THE VISION OR, HELL, PURGATORY, AND PARADISE OF DANTE ALIGHIERI
TRANSLATED BY THE REV. H. F. CARY, A.M.
IN the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray Gone from the path direct: and e'en to tell It were no easy task, how savage wild That forest, how robust and rough its growth, Which to remember only, my dismay Renews, in bitterness not far from death. Yet to discourse of what there good befell, All else will I relate discover'd there. How first I enter'd it I scarce can say, Such sleepy dullness in that instant weigh'd My senses down, when the true path I left, But when a mountain's foot I reach'd, where clos'd The valley, that had pierc'd my heart with dread, I look'd aloft, and saw his shoulders broad Already vested with that planet's beam, Who leads all wanderers safe through every way. Then was a little respite to the fear, That in my heart's recesses deep had lain, All of that night, so pitifully pass'd: And as a man, with difficult short breath, Forespent with toiling, 'scap'd from sea to shore, Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands At gaze; e'en so my spirit, that yet fail'd Struggling with terror, turn'd to view the straits, That none hath pass'd and liv'd. My weary frame After short pause recomforted, again I journey'd on over that lonely steep, The hinder foot still firmer. Scarce the ascent Began, when, lo! a panther, nimble, light, And cover'd with a speckled skin, appear'd, Nor, when it saw me, vanish'd, rather strove To check my onward going; that ofttimes With purpose to retrace my steps I turn'd. The hour was morning's prime, and on his way Aloft the sun ascended with those stars, That with him rose, when Love divine first mov'd Those its fair works: so that with joyous hope All things conspir'd to fill me, the gay skin Of that swift animal, the matin dawn And the sweet season. Soon that joy was chas'd, And by new dread succeeded, when in view A lion came, 'gainst me, as it appear'd, With his head held aloft and hunger-mad, That e'en the air was fear-struck. A she-wolf Was at his heels, who in her leanness seem'd Full of all wants, and many a land hath made Disconsolate ere now. She with such fear O'erwhelmed me, at the sight of her appall'd, That of the height all hope I lost. As one, Who with his gain elated, sees the time When all unwares is gone, he inwardly Mourns with heart-griping anguish; such was I, Haunted by that fell beast, never at peace, Who coming o'er against me, by degrees Impell'd me where the sun in silence rests. While to the lower space with backward step I fell, my ken discern'd the form one of one, Whose voice seem'd faint through long disuse of speech. When him in that great desert I espied, "Have mercy on me!" cried I out aloud, "Spirit! or living man! what e'er thou be!" He answer'd: "Now not man, man once I was, And born of Lombard parents, Mantuana both By country, when the power of Julius yet Was scarcely firm. At Rome my life was past Beneath the mild Augustus, in the time Of fabled deities and false. A bard Was I, and made Anchises' upright son The subject of my song, who came from Troy, When the flames prey'd on Ilium's haughty towers. But thou, say wherefore to such perils past Return'st thou? wherefore not this pleasant mount Ascendest, cause and source of all delight?" "And art thou then that Virgil, that well-spring, From which such copious floods of eloquence Have issued?" I with front abash'd replied. "Glory and light of all the tuneful train! May it avail me that I long with zeal Have sought thy volume, and with love immense Have conn'd it o'er. My master thou and guide! Thou he from whom alone I have deriv'd That style, which for its beauty into fame Exalts me. See the beast, from whom I fled. O save me from her, thou illustrious sage! For every vein and pulse throughout my frame She hath made tremble." He, soon as he saw That I was weeping, answer'd, "Thou must needs Another way pursue, if thou wouldst 'scape From out that savage wilderness. This beast, At whom thou criest, her way will suffer none To pass, and no less hindrance makes than death: So bad and so accursed in her kind, That never sated is her ravenous will, Still after food more craving than before. To many an animal in wedlock vile She fastens, and shall yet to many more, Until that greyhound come, who shall destroy Her with sharp pain. He will not life support By earth nor its base metals, but by love, Wisdom, and virtue, and his land shall be The land 'twixt either Feltro. In his might Shall safety to Italia's plains arise, For whose fair realm, Camilla, virgin pure, Nisus, Euryalus, and Turnus fell. He with incessant chase through every town Shall worry, until he to hell at length Restore her, thence by envy first let loose. I for thy profit pond'ring now devise, That thou mayst follow me, and I thy guide Will lead thee hence through an eternal space, Where thou shalt hear despairing shrieks, and see Spirits of old tormented, who invoke A second death; and those next view, who dwell Content in fire, for that they hope to come, Whene'er the time may be, among the blest, Into whose regions if thou then desire T' ascend, a spirit worthier then I Must lead thee, in whose charge, when I depart, Thou shalt be left: for that Almighty King, Who reigns above, a rebel to his law, Adjudges me, and therefore hath decreed, That to his city none through me should come. He in all parts hath sway; there rules, there holds His citadel and throne. O happy those, Whom there he chooses!" I to him in few: "Bard! by that God, whom thou didst not adore, I do beseech thee (that this ill and worse I may escape) to lead me, where thou saidst, That I Saint Peter's gate may view, and those Who as thou tell'st, are in such dismal plight." Onward he mov'd, I close his steps pursu'd.
NOW was the day departing, and the air, Imbrown'd with shadows, from their toils releas'd All animals on earth; and I alone Prepar'd myself the conflict to sustain, Both of sad pity, and that perilous road, Which my unerring memory shall retrace. O Muses! O high genius! now vouchsafe Your aid! O mind! that all I saw hast kept Safe in a written record, here thy worth And eminent endowments come to proof. I thus began: "Bard! thou who art my guide, Consider well, if virtue be in me Sufficient, ere to this high enterprise Thou trust me. Thou hast told that Silvius' sire, Yet cloth'd in corruptible flesh, among Th' immortal tribes had entrance, and was there Sensible present. Yet if heaven's great Lord, Almighty foe to ill, such favour shew'd, In contemplation of the high effect, Both what and who from him should issue forth, It seems in reason's judgment well deserv'd: Sith he of Rome, and of Rome's empire wide, In heaven's empyreal height was chosen sire: Both which, if truth be spoken, were ordain'd And 'stablish'd for the holy place, where sits Who to great Peter's sacred chair succeeds. He from this journey, in thy song renown'd, Learn'd things, that to his victory gave rise And to the papal robe. In after-times The chosen vessel also travel'd there, To bring us back assurance in that faith, Which is the entrance to salvation's way. But I, why should I there presume? or who Permits it? not, Aeneas I nor Paul. Myself I deem not worthy, and none else Will deem me. I, if on this voyage then I venture, fear it will in folly end. Thou, who art wise, better my meaning know'st, Than I can speak." As one, who unresolves What he hath late resolv'd, and with new thoughts Changes his purpose, from his first intent Remov'd; e'en such was I on that dun coast, Wasting in thought my enterprise, at first So eagerly embrac'd. "If right thy words I scan," replied that shade magnanimous, "Thy soul is by vile fear assail'd, which oft So overcasts a man, that he recoils From noblest resolution, like a beast At some false semblance in the twilight gloom. That from this terror thou mayst free thyself, I will instruct thee why I came, and what I heard in that same instant, when for thee Grief touch'd me first. I was among the tribe, Who rest suspended, when a dame, so blest And lovely, I besought her to command, Call'd me; her eyes were brighter than the star Of day; and she with gentle voice and soft Angelically tun'd her speech address'd: "O courteous shade of Mantua! thou whose fame Yet lives, and shall live long as nature lasts! A friend, not of my fortune but myself, On the wide desert in his road has met Hindrance so great, that he through fear has turn'd. Now much I dread lest he past help have stray'd, And I be ris'n too late for his relief, From what in heaven of him I heard. Speed now, And by thy eloquent persuasive tongue, And by all means for his deliverance meet, Assist him. So to me will comfort spring. I who now bid thee on this errand forth Am Beatrice; from a place I come
(Note: Beatrice. I use this word, as it is pronounced in the Italian, as consisting of four syllables, of which the third is a long one.)
Revisited with joy. Love brought me thence, Who prompts my speech. When in my Master's sight I stand, thy praise to him I oft will tell." She then was silent, and I thus began: "O Lady! by whose influence alone, Mankind excels whatever is contain'd Within that heaven which hath the smallest orb, So thy command delights me, that to obey, If it were done already, would seem late. No need hast thou farther to speak thy will; Yet tell the reason, why thou art not loth To leave that ample space, where to return Thou burnest, for this centre here beneath." She then: "Since thou so deeply wouldst inquire, I will instruct thee briefly, why no dread Hinders my entrance here. Those things alone Are to be fear'd, whence evil may proceed, None else, for none are terrible beside. I am so fram'd by God, thanks to his grace! That any suff'rance of your misery Touches me not, nor flame of that fierce fire Assails me. In high heaven a blessed dame Besides, who mourns with such effectual grief That hindrance, which I send thee to remove, That God's stern judgment to her will inclines. To Lucia calling, her she thus bespake: "Now doth thy faithful servant need thy aid And I commend him to thee." At her word Sped Lucia, of all cruelty the foe, And coming to the place, where I abode Seated with Rachel, her of ancient days, She thus address'd me: "Thou true praise of God! Beatrice! why is not thy succour lent To him, who so much lov'd thee, as to leave For thy sake all the multitude admires? Dost thou not hear how pitiful his wail, Nor mark the death, which in the torrent flood, Swoln mightier than a sea, him struggling holds?" Ne'er among men did any with such speed Haste to their profit, flee from their annoy, As when these words were spoken, I came here, Down from my blessed seat, trusting the force Of thy pure eloquence, which thee, and all Who well have mark'd it, into honour brings." "When she had ended, her bright beaming eyes Tearful she turn'd aside; whereat I felt Redoubled zeal to serve thee. As she will'd, Thus am I come: I sav'd thee from the beast, Who thy near way across the goodly mount Prevented. What is this comes o'er thee then? Why, why dost thou hang back? why in thy breast Harbour vile fear? why hast not courage there And noble daring? Since three maids so blest Thy safety plan, e'en in the court of heaven; And so much certain good my words forebode." As florets, by the frosty air of night Bent down and clos'd, when day has blanch'd their leaves, Rise all unfolded on their spiry stems; So was my fainting vigour new restor'd, And to my heart such kindly courage ran, That I as one undaunted soon replied: "O full of pity she, who undertook My succour! and thou kind who didst perform So soon her true behest! With such desire Thou hast dispos'd me to renew my voyage, That my first purpose fully is resum'd. Lead on: one only will is in us both. Thou art my guide, my master thou, and lord." So spake I; and when he had onward mov'd, I enter'd on the deep and woody way.
