she had borne me to a losel vile, A spendthrift of his substance and himself. The good king Thibault after that I serv'd, To peculating here my thoughts were turn'd, Whereof I give account in this dire heat." Straight Ciriatto, from whose mouth a tusk Issued on either side, as from a boar, Ript him with one of these. 'Twixt evil claws The mouse had fall'n: but Barbariccia cried, Seizing him with both arms: "Stand thou apart, While I do fix him on my prong transpierc'd." Then added, turning to my guide his face, "Inquire of him, if more thou wish to learn, Ere he again be rent." My leader thus: "Then tell us of the partners in thy guilt; Knowest thou any sprung of Latian land Under the tar?"—"I parted," he replied, "But now from one, who sojourn'd not far thence; So were I under shelter now with him! Nor hook nor talon then should scare me more."—. "Too long we suffer," Libicocco cried, Then, darting forth a prong, seiz'd on his arm, And mangled bore away the sinewy part. Him Draghinazzo by his thighs beneath Would next have caught, whence angrily their chief, Turning on all sides round, with threat'ning brow Restrain'd them. When their strife a little ceas'd, Of him, who yet was gazing on his wound, My teacher thus without delay inquir'd: "Who was the spirit, from whom by evil hap Parting, as thou has told, thou cam'st to shore?"— "It was the friar Gomita," he rejoin'd, "He of Gallura, vessel of all guile, Who had his master's enemies in hand, And us'd them so that they commend him well. Money he took, and them at large dismiss'd. So he reports: and in each other charge Committed to his keeping, play'd the part Of barterer to the height: with him doth herd The chief of Logodoro, Michel Zanche. Sardinia is a theme, whereof their tongue Is never weary. Out! alas! behold That other, how he grins! More would I say, But tremble lest he mean to maul me sore." Their captain then to Farfarello turning, Who roll'd his moony eyes in act to strike, Rebuk'd him thus: "Off! cursed bird! Avaunt!"— "If ye desire to see or hear," he thus Quaking with dread resum'd, "or Tuscan spirits Or Lombard, I will cause them to appear. Meantime let these ill talons bate their fury, So that no vengeance they may fear from them, And I, remaining in this self-same place, Will for myself but one, make sev'n appear, When my shrill whistle shall be heard; for so Our custom is to call each other up." Cagnazzo at that word deriding grinn'd, Then wagg'd the head and spake: "Hear his device, Mischievous as he is, to plunge him down." Whereto he thus, who fail'd not in rich store Of nice-wove toils; " Mischief forsooth extreme, Meant only to procure myself more woe!" No longer Alichino then refrain'd, But thus, the rest gainsaying, him bespake: "If thou do cast thee down, I not on foot Will chase thee, but above the pitch will beat My plumes. Quit we the vantage ground, and let The bank be as a shield, that we may see If singly thou prevail against us all." Now, reader, of new sport expect to hear! They each one turn'd his eyes to the' other shore, He first, who was the hardest to persuade. The spirit of Navarre chose well his time, Planted his feet on land, and at one leap Escaping disappointed their resolve. Them quick resentment stung, but him the most, Who was the cause of failure; in pursuit He therefore sped, exclaiming; "Thou art caught." But little it avail'd: terror outstripp'd His following flight: the other plung'd beneath, And he with upward pinion rais'd his breast: E'en thus the water-fowl, when she perceives The falcon near, dives instant down, while he Enrag'd and spent retires. That mockery In Calcabrina fury stirr'd, who flew After him, with desire of strife inflam'd; And, for the barterer had 'scap'd, so turn'd His talons on his comrade. O'er the dyke In grapple close they join'd; but the' other prov'd A goshawk able to rend well his foe; And in the boiling lake both fell. The heat Was umpire soon between them, but in vain To lift themselves they strove, so fast were glued Their pennons. Barbariccia, as the rest, That chance lamenting, four in flight dispatch'd From the' other coast, with all their weapons arm'd. They, to their post on each side speedily Descending, stretch'd their hooks toward the fiends, Who flounder'd, inly burning from their scars: And we departing left them to that broil.
IN silence and in solitude we went, One first, the other following his steps, As minor friars journeying on their road. The present fray had turn'd my thoughts to muse Upon old Aesop's fable, where he told What fate unto the mouse and frog befell. For language hath not sounds more like in sense, Than are these chances, if the origin And end of each be heedfully compar'd. And as one thought bursts from another forth, So afterward from that another sprang, Which added doubly to my former fear. For thus I reason'd: "These through us have been So foil'd, with loss and mock'ry so complete, As needs must sting them sore. If anger then Be to their evil will conjoin'd, more fell They shall pursue us, than the savage hound Snatches the leveret, panting 'twixt his jaws." Already I perceiv'd my hair stand all On end with terror, and look'd eager back. "Teacher," I thus began, "if speedily Thyself and me thou hide not, much I dread Those evil talons. Even now behind They urge us: quick imagination works So forcibly, that I already feel them.'' He answer'd: "Were I form'd of leaded glass, I should not sooner draw unto myself Thy outward image, than I now imprint That from within. This moment came thy thoughts Presented before mine, with similar act And count'nance similar, so that from both I one design have fram'd. If the right coast Incline so much, that we may thence descend Into the other chasm, we shall escape Secure from this imagined pursuit." He had not spoke his purpose to the end, When I from far beheld them with spread wings Approach to take us. Suddenly my guide Caught me, ev'n as a mother that from sleep Is by the noise arous'd, and near her sees The climbing fires, who snatches up her babe And flies ne'er pausing, careful more of him Than of herself, that but a single vest Clings round her limbs. Down from the jutting beach Supine he cast him, to that pendent rock, Which closes on one part the other chasm. Never ran water with such hurrying pace Adown the tube to turn a landmill's wheel, When nearest it approaches to the spokes, As then along that edge my master ran, Carrying me in his bosom, as a child, Not a companion. Scarcely had his feet Reach'd to the lowest of the bed beneath, When over us the steep they reach'd; but fear In him was none; for that high Providence, Which plac'd them ministers of the fifth foss, Power of departing thence took from them all. There in the depth we saw a painted tribe, Who pac'd with tardy steps around, and wept, Faint in appearance and o'ercome with toil. Caps had they on, with hoods, that fell low down Before their eyes, in fashion like to those Worn by the monks in Cologne. Their outside Was overlaid with gold, dazzling to view, But leaden all within, and of such weight, That Frederick's compar'd to these were straw. Oh, everlasting wearisome attire! We yet once more with them together turn'd To leftward, on their dismal moan intent. But by the weight oppress'd, so slowly came The fainting people, that our company Was chang'd at every movement of the step. Whence I my guide address'd: "See that thou find Some spirit, whose name may by his deeds be known, And to that end look round thee as thou go'st." Then one, who understood the Tuscan voice, Cried after us aloud: "Hold in your feet, Ye who so swiftly speed through the dusk air. Perchance from me thou shalt obtain thy wish." Whereat my leader, turning, me bespake: "Pause, and then onward at their pace proceed." I staid, and saw two Spirits in whose look Impatient eagerness of mind was mark'd To overtake me; but the load they bare And narrow path retarded their approach. Soon as arriv'd, they with an eye askance Perus'd me, but spake not: then turning each To other thus conferring said: "This one Seems, by the action of his throat, alive. And, be they dead, what privilege allows They walk unmantled by the cumbrous stole?" Then thus to me: "Tuscan, who visitest The college of the mourning hypocrites, Disdain not to instruct us who thou art." "By Arno's pleasant stream," I thus replied, "In the great city I was bred and grew, And wear the body I have ever worn. but who are ye, from whom such mighty grief, As now I witness, courseth down your cheeks? What torment breaks forth in this bitter woe?" "Our bonnets gleaming bright with orange hue," One of them answer'd, "are so leaden gross, That with their weight they make the balances To crack beneath them. Joyous friars we were, Bologna's natives, Catalano I, He Loderingo nam'd, and by thy land Together taken, as men used to take A single and indifferent arbiter, To reconcile their strifes. How there we sped, Gardingo's vicinage can best declare." "O friars!" I began, "your miseries—" But there brake off, for one had caught my eye, Fix'd to a cross with three stakes on the ground: He, when he saw me, writh'd himself, throughout Distorted, ruffling with deep sighs his beard. And Catalano, who thereof was 'ware, Thus spake: "That pierced spirit, whom intent Thou view'st, was he who gave the Pharisees Counsel, that it were fitting for one man To suffer for the people. He doth lie Transverse; nor any passes, but him first Behoves make feeling trial how each weighs. In straits like this along the foss are plac'd The father of his consort, and the rest Partakers in that council, seed of ill And sorrow to the Jews." I noted then, How Virgil gaz'd with wonder upon him, Thus abjectly extended on the cross In banishment eternal. To the friar He next his words address'd: "We pray ye tell, If so be lawful, whether on our right Lies any opening in the rock, whereby We both may issue hence, without constraint On the dark angels, that compell'd they come To lead us from this depth." He thus replied: "Nearer than thou dost hope, there is a rock From the next circle moving, which o'ersteps Each vale of horror, save that here his cope Is shatter'd. By the ruin ye may mount: For on the side it slants, and most the height Rises below." With head bent down awhile My leader stood, then spake: "He warn'd us ill, Who yonder hangs the sinners on his hook." To whom the friar: At Bologna erst I many vices of the devil heard, Among the rest was said, 'He is a liar, And the father of lies!'" When he had spoke, My leader with large strides proceeded on, Somewhat disturb'd with anger in his look. I therefore left the spirits heavy laden, And following, his beloved footsteps mark'd.
