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Dante's Inferno [Divine Comedy]

Part 4 out of 4

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Inferno: Canto XXXII

If I had rhymes both rough and stridulous,
As were appropriate to the dismal hole
Down upon which thrust all the other rocks,

I would press out the juice of my conception
More fully; but because I have them not,
Not without fear I bring myself to speak;

For 'tis no enterprise to take in jest,
To sketch the bottom of all the universe,
Nor for a tongue that cries Mamma and Babbo.

But may those Ladies help this verse of mine,
Who helped Amphion in enclosing Thebes,
That from the fact the word be not diverse.

O rabble ill-begotten above all,
Who're in the place to speak of which is hard,
'Twere better ye had here been sheep or goats!

When we were down within the darksome well,
Beneath the giant's feet, but lower far,
And I was scanning still the lofty wall,

I heard it said to me: "Look how thou steppest!
Take heed thou do not trample with thy feet
The heads of the tired, miserable brothers!"

Whereat I turned me round, and saw before me
And underfoot a lake, that from the frost
The semblance had of glass, and not of water.

So thick a veil ne'er made upon its current
In winter-time Danube in Austria,
Nor there beneath the frigid sky the Don,

As there was here; so that if Tambernich
Had fallen upon it, or Pietrapana,
E'en at the edge 'twould not have given a creak.

And as to croak the frog doth place himself
With muzzle out of water,--when is dreaming
Of gleaning oftentimes the peasant-girl,--

Livid, as far down as where shame appears,
Were the disconsolate shades within the ice,
Setting their teeth unto the note of storks.

Each one his countenance held downward bent;
From mouth the cold, from eyes the doleful heart
Among them witness of itself procures.

When round about me somewhat I had looked,
I downward turned me, and saw two so close,
The hair upon their heads together mingled.

"Ye who so strain your breasts together, tell me,"
I said, "who are you;" and they bent their necks,
And when to me their faces they had lifted,

Their eyes, which first were only moist within,
Gushed o'er the eyelids, and the frost congealed
The tears between, and locked them up again.

Clamp never bound together wood with wood
So strongly; whereat they, like two he-goats,
Butted together, so much wrath o'ercame them.

And one, who had by reason of the cold
Lost both his ears, still with his visage downward,
Said: "Why dost thou so mirror thyself in us?

If thou desire to know who these two are,
The valley whence Bisenzio descends
Belonged to them and to their father Albert.

They from one body came, and all Caina
Thou shalt search through, and shalt not find a shade
More worthy to be fixed in gelatine;

Not he in whom were broken breast and shadow
At one and the same blow by Arthur's hand;
Focaccia not; not he who me encumbers

So with his head I see no farther forward,
And bore the name of Sassol Mascheroni;
Well knowest thou who he was, if thou art Tuscan.

And that thou put me not to further speech,
Know that I Camicion de' Pazzi was,
And wait Carlino to exonerate me."

Then I beheld a thousand faces, made
Purple with cold; whence o'er me comes a shudder,
And evermore will come, at frozen ponds.

And while we were advancing tow'rds the middle,
Where everything of weight unites together,
And I was shivering in the eternal shade,

Whether 'twere will, or destiny, or chance,
I know not; but in walking 'mong the heads
I struck my foot hard in the face of one.

Weeping he growled: "Why dost thou trample me?
Unless thou comest to increase the vengeance
of Montaperti, why dost thou molest me?"

And I: "My Master, now wait here for me,
That I through him may issue from a doubt;
Then thou mayst hurry me, as thou shalt wish."

The Leader stopped; and to that one I said
Who was blaspheming vehemently still:
"Who art thou, that thus reprehendest others?"

"Now who art thou, that goest through Antenora
Smiting," replied he, "other people's cheeks,
So that, if thou wert living, 'twere too much?"

"Living I am, and dear to thee it may be,"
Was my response, "if thou demandest fame,
That 'mid the other notes thy name I place."

And he to me: "For the reverse I long;
Take thyself hence, and give me no more trouble;
For ill thou knowest to flatter in this hollow."

Then by the scalp behind I seized upon him,
And said: "It must needs be thou name thyself,
Or not a hair remain upon thee here."

