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Inferno (English) Analysis



Author: poem of Dante Alighieri Type: poem Views: 20

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CANTO I







  

ONE night, when half my life behind me lay,


  I wandered from the straight lost path afar.


  Through the great dark was no releasing way;


  Above that dark was no relieving star.


  If yet that terrored night I think or say,


  As death's cold hands its fears resuming are.


  


  Gladly the dreads I felt, too dire to tell,


  The hopeless, pathless, lightless hours forgot,


  I turn my tale to that which next befell,


  When the dawn opened, and the night was not.


  The hollowed blackness of that waste, God wot,


  Shrank, thinned, and ceased. A blinding splendour hot


  Flushed the great height toward which my footsteps fell,


  And though it kindled from the nether hell,


  Or from the Star that all men leads, alike


  It showed me where the great dawn-glories strike


  The wide east, and the utmost peaks of snow.


  


  How first I entered on that path astray,


  Beset with sleep, I know not. This I know.


  When gained my feet the upward, lighted way,


  I backward gazed, as one the drowning sea,


  The deep strong tides, has baffled, and panting lies,


  On the shelved shore, and turns his eyes to see


  The league-wide wastes that held him. So mine eyes


  Surveyed that fear, the while my wearied frame


  Rested, and ever my heart's tossed lake became


  More quiet.


  Then from that pass released, which yet


  With living feet had no man left, I set


  My forward steps aslant the steep, that so,


  My right foot still the lower, I climbed.


                           

    Below


  No more I gazed. Around, a slope of sand


  Was sterile of all growth on either hand,


  Or moving life, a spotted pard except,


  That yawning rose, and stretched, and purred and leapt


  So closely round my feet, that scarce I kept


  The course I would.


                  That sleek and lovely thing,


  The broadening light, the breath of morn and spring,


  The sun, that with his stars in Aries lay,


  As when Divine Love on Creation's day


  First gave these fair things motion, all at one


  Made lightsome hope; but lightsome hope was none


  When down the slope there came with lifted head


  And back-blown mane and caverned mouth and red,


  A lion, roaring, all the air ashake


  That heard his hunger. Upward flight to take


  No heart was mine, for where the further way


  Mine anxious eyes explored, a she-wolf lay,


  That licked lean flanks, and waited. Such was she


  In aspect ruthless that I quaked to see,


  And where she lay among her bones had brought


  So many to grief before, that all my thought


  Aghast turned backward to the sunless night


  I left. But while I plunged in headlong flight


  To that most feared before, a shade, or man


  (Either he seemed), obstructing where I ran,


  Called to me with a voice that few should know,


  Faint from forgetful silence, "Where ye go,


  Take heed. Why turn ye from the upward way?"


  


  I cried, "Or come ye from warm earth, or they


  The grave hath taken, in my mortal need


  Have mercy thou!"


                  He answered, "Shade am I,


  That once was man; beneath the Lombard sky,


  In the late years of Julius born, and bred


  In Mantua, till my youthful steps were led


  To Rome, where yet the false gods lied to man;


  And when the great Augustan age began,


  I wrote the tale of Ilium burnt, and how


  Anchises' son forth-pushed a venturous prow,


  Seeking unknown seas. But in what mood art thou


  To thus return to all the ills ye fled,


  The while the mountain of thy hope ahead


  Lifts into light, the source and cause of all


  Delectable things that may to man befall?"


  


  I answered, "Art thou then that Virgil, he


  From whom all grace of measured speech in me


  Derived? O glorious and far-guiding star!


  Now may the love-led studious hours and long


  In which I learnt how rich thy wonders are,


  Master and Author mine of Light and Song,


  Befriend me now, who knew thy voice, that few


  Yet hearken. All the name my work hath won


  Is thine of right, from whom I learned. To thee,


  Abashed, I grant it. . . Why the mounting sun


  No more I seek, ye scarce should ask, who see


  The beast that turned me, nor faint hope have I


  To force that passage if thine aid deny."


  He answered, "Would ye leave this wild and live,


  Strange road is ours, for where the she-wolf lies


  Shall no man pass, except the path he tries


  Her craft entangle. No way fugitive


  Avoids the seeking of her greeds, that give


  Insatiate hunger, and such vice perverse


  As makes her leaner while she feeds, and worse


  Her craving. And the beasts with which she breed


  The noisome numerous beasts her lusts require,


  Bare all the desirable lands in which she feeds;


  Nor shall lewd feasts and lewder matings tire


  Until she woos, in evil hour for her,


  The wolfhound that shall rend her. His desire


  Is not for rapine, as the promptings stir


  Of her base heart; but wisdoms, and devoirs


  Of manhood, and love's rule, his thoughts prefer.


  The Italian lowlands he shall reach and save,


  For which Camilla of old, the virgin brave,


  Turnus and Nisus died in strife. His chase


  He shall not cease, nor any cowering-place


  Her fear shall find her, till he drive her back,


  From city to city exiled, from wrack to wrack


  Slain out of life, to find the native hell


  Whence envy loosed her.


                      For thyself were

  well


  To follow where I lead, and thou shalt see


  The spirits in pain, and hear the hopeless woe,


  The unending cries, of those whose only plea


  Is judgment, that the second death to be


  Fall quickly. Further shalt thou climb, and go


  To those who burn, but in their pain content


  With hope of pardon; still beyond, more high,


  Holier than opens to such souls as I,


  The Heavens uprear; but if thou wilt, is one


  Worthier, and she shall guide thee there, where none


  Who did the Lord of those fair realms deny


  May enter. There in his city He dwells, and there


  Rules and pervades in every part, and calls


  His chosen ever within the sacred walls.


  O happiest, they!"


                  I answered, "By that Go


  Thou didst not know, I do thine aid entreat,


  And guidance, that beyond the ills I meet


  I safety find, within the Sacred Gate


  That Peter guards, and those sad souls to see


  Who look with longing for their end to be."


  


  Then he moved forward, and behind I trod.


  


  


  







Canto II








  

THE day was falling, and the darkening air


  Released earth's creatures from their toils, while I,


  I only, faced the bitter road and bare


  My Master led. I only, must defy


  The powers of pity, and the night to be.


  So thought I, but the things I came to see,


  Which memory holds, could never thought forecast.


  O Muses high! O Genius, first and last!


  Memories intense! Your utmost powers combine


  To meet this need. For never theme as mine


  Strained vainly, where your loftiest nobleness


  Must fail to be sufficient.


                          First

  I said,


  Fearing, to him who through the darkness led,


  "O poet, ere the arduous path ye press


  Too far, look in me, if the worth there be


  To make this transit. &Aelig;neas once, I know,


  Went down in life, and crossed the infernal sea;


  And if the Lord of All Things Lost Below


  Allowed it, reason seems, to those who see


  The enduring greatness of his destiny,


  Who in the Empyrean Heaven elect was called


  Sire of the Eternal City, that throned and walled


  Made Empire of the world beyond, to be


  The Holy Place at last, by God's decree,


  Where the great Peter's follower rules. For he


  Learned there the causes of his victory.


  


  "And later to the third great Heaven was caught


  The last Apostle, and thence returning brought


  The proofs of our salvation. But, for me,


  I am not &Aelig;neas, nay, nor Paul, to see


  Unspeakable things that depths or heights can show,


  And if this road for no sure end I go


  What folly is mine? But any words are weak.


  Thy wisdom further than the things I speak


  Can search the event that would be."


                          Here I

  stayed


  My steps amid the darkness, and the Shade


  That led me heard and turned, magnanimous,


  And saw me drained of purpose halting thus,


  And answered, "If thy coward-born thoughts be clear,


  And all thy once intent, infirmed of fear,


  Broken, then art thou as scared beasts that shy


  From shadows, surely that they know not why


  Nor wherefore. . . Hearken, to confound thy fear,


  The things which first I heard, and brought me here.


  One came where, in the Outer Place, I dwell,


  Suspense from hope of Heaven or fear of Hell,


  Radiant in light that native round her clung,


  And cast her eyes our hopeless Shades among


  (Eyes with no earthly like but heaven's own blue),


  And called me to her in such voice as few


  In that grim place had heard, so low, so clear,


  So toned and cadenced from the Utmost Sphere,


  The Unattainable Heaven from which she came.


  'O Mantuan Spirit,' she said, 'whose lasting fame


  Continues on the earth ye left, and still


  With Time shall stand, an earthly friend to me,


  - My friend, not fortune's - climbs a path so ill


  That all the night-bred fears he hastes to flee


  Were kindly to the thing he nears. The tale


  Moved through the peace of I leaven, and swift I sped


  Downward, to aid my friend in love's avail,


  With scanty time therefor, that half I dread


  Too late I came. But thou shalt haste, and go


  With golden wisdom of thy speech, that so


  For me be consolation. Thou shalt say,


  "I come from Beatricë." Downward far,


  From Heaven to I leaven I sank, from star to star,


  To find thee, and to point his rescuing way.


  Fain would I to my place of light return;


  Love moved me from it, and gave me power to learn


  Thy speech. When next before my Lord I stand


  I very oft shall praise thee.'


                          Here

  she ceased,


  And I gave answer to that dear command,


  'Lady, alone through whom the whole race of those


  The smallest Heaven the moon's short orbits hold


  Excels in its creation, not thy least,


  Thy lightest wish in this dark realm were told


  Vainly. But show me why the Heavens unclose


  To loose thee from them, and thyself content


  Couldst thus continue in such strange descent


  From that most Spacious Place for which ye burn,


  And while ye further left, would fain return.'


  


  " 'That which thou wouldst,' she said, 'I briefly tell.


  There is no fear nor any hurt in Hell,


  Except that it be powerful. God in me


  Is gracious, that the piteous sights I see


  I share not, nor myself can shrink to feel


  The flame of all this burning. One there is


  In height among the Holiest placed, and she


  - Mercy her name - among God's mysteries


  Dwells in the midst, and hath the power to see


  His judgments, and to break them. This sharp


  I tell thee, when she saw, she called, that so


  Leaned Lucia toward her while she spake - and said,


  "One that is faithful to thy name is sped,


  Except that now ye aid him." She thereat,


  - Lucia, to all men's wrongs inimical -


  Left her High Place, and crossed to where I sat


  In speech with Rachel (of the first of all


  God saved). "O Beatrice, Praise of God,"


  - So said she to me - "sitt'st thou here so slow


  To aid him, once on earth that loved thee so


  That all he left to serve thee? Hear'st thou not


  The anguish of his plaint? and dost not see,


  By that dark stream that never seeks a sea,


  The death that threats him?"


                      None, as thus she

  said,


  None ever was swift on earth his good to chase,


  None ever on earth was swift to leave his dread,


  As came I downward from that sacred place


  To find thee and invoke thee, confident


  Not vainly for his need the gold were spent


  Of thy word-wisdom.' Here she turned away,


  Her bright eyes clouded with their tears, and I,


  Who saw them, therefore made more haste to reach


  The place she told, and found thee. Canst thou say


  I failed thy rescue? Is the beast anigh


  From which ye quailed? When such dear saints beseech


  - Three from the Highest - that Heaven thy course allow


  Why halt ye fearful? In such guards as thou


  The faintest-hearted might be bold."


                           

    As flowers,


  Close-folded through the cold and lightless hours,


  Their bended stems erect, and opening fair


  Accept the white light and the warmer air


  Of morning, so my fainting heart anew


  Lifted, that heard his comfort. Swift I spake,


  "O courteous thou, and she compassionate!


  Thy haste that saved me, and her warning true,


  Beyond my worth exalt me. Thine I make


  My will. In concord of one mind from now,


  O Master and my Guide, where leadest thou


  I follow."


          And we, with no more words' delay,


  Went forward on that hard and dreadful way.


  


  


  







Canto III







  

THE gateway to the city of Doom. Through me


  The entrance to the Everlasting Pain.


  The Gateway of the Lost. The Eternal Three


  Justice impelled to build me. Here ye see


  Wisdom Supreme at work, and Primal Power,


  And Love Supernal in their dawnless day.


  Ere from their thought creation rose in flower


  Eternal first were all things fixed as they.


  Of Increate Power infinite formed am I


  That deathless as themselves I do not die.


  Justice divine has weighed: the doom is clear.


  All hope renounce, ye lost, who enter here.



  This scroll in gloom above the gate I read,


  And found it fearful. "Master, hard," I said,


  "This saying to me." And he, as one that long


  Was customed, answered, "No distrust must wrong


  Its Maker, nor thy cowarder mood resume


  If here ye enter. This the place of doom


  I told thee, where the lost in darkness dwell.


  Here, by themselves divorced from light, they fell,


  And are as ye shall see them." Here he lent


  A hand to draw me through the gate, and bent


  A glance upon my fear so confident


  That I, too nearly to my former dread


  Returned, through all my heart was comforted,


  And downward to the secret things we went.


  


  Downward to night, but not of moon and cloud,


  Not night with all its stars, as night we know,


  But burdened with an ocean-weight of woe


  The darkness closed us.


                  Sighs, and wailings loud,


  Outcries perpetual of recruited pain,


  Sounds of strange tongues, and angers that remain


  Vengeless for ever, the thick and clamorous crowd


  Of discords pressed, that needs I wept to hear,


  First hearing. There, with reach of hands anear,


  And voices passion-hoarse, or shrilled with fright,


  The tumult of the everlasting night,


  As sand that dances in continual wind,


  Turns on itself for ever.


                      And I, my head


  Begirt with movements, and my ears bedinned


  With outcries round me, to my leader said,


  "Master, what hear I? Who so overborne


  With woes are these?"


                  He answered, "These be they


  That praiseless lived and blameless. Now the scorn


  Of Height and Depth alike, abortions drear;


  Cast with those abject angels whose delay


  To join rebellion, or their Lord defend,


  Waiting their proved advantage, flung them here. -


  Chased forth from Heaven, lest else its beauties end


  The pure perfection of their stainless claim,


  Out-herded from the shining gate they came,


  Where the deep hells refused them, lest the lost


  Boast something baser than themselves."


                           

    And I,


  "Master, what grievance hath their failure cost,


  That through the lamentable dark they cry?"


  


  He answered, "Briefly at a thing not worth


  We glance, and pass forgetful. Hope in death


  They have not. Memory of them on the earth


  Where once they lived remains not. Nor the breath


  Of Justice shall condemn, nor Mercy plead,


  But all alike disdain them. That they know


  Themselves so mean beneath aught else constrains


  The envious outcries that too long ye heed.


  Move past, but speak not."


                      Then I looked, and

  lo,


  Were souls in ceaseless and unnumbered trains


  That past me whirled unending, vainly led


  Nowhither, in useless and unpausing haste.


  A fluttering ensign all their guide, they chased


  Themselves for ever. I had not thought the dead,


  The whole world's dead, so many as these. I saw


  The shadow of him elect to Peter's seat


  Who made the great refusal, and the law,


  The unswerving law that left them this retreat


  To seal the abortion of their lives, became


  Illumined to me, and themselves I knew,


  To God and all his foes the futile crew


  How hateful in their everlasting shame.


  


  I saw these victims of continued death


  - For lived they never - were naked all, and loud


  Around them closed a never-ceasing cloud


  Of hornets and great wasps, that buzzed and clung,


  - Weak pain for weaklings meet, - and where they stung,


  Blood from their faces streamed, with sobbing breath,


  And all the ground beneath with tears and blood


  Was drenched, and crawling in that loathsome mud


  There were great worms that drank it.


                          Gladly

  thence


  I gazed far forward. Dark and wide the flood


  That flowed before us. On the nearer shore


  Were people waiting. "Master, show me whence


  These came, and who they be, and passing hence


  Where go they? Wherefore wait they there content,


  - The faint light shows it, - for their transit o'er


  The unbridged abyss?"


                  He answered, "When we stand


  Together, waiting on the joyless strand,


  In all it shall be told thee." If he meant


  Reproof I know not, but with shame I bent


  My downward eyes, and no more spake until


  The bank we reached, and on the stream beheld


  A bark ply toward us.


                      Of exceeding eld,


  And hoary showed the steersman, screaming shrill,


  With horrid glee the while he neared us, "Woe


  To ye, depraved! - Is here no Heaven, but ill


  The place where I shall herd ye. Ice and fire


  And darkness are the wages of their hire


  Who serve unceasing here - But thou that there


  Dost wait though live, depart ye. Yea, forbear!


  A different passage and a lighter fare


  Is destined thine."


                  But here my guide replied,


  "Nay, Charon, cease; or to thy grief ye chide.


  It There is willed, where that is willed shall be,


  That ye shall pass him to the further side,


  Nor question more."


                  The fleecy cheeks thereat,


  Blown with fierce speech before, were drawn and flat,


  And his flame-circled eyes subdued, to hear


  That mandate given. But those of whom he spake


  In bitter glee, with naked limbs ashake,


  And chattering teeth received it. Seemed that then


  They first were conscious where they came, and fear


  Abject and frightful shook them; curses burst


  In clamorous discords forth; the race of men,


  Their parents, and their God, the place, the time,


  Of their conceptions and their births, accursed


  Alike they called, blaspheming Heaven. But yet


  Slow steps toward the waiting bark they set,


  With terrible wailing while they moved. And so


  They came reluctant to the shore of woe


  That waits for all who fear not God, and not


  Them only.


              Then the demon Charon rose


  To herd them in, with eyes that furnace-hot


  Glowed at the task, and lifted oar to smite


  Who lingered.


              As the leaves, when autumn shows,


  One after one descending, leave the bough,


  Or doves come downward to the call, so now


  The evil seed of Adam to endless night,


  As Charon signalled, from the shore's bleak height,


  Cast themselves downward to the bark. The brown


  And bitter flood received them, and while they passed


  Were others gathering, patient as the last,


  Not conscious of their nearing doom.


                           

    "My son,"


  - Replied my guide the unspoken thought - "is none


  Beneath God's wrath who dies in field or town,


  Or earth's wide space, or whom the waters drown,


  But here he cometh at last, and that so spurred


  By Justice, that his fear, as those ye heard,


  Impels him forward like desire. Is not


  One spirit of all to reach the fatal spot


  That God's love holdeth, and hence, if Char


  chide,


  Ye well may take it. - Raise thy heart, for now,


  Constrained of Heaven, he must thy course allow."


  


  Yet how I passed I know not. For the ground


  Trembled that heard him, and a fearful sound


  Of issuing wind arose, and blood-red light


  Broke from beneath our feet, and sense and sight


  Left me. The memory with cold sweat once more


  Reminds me of the sudden-crimsoned night,


  As sank I senseless by the dreadful shore.


  


  


  







Canto IV








  

ARISING thunder from the vast Abyss


  First roused me, not as he that rested wakes


  From slumbrous hours, but one rude fury shakes


  Untimely, and around I gazed to know


  The place of my confining.


                      Deep, profound,


  Dark beyond sight, and choked with doleful sound,


  Sheer sank the Valley of the Lost Abyss,


  Beneath us. On the utmost brink we stood,


  And like the winds of some unresting wood


  The gathered murmur from those depths of woe


  Soughed upward into thunder. Out from this


  The unceasing sound comes ever. I might not tell


  How deep the Abyss down sank from hell to hell,


  It was so clouded and so dark no sight


  Could pierce it.


          "Downward through the worlds of night


  We will descend together. I first, and thou


  My footsteps taking," spake my guide, and I


  Gave answer, "Master, when thyself art pale,


  Fear-daunted, shall my weaker heart avail


  That on thy strength was rested?"


                         

  "Nay," said he,


  "Not fear, but anguish at the issuing cry


  So pales me. Come ye, for the path we tread


  Is long, and time requires it." Here he led


  Through the first entrance of the ringed abyss,


  Inward, and I went after, and the woe


  Softened behind us, and around I heard


  Nor scream of torment, nor blaspheming word,


  But round us sighs so many and deep there came


  That all the air was motioned. I beheld


  Concourse of men and women and children there


  Countless. No pain was theirs of cold or flame,


  But sadness only. And my Master said,


  "Art silent here? Before ye further go


  Among them wondering, it is meet ye know


  They are not sinful, nor the depths below


  Shall claim them. But their lives of righteousness


  Sufficed not to redeem. The gate decreed,


  Being born too soon, we did not pass ( for I,


  Dying unbaptized, am of them). More nor less


  Our doom is weighed, - to feel of Heaven the need,


  To long, and to be hopeless."


                          Grief

  was mine


  That heard him, thinking what great names must be


  In this suspense around me. "Master, tell,"


  I questioned, "from this outer girth of Hell


  Pass any to the blessed spheres exalt,


  Through other's merits or their own the fault.


  Condoned?" And he, my covert speech that read,


  - For surance sought I of my faith, - replied,


  "Through the shrunk hells there came a Great One, crowned


  And garmented with conquest. Of the dead,


  He rescued from us him who earliest died,


  Abel, and our first parent. Here He found,


  Abraham, obedient to the Voice he heard;


  And Moses, first who wrote the Sacred Word;


  Isaac, and Israel and his sons, and she,


  Rachel, for whom he travailed; and David, king;


  And many beside unnumbered, whom he led


  Triumphant from the dark abodes, to be


  Among the blest for ever. Until this thing


  I witnessed, none, of all the countless dead,


  But hopeless through the somber gate he came."


  


  Now while he spake he paused not, but pursued,


  Through the dense woods of thronging spirits, his aim


  Straight onward, nor was long our path until


  Before us rose a widening light, to fill


  One half of all the darkness, and I knew


  While yet some distance, that such Shades were there


  As nobler moved than others, and questioned, "Who,


  Master, are those that in their aspect bear


  Such difference from the rest?"


                      "All

  these," he said,


  "Were named so glorious in thy earth above


  That Heaven allows their larger claim to be


  Select, as thus ye see them."


                          While

  he spake


  A voice rose near us: "Hail!" it cried, "for he


  Returns, who was departed."


                          Scarce

  it ceased


  When four great spirits approached. They did not show


  Sadness nor joy, but tranquil-eyed as though


  Content in their dominion moved. My guide


  Before I questioned told, "That first ye see,


  With hand that fits the swordhilt, mark, for he


  Is Homer, sovereign of the craft we tried,


  Leader and lord of even the following three, -


  Horace, and Ovid, and Lucan. The voice ye heard,


  That hailed me, caused them by one impulse stirred


  Approach to do me honour, for these agree


  In that one name we boast, and so do well


  Owning it in me." There was I joyed to meet


  Those shades, who closest to his place belong,


  The eagle course of whose out-soaring song


  Is lonely in height.


                      Some space apart (to

  tell,


  It may be, something of myself ), my guide


  Conversed, until they turned with grace to greet


  Me also, and my Master smiled to see


  They made me sixth and equal. Side by side


  We paced toward the widening light, and spake


  Such things as well were spoken there, and here


  Were something less than silence.


                      Strong and wide


  Before us rose a castled height, beset


  With sevenfold-circling walls, unscalable,


  And girdled with a rivulet round, but yet


  We passed thereover, and the water clear


  As dry land bore me; and the walls ahead


  Their seven strong gates made open one by one,


  As each we neared, that where my Master led


  With ease I followed, although without were none


  But deep that stream beyond their wading spread,


  And closed those gates beyond their breach had been,


  Had they sought entry with us.


                          Of

  coolest green


  Stretched the wide lawns we midmost found, for there,


  Intolerant of itself, was Hell made fair


  To accord with its containing.


                          Grave,

  austere,


  Quiet-voiced and slow, of seldom words were they


  That walked that verdure.


                          To a

  place aside


  Open, and light, and high, we passed, and here


  Looked downward on the lawns, in clear survey


  Of such great spirits as are my glory and pride


  That once I saw them.


                      There, direct in

  view,


  Electra passed, among her sons. I knew


  Hector and &Aelig;neas there; and Cæsar too


  Was of them, armed and falcon-eyed; and there


  Camilla and Penthesilea. Near there sate


  Lavinia, with her sire the Latian king;


  Brutus, who drave the Tarquin; and Lucrece


  Julia, Cornelia, Marcia, and their kin;


  And, by himself apart, the Saladin.


  


  Somewhat beyond I looked. A place more high


  Than where these heroes moved I gazed, and knew


  The Master of reasoned thought, whose hand withdrew


  The curtain of the intellect, and bared


  The secret things of nature; while anigh,


  But lowlier, grouped the greatest names that shared


  His searchings. All regard and all revere


  They gave him. Plato there, and Socrates


  I marked, who closeliest reached his height; and near


  Democritus, who dreamed a world of chance


  Born blindly in the whirl of circumstance;


  And Anaxagoras, Diogenes,


  Thales, Heraclitus, Empedocles,


  Zeno, were there; and Dioscorides


  Who searched the healing powers of herbs and trees;


  And Orpheus, Tullius, Livius, Seneca,


  Euclid and Ptolemæus; Avicenna,


  Galen, Hippocrates; Averrhoës,


  The Master's great interpreter, - but these


  Are few to those I saw, an endless dream


  Of shades before whom Hell quietened and cowered. My theme,


  With thronging recollections of mighty names


  That there I marked impedes me. All too long


  They chase me, envious that my burdened song


  Forgets. - But onward moves my guide anew:


  The light behind us fades: the six are two:


  Again the shuddering air, the cries of Hell


  Compassed, and where we walked the darkness fell.


  


  


  







Canto V








  

MOST like the spirals of a pointed shell,


  But separate each, go downward, hell from hell,


  The ninefold circles of the damned; but each


  Smaller, concentrate in its greater pain,


  Than that which overhangs it.