IN the year's early nonage, when the sun Tempers his tresses in Aquarius' urn, And now towards equal day the nights recede, When as the rime upon the earth puts on Her dazzling sister's image, but not long Her milder sway endures, then riseth up The village hind, whom fails his wintry store, And looking out beholds the plain around All whiten'd, whence impatiently he smites His thighs, and to his hut returning in, There paces to and fro, wailing his lot, As a discomfited and helpless man; Then comes he forth again, and feels new hope Spring in his bosom, finding e'en thus soon The world hath chang'd its count'nance, grasps his crook, And forth to pasture drives his little flock: So me my guide dishearten'd when I saw His troubled forehead, and so speedily That ill was cur'd; for at the fallen bridge Arriving, towards me with a look as sweet, He turn'd him back, as that I first beheld At the steep mountain's foot. Regarding well The ruin, and some counsel first maintain'd With his own thought, he open'd wide his arm And took me up. As one, who, while he works, Computes his labour's issue, that he seems Still to foresee the' effect, so lifting me Up to the summit of one peak, he fix'd His eye upon another. "Grapple that," Said he, "but first make proof, if it be such As will sustain thee." For one capp'd with lead This were no journey. Scarcely he, though light, And I, though onward push'd from crag to crag, Could mount. And if the precinct of this coast Were not less ample than the last, for him I know not, but my strength had surely fail'd. But Malebolge all toward the mouth Inclining of the nethermost abyss, The site of every valley hence requires, That one side upward slope, the other fall. At length the point of our descent we reach'd From the last flag: soon as to that arriv'd, So was the breath exhausted from my lungs, I could no further, but did seat me there. "Now needs thy best of man;" so spake my guide: "For not on downy plumes, nor under shade Of canopy reposing, fame is won, Without which whosoe'er consumes his days Leaveth such vestige of himself on earth, As smoke in air or foam upon the wave. Thou therefore rise: vanish thy weariness By the mind's effort, in each struggle form'd To vanquish, if she suffer not the weight Of her corporeal frame to crush her down. A longer ladder yet remains to scale. From these to have escap'd sufficeth not. If well thou note me, profit by my words." I straightway rose, and show'd myself less spent Than I in truth did feel me. "On," I cried, "For I am stout and fearless." Up the rock Our way we held, more rugged than before, Narrower and steeper far to climb. From talk I ceas'd not, as we journey'd, so to seem Least faint; whereat a voice from the other foss Did issue forth, for utt'rance suited ill. Though on the arch that crosses there I stood, What were the words I knew not, but who spake Seem'd mov'd in anger. Down I stoop'd to look, But my quick eye might reach not to the depth For shrouding darkness; wherefore thus I spake: "To the next circle, Teacher, bend thy steps, And from the wall dismount we; for as hence I hear and understand not, so I see Beneath, and naught discern."—"I answer not," Said he, "but by the deed. To fair request Silent performance maketh best return." We from the bridge's head descended, where To the eighth mound it joins, and then the chasm Opening to view, I saw a crowd within Of serpents terrible, so strange of shape And hideous, that remembrance in my veins Yet shrinks the vital current. Of her sands Let Lybia vaunt no more: if Jaculus, Pareas and Chelyder be her brood, Cenchris and Amphisboena, plagues so dire Or in such numbers swarming ne'er she shew'd, Not with all Ethiopia, and whate'er Above the Erythraean sea is spawn'd. Amid this dread exuberance of woe Ran naked spirits wing'd with horrid fear, Nor hope had they of crevice where to hide, Or heliotrope to charm them out of view. With serpents were their hands behind them bound, Which through their reins infix'd the tail and head Twisted in folds before. And lo! on one Near to our side, darted an adder up, And, where the neck is on the shoulders tied, Transpierc'd him. Far more quickly than e'er pen Wrote O or I, he kindled, burn'd, and chang'd To ashes, all pour'd out upon the earth. When there dissolv'd he lay, the dust again Uproll'd spontaneous, and the self-same form Instant resumed. So mighty sages tell, The' Arabian Phoenix, when five hundred years Have well nigh circled, dies, and springs forthwith Renascent. Blade nor herb throughout his life He tastes, but tears of frankincense alone And odorous amomum: swaths of nard And myrrh his funeral shroud. As one that falls, He knows not how, by force demoniac dragg'd To earth, or through obstruction fettering up In chains invisible the powers of man, Who, risen from his trance, gazeth around, Bewilder'd with the monstrous agony He hath endur'd, and wildly staring sighs; So stood aghast the sinner when he rose. Oh! how severe God's judgment, that deals out Such blows in stormy vengeance! Who he was My teacher next inquir'd, and thus in few He answer'd: "Vanni Fucci am I call'd, Not long since rained down from Tuscany To this dire gullet. Me the beastial life And not the human pleas'd, mule that I was, Who in Pistoia found my worthy den." I then to Virgil: "Bid him stir not hence, And ask what crime did thrust him hither: once A man I knew him choleric and bloody." The sinner heard and feign'd not, but towards me His mind directing and his face, wherein Was dismal shame depictur'd, thus he spake: "It grieves me more to have been caught by thee In this sad plight, which thou beholdest, than When I was taken from the other life. I have no power permitted to deny What thou inquirest." I am doom'd thus low To dwell, for that the sacristy by me Was rifled of its goodly ornaments, And with the guilt another falsely charged. But that thou mayst not joy to see me thus, So as thou e'er shalt 'scape this darksome realm Open thine ears and hear what I forebode. Reft of the Neri first Pistoia pines, Then Florence changeth citizens and laws. From Valdimagra, drawn by wrathful Mars, A vapour rises, wrapt in turbid mists, And sharp and eager driveth on the storm With arrowy hurtling o'er Piceno's field, Whence suddenly the cloud shall burst, and strike Each helpless Bianco prostrate to the ground. This have I told, that grief may rend thy heart."