"THROUGH me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye. Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd: To rear me was the task of power divine, Supremest wisdom, and primeval love. Before me things create were none, save things Eternal, and eternal I endure. All hope abandon ye who enter here." Such characters in colour dim I mark'd Over a portal's lofty arch inscrib'd: Whereat I thus: "Master, these words import Hard meaning." He as one prepar'd replied: "Here thou must all distrust behind thee leave; Here be vile fear extinguish'd. We are come Where I have told thee we shall see the souls To misery doom'd, who intellectual good Have lost." And when his hand he had stretch'd forth To mine, with pleasant looks, whence I was cheer'd, Into that secret place he led me on. Here sighs with lamentations and loud moans Resounded through the air pierc'd by no star, That e'en I wept at entering. Various tongues, Horrible languages, outcries of woe, Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse, With hands together smote that swell'd the sounds, Made up a tumult, that for ever whirls Round through that air with solid darkness stain'd, Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies. I then, with error yet encompass'd, cried: "O master! What is this I hear? What race Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?" He thus to me: "This miserable fate Suffer the wretched souls of those, who liv'd Without or praise or blame, with that ill band Of angels mix'd, who nor rebellious prov'd Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves Were only. From his bounds Heaven drove them forth, Not to impair his lustre, nor the depth Of Hell receives them, lest th' accursed tribe Should glory thence with exultation vain." I then: "Master! what doth aggrieve them thus, That they lament so loud?" He straight replied: "That will I tell thee briefly. These of death No hope may entertain: and their blind life So meanly passes, that all other lots They envy. Fame of them the world hath none, Nor suffers; mercy and justice scorn them both. Speak not of them, but look, and pass them by." And I, who straightway look'd, beheld a flag, Which whirling ran around so rapidly, That it no pause obtain'd: and following came Such a long train of spirits, I should ne'er Have thought, that death so many had despoil'd. When some of these I recogniz'd, I saw And knew the shade of him, who to base fear Yielding, abjur'd his high estate. Forthwith I understood for certain this the tribe Of those ill spirits both to God displeasing And to his foes. These wretches, who ne'er lived, Went on in nakedness, and sorely stung By wasps and hornets, which bedew'd their cheeks With blood, that mix'd with tears dropp'd to their feet, And by disgustful worms was gather'd there. Then looking farther onwards I beheld A throng upon the shore of a great stream: Whereat I thus: "Sir! grant me now to know Whom here we view, and whence impell'd they seem So eager to pass o'er, as I discern Through the blear light?" He thus to me in few: "This shalt thou know, soon as our steps arrive Beside the woeful tide of Acheron." Then with eyes downward cast and fill'd with shame, Fearing my words offensive to his ear, Till we had reach'd the river, I from speech Abstain'd. And lo! toward us in a bark Comes on an old man hoary white with eld, Crying, "Woe to you wicked spirits! hope not Ever to see the sky again. I come To take you to the other shore across, Into eternal darkness, there to dwell In fierce heat and in ice. And thou, who there Standest, live spirit! get thee hence, and leave These who are dead." But soon as he beheld I left them not, "By other way," said he, "By other haven shalt thou come to shore, Not by this passage; thee a nimbler boat Must carry." Then to him thus spake my guide: "Charon! thyself torment not: so 't is will'd, Where will and power are one: ask thou no more." Straightway in silence fell the shaggy cheeks Of him the boatman o'er the livid lake, Around whose eyes glar'd wheeling flames. Meanwhile Those spirits, faint and naked, color chang'd, And gnash'd their teeth, soon as the cruel words They heard. God and their parents they blasphem'd, The human kind, the place, the time, and seed That did engender them and give them birth. Then all together sorely wailing drew To the curs'd strand, that every man must pass Who fears not God. Charon, demoniac form, With eyes of burning coal, collects them all, Beck'ning, and each, that lingers, with his oar Strikes. As fall off the light autumnal leaves, One still another following, till the bough Strews all its honours on the earth beneath; E'en in like manner Adam's evil brood Cast themselves one by one down from the shore, Each at a beck, as falcon at his call. Thus go they over through the umber'd wave, And ever they on the opposing bank Be landed, on this side another throng Still gathers. "Son," thus spake the courteous guide, "Those, who die subject to the wrath of God, All here together come from every clime, And to o'erpass the river are not loth: For so heaven's justice goads them on, that fear Is turn'd into desire. Hence ne'er hath past Good spirit. If of thee Charon complain, Now mayst thou know the import of his words." This said, the gloomy region trembling shook So terribly, that yet with clammy dews Fear chills my brow. The sad earth gave a blast, That, lightening, shot forth a vermilion flame, Which all my senses conquer'd quite, and I Down dropp'd, as one with sudden slumber seiz'd.
BROKE the deep slumber in my brain a crash Of heavy thunder, that I shook myself, As one by main force rous'd. Risen upright, My rested eyes I mov'd around, and search'd With fixed ken to know what place it was, Wherein I stood. For certain on the brink I found me of the lamentable vale, The dread abyss, that joins a thund'rous sound Of plaints innumerable. Dark and deep, And thick with clouds o'erspread, mine eye in vain Explor'd its bottom, nor could aught discern. "Now let us to the blind world there beneath Descend;" the bard began all pale of look: "I go the first, and thou shalt follow next." Then I his alter'd hue perceiving, thus: "How may I speed, if thou yieldest to dread, Who still art wont to comfort me in doubt?" He then: "The anguish of that race below With pity stains my cheek, which thou for fear Mistakest. Let us on. Our length of way Urges to haste." Onward, this said, he mov'd; And ent'ring led me with him on the bounds Of the first circle, that surrounds th' abyss. Here, as mine ear could note, no plaint was heard Except of sighs, that made th' eternal air Tremble, not caus'd by tortures, but from grief Felt by those multitudes, many and vast, Of men, women, and infants. Then to me The gentle guide: "Inquir'st thou not what spirits Are these, which thou beholdest? Ere thou pass Farther, I would thou know, that these of sin Were blameless; and if aught they merited, It profits not, since baptism was not theirs, The portal to thy faith. If they before The Gospel liv'd, they serv'd not God aright; And among such am I. For these defects, And for no other evil, we are lost; Only so far afflicted, that we live Desiring without hope." So grief assail'd My heart at hearing this, for well I knew Suspended in that Limbo many a soul Of mighty worth. "O tell me, sire rever'd! Tell me, my master!" I began through wish Of full assurance in that holy faith, Which vanquishes all error; "say, did e'er Any, or through his own or other's merit, Come forth from thence, whom afterward was blest?" Piercing the secret purport of my speech, He answer'd: "I was new to that estate, When I beheld a puissant one arrive Amongst us, with victorious trophy crown'd. He forth the shade of our first parent drew, Abel his child, and Noah righteous man, Of Moses lawgiver for faith approv'd, Of patriarch Abraham, and David king, Israel with his sire and with his sons, Nor without Rachel whom so hard he won, And others many more, whom he to bliss Exalted. Before these, be thou assur'd, No spirit of human kind was ever sav'd." We, while he spake, ceas'd not our onward road, Still passing through the wood; for so I name Those spirits thick beset. We were not far On this side from the summit, when I kenn'd A flame, that o'er the darken'd hemisphere Prevailing shin'd. Yet we a little space Were distant, not so far but I in part Discover'd, that a tribe in honour high That place possess'd. "O thou, who every art And science valu'st! who are these, that boast Such honour, separate from all the rest?" He answer'd: "The renown of their great names That echoes through your world above, acquires Favour in heaven, which holds them thus advanc'd." Meantime a voice I heard: "Honour the bard Sublime! his shade returns that left us late!" No sooner ceas'd the sound, than I beheld Four mighty spirits toward us bend their steps, Of semblance neither sorrowful nor glad. When thus my master kind began: "Mark him, Who in his right hand bears that falchion keen, The other three preceding, as their lord. This is that Homer, of all bards supreme: Flaccus the next in satire's vein excelling; The third is Naso; Lucan is the last. Because they all that appellation own, With which the voice singly accosted me, Honouring they greet me thus, and well they judge." So I beheld united the bright school Of him the monarch of sublimest song, That o'er the others like an eagle soars. When they together short discourse had held, They turn'd to me, with salutation kind Beck'ning me; at the which my master smil'd: Nor was this all; but greater honour still They gave me, for they made me of their tribe; And I was sixth amid so learn'd a band. Far as the luminous beacon on we pass'd Speaking of matters, then befitting well To speak, now fitter left untold. At foot Of a magnificent castle we arriv'd, Seven times with lofty walls begirt, and round Defended by a pleasant stream. O'er this As o'er dry land we pass'd. Next through seven gates I with those sages enter'd, and we came Into a mead with lively verdure fresh. There dwelt a race, who slow their eyes around Majestically mov'd, and in their port Bore eminent authority; they spake Seldom, but all their words were tuneful sweet. We to one side retir'd, into a place Open and bright and lofty, whence each one Stood manifest to view. Incontinent There on the green enamel of the plain Were shown me the great spirits, by whose sight I am exalted in my own esteem. Electra there I saw accompanied By many, among whom Hector I knew, Anchises' pious son, and with hawk's eye Caesar all arm'd, and by Camilla there Penthesilea. On the other side Old King Latinus, seated by his child Lavinia, and that Brutus I beheld, Who Tarquin chas'd, Lucretia, Cato's wife Marcia, with Julia and Cornelia there; And sole apart retir'd, the Soldan fierce. Then when a little more I rais'd my brow, I spied the master of the sapient throng, Seated amid the philosophic train. Him all admire, all pay him rev'rence due. There Socrates and Plato both I mark'd, Nearest to him in rank; Democritus, Who sets the world at chance, Diogenes, With Heraclitus, and Empedocles, And Anaxagoras, and Thales sage, Zeno, and Dioscorides well read In nature's secret lore. Orpheus I mark'd And Linus, Tully and moral Seneca, Euclid and Ptolemy, Hippocrates, Galenus, Avicen, and him who made That commentary vast, Averroes. Of all to speak at full were vain attempt; For my wide theme so urges, that ofttimes My words fall short of what bechanc'd. In two The six associates part. Another way My sage guide leads me, from that air serene, Into a climate ever vex'd with storms: And to a part I come where no light shines.