                          Those

  who reach


  The second whorl, on entering, learn their bane


  Where Minos, hideous, sits and snarls. He hears,


  Decides, and as he girds himself they go.


  


  Before his seat each ill-born spirit appear,


  And tells its tale of evil, loath or no,


  While he, their judge, of all sins cognizant,


  Hears, and around himself his circling tail


  Twists to the number of the depths below


  To which they doom themselves in telling.


                           

    Alway


  The crowding sinners: their turn they wait: they show


  Their guilt: the circles of his tail convey


  Their doom: and downward they are whirled away.


  


  "O thou who callest at this doleful inn,"


  Cried Minos to me, while the child of sin


  That stood confessing before him, trembling stayed,


  "Heed where thou enterest in thy trust, nor say,


  I walk in safety, for the width of way


  Suffices
."


              But my guide the answer took,


  "Why dost thou cry? or leave thine ordered trade


  For that which nought belongs thee? Hinder not


  His destined path. For where he goeth is willed,


  Where that is willed prevaileth."


                          Now

  was filled


  The darker air with wailing. Wailing shook


  My soul to hear it. Where we entered now


  No light attempted. Only sound arose,


  As ocean with the tortured air contends,


  What time intolerable tempest rends


  The darkness; so the shrieking winds oppose


  For ever, and bear they, as they swerve and sweep,


  The doomed disastrous spirits, and whirl aloft,


  Backward, and down, nor any rest allow,


  Nor pause of such contending wraths as oft


  Batter them against the precipitous sides, and there


  The shrieks and moanings quench the screaming air,


  The cries of their blaspheming.


                          These

  are they


  That lust made sinful. As the starlings rise


  At autumn, darkening all the colder skies,


  In crowded troops their wings up-bear, so here


  These evil-doers on each contending blast


  Were lifted upward, whirled, and downward cast,


  And swept around unceasing. Striving airs


  Lift them, and hurl, nor ever hope is theirs


  Of rest or respite or decreasing pains,


  But like the long streaks of the calling cranes


  So came they wailing down the winds, to meet


  Upsweeping blasts that ever backward beat


  Or sideward flung them on their walls. And I -


  "Master who are they next that drive anigh


  So scourged amidst the blackness?"


                         

  "These," he said,


  "So lashed and harried, by that queen are led,


  Empress of alien tongues, Semiramis,


  Who made her laws her lawless lusts to kiss,


  So was she broken by desire; and this


  Who comes behind, back-blown and beaten thus,


  Love's fool, who broke her faith to Sichæus,


  Dido; and bare of all her luxury,


  Nile's queen, who lost her realm for Antony."


  


  And after these, amidst that windy train,


  Helen, who soaked in blood the Trojan plain,


  And great Achilles I saw, at last whose feet


  The same net trammelled; and Tristram, Paris, he showed;


  And thousand other along the fated road


  Whom love led deathward through disastrous things


  He pointed as they passed, until my mind


  Was wildered in this heavy pass to find


  Ladies so many, and cavaliers and kings


  Fallen, and pitying past restraint, I said,


  "Poet, those next that on the wind appear


  So light, and constant as they drive or veer


  Are parted never, I fain would speak."


                           

    And he, -


  "Conjure them by their love, and thou shalt see


  Their flight come hither."


                  And when the swerving blast


  Most nearly bent, I called them as they passed,


  "O wearied souls, come downward, if the Power


  That drives allow ye, for one restful hour."


  As doves, desirous of their nest at night,


  Cleave through the dusk with swift and open flight


  Of level-lifting wings, that love makes light,


  Will-borne, so downward through the murky air


  Came those sad spirits, that not deep Hell's despair


  Could sunder, parting from the faithless band


  That Dido led, and with one voice, as though


  One soul controlled them, spake,


                         

  "O Animate!


  Who comest through the black malignant air,


  Benign among us who this exile bear


  For earth ensanguined, if the King of All


  Heard those who from the outer darkness call


  Entreat him would we for thy peace, that thou


  Hast pitied us condemned, misfortunate. -


  Of that which please thee, if the winds allow,


  Gladly I tell. Ravenna, on that shore


  Where Po finds rest for all his streams, we knew;


  And there love conquered. Love, in gentle heart


  So quick to take dominion, overthrew


  Him with my own fair body, and overbore


  Me with delight to please him. Love, which gives


  No pardon to the loved, so strongly in me


  Was empired, that its rule, as here ye see,


  Endureth, nor the bitter blast contrives


  To part us. Love to one death led us. The mode


  Afflicts me, shrinking, still. The place of Cain


  Awaits our slayer."


                  They ceased, and I my head


  Bowed down, and made no answer, till my guide


  Questioned, "What wouldst thou more?" and replied,


  "Alas my thought I what sweet keen longings led


  These spirits, woeful, to their dark abode!"


  And then to them, - "Francesca, all thy pain


  Is mine. With pity and grief I weep. But say


  How, in the time of sighing, and in what way,


  Love gave you of the dubious deeds to know."


  


  And she to me, "There is no greater woe


  In all Hell's depths than cometh when those who


  Look back to Eden. But if thou wouldst learn


  Our love's first root, I can but weep and tell.


  One day, and for delight in idleness,


  - Alone we were, without suspicion, -


  We read together, and chanced the page to turn


  Where Galahad tells the tale of Lancelot,


  How love constrained him. Oft our meeting eyes,


  Confessed the theme, and conscious cheeks were hot,


  Reading, but only when that instant came


  Where the surrendering lips were kissed, no less


  Desire beat in us, and whom, for all this pain,


  No hell shall sever (so great at least our gain),


  Trembling, he kissed my mouth, and all forgot,


  We read no more."


                  As thus did one confess


  Their happier days, the other wept, and I


  Grew faint with pity, and sank as those who die.


  


  


  







Canto VI








  

THE misery of that sight of souls in Hell


  Condemned, and constant in their loss, prevailed


  So greatly in me, that I may not tell


  How passed I from them, sense and memory failed


  So far.


              But here new torments I discern,


  And new tormented, wheresoe'er I turn.


  For sodden around me was the place of bane,


  The third doomed circle, where the culprits know


  The cold, unceasing, and relentless rain


  Pour down without mutation. Heavy with hail,


  With turbid waters mixed, and cold with snow,


  It streams from out the darkness, and below


  The soil is putrid, where the impious lie


  Grovelling, and howl like dogs, beneath the flail


  That flattens to the foul soaked ground, and try


  Vainly for ease by turning. And the while


  Above them roams and ravens the loathsome hound


  Cerberus, and feeds upon them.


                      The swampy ground


  He ranges; with his long clawed hands he grips


  The sinners, and the fierce and hairy lips


  (Thrice-headed is he) tear, and the red blood drips


  From all his jaws. He clutches, and flays, and rends,


  And treads them, growling: and the flood descends


  Straight downward.


              When he saw us, the loathly worm


  Showed all his fangs, and eager trembling frame


  Nerved for the leap. But undeterred my guide.


  Stooped down, and gathered in full hands the soil,


  And cast it in the gaping gullets, to foil


  Gluttonous blind greed, and those fierce mouths and wide


  Closed on the filth, and as the craving cur


  Quietens, that strained and howled to reach his food,


  Biting the bone, those squalid mouths subdued


  And silenced, wont above the empty dead


  To bark insatiate, while they tore unfed


  The writhing shadows.


                  The straight persistent rain,


  That altered never, had pressed the miry plain


  With flattened shades that in their emptiness


  Still showed as bodies. We might not here progress


  Except we trod them. Of them all, but one


  Made motion as we passed. Against the rain


  Rising, and resting on one hand, he said,


  "O thou, who through the drenching murk art led,


  Recall me if thou canst. Thou wast begun


  Before I ended."


                  I, who looked in vain


  For human semblance in that bestial shade,


  Made answer, "Misery here hath all unmade,


  It may be, that thou wast on earth, for nought


  Recalls thee to me. But thyself shalt tell


  The sins that scourged thee to this foul resort,


  That more displeasing not the scope of Hell


  Can likely yield, though greater pains may lie


  More deep."


              And he to me, "Thy city, so high


  With envious hates that swells, that now the sack


  Bursts, and pours out in ruin, and spreads its wrack


  Far outward, was mine alike, while clearer air


  Still breathed I. Citizens who knew me there


  Called me Ciacco. For the vice I fed


  At rich men's tables, in this filth I lie


  Drenched, beaten, hungered, cold, uncomforted,


  Mauled by that ravening greed; and these, as I,


  With gluttonous lives the like reward have won."


  


  I answered, "Piteous is thy state to one


  Who knew thee in thine old repute, but say,


  If yet persists thy previous mind, which way


  The feuds of our rent city shall end, and why


  These factions vex us, and if still there be


  One just man left among us."


                         

  "Two," said he,


  "Are just, but none regards them. Yet more high


  The strife, till bloodshed from their long contend


  Shall issue at last: the barbarous Cerchi clan


  Cast the Donati exiled out, and they


  Within three years return, and more offend


  Than they were erst offended, helped by him


  So long who palters with both parts. The fire


  Three sparks have lighted - Avarice, Envy, Pride, -


  And there is none may quench it."


                          Here

  he ceased


  His lamentable tale, and I replied,


  "Of one thing more I ask thee. Great desire


  Is mine to learn it. Where are those who sought


  Our welfare earlier? Those whose names at least


  Are fragrant for the public good they wrought,


  Arrigo, Mosca, and the Tegghiaio


  Worthiest, and Farinata, and with these


  Jacopo Rusticucci. I would know


  If soft in Heaven or bitter-hard in Hell


  Their lives continue."


                      "Cast in hells

  more low


  Than yet thou hast invaded, deep they lie,


  For different crimes from ours, and shouldst thou go


  So far, thou well mayst see them. If thou tread


  Again the sweet light land, and overhead


  Converse with those I knew there, then recall,


  I pray, my memory to my friends of yore.


  But ask no further, for I speak no more."


  


  Thereon his eyes, that straight had gazed before


  Squinted and failed, and slowly sank his head,


  And blindly with his sodden mates he lay.


  And spake my guide, "He shall not lift nor stir,


  Until the trumpet shrills that wakens Hell;


  And these, who must inimical Power obey,


  Shall each return to his sad grave, and there


  In carnal form the sinful spirit shall dwell


  Once more, and that time only, from the tomb


  Rising to hear the irrevocable doom


  Which shall reverberate through eternity."


  


  So paced we slowly through the rain that fell


  Unchanging, over that foul ground, and trod


  The dismal spirits it held, and somewhat spake


  Of life beyond us, and the things of God;


  And asked I, "Master, shall these torments cease,


  Continue as they are, or more increase,


  When calls the trumpet, and the graves shall break,


  And the great Sentence sound?"


                          And he

  to me,


  "Recall thy learning, as thou canst. We know


  With more perfection, greater pain or bliss


  Resolves, and though perfection may not be


  To these accurs'd, yet nearer then than this


  It may be they shall reach it."


                          More

  to show


  He sought, as turned we to the fresh descent,


  But speaking all in such strange words as went


  Past me. - But ceased our downward path, and


  Plutus, of human weal the hateful foe.


  


  


  







Canto VII








  

HAH, strange! ho, Satan!" such the sounds half-heard


  The thick voice gobbled, the while the foul, inflamed,


  Distended visage toward us turned, and cast


  Invective from its bestial throat, that slurred


  Articulate speech. But here the gentle sage,


  Who knew beforehand that we faced, to me


  Spake first, "Regard not; for a threat misaimed


  Falls idle. Fear not to continue past.


  His power to us, however else it be,


  Is not to hinder." Then, that bulk inflate


  Confronting, - "Peace, thou greed! thy lusting rage


  Consume thee inward! Not thy word we wait


  The path to open. It is willed on high, -


  There, where the Angel of the Sword ye know


  Took ruin upon the proud adultery


  Of him thou callest as thy prince."


                         

  Thereat


  As sails, wind-rounded, when the mast gives way,


  Sink tangled to the deck, deflated so


  Collapsed that bulk that heard him, shrunk and flat;


  And we went downward till before us lay


  The fourth sad circle. Ah! what woes contain,


  Justice of God! what woes those narrowing deeps


  Contain; for all the universe down-heaps


  In this pressed space its continent of pain,


  So voiding all that mars its peace. But why


  This guilt that so degrades us?


                          As the

  surge


  Above Charybdis meets contending surge,


  Breaks and is broken, and rages and recoils


  For ever, so here the sinners. More numerous


  Than in the circles past are these. They urge


  Huge weights before them. On, with straining breasts,


  They roll them, howling in their ceaseless toils.


  And those that to the further side belong


  l)o likewise, meeting in the midst, and thus


  Crash vainly, and recoil, reverse, and cry,


  "Why dost thou hold?" "Why dost thou loose?"


          No rest


  Their doom permits them. Backward course they bend;


  Continual crescents trace, at either end


  Meeting again in fresh rebound, and high


  Above their travail reproachful howlings rise


  Incessant at those who thwart their round.


                           

        And I,


  Who felt my heart stung through with anguish, said,


  "O Master, show me who these peoples be,


  And if those tonsured shades that left we see


  Held priestly office ere they joined the dead."


  


  He answered, "These, who with such squinting eyes


  Regarded God's providing, that they spent


  In waste immoderate, indicate their guilt


  In those loud barkings that ye hear. They spilt


  Their wealth distemperate; and those they meet


  Who cry 'Why loose ye?' avarice ruled: they bent


  Their minds on earth to seize and hoard. Of these


  Hairless, are priests, and popes, and cardinals,


  For greed makes empire in such hearts complete."


  


  And I, "Among them that these vices eat


  Are none that I have known on earth before?"


  


  He answered, "Vainly wouldst thou seek; a life


  So blind to bounties has obscured too far


  The souls once theirs, for that which once they wore


  Of mortal likeness in their shades to show.


  Waste was their choice, and this abortive strife


  And toil unmeaning is the end they are


  They butt for ever, until the last award


  Shall call them from their graves. Ill-holding those


  Ill-loosing these, alike have doomed to know


  This darkness, and the fairer world forgo.


  Behold what mockery doth their fate afford!


  It needs no fineness of spun words to tell.


  For this they did their subtle wits oppose,


  Contending for the gifts that Fortune straws


  So blindly, - for this blind contending hell.


  


  "Beneath the moon there is not gold so great


  In worth, it could one moment's grief abate,


  Or rest one only of these weary souls."


  


  "Master, this Fortune that ye speak, whose claws


  Grasp all desirable things of earth," I said,


  "What is she?"


                  "O betrayed in foolishness I


  Blindness of creatures born of earth, whose goals


  Are folly and loss!" he answered, "I would make


  Thy mouth an opening for this truth I show.


  


  "Transcendent Wisdom, when the spheres He built


  Gave each a guide to rule it: more nor less


  Their light distributes. For the earth he gave


  Like guide to rule its splendours. As we know


  The heavenly lights move round us, and is spilt


  Light here, and darkness yonder, so doth she


  From man to man, from race and kindred take


  Alternate wealth, or yield it. None may save


  The spoil that she depriveth: none may flee


  The bounty that she wills. No human wits


  May hinder, nor may human lore reject


  Her choice, that like a hidden snake is set


  To reach the feet unheeding. Where she sits


  In judgment, she resolves, and whom she wills


  Is havened, chased by petulant storms, or wreck '


  Remedeless. Races cease, and men forget


  They were. Slaves rise to rule their lords. She


  And empties, godlike in her mood. No pause


  Her changes leave, so many are those who call


  About her gates, so many she dowers, and all


  Revile her after, and would crucify


  If words could reach her, but she heeds nor hears,


  Who dwells beyond the noise of human laws


  In the blest silence of the Primal Spheres.


  


  - But let us to the greater woes descend.


  The stars from their meridian fall, that rose


  When first these hells we entered. Long to stay


  Our right of path allows not."


                          While

  he spake


  We crossed the circle to the bank beyond,


  And found a hot spring boiling, and a way,


  Dark, narrow, and steep, that down beside it goes,


  By which we clambered. Purple-black the pond


  Beneath it, widening to a marsh that spreads


  Far out, and struggling in that slime malign


  Were muddied shades, that not with hands, heads,


  And teeth and feet besides, contending tore,


  And maimed each other in beast-like rage.


                           

    My guide


  Expounded, "Those whom anger overbore


  On earth, behold ye. Mark the further sign


  Of bubbles countless on the slime that show.


  These from the sobs of those immersed arise;


  For buried in the choking filth they cry,


  We once were sullen in the rain-sweet air,


  When waked the light, and all the earth was fair,


  How sullen in the murky swamp we lie


  Forbidden from the blessed light on high.



  This song they gurgle in their throats, that so


  The bubbles rising from the depths below


  Break all the surface of the slime."


                           

    Between


  The high bank and the putrid swamp was seen


  A narrow path, and this, a sweeping arc,


  We traversed; outward o'er the surface dark


  Still gazing, at the choking shades who took


  That diet for their wrath. Till livelier look


  Was forward drawn, for where at last we came


  A great tower fronted, and a beacon's flame.


  


  


  







Canto VIII








  

I SAY, while yet from that tower's base afar,


  We saw two flames of sudden signal rise,


  And further, like a small and distant star,


  A beacon answered.


                  "What before us lies?


  Who signals our approach, and who replies?"


  I asked, and answered he who all things knew,


  "Already, if the swamp's dank fumes permit,


  The outcome of their beacon shows in view,


  Severing the liquid filth."


                      No shaft can slit


  Impalpable air, from any corded bow,


  As came that craft towards us, cleaving so,


  And with incredible speed, the miry wave.


  To where we paused its meteor course it clave,


  A steersman rising in the stern, who cried,


  "Behold thy doom, lost spirit!" To whom my guide,


  "Nay, Phlegyas, Phlegyas, here thy cries are


  We need thine aid the further shore to gain;


  But power thou hast not."


                      One amazed to meet


  With most unlooked and undeserved deceit


  So rages inly; yet no dared reply


  There came, as down my Leader stept, and I


  Deepened the skiff with earthly weight undue,


  Which while we seated swung its bows anew


  Outward, and onward once again it flew,


  Labouring more deep than wont, and slowlier now,


  So burdened.


              While that kennel of filth we clave,


  There rose among the bubbles a mud-soaked head.


  "Who art thou, here before thy time?" it said,


  And answer to the unfeatured mask I gave,


  "I come, but stay not. Who art thou, so blind


  And blackened from the likeness of thy kind?"


  


  "I have no name, but only tears," said he.


  


  I answered, "Nay, however caked thou be,


  I know thee through the muddied drench. For thee


  Be weeping ever, accursed spirit."


                           

    At that,


  He reached his hands to grasp the boat, whereat


  My watchful Master thrust him down, and cried,


  "Away, among the dogs, thy fellows!" and then


  To me with approbation, "Blest art thou,


  Who wouldst not pity in thy heart allow


  For these, in arrogance of empty pride


  Who lived so vainly. In the minds of men


  Is no good thing of this one left to tell,


  And hence his rage. How many above that dwell,


  Now kinglike in their ways, at last shall lie


  Wallowing in these wide marshes, swine in sty,


  With all men's scorn to chase them down."


                           

        And I,


  "Master, it were a seemly thing to see


  This boaster trampled in the putrid sea,


  Who dared approach us, knowing of all we know."


  


  He answered, "Well thy wish, and surely so


  It shall be, e'er the distant shore we view."


  And I looked outward through the gloom, and lo!


  The envious eaters of that dirt combined


  Against him, leapt upon him, before, behind,


  Dragged in their fury, and rent, and tore him through,


  Screaming derisive, "Philip! whose horse-hooves shine


  With silver," and the rageful Florentine


  Turned on himself his gnashing teeth and tore.


  


  But he deserveth, and I speak, no more.


  


  Now, as we neared the further beach, I heard


  The lamentable and unceasing wail


  By which the air of all the hells is stirred


  Increasing ever, which caused mine eyes unveil


  Their keenest vision to search what came, and he


  Who marked, indulgent, told. "Ahead we see


  The city of Dis, with all its dolorous crew,


  Numerous, and burdened with reliefless pain,


  And guilt intolerable to think."


                           

    I said,


  "Master, already through the night I view


  The mosques of that sad city, that fiery red


  As heated metal extend, and crowd the plain."


  He answered, "These the eternal fire contain,


  That pulsing through them sets their domes aglow."


  At this we came those joyless walls below,


  - Of iron I thought them, - with a circling moat;


  But saw no entrance, and the burdened boat


  Traced the deep fosse for half its girth, before


  The steersman warned us. "Get ye forth. The shore


  Is here, - and there the Entrance."


                          There,

  indeed,


  The entrance. On the barred and burning gate


  I gazed; a thousand of the fiends that rained


  From Heaven, to fill that place disconsolate,


  Looked downward, and derided. "Who," they said,


  "Before his time comes hither? As though the dead


  Arrive too slowly for the joys they would,"


  And laughter rocked along their walls. My guide


  Their mockery with an equal mien withstood,


  Signalling their leaders he would speak aside,


  And somewhat closing their contempt they cried,


  "Then come thou hither, and let him backward go,


  Who came so rashly. Let him find his way


  Through the five hells ye traversed, the best he may.


  He can but try it awhile! - But thou shalt stay,


  And learn the welcome of these halls of woe."


  


  Ye well may think how I, discomforted


  By these accursed words, was moved. The dead,


  Nay, nor the living were ever placed as I,


  If this fiends' counsel triumphed. And who should try


  That backward path unaided?


                         

  "Lord," I said,


  "Loved Master, who hast shared my steps so far,


  And rescued ever, if these our path would bar,


  Then lead me backward in most haste, nor let


  Their malice part us."


                      He with cheerful

  mien,


  Gave answer. "Heed not that they boast. Forget


  The fear thou showest, and in good heart abide,


  While I go forward. Not these fiends obscene


  Shall thwart the mandate that the Power supplied


  By which we came, nor any force to do


  The things they threaten is theirs; nor think that I


  Should leave thee helpless here."


                          The

  gentle Sage


  At this went forward. Feared I? Half I knew


  Despair, and half contentment. Yes and no


  Denied each other; and of so great a woe


  Small doubt is anguish.


                      In their orgulous

  rage


  The fiends out-crowded from the gates to meet


  My Master; what he spake I could not hear;


  But nothing his words availed to cool their heat,


  For inward thronged they with a jostling rear


  That clanged the gates before he reached, and he


  Turned backward slowly, muttering, "Who to me


  Denies the woeful houses?" This he said


  Sighing, with downcast aspect and disturbed


  Beyond concealment; yet some length he curbed


  His anxious thought to cheer me. "Doubt ye nought


  Of power to hurt in these fiends insolent;


  For once the wider gate on which ye read


  The words of doom, with greater pride, they sought


  To close against the Highest. Already is bent


  A great One hereward, whose unhindered way


  Descends the steeps unaided. He shall say


  Such words as must the trembling hells obey."


  


  


  







Canto IX








  

I THINK the paleness of the fear I showed


  When he, rejected from that conference,


  Rejoined me, caused him speak more confident


  Than felt he inly. For the glance he sent


  Through the dense darkness of the backward road


  Denied the valour of his words' pretence;


  And pausing there with anxious listening mien,


  While came no sound, nor any help was seen,


  He muttered, "Yet we must this conflict win,


  For else - But whom her aid has pledged herein -


  How long before he cometh!" And plain I knew


  His words turned sideward from the ending due


  They first portended. Faster beat my fear,


  Methinks, than had he framed in words more clear


  The meaning that his care withheld.


                           

        I said,


  "Do others of the hopeless, sinless, dead,


  Who with thee in the outmost circle dwell,


  Come ever downward to the narrowing hell


  That now we traverse?"


                      "Once Erichtho

  fell,"


  He answered, "conjured to such end that I,


  - Who then short time had passed to those who die, -


  Came here, controlled by her discerning spell,


  And entered through these hostile gates, and drew


  A spirit from the darkest, deepest pit,


  The place of Judas named, that centres Hell.


  The path I learnt, and all its dangers well.


  Content thine heart. This foul-stretched marsh surrounds


  The dolorous city to its furthest bounds.


  Without, the dense mirk, and the bubbling mire:


  Within, the white-hot pulse of eating fire,


  Whence this fiend-anger thwarts. . .," and more he said,


  To save me doubtless from my thoughts, but I


  Heeded no more, for by the beacons red


  That on the lofty tower before us glowed,


  Three bloodstained and infernal furies showed,


  Erect, of female form in guise and limb,


  But clothed in coils of hydras green and grim;


  And with cerastes bound was every head,


  And for its crown of hair was serpented;


  And he, who followed my diverted gaze,


  The handmaids of the Queen of Woeful Days


  Well knowing, told me, "These the Furies three.


  Megæra leftward: on the right is she


  Alecto, wailing: and Tisiphone


  Midmost."


          These hateful, in their need of prey,


  Tore their own breasts with bloodied claws, and when


  They saw me, from the living world of men,


  Beneath them standing, with one purpose they


  Cried, and so loudly that I shrank for fear,


  "Medusa! let her from her place appear,


  To change him into stone! Our first default


  That venged no wrath on Theseus' deep assault,


  So brings him."


          "Turn thou from their sight," my guide


  Enjoined, nor wholly on my fear relied,


  But placed his hands across mine eyes the while


  He told me further "Risk no glance. The sight


  Of Gorgon, if she cometh, would bring thee night


  From which were no returning."


                          Ye

  that read


  With wisdom to discern, ye well may heed


  The hidden meaning of the truth that lies


  Beneath the shadow-words of mysteries


  That here I show ye.