WHEN he had spoke, the sinner rais'd his hands Pointed in mockery, and cried: "Take them, God! I level them at thee!" From that day forth The serpents were my friends; for round his neck One of then rolling twisted, as it said, "Be silent, tongue!" Another to his arms Upgliding, tied them, riveting itself So close, it took from them the power to move. Pistoia! Ah Pistoia! why dost doubt To turn thee into ashes, cumb'ring earth No longer, since in evil act so far Thou hast outdone thy seed? I did not mark, Through all the gloomy circles of the' abyss, Spirit, that swell'd so proudly 'gainst his God, Not him, who headlong fell from Thebes. He fled, Nor utter'd more; and after him there came A centaur full of fury, shouting, "Where Where is the caitiff?" On Maremma's marsh Swarm not the serpent tribe, as on his haunch They swarm'd, to where the human face begins. Behind his head upon the shoulders lay, With open wings, a dragon breathing fire On whomsoe'er he met. To me my guide: "Cacus is this, who underneath the rock Of Aventine spread oft a lake of blood. He, from his brethren parted, here must tread A different journey, for his fraudful theft Of the great herd, that near him stall'd; whence found His felon deeds their end, beneath the mace Of stout Alcides, that perchance laid on A hundred blows, and not the tenth was felt." While yet he spake, the centaur sped away: And under us three spirits came, of whom Nor I nor he was ware, till they exclaim'd; "Say who are ye?" We then brake off discourse, Intent on these alone. I knew them not; But, as it chanceth oft, befell, that one Had need to name another. "Where," said he, "Doth Cianfa lurk?" I, for a sign my guide Should stand attentive, plac'd against my lips The finger lifted. If, O reader! now Thou be not apt to credit what I tell, No marvel; for myself do scarce allow The witness of mine eyes. But as I looked Toward them, lo! a serpent with six feet Springs forth on one, and fastens full upon him: His midmost grasp'd the belly, a forefoot Seiz'd on each arm (while deep in either cheek He flesh'd his fangs); the hinder on the thighs Were spread, 'twixt which the tail inserted curl'd Upon the reins behind. Ivy ne'er clasp'd A dodder'd oak, as round the other's limbs The hideous monster intertwin'd his own. Then, as they both had been of burning wax, Each melted into other, mingling hues, That which was either now was seen no more. Thus up the shrinking paper, ere it burns, A brown tint glides, not turning yet to black, And the clean white expires. The other two Look'd on exclaiming: "Ah, how dost thou change, Agnello! See! Thou art nor double now, Nor only one." The two heads now became One, and two figures blended in one form Appear'd, where both were lost. Of the four lengths Two arms were made: the belly and the chest The thighs and legs into such members chang'd, As never eye hath seen. Of former shape All trace was vanish'd. Two yet neither seem'd That image miscreate, and so pass'd on With tardy steps. As underneath the scourge Of the fierce dog-star, that lays bare the fields, Shifting from brake to brake, the lizard seems A flash of lightning, if he thwart the road, So toward th' entrails of the other two Approaching seem'd, an adder all on fire, As the dark pepper-grain, livid and swart. In that part, whence our life is nourish'd first, One he transpierc'd; then down before him fell Stretch'd out. The pierced spirit look'd on him But spake not; yea stood motionless and yawn'd, As if by sleep or fev'rous fit assail'd. He ey'd the serpent, and the serpent him. One from the wound, the other from the mouth Breath'd a thick smoke, whose vap'ry columns join'd. Lucan in mute attention now may hear, Nor thy disastrous fate, Sabellus! tell, Nor shine, Nasidius! Ovid now be mute. What if in warbling fiction he record Cadmus and Arethusa, to a snake Him chang'd, and her into a fountain clear, I envy not; for never face to face Two natures thus transmuted did he sing, Wherein both shapes were ready to assume The other's substance. They in mutual guise So answer'd, that the serpent split his train Divided to a fork, and the pierc'd spirit Drew close his steps together, legs and thighs Compacted, that no sign of juncture soon Was visible: the tail disparted took The figure which the spirit lost, its skin Soft'ning, his indurated to a rind. The shoulders next I mark'd, that ent'ring join'd The monster's arm-pits, whose two shorter feet So lengthen'd, as the other's dwindling shrunk. The feet behind then twisting up became That part that man conceals, which in the wretch Was cleft in twain. While both the shadowy smoke With a new colour veils, and generates Th' excrescent pile on one, peeling it off From th' other body, lo! upon his feet One upright rose, and prone the other fell. Not yet their glaring and malignant lamps Were shifted, though each feature chang'd beneath. Of him who stood erect, the mounting face Retreated towards the temples, and what there Superfluous matter came, shot out in ears From the smooth cheeks, the rest, not backward dragg'd, Of its excess did shape the nose; and swell'd Into due size protuberant the lips. He, on the earth who lay, meanwhile extends His sharpen'd visage, and draws down the ears Into the head, as doth the slug his horns. His tongue continuous before and apt For utt'rance, severs; and the other's fork Closing unites. That done the smoke was laid. The soul, transform'd into the brute, glides off, Hissing along the vale, and after him The other talking sputters; but soon turn'd His new-grown shoulders on him, and in few Thus to another spake: "Along this path Crawling, as I have done, speed Buoso now!" So saw I fluctuate in successive change Th' unsteady ballast of the seventh hold: And here if aught my tongue have swerv'd, events So strange may be its warrant. O'er mine eyes Confusion hung, and on my thoughts amaze. Yet 'scap'd they not so covertly, but well I mark'd Sciancato: he alone it was Of the three first that came, who chang'd not: thou, The other's fate, Gaville, still dost rue.
FLORENCE exult! for thou so mightily Hast thriven, that o'er land and sea thy wings Thou beatest, and thy name spreads over hell! Among the plund'rers such the three I found Thy citizens, whence shame to me thy son, And no proud honour to thyself redounds. But if our minds, when dreaming near the dawn, Are of the truth presageful, thou ere long Shalt feel what Prato, (not to say the rest) Would fain might come upon thee; and that chance Were in good time, if it befell thee now. Would so it were, since it must needs befall! For as time wears me, I shall grieve the more. We from the depth departed; and my guide Remounting scal'd the flinty steps, which late We downward trac'd, and drew me up the steep. Pursuing thus our solitary way Among the crags and splinters of the rock, Sped not our feet without the help of hands. Then sorrow seiz'd me, which e'en now revives, As my thought turns again to what I saw, And, more than I am wont, I rein and curb The powers of nature in me, lest they run Where Virtue guides not; that if aught of good My gentle star, or something better gave me, I envy not myself the precious boon. As in that season, when the sun least veils His face that lightens all, what time the fly Gives way to the shrill gnat, the peasant then Upon some cliff reclin'd, beneath him sees Fire-flies innumerous spangling o'er the vale, Vineyard or tilth, where his day-labour lies: With flames so numberless throughout its space Shone the eighth chasm, apparent, when the depth Was to my view expos'd. As he, whose wrongs The bears aveng'd, at its departure saw Elijah's chariot, when the steeds erect Rais'd their steep flight for heav'n; his eyes meanwhile, Straining pursu'd them, till the flame alone Upsoaring like a misty speck he kenn'd; E'en thus along the gulf moves every flame, A sinner so enfolded close in each, That none exhibits token of the theft. Upon the bridge I forward bent to look, And grasp'd a flinty mass, or else had fall'n, Though push'd not from the height. The guide, who mark d How I did gaze attentive, thus began: "Within these ardours are the spirits, each Swath'd in confining fire."—"Master, thy word," I answer'd, "hath assur'd me; yet I deem'd Already of the truth, already wish'd To ask thee, who is in yon fire, that comes So parted at the summit, as it seem'd Ascending from that funeral pile, where lay The Theban brothers?" He replied: "Within Ulysses there and Diomede endure Their penal tortures, thus to vengeance now Together hasting, as erewhile to wrath. These in the flame with ceaseless groans deplore The ambush of the horse, that open'd wide A portal for that goodly seed to pass, Which sow'd imperial Rome; nor less the guile Lament they, whence of her Achilles 'reft Deidamia yet in death complains. And there is rued the stratagem, that Troy Of her Palladium spoil'd."—"If they have power Of utt'rance from within these sparks," said I, "O master! think my prayer a thousand fold In repetition urg'd, that thou vouchsafe To pause, till here the horned flame arrive. See, how toward it with desire I bend." He thus: "Thy prayer is worthy of much praise, And I accept it therefore: but do thou Thy tongue refrain: to question them be mine, For I divine thy wish: and they perchance, For they were Greeks, might shun discourse with thee." When there the flame had come, where time and place Seem'd fitting to my guide, he thus began: "O ye, who dwell two spirits in one fire! If living I of you did merit aught, Whate'er the measure were of that desert, When in the world my lofty strain I pour'd, Move ye not on, till one of you unfold In what clime death o'ertook him self-destroy'd." Of the old flame forthwith the greater horn Began to roll, murmuring, as a fire That labours with the wind, then to and fro Wagging the top, as a tongue uttering sounds, Threw out its voice, and spake: "When I escap'd From Circe, who beyond a circling year Had held me near Caieta, by her charms, Ere thus Aeneas yet had nam'd the shore, Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence Of my old father, nor return of love, That should have crown'd Penelope with joy, Could overcome in me the zeal I had T' explore the world, and search the ways of life, Man's evil and his virtue. Forth I sail'd Into the deep illimitable main, With but one bark, and the small faithful band That yet cleav'd to me. As Iberia far, Far as Morocco either shore I saw, And the Sardinian and each isle beside Which round that ocean bathes. Tardy with age Were I and my companions, when we came To the strait pass, where Hercules ordain'd The bound'ries not to be o'erstepp'd by man. The walls of Seville to my right I left, On the' other hand already Ceuta past. "O brothers!" I began, "who to the west Through perils without number now have reach'd, To this the short remaining watch, that yet Our senses have to wake, refuse not proof Of the unpeopled world, following the track Of Phoebus. Call to mind from whence we sprang: Ye were not form'd to live the life of brutes But virtue to pursue and knowledge high. With these few words I sharpen'd for the voyage The mind of my associates, that I then Could scarcely have withheld them. To the dawn Our poop we turn'd, and for the witless flight Made our oars wings, still gaining on the left. Each star of the' other pole night now beheld, And ours so low, that from the ocean-floor It rose not. Five times re-illum'd, as oft Vanish'd the light from underneath the moon Since the deep way we enter'd, when from far Appear'd a mountain dim, loftiest methought Of all I e'er beheld. Joy seiz'd us straight, But soon to mourning changed. From the new land A whirlwind sprung, and at her foremost side Did strike the vessel. Thrice it whirl'd her round With all the waves, the fourth time lifted up The poop, and sank the prow: so fate decreed: And over us the booming billow clos'd."