FROM the first circle I descended thus Down to the second, which, a lesser space Embracing, so much more of grief contains Provoking bitter moans. There, Minos stands Grinning with ghastly feature: he, of all Who enter, strict examining the crimes, Gives sentence, and dismisses them beneath, According as he foldeth him around: For when before him comes th' ill fated soul, It all confesses; and that judge severe Of sins, considering what place in hell Suits the transgression, with his tail so oft Himself encircles, as degrees beneath He dooms it to descend. Before him stand Always a num'rous throng; and in his turn Each one to judgment passing, speaks, and hears His fate, thence downward to his dwelling hurl'd. "O thou! who to this residence of woe Approachest?" when he saw me coming, cried Minos, relinquishing his dread employ, "Look how thou enter here; beware in whom Thou place thy trust; let not the entrance broad Deceive thee to thy harm." To him my guide: "Wherefore exclaimest? Hinder not his way By destiny appointed; so 'tis will'd Where will and power are one. Ask thou no more." Now 'gin the rueful wailings to be heard. Now am I come where many a plaining voice Smites on mine ear. Into a place I came Where light was silent all. Bellowing there groan'd A noise as of a sea in tempest torn By warring winds. The stormy blast of hell With restless fury drives the spirits on Whirl'd round and dash'd amain with sore annoy. When they arrive before the ruinous sweep, There shrieks are heard, there lamentations, moans, And blasphemies 'gainst the good Power in heaven. I understood that to this torment sad The carnal sinners are condemn'd, in whom Reason by lust is sway'd. As in large troops And multitudinous, when winter reigns, The starlings on their wings are borne abroad; So bears the tyrannous gust those evil souls. On this side and on that, above, below, It drives them: hope of rest to solace them Is none, nor e'en of milder pang. As cranes, Chanting their dol'rous notes, traverse the sky, Stretch'd out in long array: so I beheld Spirits, who came loud wailing, hurried on By their dire doom. Then I: "Instructor! who Are these, by the black air so scourg'd?"—" The first 'Mong those, of whom thou question'st," he replied, "O'er many tongues was empress. She in vice Of luxury was so shameless, that she made Liking be lawful by promulg'd decree, To clear the blame she had herself incurr'd. This is Semiramis, of whom 'tis writ, That she succeeded Ninus her espous'd; And held the land, which now the Soldan rules. The next in amorous fury slew herself, And to Sicheus' ashes broke her faith: Then follows Cleopatra, lustful queen." There mark'd I Helen, for whose sake so long The time was fraught with evil; there the great Achilles, who with love fought to the end. Paris I saw, and Tristan; and beside A thousand more he show'd me, and by name Pointed them out, whom love bereav'd of life. When I had heard my sage instructor name Those dames and knights of antique days, o'erpower'd By pity, well-nigh in amaze my mind Was lost; and I began: "Bard! willingly I would address those two together coming, Which seem so light before the wind." He thus: "Note thou, when nearer they to us approach. Then by that love which carries them along, Entreat; and they will come." Soon as the wind Sway'd them toward us, I thus fram'd my speech: "O wearied spirits! come, and hold discourse With us, if by none else restrain'd." As doves By fond desire invited, on wide wings And firm, to their sweet nest returning home, Cleave the air, wafted by their will along; Thus issu'd from that troop, where Dido ranks, They through the ill air speeding; with such force My cry prevail'd by strong affection urg'd. "O gracious creature and benign! who go'st Visiting, through this element obscure, Us, who the world with bloody stain imbru'd; If for a friend the King of all we own'd, Our pray'r to him should for thy peace arise, Since thou hast pity on our evil plight. ()f whatsoe'er to hear or to discourse It pleases thee, that will we hear, of that Freely with thee discourse, while e'er the wind, As now, is mute. The land, that gave me birth, Is situate on the coast, where Po descends To rest in ocean with his sequent streams. "Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt, Entangled him by that fair form, from me Ta'en in such cruel sort, as grieves me still: Love, that denial takes from none belov'd, Caught me with pleasing him so passing well, That, as thou see'st, he yet deserts me not. Love brought us to one death: Caina waits The soul, who spilt our life." Such were their words; At hearing which downward I bent my looks, And held them there so long, that the bard cried: "What art thou pond'ring?" I in answer thus: "Alas! by what sweet thoughts, what fond desire Must they at length to that ill pass have reach'd!" Then turning, I to them my speech address'd. And thus began: "Francesca! your sad fate Even to tears my grief and pity moves. But tell me; in the time of your sweet sighs, By what, and how love granted, that ye knew Your yet uncertain wishes?" She replied: "No greater grief than to remember days Of joy, when mis'ry is at hand! That kens Thy learn'd instructor. Yet so eagerly If thou art bent to know the primal root, From whence our love gat being, I will do, As one, who weeps and tells his tale. One day For our delight we read of Lancelot, How him love thrall'd. Alone we were, and no Suspicion near us. Ofttimes by that reading Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue Fled from our alter'd cheek. But at one point Alone we fell. When of that smile we read, The wished smile, rapturously kiss'd By one so deep in love, then he, who ne'er From me shall separate, at once my lips All trembling kiss'd. The book and writer both Were love's purveyors. In its leaves that day We read no more." While thus one spirit spake, The other wail'd so sorely, that heartstruck I through compassion fainting, seem'd not far From death, and like a corpse fell to the ground.
MY sense reviving, that erewhile had droop'd With pity for the kindred shades, whence grief O'ercame me wholly, straight around I see New torments, new tormented souls, which way Soe'er I move, or turn, or bend my sight. In the third circle I arrive, of show'rs Ceaseless, accursed, heavy, and cold, unchang'd For ever, both in kind and in degree. Large hail, discolour'd water, sleety flaw Through the dun midnight air stream'd down amain: Stank all the land whereon that tempest fell. Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange, Through his wide threefold throat barks as a dog Over the multitude immers'd beneath. His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard, His belly large, and claw'd the hands, with which He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs Piecemeal disparts. Howling there spread, as curs, Under the rainy deluge, with one side The other screening, oft they roll them round, A wretched, godless crew. When that great worm Descried us, savage Cerberus, he op'd His jaws, and the fangs show'd us; not a limb Of him but trembled. Then my guide, his palms Expanding on the ground, thence filled with earth Rais'd them, and cast it in his ravenous maw. E'en as a dog, that yelling bays for food His keeper, when the morsel comes, lets fall His fury, bent alone with eager haste To swallow it; so dropp'd the loathsome cheeks Of demon Cerberus, who thund'ring stuns The spirits, that they for deafness wish in vain. We, o'er the shades thrown prostrate by the brunt Of the heavy tempest passing, set our feet Upon their emptiness, that substance seem'd. They all along the earth extended lay Save one, that sudden rais'd himself to sit, Soon as that way he saw us pass. "O thou!" He cried, "who through the infernal shades art led, Own, if again thou know'st me. Thou wast fram'd Or ere my frame was broken." I replied: "The anguish thou endur'st perchance so takes Thy form from my remembrance, that it seems As if I saw thee never. But inform Me who thou art, that in a place so sad Art set, and in such torment, that although Other be greater, more disgustful none Can be imagin'd." He in answer thus: "Thy city heap'd with envy to the brim, Ay that the measure overflows its bounds, Held me in brighter days. Ye citizens Were wont to name me Ciacco. For the sin Of glutt'ny, damned vice, beneath this rain, E'en as thou see'st, I with fatigue am worn; Nor I sole spirit in this woe: all these Have by like crime incurr'd like punishment." No more he said, and I my speech resum'd: "Ciacco! thy dire affliction grieves me much, Even to tears. But tell me, if thou know'st, What shall at length befall the citizens Of the divided city; whether any just one Inhabit there: and tell me of the cause, Whence jarring discord hath assail'd it thus?" He then: "After long striving they will come To blood; and the wild party from the woods Will chase the other with much injury forth. Then it behoves, that this must fall, within Three solar circles; and the other rise By borrow'd force of one, who under shore Now rests. It shall a long space hold aloof Its forehead, keeping under heavy weight The other oppress'd, indignant at the load, And grieving sore. The just are two in number, But they neglected. Av'rice, envy, pride, Three fatal sparks, have set the hearts of all On fire." Here ceas'd the lamentable sound; And I continu'd thus: "Still would I learn More from thee, farther parley still entreat. Of Farinata and Tegghiaio say, They who so well deserv'd, of Giacopo, Arrigo, Mosca, and the rest, who bent Their minds on working good. Oh! tell me where They bide, and to their knowledge let me come. For I am press'd with keen desire to hear, If heaven's sweet cup or poisonous drug of hell Be to their lip assign'd." He answer'd straight: "These are yet blacker spirits. Various crimes Have sunk them deeper in the dark abyss. If thou so far descendest, thou mayst see them. But to the pleasant world when thou return'st, Of me make mention, I entreat thee, there. No more I tell thee, answer thee no more." This said, his fixed eyes he turn'd askance, A little ey'd me, then bent down his head, And 'midst his blind companions with it fell. When thus my guide: "No more his bed he leaves, Ere the last angel-trumpet blow. The Power Adverse to these shall then in glory come, Each one forthwith to his sad tomb repair, Resume his fleshly vesture and his form, And hear the eternal doom re-echoing rend The vault." So pass'd we through that mixture foul Of spirits and rain, with tardy steps; meanwhile Touching, though slightly, on the life to come. For thus I question'd: "Shall these tortures, Sir! When the great sentence passes, be increas'd, Or mitigated, or as now severe?" He then: "Consult thy knowledge; that decides That as each thing to more perfection grows, It feels more sensibly both good and pain. Though ne'er to true perfection may arrive This race accurs'd, yet nearer then than now They shall approach it." Compassing that path Circuitous we journeyed, and discourse Much more than I relate between us pass'd: Till at the point, where the steps led below, Arriv'd, there Plutus, the great foe, we found.