                      While I turned away,

  


  Across the blackness of the putrid bay,


  There crashed a thunder of most fearful sound,


  At which the opposing shores, from bound to bound,


  Trembled.


              As when an entering tempest rends


  The brooding heat, and nought its course can stay,


  That through the forest its dividing way


  Tears open, and tramples down, and strips, and bends,


  And levels. The wild things in the woods that be


  Cower down. The herdsmen from its trumpets flee.


  With clouds of dust to trace its course it goes,


  Superb, and leaving ruin. Such sound arose.


  And he that held me loosened mine eyes, and said,


  "Look back, and see what foam the black waves bear."


  


  As frogs, the while the serpent picks his prey,


  In panic scatter through the stream, and there


  Flatten themselves upon its bouldered bed,


  I saw a thousand ruined spirits that fled


  Before the coming of One who held his way


  Dry-shod across the water.


                          His

  left hand


  He waved before him, and the stagnant air


  Retreated. Simple it were to understand


  A Messenger of Heaven he came. My guide


  Signed me to silence, and to reverence due,


  While to one stroke of his indignant wand


  The gate swung open. "Outcast spawn!" he cried,


  His voice heard vibrant through the aperture grim,


  "Why spurn ye at the Will that, once defied,


  Here cast ye grovelling? Have ye felt from Him


  Aught ever for fresh revolt but harder pains?


  Has Cerberus' throat, skinned with the threefold chains,


  No meaning? Why, to fate most impotent,


  Contend ye vainly?"


                  Then he turned and went,


  Nor one glance gave us, but he seemed as one


  Whom larger issue than the instant done


  Engages wholly.


                  By that Power compelled,


  The gates stood open, and our course we held


  Unhindered. As the threshold dread we crossed,


  My eager glances swept the scene to know,


  In those doomed walls imprisoned, how lived the lost.


  


  On either hand a wide plain stretched, to show


  A sight of torment, and most dismal woe.


  


  At Arles, where the stagnant Rhone extends,


  Or Pola, where the gulf Quarnero bends,


  As with old tombs the plains are ridged, so here,


  All sides, did rows of countless tombs appear,


  But in more bitter a guise, for everywhere


  Shone flames, that moved among them.


                           

    Every tomb


  Stood open, white with heat. No craft requires


  More heated metal than the crawling fires


  Made hot the sides of those sad sepulchres;


  And cries of torture and most dire despair


  Came from them, as the spirits wailed their doom.


  


  I said, "Who are they, in these chests that lie


  Confined, and join in this lamenting cry?"


  


  My Master answered, "These in life denied


  The faith that saves, and that resisting pride


  Here brought them. With their followers, like to like,


  Assorted are they, and the keen flames strike


  With differing anguish, to the same degree


  They reached in their rebellion."


                          While

  he spake


  Rightward he turned, a narrow path to take


  Between them and that high-walled boundary.


  


  


  







Canto X








  

FIRST went my Master, for the space was small


  Between the torments and the lofty wall,


  And I behind him.


                  "O controlling Will,"


  I spake, "who leadest through such hates, and still


  Prevailest for me, wilt thou speak, that who


  Within these tombs are held mine eyes may see?


  For lifted are they, and unwatched."


                           

    And he, -


  "The lids stand open till the time arrive


  When to the valley of Jehoshaphat


  They each must wend, and earthly flesh resume,


  And back returning, as the swarming hive,


  From condemnation, each the doleful tomb


  Re-enter wailing, and the lids thereat


  Be bolted. Here in fitting torment lie


  The Epicurean horde, who dared deny


  That soul outlasts its mortal home. Is here


  Their leader, and his followers round him. Soon


  Shall all thy wish be granted, - and the boon


  Ye hold in secret."


                      "Kind my

  guide," I said,


  "I was not silent to conceal, but thou


  Didst teach, when in thy written words I read,


  That in brief speech is wisdom."


                           

    Here a voice


  Behind me, "Tuscan, who canst walk at choice


  Untouched amidst the torments, wilt thou stay?


  For surely native of the noble land


  Where once I held my too-audacious way,


  Discreet of speech, thou comest."


                          The

  sudden cry


  So close behind me from the chests that came,


  First drove me closer to my guide, but he, -


  "What dost thou? Turn thee!" - and a kindly hand


  Impelled me, fearful, where the crawling flame


  Was all around me, - "Lift thine eyes and see,


  For there is Farinata. Be thou short


  In speech, for time is failing."


                          Scorn

  of hell


  Was in the eyes that met me. Hard he wrought


  To raise himself, till girdle-deep I knew


  The greatest of the fierce Uberti crew,


  Who asked me, with contempt near-waiting, "Tell


  Of whom thou art descended?"


                          I

  replied,


  Concealing nothing. With lifted brows he eyed


  My face in silence some brief while, and then, -


  "Foes were they ever to my part, and me.


  It yet must linger in the minds of men


  How twice I broke them."


                  "Twice ye learned them

  flee,"


  - I answered boldly, - "but they twice returned;


  And others fled more late who have not learned


  The mode of that returning."


                          Here a

  shade


  Arose beside him, only to the chin


  Revealed: I think it knelt. Beyond and round


  It rather looked than at me. Nought it found.


  Thereat it wept, and asked me, "Ye that go


  Unhindered through these homes of gateless woe, -


  Is my son with thee? Hast thou nought to tell?"


  


  I answered, "Single through the gates of hell


  I had no power to enter. Near my guide


  Awaits me yonder. - Whom in foolish pride,


  Thy Guido held so lightly."


                      At the word


  He leapt erect from out the tomb, and cried,


  "How saidst thou? Held? Already he hath not died?


  Doth not the sweet light meet him? The clear air


  Breathes he not yet?"


                  The imploring cries I heard


  But checked awhile to answer, and in despair


  He fell flat forward, and was seen no more.


  But he, magnanimous, who first delayed


  My steps, had heeded nought, nor turned his head,


  And now continued that he spake before.


  "If with the coin ye forged they have not paid,


  It more torments me than this flaming bed.


  Yet thou thyself, before the Queen of Night


  Shall fifty times revoke and raise her light,


  Shalt learn the hardship of that art. But tell,


  As thou wouldst feel the cool winds' pinions beat


  Once more upon thee, and the sweet light fall


  Around the feet of morning, for this heat


  And fetid air we writhe in, why were all


  Those exiles pardoned by thy laws, to dwell


  In their dear homes once more, and only mine,


  My kindred, find no mercy?"


                          I to

  him, -


  "The rout and chase that dyed the Arbia red


  To thy descendants dealt this bitter bread;


  The memory of that slaughter doth not dim,


  But leaves thee to our prayers a name of hate


  In all our churches."


                      Here he sighed, and

  said,


  "I was not single in that strife, nor lacked


  Good cause to strike; but when your remnant fled,


  And Florence, naked to her foes elate,


  Cowered, waiting, all with one consent agreed


  To tread her out to dust, and extirpate


  All life within her, I, and only I,


  Stood out against it, and refused the deed,


  And with my swords I saved them. Is this thing


  Less memoried than my wrath?"


                          I

  answered, "Yea:


  But what I can I will, and that thy seed


  Have rest at my returning, solve, I pray,


  A doubt that disconcerts me. Ye that dwell


  In these abodes beneath us, each foretell


  - Or so ye claim - what distant times shall bring,


  Yet plead for knowledge of the passing day, -


  Or mock me, asking that yourselves could say."


  


  He answered, "As in age a man may see


  Far off, while nearer sights are blurred, so we


  See clearly times long passed, and times to be.


  Foresight is ours, and long remembering,


  In each an anguish, while the anxious mind


  Is void to all around it, foiled and blind


  Where most it longs for knowledge. Nought we know


  Thine earthly present, save as here below


  One after one descending bears his tale;


  And therefore, when the wings of Time shall fail,


  And sealed in these accursed tombs we lie,


  All knowledge from our vacant minds shall die,


  As well ye may perceive it."


                          Here I

  said,


  Compunctious for a fault now seen, "Wilt tell


  That other, fallen, that I did not well


  Withholding answer? Guido is not dead.


  My silence from the earlier doubt was bred,


  From which thou hast resolved me."


                          Now my

  guide


  Was calling, and in greater haste I said,


  "Thy comrades in thy grief I charge thee tell,


  Ere I go from thee."


                  Shortly he replied,


  "The second Frederick, and the Cardinal,


  Are with me, and a thousand more beside


  Of whom I speak not."


                      With the word he

  fell;


  And I went onward, turning in my thought


  The hostile presage of his words that taught


  Mine own near exile, till my guide at last


  Questioned, "What cloud thine eyes hath overcast?


  What thought hath wildered all thy mind?" and I


  Answered, and told.


              He said, "The things thou hear'st


  That threat thee, hold them in thy memory well.


  Yet know that soon, beneath a fairer sky,


  When she, whose sight hath no blank space, shall tell


  What cometh, then shalt thou read, ungapped and clear,


  The journey of thy life."


                  The while he spake


  He turned him leftward from the wall, to take


  A path that to the midmost vale declined,


  A fetid rising odour first to find.


  


  


  







Canto XI








  

BUT boldly outward from the wall we went,


  Down sloping, till a sudden steep descent


  Before us yawned. The sides, extending far,


  Of broken rocks, a great pit circular


  Enclosed. Beneath our feet a fouler throng


  Than that we left, upcast a stench so vile


  We might not face, but left our course awhile


  To crouch behind a stone-built monument,


  Whereon I read, "Pope Anastasius


  Is here, who sold his faith for Photinus
."


  


  Then spake my Master. "Till the fetid air


  By gradual use we take, we must not dare


  Continue downward."


                  "Show me, while we stay,


  The meanings of this foul and dreadful way."


  


  "I meant it, surely," said my guide. "Behold


  The space beneath us. There three circlets lie,


  Alike to those we left behind, but why


  This deeper fate is theirs, I first will show;


  And when we pass them in the depths below


  Ye need not wait to question what ye see.


  


  "All malice of men's hearts in injury


  Results, and hence to Heaven is odious;


  And all the malice that aggrieveth thus


  Strikes in two ways, by either force or fraud;


  And fraud in man is vice peculiar,


  That from Hell's centre to the utmost star


  Is else unknown, and is to God therefore


  Most hateful Hence the violent-sinful lie


  Outward, and inmost are the fraudulent.


  And as the sinful-violent make their war


  On God, their neighbours, or themselves, so they


  Are portioned in the outer wards.


                           

    I say,


  To them, or to the things they own, the wrong


  May aim. By violence, wounds or death may be,


  Extortions, burnings, wastes; and ye shall see


  That equal in the outmost round belong


  Reivers of life alike, and plunderers.


  And in the second round are those whose sin


  Is violence to themselves; they weep therein,


  Repenting when too late, whose hands destroy


  Their earthly bodies; and condemned alike


  Are those with profligate wasteful hands who strike


  At their own wealth, or having cause for joy


  Reject it, weeping with no need. The third


  And smallest of the outer circlets holds


  All those with violence of blaspheming words,


  Or in their hearts, the Lord of Life deny,


  The wealth of Nature that the world enfolds


  Contemning. Hence by lust or usury,


  Sodom or Cahors, the downward path may be


  That ends in this destruction.


                          Fraud,

  that gnaws


  The universal conscience of mankind,


  Is also different in its guilt, because


  It either at the stranger strikes behind,


  Or makes the sacred bond of confidence


  The means of its prevailing; and the first


  Breaks but the kindly general bond, and hence


  More outward in the final depths are cast


  Deceivers, flatterers, cheats, and sorcerers,


  Thieves, panders, and such filth.


                          The

  last and worst


  And smallest circle holds such souls as break


  Not only in their guilt the natural bond


  That all men own, but in some trust, beyond


  The usual course, are faithless. In this lake,


  The base and centre of Dis, the inmost hell,


  All traitors in relentless torments dwell."


  


  I answered, "Master, clearer words than these


  I could not ask, the ranks of guilt to show,


  That gather in the dreadful gulfs below;


  But tell me, - those that in so great dis-ease


  We earlier passed, wind-beaten, choked with slime,


  Or chilled and flattened with unending rain,


  If God's wrath reach them, why they yet remain


  Outside the hot walls of the Place of Pain?


  Or why they suffer through the night of Time


  So greatly, if they are not judged to Hell?"


  


  He answered, "Surely ye recall not well


  The Ethics that your schools have taught, or wide


  Your thoughts have wandered from their wont, to cause


  A doubt so simple. Are there not three laws


  By which the ways of Hell from Heaven divide -


  Beast-treason, malice, and incontinence,


  And of these three the third the least offence


  To God provoketh, and receives less blame?


  Bethink the faults of those where first ye came


  Through circles loftier than the heated wall


  That now surrounds us, and ye well shall see


  Why with less wrath the strokes of justice fall


  On those left outward by divine decree."


  


  "O Light!" I said, "whose cheering rays dispel


  The mists that blind me, wilt thou further tell


  Why stands the customed toll of usury


  Condemned in thy discourse as direst sin,


  Abhorrent to the bounty of God?"


                           

    He said,


  "The teaching of thine own Philosophy


  Is pregnant with this truth unborn. Therein


  Thou learn'st of God himself, interpreted


  In Nature's ways; and as a child may tread


  Unsurely in its Master's steps, thine art


  Interprets Nature in its turn, and is


  God's grandchild therefore. Through these mysteries


  Look backward. When the Law of Eden came,


  How spake the Eternal Wisdom? Toil; It said,


  And in that labour find thy guerdon-bread:


  Be fruitful, and increase thy kind
. His part


  God gave to man, so saying. The usurer


  Seeks not his profit in the path designed,


  But looks the fruit of others' toils to find,


  And pluck where nought he planted.


                           

    More to say


  The time permits not; but the downward way


  We needs must venture. In the outer skies


  The Fishes from the pale horizon rise,


  And the Great Wain its shining course descends


  Where the night-lair of Caurus dark extends."


  


  


  







Canto XII








  

NOW came we to the steep cliff-side. As where


  The Adige at the mountain bored until


  Fell the huge ruin of half its bulk, and there


  Turned the swift stream a further course to fill


  Beneath the scarred precipitous side, so here


  The shattered ominous cliffs descended sheer;


  And sprawled across the verge, Crete's infamy,


  The fruit of that false cow, Pasiphaë,


  Was fearsome, that the boldest heart should flee.


  


  To us he turned his red malignant eyes,


  Gnawing his own side, the while he strove to rise,


  As one made rageful past restraint, but loud


  My leader hailed him, "Think'st thou, overproud,


  That Theseus cometh, who gave thy death


  Not one that Ariadne taught is here,


  Nor destined victim for thy rage to gore,


  But one who walketh through the place of fear


  In safety, to behold the stripes ye bore."


  As some roped bull, whose throat is stretched to feel


  The knife's sharp doom, against the rending steel


  So madly wrenches that he breaks away,


  Already slaughtered, plunging while he may,


  But blindly and vainly, at this word I saw


  Heaving the huge bulk of the Minotaur,


  And cried my careful guide, "Descend with speed,


  The whilst he rages."


                  Down with watchful heed,


  But swiftly, clomb we by the rocks' rough side,


  The jutting stones that lightly held my guide


  Trembling beneath my earthlier weight.


                           

    He said,


  Who watched my silence, "Likely turns thy thought


  To this rent ruin the gross beast guards. Before,


  When downward came I, of this fall was nought,


  But nearly after came that Lord who bore


  Out from the horror of Dis its choicer prey.


  Hell, to its loathliest entrails, felt that day


  Love's coming, and trembled, and this mountain fell.


  The power of Love, that thus discomfits Hell,


  Oft in forgotten times, as sages tell,


  Hath changed our world to chaos. - But heed thy way.


  Before us is the gulf of blood wherein


  Murderers by violence purge their briefer sin.


  O blindness of their greed, or bestial rage!


  So short the war that on their kind they wage;


  So long is their repenting."


                          I

  beheld


  A wide moat, curving either hand, as though


  Its sweep surrounded all the plain. Below


  On the near bank, were Centaurs, each who held


  A spear for casting, or a bended bow,


  The while they raced along the brink, as when


  Their game they hunted in the world of men.


  


  Seeing us, they stayed, and of the nearest, three


  Approached us, with the threats of shaft on string.


  One cried, "What torments do your guilts decree,


  Who cross Hell's gaps in such strange wandering?


  How came ye loosened from your dooming? - Say,


  Lest the cord teach ye."


                      Unperturbed, my

  guide


  Gave answer. "Not for such vain threats we stay.


  To Chiron only will we speak. Thy will


  For rashness cost thee once thy life, and still


  Inciteth folly." And then to me, "Behold


  Nessus, who once for Deianira died;


  Beyond is Chiron, round whose mighty knees


  Played once the infant years of Achilles;


  The rageful Pholus is the last; they go


  With thousand others around the moat, that so


  If any spirits the boiling blood would quit


  Beyond the licence of their dooms, they know


  A different anguish from the shafts that slit


  The parts shown naked."


                      These swift beasts

  and we


  Approached each other the while he spake, and he,


  Great Chiron, with a shaft's notched end put back


  The beard that hindered both his jaws, and said,


  To those his comrades, "Not as walk the dead


  Doth this one coming, but with the weight they lack


  Disturbs the stones he treadeth."


                          My

  guide by now


  Stood where the human and the brute combined,


  Beneath his breast, and answered for me. "Yea,


  He lives indeed, and I, to lead his way,


  I race this dark valley. No sportive choice to find,


  But driven of need, he threads this night of flame;


  And She from singing Alleluias came


  Who bade me do it. No spirit condemned am I,


  Nor he deserving of thy doom. I pray,


  By virtue of the Name I will not say,


  l hat of thy comrades one thy care supply


  To guide us to the ford, and him to bear


  Across, who may not tread the yielding air


  As those discarnate."


                      Chiron's bearded

  head


  Bent round to Nessus at his right, and said,


  "Turn, as they ask, and guide, and bear him through,


  And warn thy comrades that no wrong they do


  To these in passing."


                      In this trusty ward


  We held the margin of the purple flood


  That seethed beneath us. In the boiling blood


  Were spirits to the brows immersed.


                           

    "Ye see,"


  Said Nessus, "tyrants who by weight of sword


  Spread death and rapine in their lands. Is here


  Fierce Dionysius, who the doleful year


  Made long to those he ruled in Sicily;


  And Alexander here repents; and he


  Whose brows o'erhung with night-black hair ye see


  Is Azzolino; and the head beyond


  Where on the stream the trailing mane is blonde,


  Obizzo, whom his stepson choked."


                           

    We came


  Where other spirits in the boiling pond


  Showed from the neck, and in this place beheld


  That Guy who to avenge his father's name


  The English Henry at Viterbo felled,


  Even in the presence of God. The victim's heart


  Yet raised in reverence on the bank of Thame,


  Recalls it, and the assassin boils apart


  Placed separate for the deed's high blasphemy.


  


  And further passed we those whose guilt allowed


  Of freedom to the waist. Among the crowd,


  More numerous now, were more in clearer view,


  That by themselves or by their deeds I knew,


  As shallower yet the seething purple grew,


  Till all except the miscreants' feet was free.


  


  "Here must we cross the fosse," the Centaur said,


  And I, sole living in this world of dead,


  Climbed upward, and my earthly weight he bore,


  And while he waded to the further shore


  Continued, "As the boiling stream ye see


  Diminish, so its bottom sinks anew


  Rounding the circle, till it comes once more


  To those whose ruling choked their world in gore,


  In which they suffer. High Justice here torments


  The pirate Sextus, and fierce Pyrrhus here;


  Attila with eternal tears laments;


  And Rinier Pazzo, once a word of fear,


  With Rinier of Corneto boils, to pay


  For bandit-murders on the State's highway."


  


  


  







Canto XIII








  

WHILE Nessus yet recrossed the purple stream


  A wood we entered where no path appeared,


  No cool wind stirred, nor any sun came through,


  But all the foliage, as by winter seared,


  Was brittle and brown, and gnarled and twisted grew


  The branches, and if any fruit did seem


  They were but poisonous pods to closer view.


  No denser holts the lurking beasts have found


  Beneath Corneto, where the marshy ground,


  Uncoultered, to Cecina's stream declines.


  


  Foul harpies nest amidst the loathly vines,


  Who chased the Trojans from the Strophades,


  With their drear wail of some awaiting woe.


  Their wings are wide: and like gross birds below


  Their bellies feathered, and their feet are clawed.


  Strange cries come from them through the sickly trees.


  


  My Master told me, "Through this dismal land,


  The second circlet pass we, till we reach


  The place of that intolerable sand


  Which forms the third, and in its place completes


  The outer round. Recall my earlier speech


  That taught the order of these woes. Look well


  For confirmation of the things I tell "


  


  I looked, but saw not. Every side there rose


  A wailing burdened with unnumbered woes,


  While all the woods were vacant. From ground


  It came not - rather from the boughs around


  It beat upon us, as voiced by those who hid


  Before our coming, the tangled growth amid.


  


  My Master taught me. "If thou break away


  The nearest twig that meets thine hand, wilt see


  How far thy dreaming from the truth astray."


  


  Thereat I reached, and from a twisted thorn


  That rose before us, withered, gaunt, forlorn,


  Broke short a twig, and from the trunk a cry


  Came sharply, "Tear not!" and a blood-gout


  Dark on the wound, the while the trunk anew


  Entreated, "Rend not; does no mercy lie


  In those that still their human forms retain?


  Men were we, till we left on earth self-slain


  The bodies given of God. But had we been


  The souls of serpents, in this hopeless dole


  We had not thought that any mortal soul


  Would wound us, helpless to their hands."


                           

    Hast seen


  Cast on the coals a living branch and green?


  One end already burns, and one projects


  Clear of the heat, but from the fire's effects


  Moisture exudes and hissing wind. So here


  Blood welled and words from out the wound. The fear


  Of this strange voice, and pity, so in me wrought


  I dropt the broken shoot, and fixed in thought


  Stood silent.


              On my side my leader spake,


  "O wounded spirit, had his heart believed


  The truth that earlier in my verse he read,


  He had not with unthinking violence grieved


  The most unhappy of the hapless dead.


  But mine the word that caused his hand to break,


  Who knew that truth's incredibility


  Would else confound him. It was grief to me


  To prompt him to it. But if thou speak and tell


  Of whom thou wast, he may requite thee well,


  Thy fame renewing in the world, for there


  He soon returneth."


                      And the voice

  replied,


  "The sound of thy seducing words and fair


  Constrains me to forgive thee, and confide


  The bitter grief that in my trunk I hide,


  Which else were silent always. With me bear


  In patience somewhat, if I talk too long,


  Caught in this bait of words, when all my wrong


  Returneth to me. In this toil is he,


  The second Frederick's confident, who held


  His heart's two keys, and turned them. Here ye see


  The ruin of too great fidelity,


  That sleep and life gave forfeit. Yea, for she,


  That harlot who in Cæsar's court rebelled


  Against all virtue round his throne, the bane


  And vice of all high concourse, Envy, stirred


  And slandered, till my Master half believed.


  And I, who all things at his hands received,


  And all myself had rendered, in disdain


  Gave silence only to the accusing word,


  And in contempt of life I broke the chain


  That held me to it. Just to others, I wrought


  Injustice to myself. But here I swear,


  By these sad roots that hold me, word nor thought,


  Nor deed nor negligence was mine in aught


  Against him faithless. Ye that upward bear


  The news and burden of our griefs below,


  Rebuild my memory in the world, I pray,


  That my rash hand prostrated."


                          Here

  his woe


  Found silence, and the things I sought to say


  I lacked the heart. Until, at last, my guide


  Enquired me, "Wouldst thou more?" and I replied,


  "Ask for me."


                  To the prisoned grief he said,


  "That this man gladly when he leave the dead


  Uplift thy record, as thy words entreat,


  Inform us further how this fate ye meet,


  How the bent soul these twisted knots allows;


  Or ever any from these tortured boughs


  Erect himself to manhood."


                          Then

  the tree


  Blew strongly, and the wind was words that said,


  "In brief thou shalt be answered. When the dead,


  Self-slaughtered, from the unready corse is torn,


  Then Minos, in the seventh gulf to mourn,


  Consigns it. Here on no set space it falls,


  But cast at random, and its roots it strikes


  In marsh or rock, and boughs and thorny spikes


  Grow upward. On its leaves the harpies feed,


  Tearing, and where the broken twiglets bleed


  Pain finds its outlet.


                      When the trumpet

  calls,


  We all, with those who earthly flesh regain,


  Shall upward troop, but that our hand hath slain


  We may not enter, as is just. The Vale


  Of Judgment when we leave we each shall hale


  Our bodies slain behind us, till we reach


  The dismal thorns we left, and each on each


  Shall hang them. Every trunk of every shade


  Bent with the weight of that itself betrayed."


  


  We still were listening, lest more words should come


  From this sad spirit, when rose such noise anear


  That all the wailings of the woods were dumb


  Before it, and we paused, as those who hear


  The boar-hunt plunging through the brake, and nigh,


  Crashed boughs, and rush of beasts that chase and fly,


  Approaching where they stand; and forth there burst


  Two spirits torn and bare, and cried the first,


  "Befriend me, Death!" and cried the one behind,


  "Ah, Lano, swifter legs than mine ye show,


  But Toppo's tourney found thy limbs more slow."


  


  Thereat he made no further pace, but low


  Crawled 'neath the densest bush the woods contained,


  And the next instant, as the shade he gained,


  A rush of hell-hounds on his chase there came.