NOW upward rose the flame, and still'd its light To speak no more, and now pass'd on with leave From the mild poet gain'd, when following came Another, from whose top a sound confus'd, Forth issuing, drew our eyes that way to look. As the Sicilian bull, that rightfully His cries first echoed, who had shap'd its mould, Did so rebellow, with the voice of him Tormented, that the brazen monster seem'd Pierc'd through with pain; thus while no way they found Nor avenue immediate through the flame, Into its language turn'd the dismal words: But soon as they had won their passage forth, Up from the point, which vibrating obey'd Their motion at the tongue, these sounds we heard: "O thou! to whom I now direct my voice! That lately didst exclaim in Lombard phrase, Depart thou, I solicit thee no more,' Though somewhat tardy I perchance arrive Let it not irk thee here to pause awhile, And with me parley: lo! it irks not me And yet I burn. If but e'en now thou fall into this blind world, from that pleasant land Of Latium, whence I draw my sum of guilt, Tell me if those, who in Romagna dwell, Have peace or war. For of the mountains there Was I, betwixt Urbino and the height, Whence Tyber first unlocks his mighty flood." Leaning I listen'd yet with heedful ear, When, as he touch'd my side, the leader thus: "Speak thou: he is a Latian." My reply Was ready, and I spake without delay: "O spirit! who art hidden here below! Never was thy Romagna without war In her proud tyrants' bosoms, nor is now: But open war there left I none. The state, Ravenna hath maintain'd this many a year, Is steadfast. There Polenta's eagle broods, And in his broad circumference of plume O'ershadows Cervia. The green talons grasp The land, that stood erewhile the proof so long, And pil'd in bloody heap the host of France. "The' old mastiff of Verruchio and the young, That tore Montagna in their wrath, still make, Where they are wont, an augre of their fangs. "Lamone's city and Santerno's range Under the lion of the snowy lair. Inconstant partisan! that changeth sides, Or ever summer yields to winter's frost. And she, whose flank is wash'd of Savio's wave, As 'twixt the level and the steep she lies, Lives so 'twixt tyrant power and liberty. "Now tell us, I entreat thee, who art thou? Be not more hard than others. In the world, So may thy name still rear its forehead high." Then roar'd awhile the fire, its sharpen'd point On either side wav'd, and thus breath'd at last: "If I did think, my answer were to one, Who ever could return unto the world, This flame should rest unshaken. But since ne'er, If true be told me, any from this depth Has found his upward way, I answer thee, Nor fear lest infamy record the words. "A man of arms at first, I cloth'd me then In good Saint Francis' girdle, hoping so T' have made amends. And certainly my hope Had fail'd not, but that he, whom curses light on, The' high priest again seduc'd me into sin. And how and wherefore listen while I tell. Long as this spirit mov'd the bones and pulp My mother gave me, less my deeds bespake The nature of the lion than the fox. All ways of winding subtlety I knew, And with such art conducted, that the sound Reach'd the world's limit. Soon as to that part Of life I found me come, when each behoves To lower sails and gather in the lines; That which before had pleased me then I rued, And to repentance and confession turn'd; Wretch that I was! and well it had bested me! The chief of the new Pharisees meantime, Waging his warfare near the Lateran, Not with the Saracens or Jews (his foes All Christians were, nor against Acre one Had fought, nor traffic'd in the Soldan's land), He his great charge nor sacred ministry In himself, rev'renc'd, nor in me that cord, Which us'd to mark with leanness whom it girded. As in Socrate, Constantine besought To cure his leprosy Sylvester's aid, So me to cure the fever of his pride This man besought: my counsel to that end He ask'd: and I was silent: for his words Seem'd drunken: but forthwith he thus resum'd: "From thy heart banish fear: of all offence I hitherto absolve thee. In return, Teach me my purpose so to execute, That Penestrino cumber earth no more. Heav'n, as thou knowest, I have power to shut And open: and the keys are therefore twain, The which my predecessor meanly priz'd." Then, yielding to the forceful arguments, Of silence as more perilous I deem'd, And answer'd: "Father! since thou washest me Clear of that guilt wherein I now must fall, Large promise with performance scant, be sure, Shall make thee triumph in thy lofty seat." "When I was number'd with the dead, then came Saint Francis for me; but a cherub dark He met, who cried: "'Wrong me not; he is mine, And must below to join the wretched crew, For the deceitful counsel which he gave. E'er since I watch'd him, hov'ring at his hair, No power can the impenitent absolve; Nor to repent and will at once consist, By contradiction absolute forbid." Oh mis'ry! how I shook myself, when he Seiz'd me, and cried, "Thou haply thought'st me not A disputant in logic so exact." To Minos down he bore me, and the judge Twin'd eight times round his callous back the tail, Which biting with excess of rage, he spake: "This is a guilty soul, that in the fire Must vanish.' Hence perdition-doom'd I rove A prey to rankling sorrow in this garb." When he had thus fulfill'd his words, the flame In dolour parted, beating to and fro, And writhing its sharp horn. We onward went, I and my leader, up along the rock, Far as another arch, that overhangs The foss, wherein the penalty is paid Of those, who load them with committed sin.