"AH me! O Satan! Satan!" loud exclaim'd Plutus, in accent hoarse of wild alarm: And the kind sage, whom no event surpris'd, To comfort me thus spake: "Let not thy fear Harm thee, for power in him, be sure, is none To hinder down this rock thy safe descent." Then to that sworn lip turning, " Peace!" he cried, "Curs'd wolf! thy fury inward on thyself Prey, and consume thee! Through the dark profound Not without cause he passes. So 't is will'd On high, there where the great Archangel pour'd Heav'n's vengeance on the first adulterer proud." As sails full spread and bellying with the wind Drop suddenly collaps'd, if the mast split; So to the ground down dropp'd the cruel fiend. Thus we, descending to the fourth steep ledge, Gain'd on the dismal shore, that all the woe Hems in of all the universe. Ah me! Almighty Justice! in what store thou heap'st New pains, new troubles, as I here beheld! Wherefore doth fault of ours bring us to this? E'en as a billow, on Charybdis rising, Against encounter'd billow dashing breaks; Such is the dance this wretched race must lead, Whom more than elsewhere numerous here I found, From one side and the other, with loud voice, Both roll'd on weights by main forge of their breasts, Then smote together, and each one forthwith Roll'd them back voluble, turning again, Exclaiming these, "Why holdest thou so fast?" Those answering, "And why castest thou away?" So still repeating their despiteful song, They to the opposite point on either hand Travers'd the horrid circle: then arriv'd, Both turn'd them round, and through the middle space Conflicting met again. At sight whereof I, stung with grief, thus spake: "O say, my guide! What race is this? Were these, whose heads are shorn, On our left hand, all sep'rate to the church?" He straight replied: "In their first life these all In mind were so distorted, that they made, According to due measure, of their wealth, No use. This clearly from their words collect, Which they howl forth, at each extremity Arriving of the circle, where their crime Contrary' in kind disparts them. To the church Were separate those, that with no hairy cowls Are crown'd, both Popes and Cardinals, o'er whom Av'rice dominion absolute maintains." I then: "Mid such as these some needs must be, Whom I shall recognize, that with the blot Of these foul sins were stain'd." He answering thus: "Vain thought conceiv'st thou. That ignoble life, Which made them vile before, now makes them dark, And to all knowledge indiscernible. Forever they shall meet in this rude shock: These from the tomb with clenched grasp shall rise, Those with close-shaven locks. That ill they gave, And ill they kept, hath of the beauteous world Depriv'd, and set them at this strife, which needs No labour'd phrase of mine to set if off. Now may'st thou see, my son! how brief, how vain, The goods committed into fortune's hands, For which the human race keep such a coil! Not all the gold, that is beneath the moon, Or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls Might purchase rest for one." I thus rejoin'd: "My guide! of thee this also would I learn; This fortune, that thou speak'st of, what it is, Whose talons grasp the blessings of the world?" He thus: "O beings blind! what ignorance Besets you? Now my judgment hear and mark. He, whose transcendent wisdom passes all, The heavens creating, gave them ruling powers To guide them, so that each part shines to each, Their light in equal distribution pour'd. By similar appointment he ordain'd Over the world's bright images to rule. Superintendence of a guiding hand And general minister, which at due time May change the empty vantages of life From race to race, from one to other's blood, Beyond prevention of man's wisest care: Wherefore one nation rises into sway, Another languishes, e'en as her will Decrees, from us conceal'd, as in the grass The serpent train. Against her nought avails Your utmost wisdom. She with foresight plans, Judges, and carries on her reign, as theirs The other powers divine. Her changes know Nore intermission: by necessity She is made swift, so frequent come who claim Succession in her favours. This is she, So execrated e'en by those, whose debt To her is rather praise; they wrongfully With blame requite her, and with evil word; But she is blessed, and for that recks not: Amidst the other primal beings glad Rolls on her sphere, and in her bliss exults. Now on our way pass we, to heavier woe Descending: for each star is falling now, That mounted at our entrance, and forbids Too long our tarrying." We the circle cross'd To the next steep, arriving at a well, That boiling pours itself down to a foss Sluic'd from its source. Far murkier was the wave Than sablest grain: and we in company Of the' inky waters, journeying by their side, Enter'd, though by a different track, beneath. Into a lake, the Stygian nam'd, expands The dismal stream, when it hath reach'd the foot Of the grey wither'd cliffs. Intent I stood To gaze, and in the marish sunk descried A miry tribe, all naked, and with looks Betok'ning rage. They with their hands alone Struck not, but with the head, the breast, the feet, Cutting each other piecemeal with their fangs. The good instructor spake; "Now seest thou, son! The souls of those, whom anger overcame. This too for certain know, that underneath The water dwells a multitude, whose sighs Into these bubbles make the surface heave, As thine eye tells thee wheresoe'er it turn. Fix'd in the slime they say: "Sad once were we In the sweet air made gladsome by the sun, Carrying a foul and lazy mist within: Now in these murky settlings are we sad." Such dolorous strain they gurgle in their throats. But word distinct can utter none." Our route Thus compass'd we, a segment widely stretch'd Between the dry embankment, and the core Of the loath'd pool, turning meanwhile our eyes Downward on those who gulp'd its muddy lees; Nor stopp'd, till to a tower's low base we came.
MY theme pursuing, I relate that ere We reach'd the lofty turret's base, our eyes Its height ascended, where two cressets hung We mark'd, and from afar another light Return the signal, so remote, that scarce The eye could catch its beam. I turning round To the deep source of knowledge, thus inquir'd: "Say what this means? and what that other light In answer set? what agency doth this?" "There on the filthy waters," he replied, "E'en now what next awaits us mayst thou see, If the marsh-gender'd fog conceal it not." Never was arrow from the cord dismiss'd, That ran its way so nimbly through the air, As a small bark, that through the waves I spied Toward us coming, under the sole sway Of one that ferried it, who cried aloud: "Art thou arriv'd, fell spirit?"—"Phlegyas, Phlegyas, This time thou criest in vain," my lord replied; "No longer shalt thou have us, but while o'er The slimy pool we pass." As one who hears Of some great wrong he hath sustain'd, whereat Inly he pines; so Phlegyas inly pin'd In his fierce ire. My guide descending stepp'd Into the skiff, and bade me enter next Close at his side; nor till my entrance seem'd The vessel freighted. Soon as both embark'd, Cutting the waves, goes on the ancient prow, More deeply than with others it is wont. While we our course o'er the dead channel held. One drench'd in mire before me came, and said; "Who art thou, that thou comest ere thine hour?" I answer'd: "Though I come, I tarry not; But who art thou, that art become so foul?" "One, as thou seest, who mourn: " he straight replied. To which I thus: " In mourning and in woe, Curs'd spirit! tarry thou. I know thee well, E'en thus in filth disguis'd." Then stretch'd he forth Hands to the bark; whereof my teacher sage Aware, thrusting him back: "Away! down there To the' other dogs!" then, with his arms my neck Encircling, kiss'd my cheek, and spake: "O soul Justly disdainful! blest was she in whom Thou was conceiv'd! He in the world was one For arrogance noted; to his memory No virtue lends its lustre; even so Here is his shadow furious. There above How many now hold themselves mighty kings Who here like swine shall wallow in the mire, Leaving behind them horrible dispraise!" I then: "Master! him fain would I behold Whelm'd in these dregs, before we quit the lake." He thus: "Or ever to thy view the shore Be offer'd, satisfied shall be that wish, Which well deserves completion." Scarce his words Were ended, when I saw the miry tribes Set on him with such violence, that yet For that render I thanks to God and praise "To Filippo Argenti:" cried they all: And on himself the moody Florentine Turn'd his avenging fangs. Him here we left, Nor speak I of him more. But on mine ear Sudden a sound of lamentation smote, Whereat mine eye unbarr'd I sent abroad. And thus the good instructor: "Now, my son! Draws near the city, that of Dis is nam'd, With its grave denizens, a mighty throng." I thus: "The minarets already, Sir! There certes in the valley I descry, Gleaming vermilion, as if they from fire Had issu'd." He replied: "Eternal fire, That inward burns, shows them with ruddy flame Illum'd; as in this nether hell thou seest." We came within the fosses deep, that moat This region comfortless. The walls appear'd As they were fram'd of iron. We had made Wide circuit, ere a place we reach'd, where loud The mariner cried vehement: "Go forth! The' entrance is here!" Upon the gates I spied More than a thousand, who of old from heaven Were hurl'd. With ireful gestures, "Who is this," They cried, "that without death first felt, goes through The regions of the dead?" My sapient guide Made sign that he for secret parley wish'd; Whereat their angry scorn abating, thus They spake: "Come thou alone; and let him go Who hath so hardily enter'd this realm. Alone return he by his witless way; If well he know it, let him prove. For thee, Here shalt thou tarry, who through clime so dark Hast been his escort." Now bethink thee, reader! What cheer was mine at sound of those curs'd words. I did believe I never should return. "O my lov'd guide! who more than seven times Security hast render'd me, and drawn From peril deep, whereto I stood expos'd, Desert me not," I cried, "in this extreme. And if our onward going be denied, Together trace we back our steps with speed." My liege, who thither had conducted me, Replied: "Fear not: for of our passage none Hath power to disappoint us, by such high Authority permitted. But do thou Expect me here; meanwhile thy wearied spirit Comfort, and feed with kindly hope, assur'd I will not leave thee in this lower world." This said, departs the sire benevolent, And quits me. Hesitating I remain At war 'twixt will and will not in my thoughts. I could not hear what terms he offer'd them, But they conferr'd not long, for all at once To trial fled within. Clos'd were the gates By those our adversaries on the breast Of my liege lord: excluded he return'd To me with tardy steps. Upon the ground His eyes were bent, and from his brow eras'd All confidence, while thus with sighs he spake: "Who hath denied me these abodes of woe?" Then thus to me: "That I am anger'd, think No ground of terror: in this trial I Shall vanquish, use what arts they may within For hindrance. This their insolence, not new, Erewhile at gate less secret they display'd, Which still is without bolt; upon its arch Thou saw'st the deadly scroll: and even now On this side of its entrance, down the steep, Passing the circles, unescorted, comes One whose strong might can open us this land."
THE hue, which coward dread on my pale cheeks Imprinted, when I saw my guide turn back, Chas'd that from his which newly they had worn, And inwardly restrain'd it. He, as one Who listens, stood attentive: for his eye Not far could lead him through the sable air, And the thick-gath'ring cloud. "It yet behooves We win this fight"—thus he began—" if not— Such aid to us is offer'd. —Oh, how long Me seems it, ere the promis'd help arrive!" I noted, how the sequel of his words Clok'd their beginning; for the last he spake Agreed not with the first. But not the less My fear was at his saying; sith I drew To import worse perchance, than that he held, His mutilated speech. "Doth ever any Into this rueful concave's extreme depth Descend, out of the first degree, whose pain Is deprivation merely of sweet hope?" Thus I inquiring. "Rarely," he replied, "It chances, that among us any makes This journey, which I wend. Erewhile 'tis true Once came I here beneath, conjur'd by fell Erictho, sorceress, who compell'd the shades Back to their bodies. No long space my flesh Was naked of me, when within these walls She made me enter, to draw forth a spirit From out of Judas' circle. Lowest place Is that of all, obscurest, and remov'd Farthest from heav'n's all-circling orb. The road Full well I know: thou therefore rest secure. That lake, the noisome stench exhaling, round The city' of grief encompasses, which now We may not enter without rage." Yet more He added: but I hold it not in mind, For that mine eye toward the lofty tower Had drawn me wholly, to its burning top. Where in an instant I beheld uprisen At once three hellish furies stain'd with blood: In limb and motion feminine they seem'd; Around them greenest hydras twisting roll'd Their volumes; adders and cerastes crept Instead of hair, and their fierce temples bound. He knowing well the miserable hags Who tend the queen of endless woe, thus spake: "Mark thou each dire Erinnys. To the left This is Megaera; on the right hand she, Who wails, Alecto; and Tisiphone I' th' midst." This said, in silence he remain'd Their breast they each one clawing tore; themselves Smote with their palms, and such shrill clamour rais'd, That to the bard I clung, suspicion-bound. "Hasten Medusa: so to adamant Him shall we change;" all looking down exclaim'd. "E'en when by Theseus' might assail'd, we took No ill revenge." "Turn thyself round, and keep Thy count'nance hid; for if the Gorgon dire Be shown, and thou shouldst view it, thy return Upwards would be for ever lost." This said, Himself my gentle master turn'd me round, Nor trusted he my hands, but with his own He also hid me. Ye of intellect Sound and entire, mark well the lore conceal'd Under close texture of the mystic strain! And now there came o'er the perturbed waves Loud-crashing, terrible, a sound that made Either shore tremble, as if of a wind Impetuous, from conflicting vapours sprung, That 'gainst some forest driving all its might, Plucks off the branches, beats them down and hurls Afar; then onward passing proudly sweeps Its whirlwind rage, while beasts and shepherds fly. Mine eyes he loos'd, and spake: "And now direct Thy visual nerve along that ancient foam, There, thickest where the smoke ascends." As frogs Before their foe the serpent, through the wave Ply swiftly all, till at the ground each one Lies on a heap; more than a thousand spirits Destroy'd, so saw I fleeing before one Who pass'd with unwet feet the Stygian sound. He, from his face removing the gross air, Oft his left hand forth stretch'd, and seem'd alone By that annoyance wearied. I perceiv'd That he was sent from heav'n, and to my guide Turn'd me, who signal made that I should stand Quiet, and bend to him. Ah me! how full Of noble anger seem'd he! To the gate He came, and with his wand touch'd it, whereat Open without impediment it flew. "Outcasts of heav'n! O abject race and scorn'd!" Began he on the horrid grunsel standing, "Whence doth this wild excess of insolence Lodge in you? wherefore kick you 'gainst that will Ne'er frustrate of its end, and which so oft Hath laid on you enforcement of your pangs? What profits at the fays to but the horn? Your Cerberus, if ye remember, hence Bears still, peel'd of their hair, his throat and maw." This said, he turn'd back o'er the filthy way, And syllable to us spake none, but wore The semblance of a man by other care Beset, and keenly press'd, than thought of him Who in his presence stands. Then we our steps Toward that territory mov'd, secure After the hallow'd words. We unoppos'd There enter'd; and my mind eager to learn What state a fortress like to that might hold, I soon as enter'd throw mine eye around, And see on every part wide-stretching space Replete with bitter pain and torment ill. As where Rhone stagnates on the plains of Arles, Or as at Pola, near Quarnaro's gulf, That closes Italy and laves her bounds, The place is all thick spread with sepulchres; So was it here, save what in horror here Excell'd: for 'midst the graves were scattered flames, Wherewith intensely all throughout they burn'd, That iron for no craft there hotter needs. Their lids all hung suspended, and beneath From them forth issu'd lamentable moans, Such as the sad and tortur'd well might raise. I thus: "Master! say who are these, interr'd Within these vaults, of whom distinct we hear The dolorous sighs?" He answer thus return'd: "The arch-heretics are here, accompanied By every sect their followers; and much more, Than thou believest, tombs are freighted: like With like is buried; and the monuments Are different in degrees of heat. "This said, He to the right hand turning, on we pass'd Betwixt the afflicted and the ramparts high.