  Wild on the bush they leapt to trace and claim


  Their hiding victim, sinking fang and claw


  In him who squatted in its midst. They rent


  The writhing limbs, and diverse ways they went,


  Carrying the fragments that they tore.


                           

    My guide


  Now led my steps the damaged bush beside,


  That loud lamented. Severed boughs we saw,


  And torn twigs bleeding. In its pain it made


  Protest, "Jacopo da Sant' Andrea!


  What gain was here to make my leaves thy shade?


  What condemnation for thy sins is mine?"


  


  My Master questioned it, "Who art thou, say,


  So bruised and injured in a strife not thine?"


  


  It answered, "Ye that some strange fate hath led


  To see me mangled and discomfited,


  I pray ye closely round my foot to lay


  The boughs and leaves their violence strawed away.


  In that fair city of the plain I dwelt


  Which once to Mars, its earliest patron, knelt,


  And then the Baptist in his place preferred,


  And earned thereby the war-god's enmity.


  So that, except on Arno's bridge there stands


  His statue yet, those men with useless hands


  Had toiled, from ashes of the Huns, again


  To build it in the years of Charlemagne.


  


  "I have no name: I have no tale to say.


  I made a gibbet of my house. Ye see


  The end in this, the doleful price I pay."


  


  


  







Canto XIV








  

LOVE in my heart for that dear home of mine


  Compelled me. To the nameless Florentine


  I did the service that he asked. I laid


  The gathered twigs against his trunk.


                           

    We left


  That grove of men, of human form bereft


  By their own violence, and before us lay


  A space so hateful that I shrank afraid,


  For surely none might cross it.


                          Here,

  I say,


  The third sad circlet wide before us spread,


  A desert, by the dark wood garlanded,


  As that is belted by the boiling fosse.


  A desert which the hardiest might not cross


  Was here. The Libyan waste where Cato led


  The remnant of the host of Pompey, shows


  Dry sand alike, but oh, what heavier woes,


  Vengeance of God! what woes were here! Who boast


  They fear not Heaven, before that dreadful coast


  Have come not, or they would not doubt their dread!


  Strewn on the sands the naked souls I saw


  Lamenting loudly. Some by diverse law


  Lay flat: some crouched: some madly raced, and these,


  More numerous far, by milder cries conveyed


  A lesser torment than the souls that stayed


  Fixed on one spot.


                  Upon that concourse dire


  Slow flakes were falling of dilated fire,


  Straight downward, as the Alpine snows descend,


  When no wind stirs the stillness.


                          As

  there came


  From burning skies the separate flakes of flame


  Upon the host that Alexander led


  Across the torrid Indian plains - and they


  Stamped the red ashes lest they join and spread,


  And all be conflagration - so the heat


  Flaked downward in a slow unceasing sheet,


  On sand re-kindled with recruited fire,


  Like tinder that the flint and steel ignite.


  Here was the dance of woven hands I in vain


  That brushed aside the settling points of pain.


  


  I said, "O thou, whom all these different hells


  Obey - save those gate-demons obdurate -


  Who yonder lies, whose fierce disdain repels


  The eternal doom, and with a heart as great


  As all his ruin, beneath the torturing rain


  Contorted, moves not, nor laments?"


                           

    My guide


  I questioned, but the rebel shade replied,


  "Dead am I, but yet my living heart unslain


  Outequals Heaven. Though this relentless rain


  Fall ever; though Jove the toiling knave should tire


  From whom he snatched the bolt of previous fire


  That first transfixed me; though he tire alike


  All Etna's smiths, there is no power to strike


  Shall make me quail. Let all His force employ,


  He shall not taste the fierce exultant joy


  To break me, suppliant."


                      I had yet to learn


  My guide's hard voice, that in slow words and stern


  Made answer. "Think'st thou then, O Capaneus,


  Thy wrath makes answer to the wrath of Zeus?


  Or God regards it? But thy rageful pride,


  Against thee with the outer fires allied,


  Makes heavier torment for thy bane, and so


  Is penal only to thyself - Behold,"


  - With gentler voice again assumed, my guide


  Turned to me, as the sinner's tale he told -


  "That lord, who once with six like kings was foe


  To Thebes, and sieged it. Then his boast, as now,


  That God he equalled. But his words avow


  The justice of his doom, and impotent


  Against regardless Heaven, they ornament


  His breast most fitly - Follow where I tread -


  - Avoid the sand."


                  With careful steps he led


  Along the margin of the mournful wood,


  And spake no more, until at length we stood


  Where-a thin river of most doleful red


  (I shudder, thinking), from the sighing trees


  Flowed outward. As the stream the harlots share


  Flows outward from beneath Bulicame,


  So this ran forward through the sand. Stone-bare


  Its bottom, stone its shelving sides, and grey


  The stony margins of its course. By these


  I judged that here we crossed the fiery plain


  Which else repelled us - But my guide again


  Was speaking.


              "Since the doleful gate ye passed,


  Which still for all creation, first and last,


  Stands wide, no sights of wonder seen compare


  With this slight stream, whose margins cold and bare


  No fires can vanquish, whose red waters quench


  Hell's heat, and burn not."


                      "Master,"

  I desired,


  "For hunger wakened, grant the food required."


  


  "Far out in ocean lies an island waste


  Whose King, when once the early world was chaste,


  Ruled all men. In the midst a mountain lies,


  Ida, that once was fair to stormless skies,


  Peace of still nights and languorous noons it had,


  With murmuring leaves and falling waters glad


  (Cybele there the Heavenly Child concealed);


  Now lies it barer than a salted field,


  Than some outdated use more desolate,


  Abandoned, naked, in the change of fate.


  


  "A giant of Eld within this mountain stands;


  From Damietta with rejecting hands


  He turns, and Romeward holds his eyes, as she


  Who in her mirror gazes fixedly.


  His head is all of purest gold: his breast


  And arms are silver of the finest test:


  Then all is brazen to the forking cleft:


  Iron is the right leg only, but the left


  Hath the foot also of the like: of clay


  The dexter foot, on which he leans alway.


  This giant throughout, except the golden head,


  Is cracked, and from the fissure tears are shed,


  And these sink downward through the rocks, until


  They reach Hell's levels, and form the springs that fill


  The sunless gulf we passed of Acheron,


  And, draining thence, the Styx, and Phlegethon,


  Till downward by this straitened conduit passed


  Where all descent is ended, form at last


  The lake I tell not, for thine eyes shall see."


  I asked him, "If this stream from hell to hell


  Descend continuous, I discern not well


  Why in the loftier circles nought I saw?"


  


  He said, "As downward, tier by tier, we draw


  Toward the narrowing centre, still the bound


  We circle leftward, yet the slanting round


  Is incompleted; hence new sights to meet


  Ye must not marvel "


                      "Master,"

  I replied,


  "One question more. Of Lethe nought ye say,


  Nor speak of Phlegethon. Across our way


  Comes either?"


                  "Surely, in this scarlet tide

  


  The one flows past ye. But at Lethe's side


  Thy feet shall stand in other air than this,


  For Lethe flows not through the lost abyss,


  But those repentant, from their guilt made free,


  Shall find it. - Follow boldly where I tread


  The stone. Not here the burning sand can spread;


  Nor the red rain molest from overhead."


  


  


  







Canto XV








  

WE held the margin of the scarlet stream,


  The cold grey stones beneath our feet. A steam


  Arising from the water, overhead


  A canopy that roofed the causeway spread,


  Which quenched the fire descending.


                           

    As the dyke


  From Bruges to Cadsand, where the burghers dread


  The arising tide, or as the bank alike


  The Paduans build in winter, to forbear


  The Brenta's floods, when Chiarentana knows


  The feet of summer on the mountain snows,


  Such were the bulwarks of the stream, though less


  In height and thickness.


                      Far that wilderness


  Of wailing boughs we left, till backward glance


  Had failed to find it. Once a troop we met


  That racing past us in their mournful dance


  Reversed, and sharply were their glances set


  To read us, as a tailor frowns to thread


  The needle, when long years of toil have


  The needed sight, or as men meeting peer


  At twilight, when the rising moon is thin.


  


  Of these, one caught me by the skirt, and said,


  "O marvel!" and the face that heat had skimmed,


  I yet recalled, and answered, "Art thou here,


  My master?"


              He replied, "Brief words to win,


  I pray thee, O my son, consent that I


  Go backward somewhat with thee, while my kin


  Continue on the path we held."


                          I

  said,


  "I do not grant it, but beseech: and more,


  For those old days, when all thy learning's store


  Was mine to pillage, if my guide permit,


  Sit will I with thee here some space."


                           

    But he


  Made answer, "Nay, for if we pause or sit,


  There must we for a hundred years remain,


  Powerless to writhe beneath the falling rain.


  But I will walk beside thy skirts as now,


  No farther than these penal laws allow,


  And then my station in our band resume,


  Who race, and wail our everlasting doom."


  


  I dared not from my higher stand descend,


  Nor might he to the causeway climb, and so


  I walked as those in humble prayer who bend,


  The while he paced the burning sand below.


  


  He first enquired, "What chance or fate hath led


  Thy feet, before thy mortal loss, to tread


  A path so vacant?"


                  "In mid-life," I said,


  "I wandered in a pathless waste, and there,


  Refused of exit, in my last despair,


  I was returning to its midst, when he


  Who guides me came, and by this dreadful way


  Will bring me home at last."


                          And he

  to me,


  "I doubt it nought, for if thy destined star


  Perceived I rightly, when fair life and clear


  I with thee breathed, a different haven lay


  Before thee than this heat to which we steer,


  Who tempt High Heaven in all we speak and are.


  And but for death's too soon determining,


  Mine aid had cheered thee in thy later spring.


  


  "But those, the thankless and malign, who came


  To Florence from the rocks of Fiesole,


  Who mixed not with a nobler race than they,


  Still in their children hate thee, deed and name.


  Where the sour sorb-trees fruit, shall figs abound?


  Like are they even as our fathers found.


  Greed envy, hauteur, are the signs they show.


  Look that thou walk not in their ways. For though


  The path be stony for thy feet today,


  The time is near when in thy larger fame


  Both parties for thy potent aid shall pray.


  Then from the he-goat's teeth the grass be far!


  But those thy kind, if any yet there be


  Surviving of the sacred Roman seed,


  Amidst the dense growth of the ranker weed,


  Let the Fiesolan beasts, the where they lie,


  Make their own litter for their natural sty."


  


  I answered, "Master, had it lain with me


  To choose my boon from Heaven, not where we are,


  But in the clear air of the world above,


  Thy words had guided. All my heart in love


  Returns toward thee, as my thoughts recall


  Thine image, patient, kind, beneficent,


  That taught me, tireless, hour by hour, in all,


  How by the growth of that which Heaven hath lent,


  Man wins to life immortal. While I live,


  In nought but words - and grateful words I give-


  Is still my power to thank thee. All you tell,


  Mind-treasured, with a text remembered well,


  I keep for One on whom I hope, that she


  May comment further, as shall surely be


  If her I reach hereafter. This I say


  Meantime, let Fortune at her worst of will,


  So conscience chide not, wreck my days: and still


  The boor his mattock's baser laws obey."


  


  My leader heard me, and a backward glance


  Across his shoulder, to the right, he cast,


  To where we talked, and answered, "What ye say,


  Forget not in the days undawned."


                           

    But yet


  I questioned Ser Brunetto, "Tell me they


  Most famed on earth, who pay the godless debt


  In torment of this fiery rain at last?"


  


  He answered, "Some there be ye well may know,


  But more that better should the world forget,


  And time for speech is shortened. Briefly, here


  Are clerks and scholars, all betrayed so low


  By one defiling. Priscian here must run.


  And of our city here Accorso's son,


  Francesco. If such scurf thy mind admits,


  That base one of the Arno howling sits,


  Who, to Bacchiglione's bank transferred,


  There left his sin-wrecked nerves. - But further word


  I may not. - Yonder in the distance see


  New smoke arising from the sandy waste.


  Fresh folk race on with whom I must not be. -


  Those writings mine by which on earth I live


  Remember. - More I ask not."


                          Here

  in haste


  He loosed my skirts, and turned, and seemed as they


  Who at Verona's summer sports compete,


  Naked, across the fields with flying feet,


  To win the vesture green their speed to pay.


  


  


  


  







Canto XVI








  

THE sandy plain was almost past. There rose


  Such noise as murmurs through the hive. For near


  We came to where the tainted water sheer


  Falls to the level of the fraudulent,


  The next sad circle. Ever past us went


  The flying bands beneath the fiery rain,


  Scattering the sharp tormenting flakes. Of those,


  Three runners from a troop dividing came,


  Who called me with one impulse, "Stranger, stay,


  Who by the garb hast found this dreadful way


  From our perverted city."


                      The searing flame


  Had baked their limbs, and in the hardened flesh


  New wounds were formed with every flake. Ah me


  Again in thought the piteous sight I see,


  And make their anguish mine. My guide the while


  Turned as they ran. "Wait here. For courtesy


  Deserve they from thyself, than theirs to thee


  More urgent. Only that the falling heat


  Forbids, thyself with greater haste should meet


  Their coming, than their own."


                          At

  that we paused,


  And when they saw it their arresting cry


  They ceased, and recommenced the general wail.


  


  I might not reach them through the burning hail,


  Nor might they to the causeway climb, nor run


  Beside me, for the end was now so nigh,


  Nor might they, lest more grief the torture caused,


  Remain unmotioned in one place, and so


  They circled, as the nude, oiled champions go,


  Rotating, for the chance of grasp or blow


  Watchful, but these their eyes so held on me,


  That feet and neck perforce moved contrary,


  As round they wheeled.


                  One hailed me first, "O thou,

  


  Whose living feet, as some strange powers allow,


  Resound among the shadows, if aught so base


  As we who bake in this unfertile place


  Thy mind regard, recall our earthly fame,


  And heed our plea to learn thy later name.


  He in whose footsteps I rotate, though now


  So peeled and bare, when in clear light, was he,


  Gualdrada's grandson, who so nobly wrought


  In field and counsel both; the one ye see


  Who treads the sand behind, in all men's thought


  Should still be fragrant, Aldobrandi he;


  And I, Jacopo Rusticucci. She,


  That savage wife an ill fate gave, has brought


  This misery on me."


                  Had some shelter shown


  To guard me from the slow unceasing rain,


  I had not shrunk to cross the heated plain,


  To greet them in their grief, whose names are known


  So highly, nor I think my Master's voice


  Had chid me; but their aspects, baked and dried,


  Repelled and warned me.


                      "Not

  contempt," I cried,


  "But sorrow in my heart since first my guide


  Prepared me to expect such names, has grown,


  And will not leave me soon. Alike we own


  The same fair city, where your deeds today


  Are told not seldom, and true men rejoice


  Who hear them. From the bitter gall I go


  The fruit to find, and yet descend more low


  To Hell's deep centre ere I climb."


                          He

  said,


  "Thy spirit long within thy members dwell,


  And fame behind thee shine! But speak I pray


  If valour quite and noble grace have fled


  From our loved city. For one, whose place in Hell


  Was filled but late, - with yonder troop he burns,


  Torments us largelier than the pain he learns,


  With tales of its befalling. Is there now


  Such dearth of honour, lifted once so high?"


  And my heart failed me for direct reply,


  But with uplifted face I cried, "O thou,


  My Florence! Not thy fallen tears are dry


  For plebeian strangers in thy halls, and pride


  And riot extolled, and honour crucified."


  


  And these that heard, their glances from me drew,


  And at each other gazed, as men that knew


  My confirmation, and divined it true.


  


  At length they answered in one voice, "If there,


  As here, the truth unharmed thy lips may dare,


  Blest art thou! If from this unlighted air


  Again ye climb to where the stars are bare,


  When with rejoicing heart I once was there


  Thy thought looks backward, let thy words to men


  Exalt our names for that which late we were."


  


  At this they broke their giddy wheel, and then


  More swiftly than the heart could breathe Amen


  With legs like wings, across the sand they fled,


  And we went forward once again.


                          So

  near


  The sound of waters now, I scarce could hear


  My leader's voice. As that first stream to head


  From Monte Viso's height a separate way


  Seaward, its quieter name and loftier bed


  Forgets at Forli, and in sheer descent


  Above San Benedetto's towers resounds


  (There where a thousand in its wealthy bounds


  Might refuge, hindered by the sheltered few),


  So here the red stream to the nether pit


  Fell headlong, echoing through the void.


                           

    I wore


  A cord girt round me (once I thought to snare


  That painted pard of which I spoke before,


  So noosed), and this my guide commanded me


  To loose, and reached it from me coiled, and there


  Far outward flung it in the blank abyss.


  


  The blackness gulped it, while I thought, "From this,


  An act so strange, must spring new mystery, -


  How fixed he gazes where it sank, - and he,


  As though he heard me, answered. Ah, what care,


  What caution should we yield to Those who see


  Not the deed only, but the thought!


                           

    He said,


  "I signalled That which rises while I speak,


  And makes thy question clear."


                          A man

  may dread


  Truth more than falsehood to his friends to speak,


  When truth than falsehood shows more wild, and weak


  Of proof is that he inly knows, but I


  Am barred from silence. Reader, truth I swear,


  By all my hope of fame this work shall bear,


  That slowly through the gross and fetid air


  A Shape swam upward. As the mariners see


  Their comrade rising from the depths, who dived


  An anchor tangled in the rocks to free,


  Against the brink the wingless bulk arrived.


  


  


  







Canto XVII








  

BEHOLD the reptile with the stinging tail,


  That mountains hold not, nor strong walls avail


  To bar, nor any weapons wound. Behold


  Him who diseases all the world with guile."


  


  So spake my guide, and to the monster signed


  To join us where the causeway ceased, and he,


  That shape of loathsome fraud, swam warily


  Landward, and rested there his bust, the while


  The undulations of his tail unrolled


  Trailed outward in the hollow dark behind.


  


  His face was human, with a glance benign,


  Kindly, and just, and mild, but all beside


  Was reptile to the venomed fork. Two paws


  Were hairy to the armpits. Bright design


  And various colour patterned all his hide


  On breast and flank, in knots and circles drawn;


  Splendid as broidered cloths that mock the dawn,


  From Smyrna, or the looms of Tartary,


  Or those Arachne wove.


                      As oft we see


  The wherries half afloat and half ashore,


  Or as the German beaver waits his prey,


  So on the brink the unclean monster lay,


  Which brims the desert with containing stone;


  The bust reposing, and the tail alone


  Still twisting, restless in the void: it bore


  A forked end, venomed as the scorpions are.


  


  Then spake my guide, "Along the dreadful beach


  Now must we for a little space, to reach


  This shape malignant where it rests." We went


  Down from the causeway on the right, and then


  Ten steps across the stony marge, that so


  Clear of the sand and fire our path should go


  Along the skirting of the void, and when


  We reached the monster, near at hand I knew


  Along the edge of sand and stone, a row


  Of sinners crouching.


                      Here my Master said,

  


  "All kinds who suffer in this round to view,


  Before we leave it, mark their mien who sit


  Around the margin of the deeper pit.


  Go forward to them, but be brief. The while


  Converse I shortly with this beast of guile,


  That his broad shoulders bear us down."


                           

    Thereat


  Approached I to the doleful folk who sat


  Thus on the torture's utmost bound. Their woe


  Was streaming from their eyes Above, below,


  With restless movements, like the dog that lies


  In summer, sleepless from the teasing flies,


  And turns, now here, now there, with snout and paw


  Smiting, so they with ceaseless hands and vain


  Brushed the hot sand, or flicked the burning rain.


  


  From face to face I looked, but nought I saw


  Familiar, only that a purse there hung


  From every neck, of various prints, and each,


  The while they baked along the dismal beach,


  Gazed down, as though his sure salvation lay


  The emblazoned pouch within.


                          The

  shades among,


  One gilded pouch an azure lion bore,


  And one of gules a white goose showed, but more,


  I paused at one who on a silver ground


  A pregnant sow gave azure, and thereon


  He looked, and growled, "What dost thou? Get thee gone.


  Thou art not of us. But since thy live return


  My word may carry, let the Paduans learn


  The place at my left side, that's vacant now,


  Awaits Vitaliano." Like a cow


  He writhed his mouth, and licked his nose, and said,


  "Of Padua I; but these are Florentines


  Around me. Oft they din my ears and cry,


  We wait the sovereign cavalier, who shines


  In silver. He shall bear the he goats red


  Upon the pouch that decks his throat
."


                           

        But I


  Would wait no longer, lest my guide were wroth,


  And left these dolorous souls, pain-wearied now,


  Beneath their burden of eternity,


  While backward to the beast I went.


                           

    His haunch


  My guide had climbed, and now to venture forth


  He called me likewise. "Here I mount, that thou


  Shalt ride before me; so the swinging tail,


  More distant from thy fears, when out we launch,


  Shall steer us downward. Here no steadier stair


  Avails, but through the empty dark we sail.


  Be bold, and fear not. For the fetid air


  Shall bear us safely."


                      As the man that

  fears


  The nearing ague, pale and shivering stands,


  Already gazing on a bloodless nail,


  Not strengthful even to leave the harmful shade,


  Was I that heard. But yet with trembling hands


  (As some poor knave his craven heart conceals,


  Emboldened by his master's calm), I made


  My passage to the shoulders broad. I tried


  For words in which to beg my gentle guide


  To lend his arm, but no sound came, and he,


  Who knew my thoughts, and aided all, thereon


  Reached round me while he ordered, - "Geryon,


  Now start, and widely be thy circles spread,


  And slow thy sinking." As the wherries slide


  Downward and backward to the waiting tide,


  So slid the monster from the bank, until,


  Launched in free space, he outward turned his head


  To face the void, and like an eel his tail


  Was twisting, and his paws outreached to fill


  With gathered air.


                  Did greater fears assail


  When Phaëthon let the loose reins fall, that they


  Were trailed through heaven, and burnt the Milky Way?


  Or when Icarus felt the wax divide


  From feathered loins, the while his father cried,


  Far under, Evil road is thine? No sight


  Was left me, save the beast I rode. The night


  Was hollow where he swam. I might not know


  That sank we, saving that the wind below


  Beat upward, and against my face it blew


  As round we wheeled in gradual loops. I knew,


  Right-hand, the thunder of the whirlpool rise,


  And outward stretched my head, with downward eyes,


  And then shrank backward in more fear, for high


  Through the gross darkness pierced a wailing cry,


  And flickering lights were far beneath, whereby


  I learnt our height, and by these sights aware


  Of how we wheeled, and in what space of air,


  And how descending, colder fear I knew.


  


  But as the falcon, soaring long in vain,


  Wing-wearied, stoops to reach the empty plain,


  Though neither bird nor lure attract, the while


  The falconer cries Alas I and winging slow


  Disdainful, sullen, not for bait or guile


  Is lured, but from his master sulks, - below


  The ragged rocks at last, this Geryon,


  By us defeated of his customed freight,


  Alit, but lightened of my earthly weight


  Like arrow from the loosened string was gone.


  


  


  







Canto XVIII








  

Now stood we in the utter depth of Hell,


  For here ten trenches, with a central well,


  Contain all traitors in their kinds. The wall


  Is iron-grey stone that rings it round, and all


  Its floors and bastions are alike. Its name


  Is Malebolge. In this central shame


  There lie ten moats that like a tenfold chain


  Circle the wide and deep and dreadful well


  That midmost sinks, - but in its place I tell


  That horror.


                  As succeeding moats begird


  A fortress, so, between the outer wall


  And central shaft, the ten great chasms extend


  In which the sin-divided traitors herd,


  And as such moats are bridged, so cliffs remain


  Connecting bank to bank, converging all


  Where, at the margin of the pit, they end.


  


  By the first fosse we stood, when Geryon shook


  His back in anger from my weight, and shot


  Upward again for his familiar prey.


  My guide, left-hand, beneath the rampart took


  narrow path the ditch that edged, to find


  The nearest crossing. In his steps behind


  I walked, nor spared upon my right to look


  Down on the crowd that filled the trench. Their lot


  Revealed new torments, and new griefs, for they


  Had live tormentors for their bane, unlike


  The circles past.


                  Beneath the demons' ban


  All-naked here in two great crowds they ran,


  In opposite ways. For close beneath the dyke


  The advancing concourse faced us all, but those


  Lined in the further rank beside us moved,


  Though livelier-motioned.


                      As at Rome were seen

  


  The pilgrims in the year of Jubilee


  Divided on the bridge, - one crowd was sent


  Toward St. Peter's, one reversed that went


  Toward Giordano, - so these shades I see


  Herded. Behind them demons, horned and hooved,


  With swinging scourges move. Their backs are grooved


  And whealed with beating where the thongs have been.


  Ah, how the first cut lifts their legs! Not one


  That waits a second stroke to make him run.


  


  As on we passed, a sinner stayed mine eye


  Whose face familiar seemed. With bended head


  He shunned my gaze, but to my guide I said,


  "One was there in the troop that passed us by


  Already that my sight had known." Thereat


  He paused not only, but in courtesy


  Some steps allowed me to return, that I


  Might question whom I sought; and when we found


  That hiding shade I cried aloud, "O thou!


  In vain that wouldst, with careful glance on ground,


  Avoid, except that features feigned ye wear,


  I know ye, Venedico. What curst prank


  Hath cast thee pickling in so foul a tank?"