Whence he to me: "Though thou strip off my hair,
I will not tell thee who I am, nor show thee,
If on my head a thousand times thou fall."

I had his hair in hand already twisted,
And more than one shock of it had pulled out,
He barking, with his eyes held firmly down,

When cried another: "What doth ail thee, Bocca?
Is't not enough to clatter with thy jaws,
But thou must bark? what devil touches thee?"

"Now," said I, "I care not to have thee speak,
Accursed traitor; for unto thy shame
I will report of thee veracious news."

"Begone," replied he, "and tell what thou wilt,
But be not silent, if thou issue hence,
Of him who had just now his tongue so prompt;

He weepeth here the silver of the French;
'I saw,' thus canst thou phrase it, 'him of Duera
There where the sinners stand out in the cold.'

If thou shouldst questioned be who else was there,
Thou hast beside thee him of Beccaria,
Of whom the gorget Florence slit asunder;

Gianni del Soldanier, I think, may be
Yonder with Ganellon, and Tebaldello
Who oped Faenza when the people slep."

Already we had gone away from him,
When I beheld two frozen in one hole,
So that one head a hood was to the other;

And even as bread through hunger is devoured,
The uppermost on the other set his teeth,
There where the brain is to the nape united.

Not in another fashion Tydeus gnawed
The temples of Menalippus in disdain,
Than that one did the skull and the other things.

"O thou, who showest by such bestial sign
Thy hatred against him whom thou art eating,
Tell me the wherefore," said I, "with this compact,

That if thou rightfully of him complain,
In knowing who ye are, and his transgression,
I in the world above repay thee for it,

If that wherewith I speak be not dried up."

Inferno: Canto XXXIII

His mouth uplifted from his grim repast,
That sinner, wiping it upon the hair
Of the same head that he behind had wasted.

Then he began: "Thou wilt that I renew
The desperate grief, which wrings my heart already
To think of only, ere I speak of it;

But if my words be seed that may bear fruit
Of infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw,
Speaking and weeping shalt thou see together.

I know not who thou art, nor by what mode
Thou hast come down here; but a Florentine
Thou seemest to me truly, when I hear thee.

Thou hast to know I was Count Ugolino,
And this one was Ruggieri the Archbishop;
Now I will tell thee why I am such a neighbour.

That, by effect of his malicious thoughts,
Trusting in him I was made prisoner,
And after put to death, I need not say;

But ne'ertheless what thou canst not have heard,
That is to say, how cruel was my death,
Hear shalt thou, and shalt know if he has wronged me.

A narrow perforation in the mew,
Which bears because of me the title of Famine,
And in which others still must be locked up,

Had shown me through its opening many moons
Already, when I dreamed the evil dream
Which of the future rent for me the veil.

This one appeared to me as lord and master,
Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain
For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see.

With sleuth-hounds gaunt, and eager, and well trained,
Gualandi with Sismondi and Lanfianchi
He had sent out before him to the front.

After brief course seemed unto me forespent
The father and the sons, and with sharp tushes
It seemed to me I saw their flanks ripped open.

When I before the morrow was awake,
Moaning amid their sleep I heard my sons
Who with me were, and asking after bread.

Cruel indeed art thou, if yet thou grieve not,
Thinking of what my heart foreboded me,
And weep'st thou not, what art thou wont to weep at?

They were awake now, and the hour drew nigh
At which our food used to be brought to us,
And through his dream was each one apprehensive;

And I heard locking up the under door
Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word
I gazed into the faces of my sons.

I wept not, I within so turned to stone;
They wept; and darling little Anselm mine
Said: 'Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?'

Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made
All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter,
Until another sun rose on the world.

As now a little glimmer made its way
Into the dolorous prison, and I saw
Upon four faces my own very aspect,

Both of my hands in agony I bit;
And, thinking that I did it from desire
Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,

And said they: 'Father, much less pain 'twill give us
If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us
With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.'

I calmed me then, not to make them more sad.
That day we all were silent, and the next.
Ah! obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open?

When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo
Threw himself down outstretched before my feet,
Saying, 'My father, why dost thou not help me?'

And there he died; and, as thou seest me,
I saw the three fall, one by one, between
The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,

Already blind, to groping over each,
And three days called them after they were dead;
Then hunger did what sorrow could not do."