NOW by a secret pathway we proceed, Between the walls, that hem the region round, And the tormented souls: my master first, I close behind his steps. "Virtue supreme!" I thus began; "who through these ample orbs In circuit lead'st me, even as thou will'st, Speak thou, and satisfy my wish. May those, Who lie within these sepulchres, be seen? Already all the lids are rais'd, and none O'er them keeps watch." He thus in answer spake "They shall be closed all, what-time they here From Josaphat return'd shall come, and bring Their bodies, which above they now have left. The cemetery on this part obtain With Epicurus all his followers, Who with the body make the spirit die. Here therefore satisfaction shall be soon Both to the question ask'd, and to the wish, Which thou conceal'st in silence." I replied: "I keep not, guide belov'd! from thee my heart Secreted, but to shun vain length of words, A lesson erewhile taught me by thyself." "O Tuscan! thou who through the city of fire Alive art passing, so discreet of speech! Here please thee stay awhile. Thy utterance Declares the place of thy nativity To be that noble land, with which perchance I too severely dealt." Sudden that sound Forth issu'd from a vault, whereat in fear I somewhat closer to my leader's side Approaching, he thus spake: "What dost thou? Turn. Lo, Farinata, there! who hath himself Uplifted: from his girdle upwards all Expos'd behold him." On his face was mine Already fix'd; his breast and forehead there Erecting, seem'd as in high scorn he held E'en hell. Between the sepulchres to him My guide thrust me with fearless hands and prompt, This warning added: "See thy words be clear!" He, soon as there I stood at the tomb's foot, Ey'd me a space, then in disdainful mood Address'd me: "Say, what ancestors were thine?" I, willing to obey him, straight reveal'd The whole, nor kept back aught: whence he, his brow Somewhat uplifting, cried: "Fiercely were they Adverse to me, my party, and the blood From whence I sprang: twice therefore I abroad Scatter'd them." "Though driv'n out, yet they each time From all parts," answer'd I, "return'd; an art Which yours have shown, they are not skill'd to learn." Then, peering forth from the unclosed jaw, Rose from his side a shade, high as the chin, Leaning, methought, upon its knees uprais'd. It look'd around, as eager to explore If there were other with me; but perceiving That fond imagination quench'd, with tears Thus spake: "If thou through this blind prison go'st. Led by thy lofty genius and profound, Where is my son? and wherefore not with thee?" I straight replied: "Not of myself I come, By him, who there expects me, through this clime Conducted, whom perchance Guido thy son Had in contempt." Already had his words And mode of punishment read me his name, Whence I so fully answer'd. He at once Exclaim'd, up starting, "How! said'st thou he HAD? No longer lives he? Strikes not on his eye The blessed daylight?" Then of some delay I made ere my reply aware, down fell Supine, not after forth appear'd he more. Meanwhile the other, great of soul, near whom I yet was station'd, chang'd not count'nance stern, Nor mov'd the neck, nor bent his ribbed side. "And if," continuing the first discourse, "They in this art," he cried, "small skill have shown, That doth torment me more e'en than this bed. But not yet fifty times shall be relum'd Her aspect, who reigns here Queen of this realm, Ere thou shalt know the full weight of that art. So to the pleasant world mayst thou return, As thou shalt tell me, why in all their laws, Against my kin this people is so fell?" "The slaughter and great havoc," I replied, "That colour'd Arbia's flood with crimson stain— To these impute, that in our hallow'd dome Such orisons ascend." Sighing he shook The head, then thus resum'd: "In that affray I stood not singly, nor without just cause Assuredly should with the rest have stirr'd; But singly there I stood, when by consent Of all, Florence had to the ground been raz'd, The one who openly forbad the deed." "So may thy lineage find at last repose," I thus adjur'd him, "as thou solve this knot, Which now involves my mind. If right I hear, Ye seem to view beforehand, that which time Leads with him, of the present uninform'd." "We view, as one who hath an evil sight," He answer'd, "plainly, objects far remote: So much of his large spendour yet imparts The' Almighty Ruler; but when they approach Or actually exist, our intellect Then wholly fails, nor of your human state Except what others bring us know we aught. Hence therefore mayst thou understand, that all Our knowledge in that instant shall expire, When on futurity the portals close." Then conscious of my fault, and by remorse Smitten, I added thus: "Now shalt thou say To him there fallen, that his offspring still Is to the living join'd; and bid him know, That if from answer silent I abstain'd, 'Twas that my thought was occupied intent Upon that error, which thy help hath solv'd." But now my master summoning me back I heard, and with more eager haste besought The spirit to inform me, who with him Partook his lot. He answer thus return'd: "More than a thousand with me here are laid Within is Frederick, second of that name, And the Lord Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not." He, this said, from sight withdrew. But I my steps towards the ancient bard Reverting, ruminated on the words Betokening me such ill. Onward he mov'd, And thus in going question'd: "Whence the' amaze That holds thy senses wrapt?" I satisfied The' inquiry, and the sage enjoin'd me straight: "Let thy safe memory store what thou hast heard To thee importing harm; and note thou this," With his rais'd finger bidding me take heed, "When thou shalt stand before her gracious beam, Whose bright eye all surveys, she of thy life The future tenour will to thee unfold." Forthwith he to the left hand turn'd his feet: We left the wall, and tow'rds the middle space Went by a path, that to a valley strikes; Which e'en thus high exhal'd its noisome steam.
UPON the utmost verge of a high bank, By craggy rocks environ'd round, we came, Where woes beneath more cruel yet were stow'd: And here to shun the horrible excess Of fetid exhalation, upward cast From the profound abyss, behind the lid Of a great monument we stood retir'd, Whereon this scroll I mark'd: "I have in charge Pope Anastasius, whom Photinus drew From the right path.—Ere our descent behooves We make delay, that somewhat first the sense, To the dire breath accustom'd, afterward Regard it not." My master thus; to whom Answering I spake: "Some compensation find That the time past not wholly lost." He then: "Lo! how my thoughts e'en to thy wishes tend! My son! within these rocks," he thus began, "Are three close circles in gradation plac'd, As these which now thou leav'st. Each one is full Of spirits accurs'd; but that the sight alone Hereafter may suffice thee, listen how And for what cause in durance they abide. "Of all malicious act abhorr'd in heaven, The end is injury; and all such end Either by force or fraud works other's woe But fraud, because of man peculiar evil, To God is more displeasing; and beneath The fraudulent are therefore doom'd to' endure Severer pang. The violent occupy All the first circle; and because to force Three persons are obnoxious, in three rounds Hach within other sep'rate is it fram'd. To God, his neighbour, and himself, by man Force may be offer'd; to himself I say And his possessions, as thou soon shalt hear At full. Death, violent death, and painful wounds Upon his neighbour he inflicts; and wastes By devastation, pillage, and the flames, His substance. Slayers, and each one that smites In malice, plund'rers, and all robbers, hence The torment undergo of the first round In different herds. Man can do violence To himself and his own blessings: and for this He in the second round must aye deplore With unavailing penitence his crime, Whoe'er deprives himself of life and light, In reckless lavishment his talent wastes, And sorrows there where he should dwell in joy. To God may force be offer'd, in the heart Denying and blaspheming his high power, And nature with her kindly law contemning. And thence the inmost round marks with its seal Sodom and Cahors, and all such as speak Contemptuously' of the Godhead in their hearts. "Fraud, that in every conscience leaves a sting, May be by man employ'd on one, whose trust He wins, or on another who withholds Strict confidence. Seems as the latter way Broke but the bond of love which Nature makes. Whence in the second circle have their nest Dissimulation, witchcraft, flatteries, Theft, falsehood, simony, all who seduce To lust, or set their honesty at pawn, With such vile scum as these. The other way Forgets both Nature's general love, and that Which thereto added afterwards gives birth To special faith. Whence in the lesser circle, Point of the universe, dread seat of Dis, The traitor is eternally consum'd." I thus: "Instructor, clearly thy discourse Proceeds, distinguishing the hideous chasm And its inhabitants with skill exact. But tell me this: they of the dull, fat pool, Whom the rain beats, or whom the tempest drives, Or who with tongues so fierce conflicting meet, Wherefore within the city fire-illum'd Are not these punish'd, if God's wrath be on them? And if it be not, wherefore in such guise Are they condemned?" He answer thus return'd: "Wherefore in dotage wanders thus thy mind, Not so accustom'd? or what other thoughts Possess it? Dwell not in thy memory The words, wherein thy ethic page describes Three dispositions adverse to Heav'n's will, Incont'nence, malice, and mad brutishness, And how incontinence the least offends God, and least guilt incurs? If well thou note This judgment, and remember who they are, Without these walls to vain repentance doom'd, Thou shalt discern why they apart are plac'd From these fell spirits, and less wreakful pours Justice divine on them its vengeance down." "O Sun! who healest all imperfect sight, Thou so content'st me, when thou solv'st my doubt, That ignorance not less than knowledge charms. Yet somewhat turn thee back," I in these words Continu'd, "where thou saidst, that usury Offends celestial Goodness; and this knot Perplex'd unravel." He thus made reply: "Philosophy, to an attentive ear, Clearly points out, not in one part alone, How imitative nature takes her course From the celestial mind and from its art: And where her laws the Stagyrite unfolds, Not many leaves scann'd o'er, observing well Thou shalt discover, that your art on her Obsequious follows, as the learner treads In his instructor's step, so that your art Deserves the name of second in descent From God. These two, if thou recall to mind Creation's holy book, from the beginning Were the right source of life and excellence To human kind. But in another path The usurer walks; and Nature in herself And in her follower thus he sets at nought, Placing elsewhere his hope. But follow now My steps on forward journey bent; for now The Pisces play with undulating glance Along the' horizon, and the Wain lies all O'er the north-west; and onward there a space Is our steep passage down the rocky height."