WHO, e'en in words unfetter'd, might at full Tell of the wounds and blood that now I saw, Though he repeated oft the tale? No tongue So vast a theme could equal, speech and thought Both impotent alike. If in one band Collected, stood the people all, who e'er Pour'd on Apulia's happy soil their blood, Slain by the Trojans, and in that long war When of the rings the measur'd booty made A pile so high, as Rome's historian writes Who errs not, with the multitude, that felt The grinding force of Guiscard's Norman steel, And those the rest, whose bones are gather'd yet At Ceperano, there where treachery Branded th' Apulian name, or where beyond Thy walls, O Tagliacozzo, without arms The old Alardo conquer'd; and his limbs One were to show transpierc'd, another his Clean lopt away; a spectacle like this Were but a thing of nought, to the' hideous sight Of the ninth chasm. A rundlet, that hath lost Its middle or side stave, gapes not so wide, As one I mark'd, torn from the chin throughout Down to the hinder passage: 'twixt the legs Dangling his entrails hung, the midriff lay Open to view, and wretched ventricle, That turns th' englutted aliment to dross. Whilst eagerly I fix on him my gaze, He ey'd me, with his hands laid his breast bare, And cried; "Now mark how I do rip me! lo! How is Mohammed mangled! before me Walks Ali weeping, from the chin his face Cleft to the forelock; and the others all Whom here thou seest, while they liv'd, did sow Scandal and schism, and therefore thus are rent. A fiend is here behind, who with his sword Hacks us thus cruelly, slivering again Each of this ream, when we have compast round The dismal way, for first our gashes close Ere we repass before him. But say who Art thou, that standest musing on the rock, Haply so lingering to delay the pain Sentenc'd upon thy crimes?"—"Him death not yet," My guide rejoin'd, "hath overta'en, nor sin Conducts to torment; but, that he may make Full trial of your state, I who am dead Must through the depths of hell, from orb to orb, Conduct him. Trust my words, for they are true." More than a hundred spirits, when that they heard, Stood in the foss to mark me, through amazed, Forgetful of their pangs. "Thou, who perchance Shalt shortly view the sun, this warning thou Bear to Dolcino: bid him, if he wish not Here soon to follow me, that with good store Of food he arm him, lest impris'ning snows Yield him a victim to Novara's power, No easy conquest else." With foot uprais'd For stepping, spake Mohammed, on the ground Then fix'd it to depart. Another shade, Pierc'd in the throat, his nostrils mutilate E'en from beneath the eyebrows, and one ear Lopt off, who with the rest through wonder stood Gazing, before the rest advanc'd, and bar'd His wind-pipe, that without was all o'ersmear'd With crimson stain. "O thou!" said 'he, "whom sin Condemns not, and whom erst (unless too near Resemblance do deceive me) I aloft Have seen on Latian ground, call thou to mind Piero of Medicina, if again Returning, thou behold'st the pleasant land That from Vercelli slopes to Mercabo; And there instruct the twain, whom Fano boasts Her worthiest sons, Guido and Angelo, That if 't is giv'n us here to scan aright The future, they out of life's tenement Shall be cast forth, and whelm'd under the waves Near to Cattolica, through perfidy Of a fell tyrant. 'Twixt the Cyprian isle And Balearic, ne'er hath Neptune seen An injury so foul, by pirates done Or Argive crew of old. That one-ey'd traitor (Whose realm there is a spirit here were fain His eye had still lack'd sight of) them shall bring To conf'rence with him, then so shape his end, That they shall need not 'gainst Focara's wind Offer up vow nor pray'r." I answering thus: "Declare, as thou dost wish that I above May carry tidings of thee, who is he, In whom that sight doth wake such sad remembrance?" Forthwith he laid his hand on the cheek-bone Of one, his fellow-spirit, and his jaws Expanding, cried: "Lo! this is he I wot of; He speaks not for himself: the outcast this Who overwhelm'd the doubt in Caesar's mind, Affirming that delay to men prepar'd Was ever harmful. "Oh how terrified Methought was Curio, from whose throat was cut The tongue, which spake that hardy word. Then one Maim'd of each hand, uplifted in the gloom The bleeding stumps, that they with gory spots Sullied his face, and cried: "'Remember thee Of Mosca, too, I who, alas! exclaim'd, 'The deed once done there is an end,' that prov'd A seed of sorrow to the Tuscan race." I added: "Ay, and death to thine own tribe." Whence heaping woe on woe he hurried off, As one grief stung to madness. But I there Still linger'd to behold the troop, and saw Things, such as I may fear without more proof To tell of, but that conscience makes me firm, The boon companion, who her strong breast-plate Buckles on him, that feels no guilt within And bids him on and fear not. Without doubt I saw, and yet it seems to pass before me, A headless trunk, that even as the rest Of the sad flock pac'd onward. By the hair It bore the sever'd member, lantern-wise Pendent in hand, which look'd at us and said, "Woe's me!" The spirit lighted thus himself, And two there were in one, and one in two. How that may be he knows who ordereth so. When at the bridge's foot direct he stood, His arm aloft he rear'd, thrusting the head Full in our view, that nearer we might hear The words, which thus it utter'd: "Now behold This grievous torment, thou, who breathing go'st To spy the dead; behold if any else Be terrible as this. And that on earth Thou mayst bear tidings of me, know that I Am Bertrand, he of Born, who gave King John The counsel mischievous. Father and son I set at mutual war. For Absalom And David more did not Ahitophel, Spurring them on maliciously to strife. For parting those so closely knit, my brain Parted, alas! I carry from its source, That in this trunk inhabits. Thus the law Of retribution fiercely works in me."
SO were mine eyes inebriate with view Of the vast multitude, whom various wounds Disfigur'd, that they long'd to stay and weep. But Virgil rous'd me: "What yet gazest on? Wherefore doth fasten yet thy sight below Among the maim'd and miserable shades? Thou hast not shewn in any chasm beside This weakness. Know, if thou wouldst number them That two and twenty miles the valley winds Its circuit, and already is the moon Beneath our feet: the time permitted now Is short, and more not seen remains to see." "If thou," I straight replied, "hadst weigh'd the cause For which I look'd, thou hadst perchance excus'd The tarrying still." My leader part pursu'd His way, the while I follow'd, answering him, And adding thus: "Within that cave I deem, Whereon so fixedly I held my ken, There is a spirit dwells, one of my blood, Wailing the crime that costs him now so dear." Then spake my master: "Let thy soul no more Afflict itself for him. Direct elsewhere Its thought, and leave him. At the bridge's foot I mark'd how he did point with menacing look At thee, and heard him by the others nam'd Geri of Bello. Thou so wholly then Wert busied with his spirit, who once rul'd The towers of Hautefort, that thou lookedst not That way, ere he was gone."—"O guide belov'd! His violent death yet unaveng'd," said I, "By any, who are partners in his shame, Made him contemptuous: therefore, as I think, He pass'd me speechless by; and doing so Hath made me more compassionate his fate." So we discours'd to where the rock first show'd The other valley, had more light been there, E'en to the lowest depth. Soon as we came O'er the last cloister in the dismal rounds Of Malebolge, and the brotherhood Were to our view expos'd, then many a dart Of sore lament assail'd me, headed all With points of thrilling pity, that I clos'd Both ears against the volley with mine hands. As were the torment, if each lazar-house Of Valdichiana, in the sultry time 'Twixt July and September, with the isle Sardinia and Maremma's pestilent fen, Had heap'd their maladies all in one foss Together; such was here the torment: dire The stench, as issuing steams from fester'd limbs. We on the utmost shore of the long rock Descended still to leftward. Then my sight Was livelier to explore the depth, wherein The minister of the most mighty Lord, All-searching Justice, dooms to punishment The forgers noted on her dread record. More rueful was it not methinks to see The nation in Aegina droop, what time Each living thing, e'en to the little worm, All fell, so full of malice was the air (And afterward, as bards of yore have told, The ancient people were restor'd anew From seed of emmets) than was here to see The spirits, that languish'd through the murky vale Up-pil'd on many a stack. Confus'd they lay, One o'er the belly, o'er the shoulders one Roll'd of another; sideling crawl'd a third Along the dismal pathway. Step by step We journey'd on, in silence looking round And list'ning those diseas'd, who strove in vain To lift their forms. Then two I mark'd, that sat Propp'd 'gainst each other, as two brazen pans Set to retain the heat. From head to foot, A tetter bark'd them round. Nor saw I e'er Groom currying so fast, for whom his lord Impatient waited, or himself perchance Tir'd with long watching, as of these each one Plied quickly his keen nails, through furiousness Of ne'er abated pruriency. The crust Came drawn from underneath in flakes, like scales Scrap'd from the bream or fish of broader mail. "O thou, who with thy fingers rendest off Thy coat of proof," thus spake my guide to one, "And sometimes makest tearing pincers of them, Tell me if any born of Latian land Be among these within: so may thy nails Serve thee for everlasting to this toil." "Both are of Latium," weeping he replied, "Whom tortur'd thus thou seest: but who art thou That hast inquir'd of us?" To whom my guide: "One that descend with this man, who yet lives, From rock to rock, and show him hell's abyss." Then started they asunder, and each turn'd Trembling toward us, with the rest, whose ear Those words redounding struck. To me my liege Address'd him: "Speak to them whate'er thou list." And I therewith began: "So may no time Filch your remembrance from the thoughts of men In th' upper world, but after many suns Survive it, as ye tell me, who ye are, And of what race ye come. Your punishment, Unseemly and disgustful in its kind, Deter you not from opening thus much to me." "Arezzo was my dwelling," answer'd one, "And me Albero of Sienna brought To die by fire; but that, for which I died, Leads me not here. True is in sport I told him, That I had learn'd to wing my flight in air. And he admiring much, as he was void Of wisdom, will'd me to declare to him The secret of mine art: and only hence, Because I made him not a Daedalus, Prevail'd on one suppos'd his sire to burn me. But Minos to this chasm last of the ten, For that I practis'd alchemy on earth, Has doom'd me. Him no subterfuge eludes." Then to the bard I spake: "Was ever race Light as Sienna's? Sure not France herself Can show a tribe so frivolous and vain." The other leprous spirit heard my words, And thus return'd: "Be Stricca from this charge Exempted, he who knew so temp'rately To lay out fortune's gifts; and Niccolo Who first the spice's costly luxury Discover'd in that garden, where such seed Roots deepest in the soil: and be that troop Exempted, with whom Caccia of Asciano Lavish'd his vineyards and wide-spreading woods, And his rare wisdom Abbagliato show'd A spectacle for all. That thou mayst know Who seconds thee against the Siennese Thus gladly, bend this way thy sharpen'd sight, That well my face may answer to thy ken; So shalt thou see I am Capocchio's ghost, Who forg'd transmuted metals by the power Of alchemy; and if I scan thee right, Thus needs must well remember how I aped Creative nature by my subtle art."