  


  He answered, sullen, "Nought I seek to tell,


  But thy clear speech, that through the murk of Hell,


  With recollection of the former air,


  Resounds so strangely, all compels. I run


  For no gained greed or spoil my lust had won.


  Persuasions only brought my bane. I weep


  That fair Ghisola shared the Marquis' sleep


  By my contriving. That the truth, whate'er


  The aspect that a viler tale may wear


  In lips of gossip. Tell the Bolognese


  It is not only I that run with these


  From our false city. They crowd more numerous


  Than all the infant tongues on earth today


  That Sipa in their speech are taught to say,


  Between the Reno and the Savena.


  Alone and pregnant. For that guilt to pay


  He runs, and Medea weights his doom. All they


  Whose hidden lives the like deceit confess


  In this direction race. But longer stay


  Deserves not. Pass we to the further trench."


  


  The narrow path ran on, and somewhat sank,


  But arching where it bridged the chasms.


                           

    A stench


  Assailed us as we neared the next, beyond


  The vapour cast from any stagnant pond


  Of earth's excretions, scent and sight alike


  Assailing. Moaning from the depth arose,


  And gasping, and the noise of beating hands.


  The banks were caked with filth the vapour left


  In rolling upward from the dismal cleft,


  Which sinks so deep that he alone who stands


  On the mid archway of the bridge can see


  Its hidden baseness. There, with useless blows,


  I saw the wallowing crowd of culprits strike


  The flowing filth from off their mouths. A head


  Was there so soiled, I looked in doubt if he


  Were priest or layman, till in wrath he bawled,


  "Why dost thou scan me in my filthiness?


  I am not soaking in a different mess


  From those around me."


                      In return I called,


  "Because I knew thee when thy hair was dry.


  If rightly through thy present dirt I guess


  Thou art Alessio."


                  Striving still to clear


  His head, that like a rotten pumpkin showed,


  He answered, "Yea, my flatteries brought me here.


  Fair words alone have filled this dismal road."


  


  Then spake my guide, "Look further out, for she,


  That fouled sprawled harlot, whom in vain you see


  Scrape off the filth with filthy nails, and try,


  Now crouching at the side, now straining high,


  To avoid the deluge of the dung, on earth


  Was Thais, whose sweet tongue her lovers' worth


  Exalted past her own. But longer stay


  This trench deserves not, nor a look's delay."


  


  


  







Canto XIX








  

O SIMON MAGUS! O ye pestilent!


  Followers and thieves of him; who prostitute


  For gold and silver things divine I Lament,


  For here is your abiding. Here for you


  The trumpet sounds damnation. Here I stand


  On the third arch, by which your trench is spanned,


  And what behold I? Heaven and earth unite


  With these dark horrors, O Wisdom infinite!


  To show the balance of thy scales is true.


  


  Smooth on each wall the livid stone was dressed,


  And pierced with holes, as where the martins nest,


  But larger, and the stony floor contained


  Round holes alike, in size and shape the same


  As in my beauteous San Giovanni


  The stands for the baptizers. Lately one


  I broke to save a drowning life: let none


  Revile me with an altered tale. There came


  From out each hole two legs: the rest remained


  Housed in the rock. The soles unceasingly


  Burned, and the legs, that to the calf were bare,


  So strained and kicked that any rope had burst


  That held them. On the soles of these accurst


  Bright flames that licked the outer surface were;


  As on things oiled, they moved from heel to toe,


  Flickering and dancing.


                      "Master, show

  the name


  Of him whose legs from out the flood I see,


  That twist and writhe and strain more furiously


  Than all beside, and licked by livelier flame?"


  


  He answered, "Somewhat if we leave the bridge,


  And sideways follow the dividing ridge,


  This fosse that severs from the next below,


  There is a passage in the wall, too steep


  For any human feet or hands to go,


  But I will bear thee, if thou wilt, and so


  Himself shall tell thee why so strongly leap


  His fire-licked members."


                      I replied, "Thy

  will


  Is mine, thou knowest. For if my voice were still,


  My mind were naked to thy thought."


                           

    Left-hand


  We turned along the lower boundary,


  And here my Master bore me down, until


  Upon the perforated flood to stand


  He set me safely. Where he placed me down


  I saw the lamentable legs of him


  Who writhed so hardly.


                      "Whosoe'er thou

  be,


  Who hast thy body thus reversed," I cried,


  "Save by thy doom the power of speech has died,


  Unhappy, answer!" As the friar must bend,


  Confessing him who in his grave is penned,


  For some perfidious murder judged to die


  Head downwards; who, to more his fate extend,


  Prolongs confession, while the spades delay,


  So to the entrance of the hole did I


  Stoop down, and upward rose a voice, "Art here


  Already, Boniface? Before the year


  The writ foretold me? Hast thou tired so soon


  Of that dear wealth which was the tempting boon


  For which thou didst the Bride of Christ betray?


  - Won by deceit, and cast in spoils away."


  


  And I stood wildered, till my Master said,


  "Delay not thy reply, I am not he


  Whom thou believest
."


                      This I called,

  whereon


  The spirit madly wrenched his feet, and cried


  With weeping voice, "Then what concern with me


  Thy steps to this unholy place has led?


  By that Great Mantle from my shoulders gone,


  The She-bear whelped me, and her cubs I tried


  To feed and foster, and exalt their pride.


  Much gold I pursed, and straitly pursed am I;


  And here I wait until the next shall die


  And take my place, and in that joyful hour


  I join the earlier of our kind, acower


  Beneath the fissures of the stones that lie.


  


  "But more already have I baked," he said,


  "And longer stood on my inverted head,


  Than he that follows in my place shall know.


  There comes a shepherd from the West. Bordeaux


  Shall give the Church a viler lord than he


  And I together in our deeds should be.


  For like that Jason of the Maccabees


  Who bought God's church, and bent his heathen knees


  To alien altars, shall he prove, and so,


  As to his guilt his king complaisant showed,


  The king of France shall take that impious road."


  


  I know not if I spoke too foolish-bold


  But in this strain I answered, "Say what gold


  Our Lord from Peter for His keys required?


  Or by Matthias next was Peter hired


  To yield that office that the guilty lost?


  But justly dost thou pay the penal cost


  Of thy betrayal. Keep that golden fee


  That made thee false to Charles of Sicily


  As best thou mayst. And but those Keys revered,


  Which in glad life thy hands have turned, repress


  Mine heart s indignant wrath, the nakedness


  Of all thou wast, my harder words should say.


  For avarice in thy Seat its guilt hath scared


  Upon the conscience of mankind. It treads


  The just man downward, and exalts the base.


  A wrath foreshown by that Evangelist


  Who saw the harlot with the seven heads


  And the ten horns, who kept her virtuous place,


  Pleasing her spouse, until the kings she kissed


  In acts of fornication. Gods to you


  Are gold and silver. In your eyes they shine


  Deities a hundred, while the idolater,


  That in your pride you excommunicate,


  To one false god bends only. Constantine!


  What countless evils through the years accrue,


  Not that thou lovedst God's spouse, but gave to her


  A wealth unseemly for her lowly state."


  


  As thus mine indignation spake, below


  If conscience waked or rage I may not know,


  But wild and furious sprawled his feet. My guide


  I glanced at, fearful lest his looks should chide,


  And faced assent. Again he lifted me,


  And by that path the boldest goat had shunned,


  He bore me to the crossway back. Beneath,


  The fifth great cleft gave other woes to see.


  


  


  







Canto XX








  

ANOTHER valley in its turn I tell.


  Another guilt, another depth of hell,


  Extends beneath. The great trench circular


  We gazed on from the crossing arch, and far


  I saw that silent weeping crowd and slow


  That moves around it, as the chanters go


  In earthly process of the Litanies.


  But other cause for shortened steps have these,


  For when my distant glance I dropped more low


  On those beneath, an unfamiliar woe


  They showed, neck-twisted where the body joins,


  Till each his own and not his neighbour's loins


  Could gaze on while he walked, and for this cause


  They needs went backwards. Some by Nature's laws


  Distorting palsies so may wrench, but I


  Have seen nought like it, nor believe the sky


  Looks down on such contortion.


                          Ye who

  read


  - God give ye vintage of the words ye heed -


  Reflect how I, who watched our human seed


  So altered and debased, with visage dry


  Could watch them. They of heavenly form bereft


  So far, that where the hinder parts are cleft


  The tears rolled down them as they wept, and I,


  Whose eyes thereat with kindred tears were wet,


  Bowed down upon the cold stone parapet,


  And wept beyond controlling.


                          But my

  guide


  Spake sharply. "Art thou of those fools," he said,


  "Whose pity liveth where it best were dead?


  For what more impious than the thought that dares


  Beyond man's province, and in fancy shares


  The mind of the Creator? Raise thine head.


  Look up! For near us is Amyhiaraüs


  For whom Hell gaped. The wondering Thebans cried,


  'Why dost thou leave the war? Why hasten thus


  Thy chariot horses down the steep?' But he


  Nor paused, nor turned, till Minos' seat before


  He stayed and trembled. Not this guise he wore


  In that proud kinghood of his fame. Dost see


  How loth his shoulders form his breast? He thought


  To see far forward. Now his limbs are taught


  To bear him backward. Next Tiresias,


  Who smote too boldly with his sorcerous rod


  The entangled snakes, and found his limbs transform


  To woman's comelier contours, soft and warm;


  Which aspect lasted till he smote again


  The twisted dealers of the earlier bane.


  The next is Aruns who, in Luni's hills,


  Whereunder toil the Carrarese for bread,


  Cave-couched amidst the marble; all the ills


  That lay fore-fated in the thought of God,


  He sought to read from unobstructed seas,


  Or where the night her starry legions led.


  Now walks he backward for his wage. With these


  Observe that body with the wry-necked head


  That onward shuffles, while her hair is spread


  Upon the breasts we see not. Bear with me


  A little while I tell. For here is she,


  Manto, who after her long wandering


  Found roothold in my native place. Her sire


  Died, and the city of the Bacchic rites


  Groaned to the scourging of an alien king,


  And she went forth. In northern Italy


  Where the wild Tyrol bars the German mire,


  The hills are hollowed. Like an inland sea


  The lake of Garda lies. A thousand streams


  Flash foaming downward from the Alpine heights


  From Garda to the Val Camonica


  To feed it, till the basin brims, and then


  Flows over at a point where all the sees,


  Trentine and Brescian and Veronese,


  Unite, that all their passing priests it seems


  Might bless the men that dwell there. Builded strong,


  To tame the Brescian and the Bergamese,


  That truth I hear. But wilt thou bear with me


  That backward turns my mind to these that move


  In that sad process underneath?"


                           

    He said:


  "Regard thou him whose dusky shoulders spread


  His weight of beard. A Grecian augur he


  When Greece so empty of its males became


  That scarce the cradles held them. Aulis heard


  Eurypilus and Calchas speak the word


  That loosed the cables of their ships. The tale


  I told before in my great tragedy,


  As well thou knowest. And here Eurypilus


  Beneath thee moves. The next is Michael Scot,


  Lean-flanked, who could by magic artistry


  Against the demons' subtlest wiles prevail.


  Guido Bonatti comes behind, and next


  Asdente weeps that his vain mind forgot


  His bench and leather. Mark those crones unsexed


  That follow. Witchcraft with their waxen dolls


  And mystic herbs they wrought, and left therefor


  The seemly ordered life which Heaven extols,


  The loom and needle. But the time permits


  No more to tarry. Come! The western wave


  At Seville yields the moon her watery grave.


  Full was she two days since, that late ye saw


  So thinly crescent in the pathless wood."


  We left them, twisted in their sorcerous pits,


  Conversing as we onward walked, until


  We reached the shadow of a darker ill,


  When gazing down the fifth black chasm we stood.


  


  


  







Canto XXI








  

NOW looked we downward on a darker ditch


  Than those preceding. As the bubbling pitch


  Boils in the great Venetian arsenal,


  To caulk the wave-beat ships, when winter's call


  In-herds them from repulsing seas; and there


  One builds anew, and one with hard repair


  Plugs the cracked ribs that heat and cold have strained,


  And many friendless winds have buffeted


  In many wanderings on the ocean ways.


  One mends the injured stern, and one the head,


  One fashions oars, one joins the broken stays,


  One sews the jib, one lends his aid to spread


  New mainsail for the rotten sheet and stained


  That drew them inward. So they toil beside


  The pitchy cauldron - so the boiling here


  Filled, like a cauldron, all the trench entire,


  That art Divine, and never earthly fire,


  So heated. Breaking on the surface wide


  Were bubbles only. Nought beside I saw,


  Save that the blackness heaved, and then compressed,


  Unceasing.


              Sight of that retentive maw


  Drew my fixed gaze, until my leader's cry


  Alarmed me sharply, "Guard thee! Guard!" and I


  Stayed not to look, but toward him leapt, nor guessed


  Why called he, till within that safety pressed


  Of his sure arm I turned me round, and there,


  Across the bridge, a coal-black demon ran.


  How closer shrank I from that fierce aspect I


  How near the menace of the wings outspread


  And lightfoot speed! His shoulders sharp and high


  Sustained the haunches of a hanging man,


  Whose ankles in his claws were fast.


                           

    He said:


  "Ho, Taloned of the Fifth Damnation! Here


  Is Santa Zita's Elder! Thrust him down!


  While I for others of the sinful town


  Go backward. Plenty there this goal shall win,


  For all men there contrive the barterer's sin,


  - Except, of course, Bonturo!"


                          From

  the bridge


  He cast him, twirling. From that weight's relief


  Straightening, he mounted up the stony ridge


  So swift I thought that never hound on thief


  Was loosed so gladly.


                      Plunging headlong in

  


  The sinner sank, and rose convulsed, and writhed,


  Arching his back as one who prays. There came


  A cackling laughter from beneath the bridge,


  And flying demons rose. "This Holy Place,"


  They mocked, "befits a sanctimonious face,


  But nought it saves thee from thy bathing. Ho!


  Ye swim not here as in the Serchio.


  It is not willed a naked part to show,


  Except the knives shall slice it."


                           

    As the cooks


  Around the boiler group with waiting prongs,


  To thrust the carcase if it rise too far


  Above the broth that stews it, so did they


  The twisting sinner with a score of hooks,


  Clamoring derisive. "Find thy place below,


  Where mayst thou pilfer in thy private way


  If aught attract thee there."


                          My

  Master said,


  "Wait here, and fear not. Where the buttress swells


  Crouch down, and hide, and whatsoe'er to me


  Of outrage or repulse you hear or see


  You need not tremble. Through the deeper


  An earlier time I came, and proved their dread."


  


  I crouched - and trembled. Down the central bridge


  He went and left me. Ere he gained the ridge


  That barred it from the next succeeding woe


  The demons marked him. As the dogs outfly,


  White-fanged and deafening, if a varlet show


  A mood to linger at the gate, they came,


  A rush of wings and drags outreached. Stout heart


  He needed surely. But his voice outrang


  Steadfast. "No victim for your rage am I.


  Stand back! Ye know the heavy stripes that tame


  Revolt. What! Would ye drag me? Stand apart.


  Let one come forward. When he learns my name


  Then choose ye freely."


                      Croaked the grisly

  crew,


  "Let Foultail test him," and the fiend advanced


  Malignly confident. "What power," he said,


  "Delays we bathe thee? Leap, or fork and fang


  Shall teach it!" Backward at the troop he glanced,


  That stirred impatient. But my leader knew


  The Power that cloaked him.


                  "Thinkest thou thus, misled,


  I blundered downward for thy sport? I come


  Divinely messaged, where propitious fate


  Hath willed another through these depths to show.


  The greater demons at the outer gate


  Have learnt it. Scatheless past thy ward we go.


  To me the outrage of thy cries is dumb.


  Thy hooks are pointless."


                      At these words the

  fiend,


  Sore daunted, drooped his ghastly tool, and cried,


  "We must not strike him," to the rest, and I,


  Who till this time the friending buttress screened,


  My guide called forward. At the word I ran


  Across the fearful space to reach his side,


  The demons crowding as I came. (I saw


  The footmen at Caprona once, who shrank


  As I did, when they looked, and rank on rank


  Their weaponed foes were round them, and they stood


  Protected only by the rules of war


  Against the crowd that yelled their deaths.) They would


  The thing they dared not, but their lust began


  To conquer prudence. Each the next would egg


  To nick me. "Score him on the rump." - "Do thou." -


  "Do thou then." - "Hook him, Hellbat, by the leg."


  


  But Foultail railed against them, "Cease thee now,


  Scarmiglione, lest the price we pay."


  And then to us, - "Ye seek a broken way.


  A thousand and two hundred years ago


  And sixty-six, it was but yesterday,


  And five hours later, Hell's foundations so


  Were wrenched and shaken, that the bridge beyond


  Was flung in fragments to the chasm below.


  Along the margin of the boiling pond


  Ye needs must go some distance. There I send


  A swift patrol, lest any crawling wretch


  Beyond the pitch his blackened limbs extend.


  Ye may go safely in their guard. They know


  Too well to trick ye. Alichino here,


  And Calcabrina, and Cagnazzo thou,


  With Ciriatto of the tusks, and those


  Who form the ten that Barbariccia leads,


  Fanged Draghignazzo, Graffiacane,


  Hellbat, and Libicocco next, and he


  That deepest-hued in peculation glows,


  Fierce Rubicante. Oft the boiling breeds


  Such boldness that the sinners seek relief


  Along the margin, to their greater grief.


  Search well. But guide these twain in safety through,


  Along the crags that edge the boiling glue,


  Until ye reach the nearest cliff that stands


  Unbroken, and bisects the trench."


                           

    I said,


  "O Master, let us seek the path unled


  Than in such escort I Mark them glance and grin.


  They nudge, expectant that their sport begin


  When once from Foultail's sight we pass. For me,


  I would not further, on a path I see


  More dreadful hourly."


                  "Fear thou nought for

  that,"


  My Master answered; "thee they grin not at,


  But in the malice of their hope to fetch


  Clear of the pond and flay some crawling wretch


  That leaves the boiling."


                      By the leftward bank

  


  We then went forward in that grisly rank.


  


  


  







Canto XXII








  

MUCH have I seen of camps and moving men,


  But not that escort of the demons ten


  My mind compares. Not Campaldino saw


  Such sight uncouth; nor any rout of war,


  Pageant or masque, grotesque or carnival,


  Mummery or tilt, can aught their like recall.


  Nought in Italian lands, or lands afar,


  Nor barque by landfall steered, or leading star,


  Nought moves, on earth or wave or heavens of air,


  Like those swart fiends, our chosen escort, were.


  "Who wills to church must there with saints consort:


  Who seeks the tavern must with guzzlers sport."


  So runs the proverb. With these demons we


  Paced the black verge that ringed the dreadful sea.


  Yet little heed my mind allowed to know


  Their various aspects vile. For seethed below


  That lake of pitch the where in burning heat


  The unclean of hand received their payment meet.


  Most was I bent to learn the dole they knew


  Whose sins their souls within that cauldron threw.


  As dolphins, restless of the storm to be,


  Arch their swift backs above the heaving sea,


  Whereby the seamen, peril-warned, prepare


  To meet fierce winds with decks and spars stripped bare,


  So seemed, one instant's snatched release to gain,


  Some sinner twisting in that boiling pain,


  A shorter moment than the lightnings take,


  Would arch his back from out the burning lake.


  As wary frogs that round the stagnant ditch


  Show noses only, so the bubbling pitch


  Showed eyes of sinners, wide in watchful fright,


  That instant as the taloned imps they sight


  Sank in the slime. And as one frog may stay,


  While all beside have dived and slipped away,


  I saw (and shudder still in thought to see),


  How one delayed, and Graffiacani


  Bared his great claws, and clutched the diving head


  By pitchy locks, and from that burning bed


  Forth hauled him. So perchance yourselves have seen


  A fresh-speared otter from the water green


  Dragged, writhing.


              Closing round their piteous prey,


  "O rend him, Rubicante, rend and flay!"


  Cried the obscene crew. But I to Virgil then,


  "O Master, couldst thou of the souls of men


  Learn whom they seize, ere yet, their work complete,


  They backward fling him to the liquid heat?"


  


  Close stepped my guide, at which the fiends controlled


  Parted and stilled, and half reluctant hold


  They loosed, the while he asked what sinful name


  Men spake on earth that there to torture came.


  And while the fiends their horrid trade delayed,


  The wretch, ere yet his quivering pelt was flayed,


  Gave answer. "Fathered by a waster wild,


  Born in Navarre, my mother sold her child,


  Constrained by hunger, to a lord's employ;


  Then to King Thibault (yet himself a boy),


  My fawning service passed. By bribe and cheat


  I bought the lease of this unending heat."


  


  As thus constrained his trembling lips allowed


  The sin that cast him to that grisly crowd,


  Side-thrust beneath his belly's rounded cup


  The tusk of Ciriatto ripped him up.


  


  As some caught mouse by wicked cats at play


  Is tossed and toyed, he fared; but "Stand away!"


  Snarled Barbariccia, while his limbs he twined


  The victim round, and held, before, behind,


  Joined in one piece. "If more thou wouldst," he said,


  "Ask, ere we cast him to the deathless dead!"


  And while the fiends forewent their labour sweet


  To fling his entrails to the bubbling heat,


  My Master asked him, "In the boiling flood


  What others meet ye of your country's blood?"


  He answered, "One not distant far from those,


  A wretch Sardinian born, beside me rose


  Last ere they snatched me from the lake away.


  I would with him in scalding heat I lay


  From slitting tusk secure, and plunging prong!"


  


  But Libicocco cried "We wait too long!"


  And ere his hook the chiefer fiend could stay,


  Mangling and tearing from the bone away


  The greater forepart of the arm, it fell.


  While Draghignazzo next, a thought more slow,


  Snatched downward, reaching for the legs below,


  And clamouring rose again those birds of Hell.


  But their Decurion wheeled, and loose thereat


  His tortured captive wrenched, and railed and spat,


  Cursing discordant till they stilled.


                           

    Once more


  My Master asked him, "When they dragged ashore


  Your form reluctant from the burning slime


  Whom left ye happier?"


                      He, some passing

  time,


  Gazed at his wound, with vacant eyes; but when


  Were restless motions from the demons ten,


  Made hurrying answer. "Friar Gomita he,


  That Pisa's lord, across Sardinia's sea,


  Sent, trustful, for Gallura's rule. He made


  His profit ever from his trust betrayed.


  His lord's worst foes the smoothing bribe could pay,


  And work his loss their quiet unhindered way:


  A pot was he where every fraud would stew;


  No theft was whispered but the worse he knew:


  No knave was he, but very king, of wrong.


  Michel, who sang on earth an equal song,


  And held the neighbouring rule, beside him lies" -


  But here he caught the Hell-bird's glittering eyes


  Fixed on him, lustful for the hindered prey,


  And all his cunning mind extreme of fear


  Made active - "surely, would ye seek to hear


  Tuscan or Lombard that on earth ye knew,


  I need but call to bring the tortured crew.


  For ever, if the demon chase be slack,


  And one from out the scald a scourgeless back


  Heaves from the clinging pitch, and crawls impune


  Out on the marsh, with cautious signal soon


  He whistles to his boiling mates to try


  The like relief; and in such note will I


  So call them. Only bid the demon band


  Some little backward in the shades to stand,


  To give them heart."


                  His snout Cagnazzo raised,


  Contemptuous of the fraud, and sniffed, and gazed


  Derisive round. "The sinner thinks," he said,


  "To plunge once more in that infernal bed,


  When backward in the shades we hide."


                           

    But he


  Whined with new guile. "I might not hope to flee


  Thy swifter wings. I only thought to know


  Those others rendered to a kindred woe,


  As malice moved me."


                      Swift Alichino


  Gave answer. "If the steep descent ye try


  We shall not trace your steps, but stooping fly


  Straight for the pitch, and wait you there to rend.


  Call whom ye will, but if ye fraud intend


  Dear price ye pay. - We will the slope ascend


  Some space, and o'er the bank's reverse conceal


  Our waiting wings, the while the larger meal


  His malice brings us." Thus, their mood reversed,


  The cheat prevailed. Cagnazzo first, who first


  Derided, now the offered sport would try,


  To draw more victims from their steaming sty.


  


  The demons turned their eyes, the ridge to climb,


  A moment upward. Swift his chosen time


  The desperate sinner seized, and leapt.


                           

    Aware


  Instant, while yet he cleft the yielding air,


  The broad-winged demon that had snapped the snare,


  Grouped his close vans, and like a falling kite


  Shot headlong lakeward, as a stone should smite.


  Yet deftly, as the sinner sank from sight,


  With wings outreached, and lifted breast aright


  Retrieved, and screaming in his rage of prey


  Skimmed the black gulf.


                      But close behind his

  way


  Came Calcabrina, great of wing as he,


  And all his rage the baffled chase to see


  Against Alichino turned. New sport we saw.


  Demon on demon leapt, with tooth and claw


  Tearing. For while the prey they plunged to pluck


  Sank in the seething like a diving duck,


  The frustrate falcons flapped and clutched, and tore,


  Smote with wide wings, and closed and overbore


  Each other, turning in mid-air, and fell.


  


  Were laughter here, if any depth of Hell


  Could hold it. Happed they on that surface hot,


  Their victims' torments theirs, and all forgot


  Their mutual rage in screaming pain. They drew


  Separate: they strove with desperate strength anew


  Their wings to lift from out the holding glue,


  But vainly.