THE place where to descend the precipice We came, was rough as Alp, and on its verge Such object lay, as every eye would shun. As is that ruin, which Adice's stream On this side Trento struck, should'ring the wave, Or loos'd by earthquake or for lack of prop; For from the mountain's summit, whence it mov'd To the low level, so the headlong rock Is shiver'd, that some passage it might give To him who from above would pass; e'en such Into the chasm was that descent: and there At point of the disparted ridge lay stretch'd The infamy of Crete, detested brood Of the feign'd heifer: and at sight of us It gnaw'd itself, as one with rage distract. To him my guide exclaim'd: "Perchance thou deem'st The King of Athens here, who, in the world Above, thy death contriv'd. Monster! avaunt! He comes not tutor'd by thy sister's art, But to behold your torments is he come." Like to a bull, that with impetuous spring Darts, at the moment when the fatal blow Hath struck him, but unable to proceed Plunges on either side; so saw I plunge The Minotaur; whereat the sage exclaim'd: "Run to the passage! while he storms, 't is well That thou descend." Thus down our road we took Through those dilapidated crags, that oft Mov'd underneath my feet, to weight like theirs Unus'd. I pond'ring went, and thus he spake: "Perhaps thy thoughts are of this ruin'd steep, Guarded by the brute violence, which I Have vanquish'd now. Know then, that when I erst Hither descended to the nether hell, This rock was not yet fallen. But past doubt (If well I mark) not long ere He arrived, Who carried off from Dis the mighty spoil Of the highest circle, then through all its bounds Such trembling seiz'd the deep concave and foul, I thought the universe was thrill'd with love, Whereby, there are who deem, the world hath oft Been into chaos turn'd: and in that point, Here, and elsewhere, that old rock toppled down. But fix thine eyes beneath: the river of blood Approaches, in the which all those are steep'd, Who have by violence injur'd." O blind lust! O foolish wrath! who so dost goad us on In the brief life, and in the eternal then Thus miserably o'erwhelm us. I beheld An ample foss, that in a bow was bent, As circling all the plain; for so my guide Had told. Between it and the rampart's base On trail ran Centaurs, with keen arrows arm'd, As to the chase they on the earth were wont. At seeing us descend they each one stood; And issuing from the troop, three sped with bows And missile weapons chosen first; of whom One cried from far: "Say to what pain ye come Condemn'd, who down this steep have journied? Speak From whence ye stand, or else the bow I draw." To whom my guide: "Our answer shall be made To Chiron, there, when nearer him we come. Ill was thy mind, thus ever quick and rash." Then me he touch'd, and spake: "Nessus is this, Who for the fair Deianira died, And wrought himself revenge for his own fate. He in the midst, that on his breast looks down, Is the great Chiron who Achilles nurs'd; That other Pholus, prone to wrath." Around The foss these go by thousands, aiming shafts At whatsoever spirit dares emerge From out the blood, more than his guilt allows. We to those beasts, that rapid strode along, Drew near, when Chiron took an arrow forth, And with the notch push'd back his shaggy beard To the cheek-bone, then his great mouth to view Exposing, to his fellows thus exclaim'd: "Are ye aware, that he who comes behind Moves what he touches? The feet of the dead Are not so wont." My trusty guide, who now Stood near his breast, where the two natures join, Thus made reply: "He is indeed alive, And solitary so must needs by me Be shown the gloomy vale, thereto induc'd By strict necessity, not by delight. She left her joyful harpings in the sky, Who this new office to my care consign'd. He is no robber, no dark spirit I. But by that virtue, which empowers my step To treat so wild a path, grant us, I pray, One of thy band, whom we may trust secure, Who to the ford may lead us, and convey Across, him mounted on his back; for he Is not a spirit that may walk the air." Then on his right breast turning, Chiron thus To Nessus spake: "Return, and be their guide. And if ye chance to cross another troop, Command them keep aloof." Onward we mov'd, The faithful escort by our side, along The border of the crimson-seething flood, Whence from those steep'd within loud shrieks arose. Some there I mark'd, as high as to their brow Immers'd, of whom the mighty Centaur thus: "These are the souls of tyrants, who were given To blood and rapine. Here they wail aloud Their merciless wrongs. Here Alexander dwells, And Dionysius fell, who many a year Of woe wrought for fair Sicily. That brow Whereon the hair so jetty clust'ring hangs, Is Azzolino; that with flaxen locks Obizzo' of Este, in the world destroy'd By his foul step-son." To the bard rever'd I turned me round, and thus he spake; "Let him Be to thee now first leader, me but next To him in rank." Then farther on a space The Centaur paus'd, near some, who at the throat Were extant from the wave; and showing us A spirit by itself apart retir'd, Exclaim'd: "He in God's bosom smote the heart, Which yet is honour'd on the bank of Thames." A race I next espied, who held the head, And even all the bust above the stream. 'Midst these I many a face remember'd well. Thus shallow more and more the blood became, So that at last it but imbru'd the feet; And there our passage lay athwart the foss. "As ever on this side the boiling wave Thou seest diminishing," the Centaur said, "So on the other, be thou well assur'd, It lower still and lower sinks its bed, Till in that part it reuniting join, Where 't is the lot of tyranny to mourn. There Heav'n's stern justice lays chastising hand On Attila, who was the scourge of earth, On Sextus, and on Pyrrhus, and extracts Tears ever by the seething flood unlock'd From the Rinieri, of Corneto this, Pazzo the other nam'd, who fill'd the ways With violence and war." This said, he turn'd, And quitting us, alone repass'd the ford.
ERE Nessus yet had reach'd the other bank, We enter'd on a forest, where no track Of steps had worn a way. Not verdant there The foliage, but of dusky hue; not light The boughs and tapering, but with knares deform'd And matted thick: fruits there were none, but thorns Instead, with venom fill'd. Less sharp than these, Less intricate the brakes, wherein abide Those animals, that hate the cultur'd fields, Betwixt Corneto and Cecina's stream. Here the brute Harpies make their nest, the same Who from the Strophades the Trojan band Drove with dire boding of their future woe. Broad are their pennons, of the human form Their neck and count'nance, arm'd with talons keen The feet, and the huge belly fledge with wings These sit and wail on the drear mystic wood. The kind instructor in these words began: "Ere farther thou proceed, know thou art now I' th' second round, and shalt be, till thou come Upon the horrid sand: look therefore well Around thee, and such things thou shalt behold, As would my speech discredit." On all sides I heard sad plainings breathe, and none could see From whom they might have issu'd. In amaze Fast bound I stood. He, as it seem'd, believ'd, That I had thought so many voices came From some amid those thickets close conceal'd, And thus his speech resum'd: "If thou lop off A single twig from one of those ill plants, The thought thou hast conceiv'd shall vanish quite." Thereat a little stretching forth my hand, From a great wilding gather'd I a branch, And straight the trunk exclaim'd: "Why pluck'st thou me?" Then as the dark blood trickled down its side, These words it added: "Wherefore tear'st me thus? Is there no touch of mercy in thy breast? Men once were we, that now are rooted here. Thy hand might well have spar'd us, had we been The souls of serpents." As a brand yet green, That burning at one end from the' other sends A groaning sound, and hisses with the wind That forces out its way, so burst at once, Forth from the broken splinter words and blood. I, letting fall the bough, remain'd as one Assail'd by terror, and the sage replied: "If he, O injur'd spirit! could have believ'd What he hath seen but in my verse describ'd, He never against thee had stretch'd his hand. But I, because the thing surpass'd belief, Prompted him to this deed, which even now Myself I rue. But tell me, who thou wast; That, for this wrong to do thee some amends, In the upper world (for thither to return Is granted him) thy fame he may revive." "That pleasant word of thine," the trunk replied "Hath so inveigled me, that I from speech Cannot refrain, wherein if I indulge A little longer, in the snare detain'd, Count it not grievous. I it was, who held Both keys to Frederick's heart, and turn'd the wards, Opening and shutting, with a skill so sweet, That besides me, into his inmost breast Scarce any other could admittance find. The faith I bore to my high charge was such, It cost me the life-blood that warm'd my veins. The harlot, who ne'er turn'd her gloating eyes From Caesar's household, common vice and pest Of courts, 'gainst me inflam'd the minds of all; And to Augustus they so spread the flame, That my glad honours chang'd to bitter woes. My soul, disdainful and disgusted, sought Refuge in death from scorn, and I became, Just as I was, unjust toward myself. By the new roots, which fix this stem, I swear, That never faith I broke to my liege lord, Who merited such honour; and of you, If any to the world indeed return, Clear he from wrong my memory, that lies Yet prostrate under envy's cruel blow." First somewhat pausing, till the mournful words Were ended, then to me the bard began: "Lose not the time; but speak and of him ask, If more thou wish to learn." Whence I replied: "Question thou him again of whatsoe'er Will, as thou think'st, content me; for no power Have I to ask, such pity' is at my heart." He thus resum'd; "So may he do for thee Freely what thou entreatest, as thou yet Be pleas'd, imprison'd Spirit! to declare, How in these gnarled joints the soul is tied; And whether any ever from such frame Be loosen'd, if thou canst, that also tell." Thereat the trunk breath'd hard, and the wind soon Chang'd into sounds articulate like these; Briefly ye shall be answer'd. When departs The fierce soul from the body, by itself Thence torn asunder, to the seventh gulf By Minos doom'd, into the wood it falls, No place assign'd, but wheresoever chance Hurls it, there sprouting, as a grain of spelt, It rises to a sapling, growing thence A savage plant. The Harpies, on its leaves Then feeding, cause both pain and for the pain A vent to grief. We, as the rest, shall come For our own spoils, yet not so that with them We may again be clad; for what a man Takes from himself it is not just he have. Here we perforce shall drag them; and throughout The dismal glade our bodies shall be hung, Each on the wild thorn of his wretched shade." Attentive yet to listen to the trunk We stood, expecting farther speech, when us A noise surpris'd, as when a man perceives The wild boar and the hunt approach his place Of station'd watch, who of the beasts and boughs Loud rustling round him hears. And lo! there came Two naked, torn with briers, in headlong flight, That they before them broke each fan o' th' wood. "Haste now," the foremost cried, "now haste thee death!" The' other, as seem'd, impatient of delay Exclaiming, "Lano! not so bent for speed Thy sinews, in the lists of Toppo's field." And then, for that perchance no longer breath Suffic'd him, of himself and of a bush One group he made. Behind them was the wood Full of black female mastiffs, gaunt and fleet, As greyhounds that have newly slipp'd the leash. On him, who squatted down, they stuck their fangs, And having rent him piecemeal bore away The tortur'd limbs. My guide then seiz'd my hand, And led me to the thicket, which in vain Mourn'd through its bleeding wounds: "O Giacomo Of Sant' Andrea! what avails it thee," It cried, "that of me thou hast made thy screen? For thy ill life what blame on me recoils?" When o'er it he had paus'd, my master spake: "Say who wast thou, that at so many points Breath'st out with blood thy lamentable speech?" He answer'd: "Oh, ye spirits: arriv'd in time To spy the shameful havoc, that from me My leaves hath sever'd thus, gather them up, And at the foot of their sad parent-tree Carefully lay them. In that city' I dwelt, Who for the Baptist her first patron chang'd, Whence he for this shall cease not with his art To work her woe: and if there still remain'd not On Arno's passage some faint glimpse of him, Those citizens, who rear'd once more her walls Upon the ashes left by Attila, Had labour'd without profit of their toil. I slung the fatal noose from my own roof."