WHAT time resentment burn'd in Juno's breast For Semele against the Theban blood, As more than once in dire mischance was rued, Such fatal frenzy seiz'd on Athamas, That he his spouse beholding with a babe Laden on either arm, "Spread out," he cried, "The meshes, that I take the lioness And the young lions at the pass: "then forth Stretch'd he his merciless talons, grasping one, One helpless innocent, Learchus nam'd, Whom swinging down he dash'd upon a rock, And with her other burden self-destroy'd The hapless mother plung'd: and when the pride Of all-presuming Troy fell from its height, By fortune overwhelm'd, and the old king With his realm perish'd, then did Hecuba, A wretch forlorn and captive, when she saw Polyxena first slaughter'd, and her son, Her Polydorus, on the wild sea-beach Next met the mourner's view, then reft of sense Did she run barking even as a dog; Such mighty power had grief to wrench her soul. Bet ne'er the Furies or of Thebes or Troy With such fell cruelty were seen, their goads Infixing in the limbs of man or beast, As now two pale and naked ghost I saw That gnarling wildly scamper'd, like the swine Excluded from his stye. One reach'd Capocchio, And in the neck-joint sticking deep his fangs, Dragg'd him, that o'er the solid pavement rubb'd His belly stretch'd out prone. The other shape, He of Arezzo, there left trembling, spake; "That sprite of air is Schicchi; in like mood Of random mischief vent he still his spite." To whom I answ'ring: "Oh! as thou dost hope, The other may not flesh its jaws on thee, Be patient to inform us, who it is, Ere it speed hence."—" That is the ancient soul Of wretched Myrrha," he replied, "who burn'd With most unholy flame for her own sire, And a false shape assuming, so perform'd The deed of sin; e'en as the other there, That onward passes, dar'd to counterfeit Donati's features, to feign'd testament The seal affixing, that himself might gain, For his own share, the lady of the herd." When vanish'd the two furious shades, on whom Mine eye was held, I turn'd it back to view The other cursed spirits. One I saw In fashion like a lute, had but the groin Been sever'd, where it meets the forked part. Swoln dropsy, disproportioning the limbs With ill-converted moisture, that the paunch Suits not the visage, open'd wide his lips Gasping as in the hectic man for drought, One towards the chin, the other upward curl'd. "O ye, who in this world of misery, Wherefore I know not, are exempt from pain," Thus he began, "attentively regard Adamo's woe. When living, full supply Ne'er lack'd me of what most I coveted; One drop of water now, alas! I crave. The rills, that glitter down the grassy slopes Of Casentino, making fresh and soft The banks whereby they glide to Arno's stream, Stand ever in my view; and not in vain; For more the pictur'd semblance dries me up, Much more than the disease, which makes the flesh Desert these shrivel'd cheeks. So from the place, Where I transgress'd, stern justice urging me, Takes means to quicken more my lab'ring sighs. There is Romena, where I falsified The metal with the Baptist's form imprest, For which on earth I left my body burnt. But if I here might see the sorrowing soul Of Guido, Alessandro, or their brother, For Branda's limpid spring I would not change The welcome sight. One is e'en now within, If truly the mad spirits tell, that round Are wand'ring. But wherein besteads me that? My limbs are fetter'd. Were I but so light, That I each hundred years might move one inch, I had set forth already on this path, Seeking him out amidst the shapeless crew, Although eleven miles it wind, not more Than half of one across. They brought me down Among this tribe; induc'd by them I stamp'd The florens with three carats of alloy." "Who are that abject pair," I next inquir'd, "That closely bounding thee upon thy right Lie smoking, like a band in winter steep'd In the chill stream?"—"When to this gulf I dropt," He answer'd, "here I found them; since that hour They have not turn'd, nor ever shall, I ween, Till time hath run his course. One is that dame The false accuser of the Hebrew youth; Sinon the other, that false Greek from Troy. Sharp fever drains the reeky moistness out, In such a cloud upsteam'd." When that he heard, One, gall'd perchance to be so darkly nam'd, With clench'd hand smote him on the braced paunch, That like a drum resounded: but forthwith Adamo smote him on the face, the blow Returning with his arm, that seem'd as hard. "Though my o'erweighty limbs have ta'en from me The power to move," said he, "I have an arm At liberty for such employ." To whom Was answer'd: "When thou wentest to the fire, Thou hadst it not so ready at command, Then readier when it coin'd th' impostor gold." And thus the dropsied: "Ay, now speak'st thou true. But there thou gav'st not such true testimony, When thou wast question'd of the truth, at Troy." "If I spake false, thou falsely stamp'dst the coin," Said Sinon; "I am here but for one fault, And thou for more than any imp beside." "Remember," he replied, "O perjur'd one, The horse remember, that did teem with death, And all the world be witness to thy guilt." "To thine," return'd the Greek, "witness the thirst Whence thy tongue cracks, witness the fluid mound, Rear'd by thy belly up before thine eyes, A mass corrupt." To whom the coiner thus: "Thy mouth gapes wide as ever to let pass Its evil saying. Me if thirst assails, Yet I am stuff'd with moisture. Thou art parch'd, Pains rack thy head, no urging would'st thou need To make thee lap Narcissus' mirror up." I was all fix'd to listen, when my guide Admonish'd: "Now beware: a little more. And I do quarrel with thee." I perceiv'd How angrily he spake, and towards him turn'd With shame so poignant, as remember'd yet Confounds me. As a man that dreams of harm Befall'n him, dreaming wishes it a dream, And that which is, desires as if it were not, Such then was I, who wanting power to speak Wish'd to excuse myself, and all the while Excus'd me, though unweeting that I did. "More grievous fault than thine has been, less shame," My master cried, "might expiate. Therefore cast All sorrow from thy soul; and if again Chance bring thee, where like conference is held, Think I am ever at thy side. To hear Such wrangling is a joy for vulgar minds."