              Fast their fellow demons flew


  With shrill laments above the vaporous ditch,


  And while they sank within the boiling pitch,


  From either side at Barbariccia's call


  Lined banks, their mates with hooks and drags to haul


  To land. Still sinking as we turned away,


  Sprawled on the marsh, the nightmare demons lay.


  


  


  







Canto XXIII








  

WE did not wait that escort more, but trod


  A silent path in thoughtful guise, as go


  The Minor Friars through the streets arow,


  One after one, and those renounced of God,


  Demon and barterer, we left.


                          I

  thought


  Of &Aelig;sop's fable of the frog that drew


  The mouse behind it to the drowning flood,


  And how that sinner in the boiling glue,


  Beyond design, the chasing demons brought


  To find a like disaster. Thought to thought


  As Yea to Ay were kindred. Then my blood


  Chilled through me as my mind advanced to see


  How rage might wake against us, as the cause


  Not only that the sinner missed their claws,


  But that their comrades in such snare were caught,


  And backward gazed I, and my guide besought,


  "O Master, save thou hide thyself and me


  Most swiftly, terror shakes my heart to see


  Those demons tear us, for their broken sport.


  Their malice, restive at our heels that ran,


  If rage recruit it, not their leader's ban


  Nor thought of later stripes shall hold. My fear


  So urges that meseems the empty rear


  Is dark with wings that chase us."


                           

    He replied,


  "No leaded mirror moving at thy side


  More instant would return thy shape than I


  Receive thy thoughts unspoken. Rising nigh,


  The rampart is not too precipitous


  For careful scaling; if it falleth thus


  Upon the further side, we soon shall stand


  Beyond their peril."


                      Ere the ruse he

  planned


  Was action, with a whirl of wings they came


  Outrageous, imminent, but my guide (as she


  Who wakens to the roar of nearing flame,


  And reaches for the babe with hasty hand


  That life outvalues, and no more delays,


  Even for the covering of her shift, but forth


  She flies incontinent), against their wrath


  Upcaught me in his arms, and raced to gain


  The rock's high ridge that was their boundary.


  And on the verge he loosed his feet, and slid


  The abrupt decline.


                  As fast as down the spout


  The water gushes to the landmill's wheel,


  So shot he down the shelving bank. The rout


  Of chasing demons, e'er his feet could feel


  The level depth, had reached the wall, hut there


  He feared them nothing, while they raged in vain,


  For high controlling Providence provides


  No serving demon strays beyond the sides


  Of that sad hollow where his task is hid.


  


  Now in recovered safety looked we round.


  Beside us moved, with weeping eyes to ground,


  A people clad in golden cloaks, whereon


  To gaze was dazzling. Very tired and sad


  Their looks, and slow their steps to pass belief.


  And I, in doubt, who could not gauge their grief,


  Gazed wondering. Such depth of hoods they had,


  In shape as those the monks wear at Cologne;


  In golden brilliance like their cloaks they shone.


  


  O shining sepulchre of moldering bone I


  For all within was lead: - such weight that those


  In which the second Frederick burnt his foes


  Were light as straw contrasted. Oh, what weight


  In which to barter with eternal fate I


  


  Left-hand we moved along their file, but though


  They moved alike, they strained a pace so slow,


  Bent with the load they bore, that every stride


  A fresh face gave us that we moved beside:


  And still from all the gasping sohs arose.


  I asked my leader, "Will thy care provide


  When next we pass whose name or tale I know,


  That there we pause?"


                  From out a backward hood


  There came a voice from one that understood


  My Tuscan speech. "If here thou list to stay,


  Whose feet so strangely dance the dismal way,


  Thy wish may wait thee."


                      Then I turned and

  saw


  Two shades that struggled, but the dreadful law


  That held them, made their haste as nought. Desire


  Was in their looks to reach us, and my guide


  Commanded: "Pause, and keep some space beside


  With gradual motions like their own."


                           

    We stayed


  Some moments patient, though three strides entire


  Had reached us. Noughlt they spake at first, but long


  With slanting eyes they summed us, and at last,


  Communing only to themselves, they said:


  "How moves his throat! Can mortal life belong


  To wanderers here? Or if their lives be past


  How walk they through this trench ungarmented?"


  


  And then to me: "O Tuscan, these sad pits


  Form the last college of the hypocrites,


  And more we tell thee if thou dost not scorn


  To teach us of what race thyself wast born."


  I answered: "I was born and nurtured nigh


  Where Arno finds the blue reflected sky


  A city's turrets pierce. By ways forbade,


  Clothed with the living flesh that first I had,


  A High Power leads me. But yourselves shall show


  Why from your eyes distils this dismal woe,


  And what the shining pain around you clad."


  


  The nearer answered: "Jovial Friars were we.


  I Catalano, Loderingo he:


  Bologna-born, and Florence chose us twain,


  From either faction, jointly to maintain


  Her peace internal. Still thine eyes may meet,


  In those charred ruins of Gardingo Street,


  The witness what we were."


                      My tongue began,


  "O Friars, your evil - " when I marked a man


  Writhe on the ground. To feel their weight he lay


  Nailed down with three great stakes across the way.


  


  Friar Catalano caught my glance, and said:


  "That wretch, cross-fixed, on whom in turn we tread,


  Is he who counselled with the priests, 'For us


  It is expedient that one man should die
-'


  Naked and staked to bear our burdens thus


  Annas alike, and all that council lie -


  A seed of evil for the Jews were they."


  I watched my Master gaze in wonder down


  On that prone shade, outpulled and crucified


  That from their weight he might not writhe aside,


  Who there in everlasting exile lay,


  But had not suffered when he passed that way


  Beforetime. Nothing of his thought he said;


  But later to the Friar he turned: "If nought


  Of retribution wait thy word, I pray,


  Thou wilt not here deny thine aid, but say


  If further to the right in vain were sought


  Some exit from this depth, or if we need


  A loth return to make, and intercede


  With those black angels that we left."


                           

    The Friar


  Gave answer: "Nearer than ye think doth lie


  The next of those convergent cliffs that span,


  From the great barrier to the central pit,


  These depths of pain. This only arch of it


  Has fallen, but the slope a mortal man


  May clamber, for the ruins pile so high


  Toward the lower bank ye seek."


                          My

  guide


  Pondered awhile: "If this be truth, he lied


  Who hooks the peculators."


                          And

  the Friar


  Gave nimble answer: "At Bologna well


  We knew the devil, and all his works. A liar,


  And father of all lies from there to Hell,


  They called him."


                  Then with longer steps my


  And somewhat angered in his looks that so


  The imp had dared him, forward went, and I


  In his loved footsteps left their laden woe.


  


  


  







Canto XXIV








  

IN that young month of the returning year


  When, in Aquarius placed, the mounting


  Shakes loose his hair a bolder course to run,


  The hoarfrost takes his sister's face of fear,


  A moment only. Then the husbandman,


  As wanes the night before the equal day,


  Looks forth, a world of winter-white to scan,


  And knows the frugal store of roots and hay


  Is ended, and laments, and smites his thigh,


  And through the house as one distraught he goes;


  But shortly forth again he looks, and knows


  The world has changed its face, and cheerily


  Takes crook, and chases out his flock to feed.


  So I, that did my Master's anger heed,


  Awhile was daunted, till we came to where


  That tumbled ruin through the somber air


  Rose darkly, when he turned with smile as sweet


  As on that mountain when he stayed my feet


  At our first meeting.


                      Careful glance he

  cast


  Along the huge mound of the broken rock,


  And then as one who picks his point at last,


  And doubts no more, from block to tumbled


  He led me upward, with a reaching arm,


  And voice that warned my blinder steps. No way


  Was this for those of golden cloaks to flee,


  That scarcely for his lighter frame, or me


  His arm sustained, a trembling hold supplied;


  And but that to the lower bank we strained


  (For Malebolge to the central pit


  Inward and downward slopes from every side),


  I know not if my guide the crest had gained,


  But sure I had not.


                  When my feet attained


  The last rent fissure, the projecting stone


  With failing strength I grasped, and reaching it,


  My breath drained from me by that toil, to sit


  Some space I thought, but while I sank he said:


  "Thou must not rest thee here, but here and now


  Make conquest of thy sloth, for while abed,


  Forgetful of the hours, warm-blanketed,


  Men rest, or sitting loose at ease, they find


  No fame, but life consumes, they watch not how;


  As foam on water, or as smoke in air,


  A moment passes, and it is not there.


  Arise! and with thy spirit's strength contend


  Against the flesh that drags thee. Thus shall end


  Revolt, except the ignoble soul allow


  The body's weight to sink it. Not enough


  Is wrought that thus the deeper trench we quit.


  Be thine to comprehend, and with the wit


  The will for action."


                      Narrow, steep and

  rough,


  Yet rose the path across the ridge that led,


  But shamed to hear my leader's words I feigned


  A strength I had not. "In thy steps," I said,


  "I follow, confident," and further speech


  I made, the while the rampart's crest we gained,


  To hide my faintness from myself. Thereat


  A voice made answer from the further deep,


  Bestial, and formless of clear words to reach


  The hearer's mind, but not this loss forgat


  The notes of wrath.


                      Above the further

  steep


  Now stood we, but my living sight was vain


  To pierce the blackness whence that awful cry


  Reproached me.


                  "Master, while we here

  remain.


  I hear, but nought it means, and nought I see


  Down-gazing. Wilt thou that the further wall


  We gain, and climbing by the shorter fall,


  Perchance in safety our descents repeat?"


  


  He said: "For fit request a fit reply


  Is action only." Leading silently,


  He crossed the bridge, and on the eighth surround


  A vantage of sufficient sight I found


  That showed the seventh and more dreadful woe


  Than those behind. For serpents here I saw


  Hideous and frightful in their throngs, as though


  All Libya and the red Egyptian sea


  Had swarmed them. While I write my heart at war


  With recollection backward holds my blood,


  Shuddering. For not the Libyan sands shall be,


  Nor all the plagues of the Egyptian flood,


  Nor all that Ethiopia spawns, alike


  Prolific. Not the crested water-snake,


  The cobra, nor the leaping jaculus,


  The speckled death, the serpent formed to strike


  From either end, such horror holds.


                           

    I saw


  A people naked, with no hole to take


  For refuge, blindly in their fear that ran


  Amidst this ruthless and appalling throng.


  O for the spotted heliotrope I that thus


  They might escape unseen. But not this law


  Could charms resist. To snakes their hands belong


  Snakes through their loins are pierced. I watched a man


  Against whose throat a sudden serpent bit,


  More swiftly than the shortest word is writ


  Take fire, and burn, and in his place there came


  A little heap of ashes. As the flame


  In cinders sank, a sight most marvellous


  Was mine - the calcined heap reversed the wrong,


  Arising to its human form. 'Tis said


  The Phoenix thus, on tears of incense fed,


  That eats no herb, or any coarser bread,


  With each five hundred years is purified,


  And rises thence as though it had not died,


  From its own ash again incarnated.


  


  But as some demon-haunted soul may fall


  Unconscious, writhing, nor the fit recall,


  But weak and pallid to his feet again


  He struggles dumbly in bewildered pain,


  So looked the sinner. What scale of Heaven was here


  To weight a doom so dreadful, so severe?


  


  "Who art thou?" asked my guide, and answered he:


  "A short while since I rained from Tuscany


  To this ferocious gutter. A life more beast


  Than human pleased me there. Pistoia well


  My savage carnal ways, till here I fell,


  Denned, native, Vanni Fucci, mule, am I."


  


  I answered: "Though thy bestial crimes to hell


  Have flung thee rightly, yet I rede not well


  Why to this lower depth thou cam'st?"


                           

    And he


  Feigned not to hear, but in a dismal shame


  Gazed blankly upward, till constrained he said,


  "Not for those crimes of loud repute I came


  To this relentless doom. Reluctfully


  It wrenches all my heart with grief to say


  My guilt - more bitter than when first the dead


  I joined, and Minos cast me here. My sin


  Was this, that having robbed the sacristry


  I spake not, while Rampino tortured lay,


  And della Nona died, a guilt to pay


  Which was not theirs. For that false crime herein


  The serpents take me at their lust - but thou


  Shalt go not backward with light heart to tell


  My townsmen of this hidden infamy,


  Nor joy to watch me in this pass - I see


  A thing that cometh on earth. Short year from now


  Thy part shall from my native place expel


  The Neri, and their wealth shall confiscate.


  But then shall Florence cleanse her lawless state;


  Thy faction, outcast from her palaces,


  Shall suffer all they gave, till Mars shall bring


  A flaming vapour of such fierce disease


  From Val di Magra, that the trembling knees


  Of each Bianco on Piceno's plain


  Shall bleeding bow. I would not tell this thing


  Could any prescience on thy part restrain


  The sorrow for thee which my heart foresees."


  


  


  







Canto XXV








  

HIS words he ended, and his bestial mind


  Reverted to its impious use. He raised


  Both hands in gestures of obscenity


  Against the Eternal, till my heart inclined


  To bless the serpents. One, that leapt behind


  Just as he shouted, "Take it, God! at Thee


  I aim it," twisted round his throat, to bind


  His further utterance. One, his arms about,


  Its tightening knots o'er wrists and elbows twined


  To cease his antics. Ah, Pistoia! why


  Dost never, when thy bitter factions burn


  Their foemen's houses, and are sacked in turn,


  The whole send upward to the cleansing sky


  In one consuming? since thy sons exceed


  The first corruptions of the godless seed


  That built thee. All the infernal depths I trod


  Revealed no shade with such contempt for God.


  


  But while we looked, with sudden haste he fled,


  And past us raced a Centaur-shape who said,


  "Where hides the snarling thief I seek?"


                           

    I know


  Maremma, nor believe its fens could show


  So numerous snakes as round his haunches hung


  And twisted in their wrath, and thereamong,


  Even to the human part, behind his head


  A fiery dragon broods with wings outspread,


  That burn, and render all they reach to flame.


  


  Then said my Master, "Cacus here we see,


  Who made of old beneath Mount Aventine


  Beneath his brethren, for the theft of shame


  A lake of blood. To this great depth he came,


  That there he wrought. He ceased his perfidy,


  Taught by the raining blows of Hercules, -


  A hundred mashed him, though he felt but ten."


  


  On rushed the Centaur in his haste to seize


  The fleeing shade, and while we gazed ahead


  We saw not that beneath there came three men


  That watched us, till they cried, "Who are ye there?"


  Whereat the Centaur left our thoughts, and these


  Possessed them. One man to his neighbour said,


  "Why tarries Cianfa?" By that word aware


  Of those that faced me, to my guide I signed


  Desire for silence.


                  Reader, if this tale


  Thy mind reject, I blame thee nought, for I


  Look back, and memory here and credence find


  Dispute. A monster with a serpent's tail,


  And with six feet along the ground that ran,


  Made halt before the three, and picked a man,


  And leapt upon him. No clinging ivies twine


  So closely. In his face its teeth it set.


  Its forward feet behind his shoulders met.


  Its belly on his belly pressed. Its feet


  Strained to his sides and thighs, to backward meet.


  Its tail between his legs, along his spine


  Curled upwards. As a lighted paper burns


  And blackens, but at first to brown it turns


  Before the flames have reached it, so did they


  Transform and blend, until you might not say


  The serpent-hue was that, or this was man,


  And then, as melted wax, their forms began


  To merge and mingle. Cried his comrades, "Lo,


  Where art - what art - which art thou, Agnello?


  Art both or neither?" The two heads by now


  Were one. The bodies were a monstrous sight.


  A man was snake: a reptile walked upright.


  With dragging steps it left us.


                          Hast

  thou seen


  The lizards changing hedge? From side to side


  They cross the sun-glare of the roadway wide


  A baffling streak. So fast a reptile shot


  Toward these two remaining. Smoking hot,


  And black as peppercorn it showed. It leapt


  And pierced the navel of the one. It stept


  Some paces back, and crouched, and watched. Its eyes


  Its victim held, and he with dull surprise


  Yawning, as one by sleep or fever dazed,


  No motion made to fly, but backward gazed


  Tranced. From the reptile's mouth, the navel's hole,


  There came two smokes that feeling through the air


  Were joined. The serpent and the human soul


  In this conjunction stayed. Let Lucan prate


  No more the horror of Nasidius' fate,


  Nor how Sabellus failed from sight. I bear


  No envy to the tales that Ovid made


  Of Cadmus to a serpent changed, or how


  Sad Arethusa is a fountain now.


  They did not dream the thing I saw. The shade


  That once was man his dreadful doom obeyed.


  He closed his feet. His legs and thighs as one


  Were blended. All that to his form was done


  The snake reversed. Its tail it cleft. The skin


  On the divided parts I saw begin


  To shed its scales and soften; while the man


  Acquiring that the snake had lost, began


  lo alter snakelike his retractile limb.


  Lengthened the worm's short arms: the arms of him


  Shortened and scaled. The man's fifth member then


  Lengthened and slit, the worm's hind legs to match.


  The worm's hind legs their shrinking claws attach,


  And blend to form the part concealed of men.


  


  The copulating smoke around them spread.


  The man grew bald. The needed hair was bred


  Upon the snake's transforming parts. His head


  The foul beast lifted, and arose upright.


  The man fell prostrate. But the thievish light


  Still kindled in their baleful eyes, the while


  Their faces altered, and the shape erect,


  - For which was human? - their completed guile


  In altered visage showed. Its jaws withdrew.


  A nose and lips it formed, and ears outgrew.


  The while that other on the ground that lay,


  Forked its thin tongue, and turned, and crawled away.


  And like a snail that hides its horns, I saw


  The ears receding in the serpent head.


  Loud hissing down the dismal trench it sped,


  And after ran the worm transformed, and tried


  A sputtering speech.


                  But scarce my mind could think


  Clear thought, or eyes see clearly, while the law


  That ruled the refuse of this hateful sink


  Changed and rechanged them. Yet I marked the last


  Of those three shades, that slyly shrank aside,


  Desirous only from my glance to hide, -


  Puccio Sciancato. Him the serpents passed


  Without molesting while I stayed. The one


  I saw transformed was he for whom Gaville


  Yet wails the vengeance that it cowered to feel,


  Because his murder in its streets was done.


  


  


  







Canto XXVI








  

REJOICE, my Florence I that thy lifted wings


  Not only in the world's wide sunlight shine,


  Not only o'er the waves of ocean beat;


  In Hell's deep vaults an equal fame is thine.


  Five thieves, - and every thief a Florentine!


  So thought I grimly, as we turned to meet


  The cliff's ascent. But if the morning brings


  The mind God's counsel, if its dreams be true,


  Then that dark end desired of Prato's hate,


  And all thy sullen, greedful foes, for you


  Comes quickly. Not that were today the date


  It were too soon for those who love thee. Yea,


  I would that that which cometh came today.


  For grief that on my weaker age shall weigh


  Were now less dreadful.


                      Rough the rising

  stair


  That hard we clomb with foot and hand and knee,


  And very silent all, and lonely there,


  The ridge we crossed a keener grief to see.


  Grief were it to gaze, and still that grief to me


  Comes sharply, as my thoughts reluctant draw


  Their wells of memory for the thing I saw.


  With pain I speak, for if the holier law


  Myself I hold, by any kindly star,


  Or Power supernal, guided safely through


  The world's stretched snares, I would not boast nor tell


  As one who triumphs, that these depths of Hell


  Contain such fruitage of our kind.


                           

    The view


  Beneath us was an empty depth, wherethrough


  Lights moved, abundant as the fireflies are


  At even, when the gnats succeed the flies.


  A myriad gleams the labourer sees who lies


  Above them, resting, while the vale below


  Already darkens to the night, - he toiled


  From dawn to store the ripened grapes, or till


  The roots around, and on the shadowing hill


  Reclines and gazes down the vale. As he,


  Whose mockers felt the she-bears' teeth, beheld


  The chariot-horses rise erect to reach


  The heavens of air, with searching eyes could see


  At last, a little climbing flame afar,


  That faded, cloudlike, as the fiery car


  Ascended past his mortal sight, so here


  Along the gutter of the fosse there came,


  And passed, and left us, many a roving flame,


  That seemed flame only, yet a human soul


  Held each, but hid from sight the thief it stole.


  


  This marvel of the moving flames to see,


  I stretched from off the bridge so eagerly


  I slipped, and falling grasped a rocky spar,


  Alone that saved me from that depth. My guide


  The answer to my eager search supplied.


  "Within those moving flames the tortured are.


  Each in his garment wraps himself from sight."


  


  "Master, a truth already guessed aright


  Thy word makes surer. Much I long to know


  What spirit swathed in that wide fire doth go,


  That flickers upward in two flames, as though


  It rose combined from that reluctant pyre


  Where, with his brother, burnt Eteocles,


  To form two pillars of divided fire,


  Because no death could quench their enmities?"


  


  He answered, "Twain are in that flame; they run


  Together now because they sinned as one.


  Ulysses tortured there, and Diomed,


  Repent the treason of the horse, that led


  To Rome's foundation - through the fated door


  The exiles issuing; and the trick lament


  Through which still weeps in death Deidamia


  For her lost Achilles; and furthermore


  They suffer for the thieved Palladium."


  


  "Master," I answered, "if they be not dumb


  With so much anguish, let them speak, I pray,


  - A thousand prayers I pray thee! - Grant we stay


  Till that horned flame come hither! You see me bend


  Almost to falling with desire."


                          He

  said:


  "Thy prayer is praise to him that prays it. Yea;


  I grant; but hearken. When they pass below


  Keep silent. Thee they might disdain, but I


  Will ask thy purpose."


                  When they came more nigh,


  He hailed them. "Ye who from one fire ascend


  A twofold flame, I charge ye, if ye owe


  A quittance to me for the lofty lay


  Wherein I praised your earthly fames, I pray


  That here ye pause, the while that one shall say


  Of where at last he wandered forth to die."


  At this was shaking of the greater horn,


  And murmurs not at first articulate, -


  A flame that by the wind is trailed and torn


  To flickers, - till the end made animate


  Wagged like a tongue, and answered, -


                         

  "When I turned


  Aside from Circe's later lure, and left


  The mount that &Aelig;neas named, my heart forgot


  My aged father, I regarded not


  My fondness for my child, my wife bereft


  Of her due rights of love, but through my heart


  Again the unconquerable ardour burned


  To search experience of the world, anew


  The vice and valour of mankind to view,


  And seek the events of lonely lands apart


  From known adventures of my race. I chose


  One ship, and with a little band of those


  With heart to follow, steered for open sea,


  And left behind the morning.


                          Either

  shore,


  Spain and Morocco saw we, and between


  Sardinia and the isles. At length was seen


  That narrow passage of the meeting seas,


  Whereat the warning stands of Hercules


  That no man dare to pass it. Old were we,


  Myself and my companions, old and slow,


  When Ceuta lay behind us, and Seville


  Was fading on the right, and westward still


  We pointed.


              "Brothers," to the rest I said,


  "O brothers, following where my star hath led,


  That not a thousand shapes of pain could dread


  From this so great adventure. Hear me now.


  Deny not that we add to all our gains,


  While the brief vigil hour of life remains,


  Experience of the unpeopled world that lies


  Behind the lights of sunset. Think ye now,


  We are not fashioned as the brute that dies,


  But born for virtue and exploit."


                           

    Thereat


  Such ardour waked that had I sought to stay


  I scarce had ruled them. Still the moving poop


  Looked back, and left the dawn. A southward loop


  We sailed, still bending to the left, the while


  We laboured weakly at the oars, and mile


  To foolish mile extended, till we moved


  Beneath strange stars in unacquainted skies.


  Five times the bright bowl of the moon had filled,


  Five times through heaven its silver light had spilled,


  When as we toiled that silent waste of way,


  A mountain, drear and vast, in distance lay.


  A mountain of such height and magnitude


  As all my wandering life I had not viewed:


  But short was our rejoicing. From the land


  A tempest smote us. Thrice the beaten prow


  Whirled round with all its waters: either hand


  The rising waves assailed our decks, and now


  The bows tossed upwards, now the poop, for He


  At last had spoken. Overwhelmed were we;


  And closed again the solitary sea."


  


  


  







Canto XXVII








  

THE flame was silent, and erect and still


  Moved from us with my leader's leave.


              There came


  Behind another and more restless flame


  That strove for speech, and found its thwarted will


  Gave only noise of whistling sounds, until


  The words worked upward through the fire, as erst


  The tyrant heard the brass Sicilian bull, -


  That justly for its roasting victim first


  He filled with its designer, - turn his cries


  To bull-like bellowing. So the cunning file


  Had tuned its throat.


                      But now the call he

  tries,


  Vibrating upward to the tongue's intent,


  Sounds clearer. "Thou - O dear and wonderful! -


  Who bringest that loved speech of Lombardy,


  Thou whose familiar words to him that went,


  'Go now, I urge no further,' called me on,


  Though late, to plead thy patience. Pause, I pray,


  Some longer space. Although so wrapt, to me


  It irks not if I hear thee. This blind way


  We burn, but may not lighted, if ye fell


  But lately from the Latian land, from where


  The endless burden of my guilt I bear,


  If peace is on Romagna, wilt thou tell?


  For I was native of the mountains there


  Between Urbino and the heights from whence


  The Tiber rises."


                  Still I downward bent,


  And leant far outward in my eagerness,


  Whereat my Leader, from my fixed intent


  To call me, touched me on the side, and said,


  "Speak thou, - is here no Greek's impertinence


  To scorn thee."