SOON as the charity of native land Wrought in my bosom, I the scatter'd leaves Collected, and to him restor'd, who now Was hoarse with utt'rance. To the limit thence We came, which from the third the second round Divides, and where of justice is display'd Contrivance horrible. Things then first seen Clearlier to manifest, I tell how next A plain we reach'd, that from its sterile bed Each plant repell'd. The mournful wood waves round Its garland on all sides, as round the wood Spreads the sad foss. There, on the very edge, Our steps we stay'd. It was an area wide Of arid sand and thick, resembling most The soil that erst by Cato's foot was trod. Vengeance of Heav'n! Oh ! how shouldst thou be fear'd By all, who read what here my eyes beheld! Of naked spirits many a flock I saw, All weeping piteously, to different laws Subjected: for on the' earth some lay supine, Some crouching close were seated, others pac'd Incessantly around; the latter tribe, More numerous, those fewer who beneath The torment lay, but louder in their grief. O'er all the sand fell slowly wafting down Dilated flakes of fire, as flakes of snow On Alpine summit, when the wind is hush'd. As in the torrid Indian clime, the son Of Ammon saw upon his warrior band Descending, solid flames, that to the ground Came down: whence he bethought him with his troop To trample on the soil; for easier thus The vapour was extinguish'd, while alone; So fell the eternal fiery flood, wherewith The marble glow'd underneath, as under stove The viands, doubly to augment the pain. Unceasing was the play of wretched hands, Now this, now that way glancing, to shake off The heat, still falling fresh. I thus began: "Instructor! thou who all things overcom'st, Except the hardy demons, that rush'd forth To stop our entrance at the gate, say who Is yon huge spirit, that, as seems, heeds not The burning, but lies writhen in proud scorn, As by the sultry tempest immatur'd?" Straight he himself, who was aware I ask'd My guide of him, exclaim'd: "Such as I was When living, dead such now I am. If Jove Weary his workman out, from whom in ire He snatch'd the lightnings, that at my last day Transfix'd me, if the rest be weary out At their black smithy labouring by turns In Mongibello, while he cries aloud; "Help, help, good Mulciber!" as erst he cried In the Phlegraean warfare, and the bolts Launch he full aim'd at me with all his might, He never should enjoy a sweet revenge." Then thus my guide, in accent higher rais'd Than I before had heard him: "Capaneus! Thou art more punish'd, in that this thy pride Lives yet unquench'd: no torrent, save thy rage, Were to thy fury pain proportion'd full." Next turning round to me with milder lip He spake: "This of the seven kings was one, Who girt the Theban walls with siege, and held, As still he seems to hold, God in disdain, And sets his high omnipotence at nought. But, as I told him, his despiteful mood Is ornament well suits the breast that wears it. Follow me now; and look thou set not yet Thy foot in the hot sand, but to the wood Keep ever close." Silently on we pass'd To where there gushes from the forest's bound A little brook, whose crimson'd wave yet lifts My hair with horror. As the rill, that runs From Bulicame, to be portion'd out Among the sinful women; so ran this Down through the sand, its bottom and each bank Stone-built, and either margin at its side, Whereon I straight perceiv'd our passage lay. "Of all that I have shown thee, since that gate We enter'd first, whose threshold is to none Denied, nought else so worthy of regard, As is this river, has thine eye discern'd, O'er which the flaming volley all is quench'd." So spake my guide; and I him thence besought, That having giv'n me appetite to know, The food he too would give, that hunger crav'd. "In midst of ocean," forthwith he began, "A desolate country lies, which Crete is nam'd, Under whose monarch in old times the world Liv'd pure and chaste. A mountain rises there, Call'd Ida, joyous once with leaves and streams, Deserted now like a forbidden thing. It was the spot which Rhea, Saturn's spouse, Chose for the secret cradle of her son; And better to conceal him, drown'd in shouts His infant cries. Within the mount, upright An ancient form there stands and huge, that turns His shoulders towards Damiata, and at Rome As in his mirror looks. Of finest gold His head is shap'd, pure silver are the breast And arms; thence to the middle is of brass. And downward all beneath well-temper'd steel, Save the right foot of potter's clay, on which Than on the other more erect he stands, Each part except the gold, is rent throughout; And from the fissure tears distil, which join'd Penetrate to that cave. They in their course Thus far precipitated down the rock Form Acheron, and Styx, and Phlegethon; Then by this straiten'd channel passing hence Beneath, e'en to the lowest depth of all, Form there Cocytus, of whose lake (thyself Shall see it) I here give thee no account." Then I to him: "If from our world this sluice Be thus deriv'd; wherefore to us but now Appears it at this edge?" He straight replied: "The place, thou know'st, is round; and though great part Thou have already pass'd, still to the left Descending to the nethermost, not yet Hast thou the circuit made of the whole orb. Wherefore if aught of new to us appear, It needs not bring up wonder in thy looks." Then I again inquir'd: "Where flow the streams Of Phlegethon and Lethe? for of one Thou tell'st not, and the other of that shower, Thou say'st, is form'd." He answer thus return'd: "Doubtless thy questions all well pleas'd I hear. Yet the red seething wave might have resolv'd One thou proposest. Lethe thou shalt see, But not within this hollow, in the place, Whither to lave themselves the spirits go, Whose blame hath been by penitence remov'd." He added: "Time is now we quit the wood. Look thou my steps pursue: the margins give Safe passage, unimpeded by the flames; For over them all vapour is extinct."
One of the solid margins bears us now Envelop'd in the mist, that from the stream Arising, hovers o'er, and saves from fire Both piers and water. As the Flemings rear Their mound, 'twixt Ghent and Bruges, to chase back The ocean, fearing his tumultuous tide That drives toward them, or the Paduans theirs Along the Brenta, to defend their towns And castles, ere the genial warmth be felt On Chiarentana's top; such were the mounds, So fram'd, though not in height or bulk to these Made equal, by the master, whosoe'er He was, that rais'd them here. We from the wood Were not so far remov'd, that turning round I might not have discern'd it, when we met A troop of spirits, who came beside the pier. They each one ey'd us, as at eventide One eyes another under a new moon, And toward us sharpen'd their sight as keen, As an old tailor at his needle's eye. Thus narrowly explor'd by all the tribe, I was agniz'd of one, who by the skirt Caught me, and cried, "What wonder have we here!" And I, when he to me outstretch'd his arm, Intently fix'd my ken on his parch'd looks, That although smirch'd with fire, they hinder'd not But I remember'd him; and towards his face My hand inclining, answer'd: "Sir! Brunetto! And art thou here?" He thus to me: "My son! Oh let it not displease thee, if Brunetto Latini but a little space with thee Turn back, and leave his fellows to proceed." I thus to him replied: "Much as I can, I thereto pray thee; and if thou be willing, That I here seat me with thee, I consent; His leave, with whom I journey, first obtain'd." "O son!" said he, " whoever of this throng One instant stops, lies then a hundred years, No fan to ventilate him, when the fire Smites sorest. Pass thou therefore on. I close Will at thy garments walk, and then rejoin My troop, who go mourning their endless doom." I dar'd not from the path descend to tread On equal ground with him, but held my head Bent down, as one who walks in reverent guise. "What chance or destiny," thus be began, "Ere the last day conducts thee here below? And who is this, that shows to thee the way?" "There up aloft," I answer'd, "in the life Serene, I wander'd in a valley lost, Before mine age had to its fullness reach'd. But yester-morn I left it: then once more Into that vale returning, him I met; And by this path homeward he leads me back." "If thou," he answer'd, "follow but thy star, Thou canst not miss at last a glorious haven: Unless in fairer days my judgment err'd. And if my fate so early had not chanc'd, Seeing the heav'ns thus bounteous to thee, I Had gladly giv'n thee comfort in thy work. But that ungrateful and malignant race, Who in old times came down from Fesole, Ay and still smack of their rough mountain-flint, Will for thy good deeds shew thee enmity. Nor wonder; for amongst ill-savour'd crabs It suits not the sweet fig-tree lay her fruit. Old fame reports them in the world for blind, Covetous, envious, proud. Look to it well: Take heed thou cleanse thee of their ways. For thee Thy fortune hath such honour in reserve, That thou by either party shalt be crav'd With hunger keen: but be the fresh herb far From the goat's tooth. The herd of Fesole May of themselves make litter, not touch the plant, If any such yet spring on their rank bed, In which the holy seed revives, transmitted From those true Romans, who still there remain'd, When it was made the nest of so much ill." "Were all my wish fulfill'd," I straight replied, "Thou from the confines of man's nature yet Hadst not been driven forth; for in my mind Is fix'd, and now strikes full upon my heart The dear, benign, paternal image, such As thine was, when so lately thou didst teach me The way for man to win eternity; And how I priz'd the lesson, it behooves, That, long as life endures, my tongue should speak, What of my fate thou tell'st, that write I down: And with another text to comment on For her I keep it, the celestial dame, Who will know all, if I to her arrive. This only would I have thee clearly note: That so my conscience have no plea against me; Do fortune as she list, I stand prepar'd. Not new or strange such earnest to mine ear. Speed fortune then her wheel, as likes her best, The clown his mattock; all things have their course." Thereat my sapient guide upon his right Turn'd himself back, then look'd at me and spake: "He listens to good purpose who takes note." I not the less still on my way proceed, Discoursing with Brunetto, and inquire Who are most known and chief among his tribe. "To know of some is well;" thus he replied, "But of the rest silence may best beseem. Time would not serve us for report so long. In brief I tell thee, that all these were clerks, Men of great learning and no less renown, By one same sin polluted in the world. With them is Priscian, and Accorso's son Francesco herds among that wretched throng: And, if the wish of so impure a blotch Possess'd thee, him thou also might'st have seen, Who by the servants' servant was transferr'd From Arno's seat to Bacchiglione, where His ill-strain'd nerves he left. I more would add, But must from farther speech and onward way Alike desist, for yonder I behold A mist new-risen on the sandy plain. A company, with whom I may not sort, Approaches. I commend my TREASURE to thee, Wherein I yet survive; my sole request." This said he turn'd, and seem'd as one of those, Who o'er Verona's champain try their speed For the green mantle, and of them he seem'd, Not he who loses but who gains the prize.