THE very tongue, whose keen reproof before Had wounded me, that either cheek was stain'd, Now minister'd my cure. So have I heard, Achilles and his father's javelin caus'd Pain first, and then the boon of health restor'd. Turning our back upon the vale of woe, W cross'd th' encircled mound in silence. There Was twilight dim, that far long the gloom Mine eye advanc'd not: but I heard a horn Sounded aloud. The peal it blew had made The thunder feeble. Following its course The adverse way, my strained eyes were bent On that one spot. So terrible a blast Orlando blew not, when that dismal rout O'erthrew the host of Charlemagne, and quench'd His saintly warfare. Thitherward not long My head was rais'd, when many lofty towers Methought I spied. "Master," said I, "what land Is this?" He answer'd straight: "Too long a space Of intervening darkness has thine eye To traverse: thou hast therefore widely err'd In thy imagining. Thither arriv'd Thou well shalt see, how distance can delude The sense. A little therefore urge thee on." Then tenderly he caught me by the hand; "Yet know," said he, "ere farther we advance, That it less strange may seem, these are not towers, But giants. In the pit they stand immers'd, Each from his navel downward, round the bank." As when a fog disperseth gradually, Our vision traces what the mist involves Condens'd in air; so piercing through the gross And gloomy atmosphere, as more and more We near'd toward the brink, mine error fled, And fear came o'er me. As with circling round Of turrets, Montereggion crowns his walls, E'en thus the shore, encompassing th' abyss, Was turreted with giants, half their length Uprearing, horrible, whom Jove from heav'n Yet threatens, when his mutt'ring thunder rolls. Of one already I descried the face, Shoulders, and breast, and of the belly huge Great part, and both arms down along his ribs. All-teeming nature, when her plastic hand Left framing of these monsters, did display Past doubt her wisdom, taking from mad War Such slaves to do his bidding; and if she Repent her not of th' elephant and whale, Who ponders well confesses her therein Wiser and more discreet; for when brute force And evil will are back'd with subtlety, Resistance none avails. His visage seem'd In length and bulk, as doth the pine, that tops Saint Peter's Roman fane; and th' other bones Of like proportion, so that from above The bank, which girdled him below, such height Arose his stature, that three Friezelanders Had striv'n in vain to reach but to his hair. Full thirty ample palms was he expos'd Downward from whence a man his garments loops. "Raphel bai ameth sabi almi," So shouted his fierce lips, which sweeter hymns Became not; and my guide address'd him thus: "O senseless spirit! let thy horn for thee Interpret: therewith vent thy rage, if rage Or other passion wring thee. Search thy neck, There shalt thou find the belt that binds it on. Wild spirit! lo, upon thy mighty breast Where hangs the baldrick!" Then to me he spake: "He doth accuse himself. Nimrod is this, Through whose ill counsel in the world no more One tongue prevails. But pass we on, nor waste Our words; for so each language is to him, As his to others, understood by none." Then to the leftward turning sped we forth, And at a sling's throw found another shade Far fiercer and more huge. I cannot say What master hand had girt him; but he held Behind the right arm fetter'd, and before The other with a chain, that fasten'd him From the neck down, and five times round his form Apparent met the wreathed links. "This proud one Would of his strength against almighty Jove Make trial," said my guide; "whence he is thus Requited: Ephialtes him they call. Great was his prowess, when the giants brought Fear on the gods: those arms, which then he piled, Now moves he never." Forthwith I return'd: "Fain would I, if 't were possible, mine eyes Of Briareus immeasurable gain'd Experience next." He answer'd: "Thou shalt see Not far from hence Antaeus, who both speaks And is unfetter'd, who shall place us there Where guilt is at its depth. Far onward stands Whom thou wouldst fain behold, in chains, and made Like to this spirit, save that in his looks More fell he seems." By violent earthquake rock'd Ne'er shook a tow'r, so reeling to its base, As Ephialtes. More than ever then I dreaded death, nor than the terror more Had needed, if I had not seen the cords That held him fast. We, straightway journeying on, Came to Antaeus, who five ells complete Without the head, forth issued from the cave. "O thou, who in the fortunate vale, that made Great Scipio heir of glory, when his sword Drove back the troop of Hannibal in flight, Who thence of old didst carry for thy spoil An hundred lions; and if thou hadst fought In the high conflict on thy brethren's side, Seems as men yet believ'd, that through thine arm The sons of earth had conquer'd, now vouchsafe To place us down beneath, where numbing cold Locks up Cocytus. Force not that we crave Or Tityus' help or Typhon's. Here is one Can give what in this realm ye covet. Stoop Therefore, nor scornfully distort thy lip. He in the upper world can yet bestow Renown on thee, for he doth live, and looks For life yet longer, if before the time Grace call him not unto herself." Thus spake The teacher. He in haste forth stretch'd his hands, And caught my guide. Alcides whilom felt That grapple straighten'd score. Soon as my guide Had felt it, he bespake me thus: "This way That I may clasp thee;" then so caught me up, That we were both one burden. As appears The tower of Carisenda, from beneath Where it doth lean, if chance a passing cloud So sail across, that opposite it hangs, Such then Antaeus seem'd, as at mine ease I mark'd him stooping. I were fain at times T' have pass'd another way. Yet in th' abyss, That Lucifer with Judas low ingulfs, I,ightly he plac'd us; nor there leaning stay'd, But rose as in a bark the stately mast.
COULD I command rough rhimes and hoarse, to suit That hole of sorrow, o'er which ev'ry rock His firm abutment rears, then might the vein Of fancy rise full springing: but not mine Such measures, and with falt'ring awe I touch The mighty theme; for to describe the depth Of all the universe, is no emprize To jest with, and demands a tongue not us'd To infant babbling. But let them assist My song, the tuneful maidens, by whose aid Amphion wall'd in Thebes, so with the truth My speech shall best accord. Oh ill-starr'd folk, Beyond all others wretched! who abide In such a mansion, as scarce thought finds words To speak of, better had ye here on earth Been flocks or mountain goats. As down we stood In the dark pit beneath the giants' feet, But lower far than they, and I did gaze Still on the lofty battlement, a voice Bespoke me thus: "Look how thou walkest. Take Good heed, thy soles do tread not on the heads Of thy poor brethren." Thereupon I turn'd, And saw before and underneath my feet A lake, whose frozen surface liker seem'd To glass than water. Not so thick a veil In winter e'er hath Austrian Danube spread O'er his still course, nor Tanais far remote Under the chilling sky. Roll'd o'er that mass Had Tabernich or Pietrapana fall'n, Not e'en its rim had creak'd. As peeps the frog Croaking above the wave, what time in dreams The village gleaner oft pursues her toil, So, to where modest shame appears, thus low Blue pinch'd and shrin'd in ice the spirits stood, Moving their teeth in shrill note like the stork. His face each downward held; their mouth the cold, Their eyes express'd the dolour of their heart. A space I look'd around, then at my feet Saw two so strictly join'd, that of their head The very hairs were mingled. "Tell me ye, Whose bosoms thus together press," said I, "Who are ye?" At that sound their necks they bent, And when their looks were lifted up to me, Straightway their eyes, before all moist within, Distill'd upon their lips, and the frost bound The tears betwixt those orbs and held them there. Plank unto plank hath never cramp clos'd up So stoutly. Whence like two enraged goats They clash'd together; them such fury seiz'd. And one, from whom the cold both ears had reft, Exclaim'd, still looking downward: "Why on us Dost speculate so long? If thou wouldst know Who are these two, the valley, whence his wave Bisenzio slopes, did for its master own Their sire Alberto, and next him themselves. They from one body issued; and throughout Caina thou mayst search, nor find a shade More worthy in congealment to be fix'd, Not him, whose breast and shadow Arthur's land At that one blow dissever'd, not Focaccia, No not this spirit, whose o'erjutting head Obstructs my onward view: he bore the name Of Mascheroni: Tuscan if thou be, Well knowest who he was: and to cut short All further question, in my form behold What once was Camiccione. I await Carlino here my kinsman, whose deep guilt Shall wash out mine." A thousand visages Then mark'd I, which the keen and eager cold Had shap'd into a doggish grin; whence creeps A shiv'ring horror o'er me, at the thought Of those frore shallows. While we journey'd on Toward the middle, at whose point unites All heavy substance, and I trembling went Through that eternal chillness, I know not If will it were or destiny, or chance, But, passing 'midst the heads, my foot did strike With violent blow against the face of one. "Wherefore dost bruise me?" weeping, he exclaim'd, "Unless thy errand be some fresh revenge For Montaperto, wherefore troublest me?" I thus: "Instructor, now await me here, That I through him may rid me of my doubt. Thenceforth what haste thou wilt." The teacher paus'd, And to that shade I spake, who bitterly Still curs'd me in his wrath. "What art thou, speak, That railest thus on others?" He replied: "Now who art thou, that smiting others' cheeks Through Antenora roamest, with such force As were past suff'rance, wert thou living still?" "And I am living, to thy joy perchance," Was my reply, "if fame be dear to thee, That with the rest I may thy name enrol." "The contrary of what I covet most," Said he, "thou tender'st: hence; nor vex me more. Ill knowest thou to flatter in this vale." Then seizing on his hinder scalp, I cried: "Name thee, or not a hair shall tarry here." "Rend all away," he answer'd, "yet for that I will not tell nor show thee who I am, Though at my head thou pluck a thousand times." Now I had grasp'd his tresses, and stript off More than one tuft, he barking, with his eyes Drawn in and downward, when another cried, "What ails thee, Bocca? Sound not loud enough Thy chatt'ring teeth, but thou must bark outright? What devil wrings thee?"—" Now," said I, "be dumb, Accursed traitor! to thy shame of thee True tidings will I bear."—" Off," he replied, "Tell what thou list; but as thou escape from hence To speak of him whose tongue hath been so glib, Forget not: here he wails the Frenchman's gold. 'Him of Duera,' thou canst say, 'I mark'd, Where the starv'd sinners pine.' If thou be ask'd What other shade was with them, at thy side Is Beccaria, whose red gorge distain'd The biting axe of Florence. Farther on, If I misdeem not, Soldanieri bides, With Ganellon, and Tribaldello, him Who op'd Faenza when the people slept." We now had left him, passing on our way, When I beheld two spirits by the ice Pent in one hollow, that the head of one Was cowl unto the other; and as bread Is raven'd up through hunger, th' uppermost Did so apply his fangs to th' other's brain, Where the spine joins it. Not more furiously On Menalippus' temples Tydeus gnaw'd, Than on that skull and on its garbage he. "O thou who show'st so beastly sign of hate 'Gainst him thou prey'st on, let me hear," said I "The cause, on such condition, that if right Warrant thy grievance, knowing who ye are, And what the colour of his sinning was, I may repay thee in the world above, If that, wherewith I speak be moist so long."