When he had said this, with his eyes distorted,
The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth,
Which, as a dog's, upon the bone were strong.

Ah! Pisa, thou opprobrium of the people
Of the fair land there where the 'Si' doth sound,
Since slow to punish thee thy neighbours are,

Let the Capraia and Gorgona move,
And make a hedge across the mouth of Arno
That every person in thee it may drown!

For if Count Ugolino had the fame
Of having in thy castles thee betrayed,
Thou shouldst not on such cross have put his sons.

Guiltless of any crime, thou modern Thebes!
Their youth made Uguccione and Brigata,
And the other two my song doth name above!

We passed still farther onward, where the ice
Another people ruggedly enswathes,
Not downward turned, but all of them reversed.

Weeping itself there does not let them weep,
And grief that finds a barrier in the eyes
Turns itself inward to increase the anguish;

Because the earliest tears a cluster form,
And, in the manner of a crystal visor,
Fill all the cup beneath the eyebrow full.

And notwithstanding that, as in a callus,
Because of cold all sensibility
Its station had abandoned in my face,

Still it appeared to me I felt some wind;
Whence I: "My Master, who sets this in motion?
Is not below here every vapour quenched?"

Whence he to me: "Full soon shalt thou be where
Thine eye shall answer make to thee of this,
Seeing the cause which raineth down the blast."

And one of the wretches of the frozen crust
Cried out to us: "O souls so merciless
That the last post is given unto you,

Lift from mine eyes the rigid veils, that I
May vent the sorrow which impregns my heart
A little, e'er the weeping recongeal."

Whence I to him: "If thou wouldst have me help thee
Say who thou wast; and if I free thee not,
May I go to the bottom of the ice."

Then he replied: "I am Friar Alberigo;
He am I of the fruit of the bad garden,
Who here a date am getting for my fig."

"O," said I to him, "now art thou, too, dead?"
And he to me: "How may my body fare
Up in the world, no knowledge I possess.

Such an advantage has this Ptolomaea,
That oftentimes the soul descendeth here
Sooner than Atropos in motion sets it.

And, that thou mayest more willingly remove
From off my countenance these glassy tears,
Know that as soon as any soul betrays

As I have done, his body by a demon
Is taken from him, who thereafter rules it,
Until his time has wholly been revolved.

Itself down rushes into such a cistern;
And still perchance above appears the body
Of yonder shade, that winters here behind me.

This thou shouldst know, if thou hast just come down;
It is Ser Branca d' Oria, and many years
Have passed away since he was thus locked up."

"I think," said I to him, "thou dost deceive me;
For Branca d' Oria is not dead as yet,
And eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes."

"In moat above," said he, "of Malebranche,
There where is boiling the tenacious pitch,
As yet had Michel Zanche not arrived,

When this one left a devil in his stead
In his own body and one near of kin,
Who made together with him the betrayal.

But hitherward stretch out thy hand forthwith,
Open mine eyes;"--and open them I did not,
And to be rude to him was courtesy.

Ah, Genoese! ye men at variance
With every virtue, full of every vice
Wherefore are ye not scattered from the world?

For with the vilest spirit of Romagna
I found of you one such, who for his deeds
In soul already in Cocytus bathes,

And still above in body seems alive!

Inferno: Canto XXXIV

"'Vexilla Regis prodeunt Inferni'
Towards us; therefore look in front of thee,"
My Master said, "if thou discernest him."

As, when there breathes a heavy fog, or when
Our hemisphere is darkening into night,
Appears far off a mill the wind is turning,

Methought that such a building then I saw;
And, for the wind, I drew myself behind
My Guide, because there was no other shelter.

Now was I, and with fear in verse I put it,
There where the shades were wholly covered up,
And glimmered through like unto straws in glass.

Some prone are lying, others stand erect,
This with the head, and that one with the soles;
Another, bow-like, face to feet inverts.

When in advance so far we had proceeded,
That it my Master pleased to show to me
The creature who once had the beauteous semblance,

He from before me moved and made me stop,
Saying: "Behold Dis, and behold the place
Where thou with fortitude must arm thyself."

How frozen I became and powerless then,
Ask it not, Reader, for I write it not,
Because all language would be insufficient.

I did not die, and I alive remained not;
Think for thyself now, hast thou aught of wit,
What I became, being of both deprived.