NOW came I where the water's din was heard, As down it fell into the other round, Resounding like the hum of swarming bees: When forth together issu'd from a troop, That pass'd beneath the fierce tormenting storm, Three spirits, running swift. They towards us came, And each one cried aloud, "Oh do thou stay! Whom by the fashion of thy garb we deem To be some inmate of our evil land." Ah me! what wounds I mark'd upon their limbs, Recent and old, inflicted by the flames! E'en the remembrance of them grieves me yet. Attentive to their cry my teacher paus'd, And turn'd to me his visage, and then spake; "Wait now! our courtesy these merit well: And were 't not for the nature of the place, Whence glide the fiery darts, I should have said, That haste had better suited thee than them.'' They, when we stopp'd, resum'd their ancient wail, And soon as they had reach'd us, all the three Whirl'd round together in one restless wheel. As naked champions, smear'd with slippery oil, Are wont intent to watch their place of hold And vantage, ere in closer strife they meet; Thus each one, as he wheel'd, his countenance At me directed, so that opposite The neck mov'd ever to the twinkling feet. "If misery of this drear wilderness," Thus one began, "added to our sad cheer And destitute, do call forth scorn on us And our entreaties, let our great renown Incline thee to inform us who thou art, That dost imprint with living feet unharm'd The soil of Hell. He, in whose track thou see'st My steps pursuing, naked though he be And reft of all, was of more high estate Than thou believest; grandchild of the chaste Gualdrada, him they Guidoguerra call'd, Who in his lifetime many a noble act Achiev'd, both by his wisdom and his sword. The other, next to me that beats the sand, Is Aldobrandi, name deserving well, In the' upper world, of honour; and myself Who in this torment do partake with them, Am Rusticucci, whom, past doubt, my wife Of savage temper, more than aught beside Hath to this evil brought." If from the fire I had been shelter'd, down amidst them straight I then had cast me, nor my guide, I deem, Would have restrain'd my going; but that fear Of the dire burning vanquish'd the desire, Which made me eager of their wish'd embrace. I then began: "Not scorn, but grief much more, Such as long time alone can cure, your doom Fix'd deep within me, soon as this my lord Spake words, whose tenour taught me to expect That such a race, as ye are, was at hand. I am a countryman of yours, who still Affectionate have utter'd, and have heard Your deeds and names renown'd. Leaving the gall For the sweet fruit I go, that a sure guide Hath promis'd to me. But behooves, that far As to the centre first I downward tend." "So may long space thy spirit guide thy limbs," He answer straight return'd; "and so thy fame Shine bright, when thou art gone; as thou shalt tell, If courtesy and valour, as they wont, Dwell in our city, or have vanish'd clean? For one amidst us late condemn'd to wail, Borsiere, yonder walking with his peers, Grieves us no little by the news he brings." "An upstart multitude and sudden gains, Pride and excess, O Florence! have in thee Engender'd, so that now in tears thou mourn'st!" Thus cried I with my face uprais'd, and they All three, who for an answer took my words, Look'd at each other, as men look when truth Comes to their ear. "If thou at other times," They all at once rejoin'd, "so easily Satisfy those, who question, happy thou, Gifted with words, so apt to speak thy thought! Wherefore if thou escape this darksome clime, Returning to behold the radiant stars, When thou with pleasure shalt retrace the past, See that of us thou speak among mankind." This said, they broke the circle, and so swift Fled, that as pinions seem'd their nimble feet. Not in so short a time might one have said "Amen," as they had vanish'd. Straight my guide Pursu'd his track. I follow'd; and small space Had we pass'd onward, when the water's sound Was now so near at hand, that we had scarce Heard one another's speech for the loud din. E'en as the river, that holds on its course Unmingled, from the mount of Vesulo, On the left side of Apennine, toward The east, which Acquacheta higher up They call, ere it descend into the vale, At Forli by that name no longer known, Rebellows o'er Saint Benedict, roll'd on From the' Alpine summit down a precipice, Where space enough to lodge a thousand spreads; Thus downward from a craggy steep we found, That this dark wave resounded, roaring loud, So that the ear its clamour soon had stunn'd. I had a cord that brac'd my girdle round, Wherewith I erst had thought fast bound to take The painted leopard. This when I had all Unloosen'd from me (so my master bade) I gather'd up, and stretch'd it forth to him. Then to the right he turn'd, and from the brink Standing few paces distant, cast it down Into the deep abyss. "And somewhat strange," Thus to myself I spake, "signal so strange Betokens, which my guide with earnest eye Thus follows." Ah! what caution must men use With those who look not at the deed alone, But spy into the thoughts with subtle skill! "Quickly shall come," he said, "what I expect, Thine eye discover quickly, that whereof Thy thought is dreaming." Ever to that truth, Which but the semblance of a falsehood wears, A man, if possible, should bar his lip; Since, although blameless, he incurs reproach. But silence here were vain; and by these notes Which now I sing, reader! I swear to thee, So may they favour find to latest times! That through the gross and murky air I spied A shape come swimming up, that might have quell'd The stoutest heart with wonder, in such guise As one returns, who hath been down to loose An anchor grappled fast against some rock, Or to aught else that in the salt wave lies, Who upward springing close draws in his feet.
"LO! the fell monster with the deadly sting! Who passes mountains, breaks through fenced walls And firm embattled spears, and with his filth Taints all the world!" Thus me my guide address'd, And beckon'd him, that he should come to shore, Near to the stony causeway's utmost edge. Forthwith that image vile of fraud appear'd, His head and upper part expos'd on land, But laid not on the shore his bestial train. His face the semblance of a just man's wore, So kind and gracious was its outward cheer; The rest was serpent all: two shaggy claws Reach'd to the armpits, and the back and breast, And either side, were painted o'er with nodes And orbits. Colours variegated more Nor Turks nor Tartars e'er on cloth of state With interchangeable embroidery wove, Nor spread Arachne o'er her curious loom. As ofttimes a light skiff, moor'd to the shore, Stands part in water, part upon the land; Or, as where dwells the greedy German boor, The beaver settles watching for his prey; So on the rim, that fenc'd the sand with rock, Sat perch'd the fiend of evil. In the void Glancing, his tail upturn'd its venomous fork, With sting like scorpion's arm'd. Then thus my guide: "Now need our way must turn few steps apart, Far as to that ill beast, who couches there." Thereat toward the right our downward course We shap'd, and, better to escape the flame And burning marle, ten paces on the verge Proceeded. Soon as we to him arrive, A little further on mine eye beholds A tribe of spirits, seated on the sand Near the wide chasm. Forthwith my master spake: "That to the full thy knowledge may extend Of all this round contains, go now, and mark The mien these wear: but hold not long discourse. Till thou returnest, I with him meantime Will parley, that to us he may vouchsafe The aid of his strong shoulders." Thus alone Yet forward on the' extremity I pac'd Of that seventh circle, where the mournful tribe Were seated. At the eyes forth gush'd their pangs. Against the vapours and the torrid soil Alternately their shifting hands they plied. Thus use the dogs in summer still to ply Their jaws and feet by turns, when bitten sore By gnats, or flies, or gadflies swarming round. Noting the visages of some, who lay Beneath the pelting of that dolorous fire, One of them all I knew not; but perceiv'd, That pendent from his neck each bore a pouch With colours and with emblems various mark'd, On which it seem'd as if their eye did feed. And when amongst them looking round I came, A yellow purse I saw with azure wrought, That wore a lion's countenance and port. Then still my sight pursuing its career, Another I beheld, than blood more red. A goose display of whiter wing than curd. And one, who bore a fat and azure swine Pictur'd on his white scrip, addressed me thus: "What dost thou in this deep? Go now and know, Since yet thou livest, that my neighbour here Vitaliano on my left shall sit. A Paduan with these Florentines am I. Ofttimes they thunder in mine ears, exclaiming "O haste that noble knight! he who the pouch With the three beaks will bring!" This said, he writh'd The mouth, and loll'd the tongue out, like an ox That licks his nostrils. I, lest longer stay He ill might brook, who bade me stay not long, Backward my steps from those sad spirits turn'd. My guide already seated on the haunch Of the fierce animal I found; and thus He me encourag'd. "Be thou stout; be bold. Down such a steep flight must we now descend! Mount thou before: for that no power the tail May have to harm thee, I will be i' th' midst." As one, who hath an ague fit so near, His nails already are turn'd blue, and he Quivers all o'er, if he but eye the shade; Such was my cheer at hearing of his words. But shame soon interpos'd her threat, who makes The servant bold in presence of his lord. I settled me upon those shoulders huge, And would have said, but that the words to aid My purpose came not, "Look thou clasp me firm!" But he whose succour then not first I prov'd, Soon as I mounted, in his arms aloft, Embracing, held me up, and thus he spake: "Geryon! now move thee! be thy wheeling gyres Of ample circuit, easy thy descent. Think on th' unusual burden thou sustain'st." As a small vessel, back'ning out from land, Her station quits; so thence the monster loos'd, And when he felt himself at large, turn'd round There where the breast had been, his forked tail. Thus, like an eel, outstretch'd at length he steer'd, Gath'ring the air up with retractile claws. Not greater was the dread when Phaeton The reins let drop at random, whence high heaven, Whereof signs yet appear, was wrapt in flames; Nor when ill-fated Icarus perceiv'd, By liquefaction of the scalded wax, The trusted pennons loosen'd from his loins, His sire exclaiming loud, "Ill way thou keep'st!" Than was my dread, when round me on each part The air I view'd, and other object none Save the fell beast. He slowly sailing, wheels His downward motion, unobserv'd of me, But that the wind, arising to my face, Breathes on me from below. Now on our right I heard the cataract beneath us leap With hideous crash; whence bending down to' explore, New terror I conceiv'd at the steep plunge: For flames I saw, and wailings smote mine ear: So that all trembling close I crouch'd my limbs, And then distinguish'd, unperceiv'd before, By the dread torments that on every side Drew nearer, how our downward course we wound. As falcon, that hath long been on the wing, But lure nor bird hath seen, while in despair The falconer cries, "Ah me! thou stoop'st to earth!" Wearied descends, and swiftly down the sky In many an orbit wheels, then lighting sits At distance from his lord in angry mood; So Geryon lighting places us on foot Low down at base of the deep-furrow'd rock, And, of his burden there discharg'd, forthwith Sprang forward, like an arrow from the string.