                  I thereat, who willed no less,


  Spake swiftly, "O sad spirit, so garmented


  In flame no glance can reach thee, still thy land


  Hath tyrants, in their hearts devising war,


  But nought of open strife I lately saw,


  And still within its ancient walls doth stand


  The strength of thy Ravenna. Still doth brood


  Polenta's eagle, and his pinions spread


  Above its roofs, and Cervia's. Forli now,


  Its siege and slaughter of its foes forgot,


  The Green Claws hold anew. Verrucchio


  Hath still its mastiff, and his young, who show


  The teeth that tore Montagna. Still doth plot


  The little lion in his lair of snow


  To friend both factions, and his rule admit


  Lamone's and Santerno's towns. That one


  Constricted in its narrow space that lies


  Between the mountains and the Savio,


  So between tyrant rule and freedom won


  Alternates. As I answer all, for it


  Requite me. Tell me, as I half surmise,


  Who wast thou? Tell me all thy tale, that so


  Thy name on earth shall stablish."


                          Then

  the flame


  Roared without speech awhile, but in the end


  The flickering point gave utterance. "If ye came


  To count our tortures, and to earth ascend


  To tell them, nothing would ye hear from me,


  For all your pleading. But I know too well


  There is no issue from this depth of Hell


  For those who enter. With no fear of shame


  I tell thee. By the sword I lived. Amend


  To Heaven I schemed, and took St. Francis' cord


  Not vainly, and my hope had fruited well,


  But evil take the false Pope Boniface!


  Who led me to my earlier sins. The sword


  I lived by, but my deeds from infancy


  The fox's wiles and shifts and secret shame


  Had practised, till my cunning crafts became


  A byword through the earth for perfidy.


  When to the age I came at which mankind


  Should turn the haven of the soul to find


  From voyaging on life's alluring sea,


  Drop sails and wind their idle ropes, and so


  Pass inward on the tide with steerage slow,


  Then was I grieved for all my boast before,


  And with repentance wept, - alas, the woe!


  It might have saved me.


                  Through this cord I wore


  I served the Chief Priest of the Pharisees,


  Who warred, - but not with Jews, and not with those


  Who conquered Acre. Nor his Christian foes


  Were merchants in the Soldan's land who dwelt,


  But in the precincts of the Lateran


  Christ's priest the Christian who beside him dwelt


  Distressed with violence. Not his vows, nor dread


  Of his high office as the Church's Head,


  Nor reverence for my cord, that used to make


  The wearers leaner, stayed him. Constantine


  So called Silvestro from Soracte's cave


  To cure him leprous, as this godless man


  Besought my counsel. As a fool may rave


  In drunken pride I thought him. Word of mine


  He got not to inspire his guilt. At last


  He urged me, 'Doubt not that thy choice be cast


  With wisdom, if thou do the thing I bid.


  I do absolve and bless thee even now


  Before the words have passed thy lips. Do thou


  Contrive that I shall gain Penestrino.


  Forget not I can open or forbid


  The Eternal Gate. The Keys that Celestine


  So lightly loosed are twain.


  Alike of Heaven and Hell.'


                      He urged me thus


  Till speech than silence seemed less dangerous,


  Whereon I answered, 'Father, since my guilt


  Thou cleanest ere I tell thee. If thou wilt,


  In one way canst thou triumph - all they will


  In solemn treaty seal, - and nought fulfil.'


  


  "I died, and to St. Francis' care consigned


  My parting spirit, but there came behind


  A shape that seized me by the hair, and cried


  Against my Patron, 'Make no claim for him.


  'Tis he who gave the counsel fraudulent.


  I have not left him since. Can man repent


  The while he sins? The contradiction here


  Defies thy rescue, and the guilt is clear.'


  


  "I turned, and one of Hell's Black Cherubim


  Leered back. 'Thou didst not think with all thy craft


  I studied logic in the schools?' he laughed.


  He bore me down to Minos' seat, and he


  Eight times his tail around his fearful back


  Entwined, and gnawed it in his rage, and said


  'Is here a sinner for the depths,' and me


  He bade them fling to where I should not lack


  My like, 'Down-cast him to the thievish fire


  That hides its victims in its fold,' and so


  For ever in this robe of pain I go;


  My craft, that to my safe repentance led,


  - That craft betrayed me to a fate so dire."


  


  We left him wailing, and the writhing flame


  Tossed its sharp horn for further speech, but we


  No longer paused, but upward climbed, and came


  To that next arch which spans a baser woe.


  For suffering here were those who wrought to sow


  Dissension - guilt the fruit, and here the fee.


  


  


  







Canto XXVIII








  

WHO in free words, without restraint or bar


  Of formal beauty in their choice, could say


  The things I saw? Repeat a different way


  A hundred times, and what those tortures are


  It tells not. Words are lacked. The mind of man


  Such horror hates. It shrinks to comprehend


  Such slaughterous sights as here around us ran.


  


  If all who in Apulia's fatal land


  Bewailed the bloodshed of their violent end


  Beneath the merciless Roman sword, - if they


  Who died in that long Punic war, which gave


  Even of the rings they wore so vast a prey, -


  If those who felt the weight of Guiscard's glaive, -


  With those who perished in the fatal band


  The false Apulians to their fate betrayed,


  Whose bones at Ceperano heap, - with all


  Alardo's craft at Tagliacozzo made


  Without resort of weaponed strife to fall, -


  Were gathered in one place and each displayed


  The shredded limbs, the ghastly wounds of war,


  Nought were it to the dreadful mode I saw


  In this ninth chasm.


                      A man beneath us

  stood


  Whose body like a cantless cask was split.


  The staves bulge outward. Through the bursting wood


  It pours its contents. So the open slit


  That cleft him, fore and hind, from neck to thigh,


  Poured out; between his legs his entrails hung.


  He thrust his hands his heart and lungs among,


  And cried against us, "See Mahomet's pride!


  Or see where Ali weeping walks beside,


  Cleft down the face in twain from hair to chin.


  Scandal or schism has each man sown as I.


  For discord are we sliced who walk herein.


  A devil waits us in our turn. For while


  We stumble in our wounds, with every mile


  The torment heals us, till again we reach


  The place we were, and with his sword to each


  He gives the slitting which we felt before. -


  But who are ye who with no falling gore


  So calmly view us? Do ye seek delay


  To shun the purpose of the guilty way?"


  My Master answered, "Death he hath not known,


  Nor guilt unpurged the downward path hath shown


  To whom I lead, but full experience


  To gain, he goeth through evil's last defence


  From cycle down to cycle: this is true


  As here I stand and speak, who like to you


  Have all my deeds behind me."


                          At

  this word


  Such wonder stirred the trench, that those who heard


  A moment of their torment lost, and stayed


  Oblivious of their gaping wounds. I made


  The count of twice a hundred.


                         

  "Thou canst tell


  Dolcino, if his waiting place in hell


  He hath no haste for, that the Novarese


  May win by starving whom they may not seize


  By any sword-craft. Let him arm him well


  With store of victuals ere the snow make blind


  The mountain ways."


                  So spake Mahomet, the while


  He stood with one leg lifted, to beguile


  The demon that he moved.


                          A

  shade behind,


  Noseless, with one ear only, and his throat


  Slit open, through the red gash spake, "O thou!


  Guiltless, who on the Latian ground ere now


  Hast met me, save resemblance lead astray,


  Remember Piero, if the backward way,


  To reach the sunlight of the world, thy fate


  Permit thee, if thy living feet regain


  Mine own dear country where the gentle plain


  Slopes downward to Vercelli, wilt thou tell


  The noblest two in Fano's walls that dwell,


  Cassero and Cagnano, that except


  Our foresight fail us here, that lord adept


  At violence and unfaith shall both betray,


  Cast from their barque in Cattolica bay,


  Sack-sewn and weighted? He that hath one eye,


  And holds that land that one who here doth lie


  Had better never in his life have seen,


  Will bring them there to treaty, and thereby


  So act that caution of Fecara's squalls


  Will aid them nought. Such deed there hath not been


  In Neptune's sight: he hath more hope who falls


  To Argives or to pirates."


                      I replied,


  "Your speech resists me. Show me first aright


  Who with thee here laments that bitter sight,


  That I may bear thy tale aloft."


                          He

  gripped


  A comrade by the jaw. "This shade dumb-lipped


  Was Curio once, with wagging tongue that lied


  To cease the doubt in Cæsar. 'All delay


  To men prepared is harmful!' urged he then.


  Now walks he round to reach the place again


  Where waits the slaughtering demon."


                           

    Sick dismay


  Was on the face that once so glibly spake,


  And tongue slit backward to the throat I saw


  That once had gibed the dreadful cast of war.


  Now moved he on, his endless turn to take


  Prepared for that which did not grant delay.


  But one whose either hand was sliced away,


  Raised in the dusk the bleeding stumps until


  The blood fell backward on his face, and cried


  "Forget not Mosca! 'Ere ye counsel, kill;


  Death's logic brief will save long argument.


  The wrought deed prospers!' - So I urged. Ah me!


  It bore a bitter seed for Tuscany."


  


  I answered curtly, "And your race has died."


  Whereat as one distraught with pain he went


  Lamenting doubly.


                  Still I watched beside


  The moving troops, and here a thing I saw


  Divorced from reason. All our natural law


  Denies it. Only mine integrity


  To write such proofless words gives confidence.


  But this I saw, and still in mind I see, -


  A headless trunk that walked. Beside his knee


  He swung his own head by the hair, as though


  He bore a lantern for his feet to go


  Unstumbling in the darkness. No pretence


  Of explanation mine. What God ordains


  The wise man marvels, and the fool explains.


  The sharp eyes marked us, and a startled O!


  Broke from the lips, and when the trunk below


  Came level where we paused, the arm on high


  Lifted the head to bring its words more nigh.


  


  "Thou living, who dost view the grievous dead,


  Is any doom so great as mine," it said,


  "In all Hell's circles? That De Born am I


  Who gave my prince the evil counselling


  Which caused him, rebel to the elder king,


  Against his sire to war. Ahithophel


  So worked with David and with Absalom.


  Because I parted father and child, in Hell


  My root of being finds the brain therefrom


  Disparted. So the Eternal Justice wills."


  


  


  







Canto XXIX








  

THE numerous people, and the diverse ills


  That slit them in a hundred forms, had made


  Mine eyes so salted, that awhile I stayed


  Content with weeping, till my wiser guide


  Reproached me. "Wherefore is thy sight delayed


  Amidst the dismal demon-hacked so long?


  Thou didst not linger at superior wrong


  In higher pits so fainly. Wouldst thou guess


  The numbers whom discordant wounds distress,


  Consider two and twenty miles complete


  The narrowing circuit that we cross. But now


  The moon has passed beneath us. Short allow


  Remains, before the time conceded ends,


  And far beyond this gloom the realm extends


  That waits thee."


                  "Master," I replied,

  "if thou


  Hadst heeded that which drew my gaze, thy feet


  Had stayed beside me." But he pressed ahead


  The while I answered, that the words I said


  Were called behind him as we moved.


                           

    "Within


  That cavern where I gazed so fixed, I saw


  A kinsman who bewailed the dreadful law


  That prices in such coin his earthly sin."


  


  My Master answered, "Waste no thought thereon,


  Mine eyes observed him whilst thine own were set


  Too firmly on De Born to heed. He made


  A gesture fierce with hate. They called him here


  Geri del Bello."


                  "O my Guide! the debt


  He left of honour, which his partners yet,


  Who shared his shame, have venged not, so betrayed


  His heart to indignation. More for that


  My pity meets him."


                      While we spake, he

  led


  Across the ridgeway to the final tier


  Of ordered suffering. Far beneath us spread,


  Hid only by the dimness, wide and Hat,


  The last sad cloister of the damned.


                           

    If sight


  Came slowly in the gloom, it did not hide


  The sounds of their lamenting. Every cry


  Was like a shaft that pierced me, fledged for flight


  With pity. Thousand were the woes that cried


  In different accents, till my hands I pressed


  Against my ears to still them.


                          If the

  ills


  Of Valdichiana, when the autumn fills


  Its lazars, with Maremma's sick should lie,


  And all Sardinia's in one ditch, so high,


  So foul, the putrid stench might reach.


                           

    We left


  The last span of the bridge's long descent


  To take the intersecting wall. We went


  Left-hand, as always. As we climbed more low


  The thick malignant air sufficed to show


  How the infallible Justice of God contrives


  The doom of those who use their earthly lives


  To give the face of truth to falsity.


  


  I think not that &Aelig;gina's ancient woe


  More bitter evil in its course could show,


  Though groaning in an air so pestilent


  All creatures, even the fluttering insect, fell,


  Till all of human kind, as sages tell,


  Had perished, once again to multiply


  From seeds of ants.


                      Along a trench we

  went


  Where spirits in disordered heaps were thrown


  And languished. This upon the belly lay,


  That on the back, of him beneath. Alone


  Another wriggled down the dismal way.


  


  We went in silence, watching men too sick


  To lift their bodies as we came, and heard


  Their plaints unceasing. Two there were that leant


  Against each other, as two pans are propt


  For warming, on the hearth; and each so thick


  Was scabbed, that horse-boy never yet so quick


  Plied comb the while his master called, as they


  Scraped with their nails the itching scales away,


  That like the scales of bream around them dropt,


  When the knife cleans it.


                      To the first his

  word


  My guide addressed. "O thou whose nails so fast


  Now shred thy mail, and now as pincers work,


  If any Latians in this trench are cast


  I pray thee tell, and may thy fingers last


  Sufficient for thy needs eternally!"


  The leper answered, "Latians both are we


  Who weep this torment. Tell me whom I see


  That so can walk untortured?"


                          He

  replied,


  "One am I that High Heaven hath sent to guide


  This other through the trenches ploughed in Hell.


  


  At that they raised themselves apart, and turned


  To gaze upon me. Others near, who learned


  The meaning of my Master's words, alike


  Their trembling bodies lifted up to see.


  


  My leader's kindness gave the speech to me, -


  "Ask that thou wilt," and by this leave I said,


  "So that thy memory may not steal away


  From our first world for many suns to be,


  Let not disgust at thy sin's penalty


  Restrain thee from the telling."


                          He

  replied,


  "I was Arezzo-born, and burned alive


  (Albero da Siena's false contrive


  Condemned me); not for that for which I died


  Ye see me here. There is no doubt I said,


  Too lightly, man could raise himself in flight


  By arts I knew, and in his foolishness


  He willed that I should teach him. This I tried,


  And failed, whereon the woud-be Dædalus


  Invoked his sire to burn me. None the less


  This depth I found, by Minos judged aright,


  Who errs not ever, and flung me downward thus


  To this tenth blackness, for the alchemy


  I practised."


              "Surely," to my guide I said,


  "There is no people of such vanity,


  Not even the French, as are the Sienese."


  Whereat the second of the leprous dead


  Made answer, "Save the Stricca, who contrived


  Such modest spending, or the youth who thrived


  On his new cookery of the clove; or they


  Who aided Caccia's haste to cast away


  Forest and vineyard: - but that thou mayst know


  Who thus gibes with thee at the Sienese,


  Look closely, that mine altered face may show.


  I am the shadow of Capocchio


  Who made false metals by mine alchemies.


  If whom I think thou art, thyself couldst tell


  If false I coined, I coined that falsehood well."


  


  


  







Canto XXX








  

WHEN Juno's hate, enwrathed for Semele,


  Repeated evils on the Theban blood,


  Athamas to such madness sank that he,


  Who saw his wife approach, each burdened arm


  Bearing a son, cried out, "The nets we spread.


  We take the lioness and her cubs!" and so


  With pitiless claws he dashed the elder dead,


  Whereat she leapt, still burdened, to the flood,


  And drowned that other, and herself. And when


  The Trojans' heavenward pride was cast so low


  That king and kingdom ceased, Hecuba then


  Saw Polyxena slain, and on the sand


  Lay Polydore, and all her misery


  Her mournful captive mind refused, and she


  Barked like a dog, to such forlorn degree


  Had sorrow moved her. But the Theban land


  Such furies held not, nor the Trojans met


  Such naked hate, as here I saw. There ran


  Two shades with rabid working jaws, that bit


  As snaps a sow thrust outward from the sty,


  The full trough waiting. One bent down, and set


  Its teeth behind Capocchio's neck, and so


  It dragged him, while his belly rubbed the grit.


  Whereat the trembling Arentine began,


  "That goblin is Gianni Schicchi. Thus


  He mangles - "


                  "May that other's teeth

  forego


  Thy neck-joint ever! Grudge thou not to show


  Who is she, ere she passes hence."


                           

    He said,


  "That female imp, the ancient shade is she


  Of Myrrha, who with love flagitious


  Approached her father in false garb, as he


  Who gnaws Capocchio, aped Donati's dead,


  The will by which the priceless mare he won


  Dictating in that guise."


                      The furious two


  Passed onward, mangling as they went, and I


  The ill-born shadows more surveyed. Was one


  Shaped like a lute, had but his groin begun


  A forkless form. The heavy dropsy drew


  His lips apart, as those whom fevers burn.


  


  He said, "O ye, no penal fate who earn


  Amidst this grimness, turn your eyes to see,


  And hearken that which makes my misery


  Beyond the eyes' observing. Justice sets


  Before my sight the cool fresh rivulets


  That Casentino's verdant hills provide


  For Arno's fullness. Down the mountain side


  They fall for ever in my sight, and so


  Contain more torture than this swollen woe


  That from my visage wears the flesh. The sight


  That gives my frequent sighs a faster flight


  Is justly of the place that saw my sin,


  Mine own Romena, where the false alloy


  I mixed and printed with the Baptist's head,


  For which they burnt me. When on earth, I had


  All earth's delights my fraudful wealth could buy.


  A drop of water now would make me glad;


  But had I Branda's fount, to lave therein,


  It would not yield me such exceeding joy


  As would the sight of Alessandro dead,


  Or Guido in such misery here as I.


  One, if the ravening shadows do not lie,


  Is here already. Had I strength to move


  One inch of journey in a hundred years,


  I had been started on the road to prove


  So fair a rumour, and behold his tears.


  Yea, though eleven miles the circle bends,


  And half a mile its crowded breadth extends -


  For by their tempting in this sink I lie."


  


  I asked him, "Next thy swollen boundary,


  Right-hand, how name ye those unmoving two


  That steam like hands in winter bathed?"


                           

    He said,


  "When first I tumbled in this pot to stew,


  So lay they both. They have not raised a head.


  I think they will not through eternity.


  The nearer is the wife of Potiphar


  The other Sinon, that false Greek of Troy.


  From burning fever reek they thus."


                           

    Too far


  His scorn betrayed him. In a fierce annoy


  The Trojan smote him with a lifted arm,


  The rigid belly like a beaten drum


  Resounding.


              "Though my heavy limbs subtract


  The power of motion, for so foul an act


  My arm yet serves me." - So the Brescian said,


  And brought it down upon the fevered head.


  "It served thee little from a larger harm,


  Or wherefore in full manhood didst thou come


  Amongst us from the stake? It served, no doubt,


  The base alloy to mix, and stamp it out."


  


  The dropsied answered, "That on earth I burnt


  Is truth, but say how long thy tongue hath learnt


  Such custom? Falsehood was thine earthly skill."


  


  He answered, "If I lied, thy trade could still


  Outpace me. Would'st thou chide a lonely lie?


  A thousand times thy hand would falsify.


  There is no demon here could match the sum


  Of thine iniquities."


                  "Such magnitude


  Had thy one falsehood, all the world has spewed


  Its indignation on thy name: be that


  The heaviest burden of thy guilt."


                           

    "Be thine


  The thirst that cracks thee, and the putrid filth


  By which thou art distended."


                         

  "Like a cat


  Thy jaw spits fury, as in life; if mine


  Be moisture-swollen thirst, no fairer tilth


  Ye garner for your gain," the Brescian said.


  "The burning fever and the aching head.


  I think Narcissus' mirror would not shine


  For long unlicked beneath thee."


  


                          While

  they jarred


  I paused to hear them, till my Master said,


  "A little longer, and thy fixed regard


  Will end our friendship."


  


                      When his anger

  showed


  So sharply, all with sudden shame I glowed,


  And might not answer. On I walked as one


  Who dreams and wishes that the dream were done,


  So evil turns it while he dreams, and so


  Desires and knows not his desire is true.


  So walked I in my shame and did not know


  My shame forgave me in his thought. I knew


  His anger, only in my thought alive,


  Until he told me, "Weaker shame than thine


  A greater fault would cancel; therefore cease


  A grief too weighty. When we next arrive


  At any kindred scene, thy mind release


  More quickly. Discord in such filth is nought.


  The thought to hear it is a vulgar thought."


  


  


  







Canto XXXI








  

So healed he with the tongue that hurt before,


  Like that charmed spear which could the wounds restore


  That first it made; and neither spake we more


  The while we climbed from out the final pit,


  To reach a hollow where nor dark nor day


  Was round us. Here a horn above me blew


  So loud that thunder to the noise of it


  Were weakness. Not so loud Orlando's horn


  Called vainly from the rout that cast away


  An empire's purpose. Up I looked, and knew


  A range of towers confronted, and thereat


  I questioned, "Master, say what town is that


  So near us?"


              "Through the veil of darkness drawn,


  The distance mocks thee. Let us haste, that so


  The truth be shown," he said, and then - "But no,"


  And took me kindly by the hand, - "the worst


  Will seem less dreadful, if I show thee first.


  They are not towers in a circling wall,


  But giants planted round the pit, that all


  Show upwards from the navel." As the mist


  Thins slowly, by the morning sunlight kissed


  Till hidden forms show vaguely, and reshape


  Their gradual outlines as the vapour leaves


  The obstructed air, the gloom, as near we drew,


  Reformed my error with a closer view


  More frightful. For the nether pit receives


  Their legs and bellies, while the rest doth rise


  Like Montereggione's towers, that crown


  The wall's full circle. Upwards from the thighs


  One monster faced me. Nature found escape


  From such creation ere our time, and well


  She chose her condemnation. Still Jove's frown


  Against them thunders. If the monstrous whale


  Its breed continue, or the elephant,


  They do not vainly through their bulk rebel


  Against the rule of nature. Wits are scant,


  And weight is harmless. When they both unite


  What is there in mankind that might prevail


  To make defence against them?


                          Like

  the pine


  That stands before St. Peter's, such the sight


  His visage showed me. All the rest alike


  Was monstrous. Aproned by the bank, he yet


  Such stature showed, that three tall Frisians


  One on the other, could not thus combine


  To reach his hair. The savage mouth began,


  Rafel mai amech zabi almi,


  To shout in rage toward us. Speech of man


  It might not nearer. In full scorn my guide


  The meaning of that barren noise supplied,


  "His own his accusation. Nimrod he,


  Who brought confusion on the tongues we speak;


  In vain for converse here your questions seek.


  He comprehends our speech no more than we


  The sounds he rumbles. Dullard! take thy horn.


  On thine own breast it hangs, and yet thy mind


  Confuses, that it may not always find


  And vent its passion with such blasts."


                           

    We went


  Left-hand, and pacing thence a cross-bow shot,


  A fiercer and more monstrous monument


  Appalled me. Who the artist, once who got


  Those cords around him, daunts my mind, but so


  It had been. His right arm behind his back,


  Five times were girt the parts exposed.


                           

    "Attack,"


  My Master told, "against high Jove he planned,


  What time the giants with the gods at war


  Affrighted Heaven. Hence the equal law


  That binds the arms he lifted. This ye see


  Is Ephialtes."


                  "Master, might there be


  Among these shapes the bulk of Briareus?"


  "Yea, but far off he stands, and bound is he


  Alike to this one, though of face more grim.


  But Antæus, who did not war with Zeus,


  Is near, and as there are no bonds on him,


  He shall convey us down the sink of guilt."


  


  No earthquake sways a massive tower as then


  The bulk of Ephialtes, straining, shook


  To break that bondage. Dread, that made me look,


  So worked that fear alone my life had spilt,


  Had not the strong bands cheered me.


                           

    On we went


  And Antæus reached, five ells of height who showed


  Above the edge whereon we walked, although


  One half was in the dreadful cave below


  To which we journeyed.


                      "Thou, who once

  abode,"


  My guide addressed him, "in that vale of fate


  From which the broken Carthaginians fled,


  To Scipio's glory; thou, whose hands have caught


  A thousand lions for thine ancient prey;


  Thou, whose strong aid, it seems, had likely brought


  The strife Titanic to a different day


  From that which closed it, - set us down, I pray,


  Upon the frozen floor, and be not shy


  To help us. Surely, should we further go


  For aid to Typhon or to Tizeo,


  The hope of larger fame thy name shall miss,


  For this man's life resumes on earth, and he


  Can lift thy boast anew. I know for this


  All creatures long in Hell."


                      My Master's plea


  So wrought, that hasteful were the monster's hands


  To lift us. In the grasp that Hercules


  Once felt to fearing was he raised, and I


  Caught to him, in one bundle held. As seems


  The Carisenda to a man that stands


  Beneath the leaning side, when overhead


  A low cloud darkens, till its bulk he deems


  To overweight it, so the Titan showed


  To me beneath. By some alternate road


  My choice had lain, but ere my doubt was said


  He placed us gently on the dreadful bed


  Where Judas is devoured with Lucifer,


  And having loosed us on the icy plain,


  Like a ship's mast he raised himself again.


  


  


  







Canto XXXII








  

IF words were mine unlike our mortal tongue


  In which the beauty of all heights is sung,


  I might attempt with greater confidence


  The core of my conception here. But whence


  Are words for things undreamed? What words are fit


  In harsh discordance for the utmost pit?