The Emperor of the kingdom dolorous
From his mid-breast forth issued from the ice;
And better with a giant I compare

Than do the giants with those arms of his;
Consider now how great must be that whole,
Which unto such a part conforms itself.

Were he as fair once, as he now is foul,
And lifted up his brow against his Maker,
Well may proceed from him all tribulation.

O, what a marvel it appeared to me,
When I beheld three faces on his head!
The one in front, and that vermilion was;

Two were the others, that were joined with this
Above the middle part of either shoulder,
And they were joined together at the crest;

And the right-hand one seemed 'twixt white and yellow;
The left was such to look upon as those
Who come from where the Nile falls valley-ward.

Underneath each came forth two mighty wings,
Such as befitting were so great a bird;
Sails of the sea I never saw so large.

No feathers had they, but as of a bat
Their fashion was; and he was waving them,
So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom.

Thereby Cocytus wholly was congealed.
With six eyes did he weep, and down three chins
Trickled the tear-drops and the bloody drivel.

At every mouth he with his teeth was crunching
A sinner, in the manner of a brake,
So that he three of them tormented thus.

To him in front the biting was as naught
Unto the clawing, for sometimes the spine
Utterly stripped of all the skin remained.

"That soul up there which has the greatest pain,"
The Master said, "is Judas Iscariot;
With head inside, he plies his legs without.

Of the two others, who head downward are,
The one who hangs from the black jowl is Brutus;
See how he writhes himself, and speaks no word.

And the other, who so stalwart seems, is Cassius.
But night is reascending, and 'tis time
That we depart, for we have seen the whole."

As seemed him good, I clasped him round the neck,
And he the vantage seized of time and place,
And when the wings were opened wide apart,

He laid fast hold upon the shaggy sides;
From fell to fell descended downward then
Between the thick hair and the frozen crust.

When we were come to where the thigh revolves
Exactly on the thickness of the haunch,
The Guide, with labour and with hard-drawn breath,

Turned round his head where he had had his legs,
And grappled to the hair, as one who mounts,
So that to Hell I thought we were returning.

"Keep fast thy hold, for by such stairs as these,"
The Master said, panting as one fatigued,
"Must we perforce depart from so much evil."

Then through the opening of a rock he issued,
And down upon the margin seated me;
Then tow'rds me he outstretched his wary step.

I lifted up mine eyes and thought to see
Lucifer in the same way I had left him;
And I beheld him upward hold his legs.

And if I then became disquieted,
Let stolid people think who do not see
What the point is beyond which I had passed.

"Rise up," the Master said, "upon thy feet;
The way is long, and difficult the road,
And now the sun to middle-tierce returns."

It was not any palace corridor
There where we were, but dungeon natural,
With floor uneven and unease of light.

"Ere from the abyss I tear myself away,
My Master," said I when I had arisen,
"To draw me from an error speak a little;

Where is the ice? and how is this one fixed
Thus upside down? and how in such short time
From eve to morn has the sun made his transit?"

And he to me: "Thou still imaginest
Thou art beyond the centre, where I grasped
The hair of the fell worm, who mines the world.

That side thou wast, so long as I descended;
When round I turned me, thou didst pass the point
To which things heavy draw from every side,

And now beneath the hemisphere art come
Opposite that which overhangs the vast
Dry-land, and 'neath whose cope was put to death

The Man who without sin was born and lived.
Thou hast thy feet upon the little sphere
Which makes the other face of the Judecca.

Here it is morn when it is evening there;
And he who with his hair a stairway made us
Still fixed remaineth as he was before.

Upon this side he fell down out of heaven;
And all the land, that whilom here emerged,
For fear of him made of the sea a veil,

And came to our hemisphere; and peradventure
To flee from him, what on this side appears
Left the place vacant here, and back recoiled."

A place there is below, from Beelzebub
As far receding as the tomb extends,
Which not by sight is known, but by the sound

Of a small rivulet, that there descendeth
Through chasm within the stone, which it has gnawed
With course that winds about and slightly falls.

The Guide and I into that hidden road
Now entered, to return to the bright world;
And without care of having any rest

We mounted up, he first and I the second,
Till I beheld through a round aperture
Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;

Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.

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