HIS jaws uplifting from their fell repast, That sinner wip'd them on the hairs o' th' head, Which he behind had mangled, then began: "Thy will obeying, I call up afresh Sorrow past cure, which but to think of wrings My heart, or ere I tell on't. But if words, That I may utter, shall prove seed to bear Fruit of eternal infamy to him, The traitor whom I gnaw at, thou at once Shalt see me speak and weep. Who thou mayst be I know not, nor how here below art come: But Florentine thou seemest of a truth, When I do hear thee. Know I was on earth Count Ugolino, and th' Archbishop he Ruggieri. Why I neighbour him so close, Now list. That through effect of his ill thoughts In him my trust reposing, I was ta'en And after murder'd, need is not I tell. What therefore thou canst not have heard, that is, How cruel was the murder, shalt thou hear, And know if he have wrong'd me. A small grate Within that mew, which for my sake the name Of famine bears, where others yet must pine, Already through its opening sev'ral moons Had shown me, when I slept the evil sleep, That from the future tore the curtain off. This one, methought, as master of the sport, Rode forth to chase the gaunt wolf and his whelps Unto the mountain, which forbids the sight Of Lucca to the Pisan. With lean brachs Inquisitive and keen, before him rang'd Lanfranchi with Sismondi and Gualandi. After short course the father and the sons Seem'd tir'd and lagging, and methought I saw The sharp tusks gore their sides. When I awoke Before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard My sons (for they were with me) weep and ask For bread. Right cruel art thou, if no pang Thou feel at thinking what my heart foretold; And if not now, why use thy tears to flow? Now had they waken'd; and the hour drew near When they were wont to bring us food; the mind Of each misgave him through his dream, and I Heard, at its outlet underneath lock'd up The' horrible tower: whence uttering not a word I look'd upon the visage of my sons. I wept not: so all stone I felt within. They wept: and one, my little Anslem, cried: "Thou lookest so! Father what ails thee?" Yet I shed no tear, nor answer'd all that day Nor the next night, until another sun Came out upon the world. When a faint beam Had to our doleful prison made its way, And in four countenances I descry'd The image of my own, on either hand Through agony I bit, and they who thought I did it through desire of feeding, rose O' th' sudden, and cried, 'Father, we should grieve Far less, if thou wouldst eat of us: thou gav'st These weeds of miserable flesh we wear, And do thou strip them off from us again.' Then, not to make them sadder, I kept down My spirit in stillness. That day and the next We all were silent. Ah, obdurate earth! Why open'dst not upon us? When we came To the fourth day, then Geddo at my feet Outstretch'd did fling him, crying, 'Hast no help For me, my father!' "There he died, and e'en Plainly as thou seest me, saw I the three Fall one by one 'twixt the fifth day and sixth: Whence I betook me now grown blind to grope Over them all, and for three days aloud Call'd on them who were dead. Then fasting got The mastery of grief." Thus having spoke, Once more upon the wretched skull his teeth He fasten'd, like a mastiff's 'gainst the bone Firm and unyielding. Oh thou Pisa! shame Of all the people, who their dwelling make In that fair region, where th' Italian voice Is heard, since that thy neighbours are so slack To punish, from their deep foundations rise Capraia and Gorgona, and dam up The mouth of Arno, that each soul in thee May perish in the waters! What if fame Reported that thy castles were betray'd By Ugolino, yet no right hadst thou To stretch his children on the rack. For them, Brigata, Ugaccione, and the pair Of gentle ones, of whom my song hath told, Their tender years, thou modern Thebes! did make Uncapable of guilt. Onward we pass'd, Where others skarf'd in rugged folds of ice Not on their feet were turn'd, but each revers'd There very weeping suffers not to weep; For at their eyes grief seeking passage finds Impediment, and rolling inward turns For increase of sharp anguish: the first tears Hang cluster'd, and like crystal vizors show, Under the socket brimming all the cup. Now though the cold had from my face dislodg'd Each feeling, as 't were callous, yet me seem'd Some breath of wind I felt. "Whence cometh this," Said I, "my master? Is not here below All vapour quench'd?"—"'Thou shalt be speedily," He answer'd, "where thine eye shall tell thee whence The cause descrying of this airy shower." Then cried out one in the chill crust who mourn'd: "O souls so cruel! that the farthest post Hath been assign'd you, from this face remove The harden'd veil, that I may vent the grief Impregnate at my heart, some little space Ere it congeal again!" I thus replied: "Say who thou wast, if thou wouldst have mine aid; And if I extricate thee not, far down As to the lowest ice may I descend!" "The friar Alberigo," answered he, "Am I, who from the evil garden pluck'd Its fruitage, and am here repaid, the date More luscious for my fig."—"Hah!" I exclaim'd, "Art thou too dead!"—"How in the world aloft It fareth with my body," answer'd he, "I am right ignorant. Such privilege Hath Ptolomea, that ofttimes the soul Drops hither, ere by Atropos divorc'd. And that thou mayst wipe out more willingly The glazed tear-drops that o'erlay mine eyes, Know that the soul, that moment she betrays, As I did, yields her body to a fiend Who after moves and governs it at will, Till all its time be rounded; headlong she Falls to this cistern. And perchance above Doth yet appear the body of a ghost, Who here behind me winters. Him thou know'st, If thou but newly art arriv'd below. The years are many that have pass'd away, Since to this fastness Branca Doria came." "Now," answer'd I, "methinks thou mockest me, For Branca Doria never yet hath died, But doth all natural functions of a man, Eats, drinks, and sleeps, and putteth raiment on." He thus: "Not yet unto that upper foss By th' evil talons guarded, where the pitch Tenacious boils, had Michael Zanche reach'd, When this one left a demon in his stead In his own body, and of one his kin, Who with him treachery wrought. But now put forth Thy hand, and ope mine eyes." I op'd them not. Ill manners were best courtesy to him. Ah Genoese! men perverse in every way, With every foulness stain'd, why from the earth Are ye not cancel'd? Such an one of yours I with Romagna's darkest spirit found, As for his doings even now in soul Is in Cocytus plung'd, and yet doth seem In body still alive upon the earth.