  I have no words, and fear to speak, but yet


  It must be.


              Muses, by whose art was set


  The Theban cincture of strong walls, lead on!


  Grant me thy power, as once to Amphion,


  That speech for truth interpret.


                          Here

  converge


  The rocky causeways. In this pit submerge


  The vomits of creation. All its weight


  Is pressed upon them. Here the miscreate


  Lament their own existing. Oh, what curse


  Here in the bottom of the Universe


  Had lifted, had they been but goats! To me


  It seems for men too dreadful.


                          Down

  the slope


  We started from the Titan's feet, and while


  I still gazed backward at the wall, I heard


  A cry beneath me, "Heed ye where ye tread


  Lest fall thy weight on some grief-weary head


  That here lamenteth."


                      Then I looked, and

  lo!


  No ground I trod, but all the space below


  Was glass transparent. Not the underflow


  Of Austrian Danube from the weight of snow


  Such roof divides. Not Don, alone that lies


  Beneath the silence of the frozen skies,


  Such mantle wears. Sclavonia's lonely height


  Had fallen here, or Lucca's mountain white,


  And had not cracked it.


                      As the frogs at

  night


  Sit croaking, with their heads above the stream,


  While on the bank the gleaner rests, adream


  Of fields she emptied, so the miscreants lay


  Frozen in firm ice, so deeply sunk that they


  Showed livid through the hard transparency


  That bound them, with their heads alone left free,


  And chattering jaws that rapped the ice, and made


  A noise of storks conversing. More betrayed


  Their ceaseless tears the bitter woes they knew, -


  Salt tears that froze in falling.


                          Here

  were two


  So closely brothered in that frozen bed


  That face to face the hair of either head


  Was mingled, and their hidden features pressed


  Each other.


              "Tell me, ye that breast to breast


  So consort," asked I, "who on earth ye be?"


  Whereat they bent their backward necks to see


  Who called, and as their faces rose apart


  The tears that ever from their eyes would start


  The fierce cold hardened at their source, and held


  Their eyelids firm as any smith should weld,


  Or wood to wood with iron is clamped. Whereat,


  Like he-goats angered, both their heads began


  To butt the other in their rage. With that


  Another near, who did not lift his face,


  Whose ears the frost had taken, gave reply,


  "Why seek ye, gazing at our woeful case,


  To read us? If for aught ye list to know


  Those twain, the vale of the Bisenzio


  Was theirs, from Count Alberto. From one womb


  They came, and search ye all the dreadful doom


  Of this Caina where ye stand, not one


  Is here more worthy of the frozen pie


  In which they serve us. Not that wretch fordone


  By Arthur's hand, who pierced him, front and back


  And shadow at once; nor he that next doth lie


  Beyond me, Mascheroni, - if ye come


  From Tuscan hills, my words ye will not lack


  To place him; - nor Focaccia. Lest ye try


  To vex me with more words, de Pazzi I;


  I wait Carlino here, to justify


  My lighter guilt."


                  Of doggish faces, numb


  With frozen torture, round our feet there lay


  A thousand. Still my shuddering thought recalls,


  And shivers ever as the frozen ford


  I strive to think not. Was it destiny,


  Or chance, or will? My doubt I own, but while


  We trod mid-distance of the final mile,


  My foot caught sharply one projecting head.


  Whereat it raised a weeping voice, and said,


  "Why dost thou trample thus the doomed, unless


  Thou come designed to deal more bitterness


  In hate for Montaperto?"


                         

  "Master, stay


  One moment here, and any more delay


  I will not ask."


                  My Master paused, and I


  To that reviling spirit gave reply,


  For still it cursed me, - "Tell me who thou art,


  Who thus reproachest?"


                      "Nay, but be

  thy part


  To tell me first. Who art thou stumbling thus


  Through Antenora, on the cheeks of us


  Who suffer? Wert thou yet in life, it were


  Too much to pardon."


                      "Nay, I live;

  but say


  The name thou hadst, and I will make thy day


  A longer on the earth than else thy share


  Of fame continue."


                  "Nay, ye little know


  The words of flattery on this slope of woe.


  We lust oblivion only. Get ye gone!


  Nor vex me further."


                      By the after-scalp


  I gripped him roughly. "Speak, or every hair


  That grows upon thee, from the root I tear,


  Before I leave thee on this icy alp."


  


  He answered, "Though the final hair ye pick,


  And though my face a thousand times ye kick,


  I will not tell you."


                  In my hand his hair


  Was twisted, and an ample tuft was flung


  Loose on the ice, he barking out despair


  And rage together, when the song he sung


  Aroused his neighbour, "Bocca, what thy woe?


  Canst thou not chatter with thy jaws as we,


  And cease thy barking? What strange fiend supplies


  An extra pain?"


                  I said, "Thy name I know,


  And would no more. Accursed, traitorous!


  Thy name a byword on the earth shall be;


  For I will tell thy treasons."


                      "He who lies


  So near, and talks so glibly, thou canst tell,


  And not me only. Thou canst speak it thus, -


  'Close-pinched with Bocca in the frozen hell


  I saw Duera. There his chattering jaws


  Bewail the Frenchman's silver bribe.' If more


  They ask, who shiver in the icy claws,


  Boccaria lies beyond, whose neck was slit


  At Florence: and Soldanire thou canst say


  Is not far distant; and Ganelone;


  And Tribaldello fails not to deplore


  The gates he opened in the night."


                           

    We stayed


  To hear no further. In short space ahead


  We saw two frozen in one hole. As bread


  Is gnawed in hunger: as Menalippus


  Was chewed by Tydeus: so the upmost head


  Gripped with its teeth the neck beneath, and tore


  Just where the nape and brain unite. I said,


  "O thou, so hard whose bestial hatred gnaws


  Thy mate in condemnation, if good cause


  Thy rage explain, it were thy gain with us


  To share it. Upward I return once more,


  And surely as my speech remain, I then


  Will give thee justice in the mouths of men."


  


  


  







Canto XXXIII








  

THE sinner ceased his ghastly meal, and wiped


  His jaws upon the victim's hair, and said,


  "Thou willest that reluctant words recall


  A grief so dire it wrings my heart, before


  An utterance forms, but if my speech shall fall


  A seed that fruiting backward from the dead


  Shall make him whom I tear infamed the more


  Among our people, then I gladly weep


  To tell thee. How to this sad depth ye came,


  Where no man erst has been, nor what thy name


  I know, but that familiar speech of thine


  I heard, and hailed thee friend and Florentine,


  - For I was Ugolino. Him I keep


  In this remembrance of an earthly woe,


  The arch-priest Ubaldini. Now I tell


  Of that which brought us to this depth of Hell,


  And why high Justice thus permits that I


  Feed here, and shall not starve, and shall not die,


  Nor cease my feeding. All I need not say


  Of mutual fraud, nor how he snared away


  My life, a tale for other tongues, but this,


  The cruel fate I found, they well may miss,


  It was so secret. In that hole which now


  Is called the Dungeon of the Starved I lay,


  And watched the narrow slit by night and day,


  Until nine moons across its space of sky


  Had ended, when the evil dream I knew


  That did the curtain of my fate untie.


  


  "It seemed that on the Pisan hills was I,


  A gaunt wolf with his weary whelps that ran,


  And after came the hounds; and there a man


  That cheered them on; the lord of all was he,


  This Ubaldini, and before him rode


  Gualandi, and Sismondi, and thereby


  Lanfranchi; and the hounds, that closer drew,


  Were swift and lean and eager. I could see


  The wolf among his whelps, that was but I


  And my young sons, grow weary, and the hounds


  Were tearing at their flanks. I waked to find


  The night yet darkened, but the moaning sounds


  My sons were making in their sleep for bread


  Had roused me. Cruel were the hearer's heart


  Who would not weep for that their cries forebode.


  If not for this, for what should tears have part?


  It was the first day that we were not fed.


  The hour recurred. With anxious eyes, and


  Of any speech we waited. Now they come


  - The steps we know - we heard the echoing


  That locked and sealed us from the world: we heard


  The steps recede. I had not wept nor stirred.


  I watched them weeping till the youngest said,


  'Father, what ails thee? Wilt thou speak?' But I


  Gazed and not moved, and could not find reply.


  And all that day not any word I said,


  And all that night, nor any tears I shed,


  Till through the bars the morning light anew


  Revealed our grief, and in my sons I knew


  The aspect of myself, and anguish wrought


  Within me, till I gnawed my hands. Whereat


  They answered (impulsed by a single thought


  That hunger urged me), 'Father, do not stay


  Thine hand against us. Shouldst thou take away


  The lives we owe thee, right it were, and less


  To us the pain, that from the flesh we give


  Thy life continue.'


                  Then I strove subdue


  The anguish in me, lest I more distress


  The sons beyond myself I loved. That day,


  And all the next, in silent pain we lay


  On earth too hard to take us. After that


  Death came. For when the next sad dawn was dim


  Fell Gaddo at my feet, and with one cry,


  'O father, wilt thou aid us nought?' he died.


  And two days more I watched, and after him,


  One after one, beheld them fall and die.


  Then, blind with famine, three days more I groped


  Around them, till my grief no more denied


  The pangs of fasting" - as these words he said,


  With hateful eyes upon his murderer's head,


  Again he seized it in strong teeth that bit


  Hard on the bone. Ah, Pisa! since thy state


  Thy neighbours leave, and all vituperate


  Who know thee, shall not those two isles, that lie


  So near, block Arno at its mouth, and throw


  Its waters on thee till the depth of it


  Hath drowned the last man in thy walls? For though


  Had Ugolino all thy towers betrayed,


  It were not right for one man traitorous


  His children in their youth to torture thus


  To innocent death, thou Thebes of Italy!


  And therefore shall their frustrate names remain


  In minds of all men where my tale is made.


  Uguccione and Bragata they,


  Anselm and Gaddo.


                  On we went, to see


  A varied torment. Here the frozen pain


  That bowed those others, bends its victims back.


  They may not weep. The fount of tears they lack.


  For all the hollows of their eyes are filled


  With hardened ice. The tears that first they spilled


  Are crystal visors to their sight.


                          To me,

  


  Though cold had calloused all my face by now,


  It seemed a wind was passing. To my guide


  I questioned, "Master, is not vital heat


  Extinguished here? Can utter cold allow


  This downward air?"


                  He answered. "Soon we meet


  Its cause, and sight shall tell thee."


                          Near

  us cried


  A wretch that marked us of the frozen host,


  "O souls so cruel that the latest post


  Is here assigned ye, will ye break away


  The blocks one moment from mine eyes, that stay


  The waiting tears?"


                      We paused, and I

  replied.


  "Then tell us who thou art, and whence thy doom,


  And he should well deserve the frozen tomb


  Who did not aid thee."


                      "Alberigo I,


  The Jovial Friar, whom Manfred brought to die!


  The evil fruit that in my orchard grew


  Returns. The figs I gave: the dates I pick."


  


  "Ha!" said I, "hast thou also left the quick


  So soon?"


              He said, "I know not. We that lie


  In Ptolomæa, oft this depth descend


  Before our bodies reach their natural end.


  For those that like myself to death betray


  Their friends, a waiting demon drags away,


  Casts to this cistern of our kind, and then


  His body takes, and in the ways of men


  Controls it, till his time be spent. Behind


  Is Brancha d'Oria. If his corse have died,


  Who here finds winter, better chance have ye


  Than I to tell, who earlier came, but he


  Long years has suffered in this ice."


                           

    I said,


  "I think thou liest. Brancha is not dead.


  He lives on earth, and in our mortal way


  His body eats and sleeps and warms today."


  


  "Where boils the pitch, ere Michel Zanche came,


  Within the Malebranche's ditch," said he,


  "This man a demon in his place had left,


  And one beside who shared his perfidy


  Came likewise ere his time; but reach thy hand


  To do the service that my speech can claim."


  I heard, but different course my heart had planned


  Since horror learnt his name. The ice uncleft


  Still blinds him. Rudeness there was courtesy.


  


  Ah, men corrupt from God! Ye Genoese,


  Why do ye haste not on your path to these,


  And earth seem cleaner? With Romagna's worst,


  I found Ser Brancha, for his soul's disease


  Ere death who suffers in this place accurst.


  


  


  







Canto XXXIV








  

THE lifted banners of the King of Hell,"


  - My leader roused me from my thought -


              "are nigh;


  Look therefore." I beheld, as in such sky


  As foul mist hides, or murk of night obscures,


  A turning windmill loom; and such the gale


  Its motions caused, that I, of strength too frail


  To meet it longer, shrank behind my guide.


  


  Beneath our feet - but memory fears to tell -


  The sinners here contained in Hell's last sewers


  Were frozen solid in firm ice, and shone


  Like straw in glass; and as we walked thereon


  We saw some flat, and some with heads below,


  And some pulled backward like a bended bow,


  And some were upright.


                      When we got so near


  I needs must see, my leader stepped aside.


  He said, "Let fortitude reject thy fear,


  For Dis confronts thee."


                      There I think I

  died,


  Though living. Not the icy blast I met


  A living man could face, a dead could feel.


  But here speech fails me. Reader, words are nought


  To help me further. To thy livelier thought


  I leave it.


              Breast-deep in the ice was set


  The Emperor of the dolorous realm; but yet


  So huge he towered that I should seem more fit


  With giants to consort, than a giant compare


  With one arm only. He, that once so fair


  Could walk assured in Heaven, the lordliest there


  Beneath his Maker, fills this glacial pit


  If by his woe we price his earlier weal,


  Or judge his glory by his aspect now,


  Well may he fount affliction. For one head


  I saw three faces. One was fiery red.


  The others slanting from each shoulder rose


  To form one crest that shapes creation's woes.


  One pallid yellow, one the sable hue


  Of those who wander from the tropic land


  Wherefrom the sources of the Nile expand.


  There were two wings the three foul heads below


  Such bird to suit. I never saw such spread


  Of ocean canvas to the wind: but these


  Were bat-like, plumeless, and the wind they bred,


  - They flapped unceasing - caused the glacier freeze


  Down which we traversed. With six eyes he wept,


  The while a sinner in each mouth he kept,


  And chewed, and loosed not. Tears and foam unite


  With dribbling blood, that spurts from every bite


  Down his three chins. The midmost was not bit


  So much as torn. At times his back was flayed


  All bare of skin.


                  "That soul that most endures,

  


  Whose head Apollyon in his mouth hath got,


  Whose legs kick outward, is Iscariot:"


  My Master told, "of those whose heads may quit


  The teeth that chew them, down the swarthier chin


  Is Brutus dangling. Mark how silently


  He writhes. The comrade of his doom is he


  Who shared that treason, Cassius. - But the night


  Is rising in the world without, and we


  Must hasten. All is seen that lies herein,


  And hence depart we."


                      At his word I put


  My arm around him. He with lifted foot


  His opening watched, and when the wings were wide


  Leapt from the glacier to the tangled side,


  And midst the shaggy tufts of frozen hair


  The scaly hide descended.


                      When we came


  To pass the swelling of the haunch, my guide


  With arduous effort turned, till where his head


  Had been before, he placed his feet instead,


  And gripped the hair as one that mounts. I thought


  That backwards into Hell his path he sought.


  But he, hard-panting with that toil, replied,


  "Hold fast - be silent - by this only stair


  We find Hell's exit."


                      Thus he climbed to

  where


  An opening gashed the rock, and reaching there


  He placed me on the ledge, and warily


  Himself stepped after. Here I looked to see


  Again the front of Lucifer, and lo!


  His legs stuck upward.


                      Were a man too dense

  


  To understand the point we passed, he still


  Might judge the toil before me, to return


  To earth's far surface. "Gain thy feet, for ill


  The pathway climbs," my guide enjoined, "that hence


  Shall take us, as thy weary steps must learn,


  And in the outer skies the sun midway


  To noon is lifted."


                      Round I looked, and

  saw


  No palace, but such cleft in earth's deep maw


  As likest to a natural dungeon showed,


  Ill-floored, ill-lighted.


                      "Ere this evil

  road,"


  I answered, rising, "leave the deep abyss,


  I pray thee tell me, lest my thought should err,


  Why upward rise the legs of Lucifer,


  And where the icy plain we crossed? and how


  The morning shines without, which was but now


  To night descending?"


                      "Dost thou

  spare to think


  Its meaning? Downward through the central sink


  We passed. We have not backward climbed to where


  I leapt, but holding by the frozen hair


  We scaled this maggot of the evil core


  To which all weights conclude; and when, midway,


  We turned with effort, then beneath us lay


  That half the world from which we came, and we


  Look upward to that other world of sea


  Which those who sail beyond thine hemisphere


  Have found, and left uncharted. Standing here


  Beneath us is the great dry land that lies


  Within the cover of the northern skies,


  And centres round the Sacred Mount whereon


  The Holiest died. Above us reaches far


  The region where the pathless oceans are;


  For this side fell from Heaven the Worm of Hell


  And all the land drew backward where he fell,


  And hid beneath the waters. There is morn


  When nightfall closes on thy northern land;


  And there our issue, for a stream has worn


  A tortuous passage from the outer skies


  To this foul pit where Beelzebub lies,


  And through the darkness of the toilsome way


  Its sound must lead us."


                      Nothing more we

  said,


  Nor paused for rest, however jagged and rough


  And dark the path we climbed, and long enough


  For mortal feet to weary. Fast he led:


  And I made tireless by that hope ahead


  Pursued him upward, till the rocks were rent


  With first a sight of Heaven's clear firmament,


  And then the earth's clean airs with learnt delight


  I breathed, and round me was the beauteous night,


  And overhead the stars.


  







NOTES








  

        Canto I. The opening scene is clearly allegorical,

  and is capable of various interpretations. The simplest, and most probable, is that the

  sleek and playful panther is Dante's own city of Florence, the lion is the king of France,

  threatening the invasion of Italy, and the she-wolf is the temporal power of the Roman

  See, the insatiable greed and corruption of which are represented as the radical causes of

  the condition of Italy.


          The poet has realized that, if he would save his moral

  integrity, he must abandon political ambitions and associations, and revert his mind to

  the pursuit of literature, and to the idealities of earlier years.


          Canto II. This requires little comment. It amplifies

  the idea of the poet's rescue from imminent spiritual peril by the interposition of Virgil

  and Beatrice. Virgil obviously represents the love and practice of poetry, as opposed to

  the snares of political ambition. Beatrice may be held to personate some spiritual quality

  by those who care for such abstractions. The meaning is clear to anyone of average

  imagination, and only loses by definition.


          Canto III. The inscription over the gate of Hell

  requires careful reading and intelligent apprehension. The idea is absolutely different

  from that of eternal torture by an angry Deity. Hell is an inevitable condition of evil.

  Those who occupy it are self-divorced by their own natures from the light of Heaven. The

  great majority are not strictly in Hell at all, but rotate in endless repetition of the

  futility of their wasted lives. They are typified by one who had been offered and refused

  the Papacy An alternative choice had brought great dishonour to the Church, and,

  considering the consequences which may follow from a mere refusal of the responsibilities

  that life offers, Dante recognizes the justice of the condemnation. The parable of the

  talent which was wrapped in a napkin reaches the same conclusion.


          I anticipate a detail of criticism when I agree that the birds

  of line 133 may have been falcons, not doves. But the spectacle of pigeons hesitating to

  come to the call of one who would feed them, and flying downward one at a time, must have

  been familiar to Dante in the squares of Florence, and it is in some ways a more forcible

  metaphor, and one which is more familiar to a modern reader. It may be objected that Dante

  would have compared the lost souls to falcons rather than to doves, but that is not

  certain, as the success of his metaphors is often gained by sharpness of contrast,

  underlying a superficial similitude.


          Canto IV. This canto asserts the impotence of Hell

  against those whose lives were blameless. It presents no difficulty.


          Canto V. Here we enter the first circle of the places

  of punishment. The idea is that Hell consists of nine narrowing circles (with some

  subdivisions), each smaller than the one above it, and each containing sinners of a deeper

  iniquity, till the centre point is reached, where Satan is fixed, surrounded by those

  whose sins have merited "the place of Cain."


          There are four outer circles, before the fiery citadel (the

  city of Dis) is entered, and these are occupied by those whose sins were only against

  their own bodies. They are not subjected to the indignity of torture by demons, but by

  hostile elements only.


          The first circle contains those who sinned through lack of

  self-control, and they are now buffeted about by eternal winds, so that when they seek to

  control themselves they are unable to do so.


          Canto VI. The next circle contains the gluttons, whose

  previous self-indulgence is now balanced by an appropriate discomfort.


          Canto VII. In the third circle, the avaricious and the

  wasteful find the same doom in the futility of abortive toil. Dante cannot recognize any

  of the lost in this section: they have degraded themselves until their features have

  become indistinct and blurred from any human likeness.


          This is the last of the outer circles, and the edge of the

  slough which divides it from the city of Dis is occupied by the muddied shades of those

  who were once sullen, and ungrateful for the light and air, which they received from the

  free bounty of God.


          Canto VIII. As the adventurers are ferried over the

  half-liquid moat, they observe others of those who suffer from the unrestrained indulgence

  of evil temper, this being represented as the worst form of the various incontinences

  which these outer circles contain.


          Here, at the gates of Dis, we first encounter the demons that

  people Hell. The sins of weakness are passed, and we meet evil in active assertion and

  rebellion against the Deity.


          Canto IX. The stubborn, though useless, opposition of

  the demons to the entrance of Virgil and Dante shows that they are approaching the abodes

  of evil in more malignant and aggressive forms than have been encountered previously.


          Canto X. Here are those whose fault is no more than

  that they lived in prideful contempt of the faith and discipline of religion. They are

  innocent of the baser sins which will be ultimately encountered, but they are within the

  circle of burning because their sin was spiritual, not merely carnal, as were those of the

  previous sinners.


          Canto XI. Here we approach to those who were not merely

  infidel through arrogance, but from baser impulses, and the stench of their wickedness is

  such that it cannot be quickly faced. Virgil uses the opportunity to explain the

  distinctions of human guilt that are recognized in the divisions of Hell. We have passed

  the sins of incontinence. We are entering the outer circles of Dis in which the sins of

  violence are punished. These are subject to subdivision in three circlets, as they are

  committed by men against their fellow men, their own bodies, or God.


          In a farther depth we shall find those who have sinned, not by

  violence, but by fraud, and they will be subdivided in circular trenches, as their frauds

  were perpetrated against strangers, those with whom they were connected in some relation

  of confidence, or those to whom they had direct obligations of loyalty - so that all

  traitors are in the ultimate depth of Hell.


          Canto XII. The adventurers now descend to view the

  punishment of those who have committed violence against their fellow men, the blind and

  brutal violence of the Minotaur typifying the minds of such criminals. The ruined wall

  shows (as is seen again in still lower circles) that Christ had penetrated to the core of

  Hell, and that those whom He released included sinners from the foulest circles. Here the

  violent suffer appropriately in boiling blood, graduated according to their guilt.


          Canto XIII. The penalty of those who have done violence

  to their own bodies is as logical as that which falls upon those who do violence to

  others.


          Cantos XIV-XVI. Here, in a startling conjunction, are

  those whose violence is directed against God the sodomites and the money-lenders. There is

  no question of condemning only those who charged an excessive rate of interest. Dante

  holds the deliberate opinion that the charging of interest for the use of money is morally

  indefensible, and a radical evil of our civilization. It is commonly said that he would

  have modified this view, could he have foreseen modern industrial developments. I can find

  no reason at all to take this view. On the contrary, I think he would regard them as

  having demonstrated the truth of the warning which he gave to the world.


          Canto XVII. Notice the useless cunning with which the

  money-lenders attempt to cheat their doom by gathering on the extreme edge of their place

  of punishment - and so congregating upon the very edge of the final depth, where the

  fraudulent suffer.


          Cantos XVIII-XXXI. The fraudulent are divided among ten

  circular trenches, each lower and smaller than the previous one, and these are bisected by

  bridges of rock that slope down to the central pit, on which they converge. It is

  therefore possible to go straight down to the centre by one of these causeways, crossing

  the ten trenches in succession, or to turn aside as each trench is passed, and continue

  along the circular wall that divides it from the next one, turning inward again when the

  next of the converging bridges is reached. The ten trenches contain


          (1)    Panderers, and betrayers of women.


          (2)    Those who deceive by flattery.


          (3)    Those who enrich themselves under the cloak

  of religious service.


          (4)    Sorcerers, and all who make gain from the

  credulity of their fellows.


          (5)    Barterers, that is, those who corrupt

  justice, regarding public office as a means of

           extorting bribes, and using other illicit

  means for their own enrichment.


          (6)    Hypocrites, who make false professions of

  religion, and betray its precepts.


          (7)    Thieves and cheats.


          (8)    Tricksters, who deceive those in whom they

  had deliberately established confidence.


          (9)    Those who with cunning words promote strife

  or discord.


          (10)  Coiners, forgers, and their like.


          Cantos XXXII-XXXIII. The final pit, through which the

  poet and his guide must pass to ascend by the opposite way to the Southern Hemisphere and

  the mountain of Purgatory, contains the sinners who have betrayed those to whom they were

  under an obligation of loyalty, this being the lowest possibility of human baseness. Dante

  may have meant to imply that Ugolino gnawed the dead bodies of his children before he

  died, but he is not clear, and I have repeated the ambiguity.







The End








  

Translated by S. Fowler Wright








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