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When some among them I had recognised,

I looked, and I beheld the shade of him

Who made through cowardice the great refusal. Forthwith I comprehended, and was certain,

That this the sect was of the caitiff wretches

Hateful to God and to his enemies. These miscreants, who never were alive,

Were naked, and were stung exceedingly

By gadflies and by hornets that were there. These did their faces irrigate with blood,

Which, with their tears commingled, at their feet

By the disgusting worms was gathered up. And when to gazing farther I betook me.

People I saw on a great river's pank;

Whence said I : “ Master, now vouchsafe to me, That I may know who these are, and what law

Makes them appear so ready to pass over,

As I discern athwart the dusky light.”
And he to me: “ These things sliall all be known

To thee, as soon as we our footsteps stay

Upon the dismal shore of Acheron.”
Then with mine eyes ashamed and downward cast,

Fearing my words might irksome be to him,

From speech refrained I till we reached the river. And lo! towards us coming in a boat

An old man, hoary with the hair of eld,

Crying: “Woe unto you, ye souls depraved ! Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens ;

I come to lead you to the other shore,

To the eternal shades in heat and frost. And thou, that yonder standest, living soul,

Withdraw thee from these people, who are dead !"

But when he saw that I did not withdraw, He said : “ By other ways, by other ports

Thou to the shore shalt come, not here, for passage ;

A lighter vessel needs must carry thee.”
And unto him the Guide: “Vex thee not, Charon;

It is so willed there where is power to do

That which is willed; and farther question not.” Thereat were quieted the fleecy cheeks

Of him the ferryman of the livid fen,

Who round about his eyes had wheels of flame.
But all those souls who weary were and naked

Their colour changed and gnashed their teeth together,
As soon as they had heard those cruel words.

God they blasphemed and their progenitors,

The human race, the place, the time, the seed

Of their engendering and of their birth! Thereafter all together they drew back,

Bitterly weeping, to the accursed shore,

Which waiteth every man who fears not God. Charon the demon, with the eyes of glede,

Beckoning to them, collects them all together,

Beats with his oar whoever lags behind. As in the autumn-time the leaves fall off,

First one and then another, till the branch

Unto the earth surrenders all its spoils ; In similar wise the evil seed of Adam

Throw themselves from that margin one by one,

At signals, as a bird unto its lure. So they depart across the dusky wave,

And ere upon the other side they land,

Again on this side a new troop assembles. “My son,” the courteous Master said to me,

“ All those who perish in the wrath of God

Here meet together out of every land; And ready are they to pass o'er the river,

Because celestial Justice spurs them on,

So that their fear is turned into desire. This way there never passes a good sou. ,

And hence if Charon doth complain of thee,

Well mayst thou know now what his speech imports." This being finished, all the dusk champaign

Trembled so violently, that of that terror

The recollection bathes me still with sweat. The land of tears gave forth a blast of wind,

And fulminated a verrnilion light,

Which overmastered in me every sense, And as a man whom sleep hath seized I fell.


EROKE the deep lethargy within my head

A heavy thunder, so that I upstarted,

Like to a person who by force is wakened ;
And round about I moved my rested eyes,

Uprisen erect, and steadfastly I gazed,
To recognise the place wherein I was.

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True is it, that upon the verge I found me

Of the abysmal valley dolorous,

That gathers thunder of infinite ululations, Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,

So that by fixing on its depths my sight

Nothing whatever I discerned therein. “Let us descend now into the blind world,”

Began the Poet, pallid utterly ;

“I will be first, and thou shalt second be.” And I, who of his colour was aware,

Said: “How shall I come, if thou art afraid,

Who'rt wont to be a comfort to my fears ?” And he to me: “ The anguish of the people

Who are below here in my face depicts

That pity which for terror thou hast taken. Let us go on, for the long way impels us.”

Thus he went in, and thus he made me enter

The foremost circle that surrounds the abyss. There, as it seemed to me from listening,

Were lamentations none, but only sighs,

That tremble made the everlasting air. And this arose from sorrow without torment,

Which the crowds had, that many were and great,

Of infants and of women and of men.
To me the Master good : “ Thou dost not ask

What spirits these, which thou beholdest, are?
Now will I have thee know, ere thou go

farther, That they sinned not; and if they merit had,

'Tis not enough, because they had not baptism

Which is the portal of the Faith thou holdest; And if they were before Christianity,

In the right manner they adored not God;

And among such as these am I myself. For such defects, and not for other guilt,

Lost are we, and are only so far punished,

That without hope we live on in desire." Great grief seized on my heart when this I heard,

Because some people of much worthiness

I knew, who in that Limbo were suspended. "Tell me, my Master, tell me, thou my Lord,”

Began I, with desire of being certain

Of that Faith which o'ercometh every error, “Came any one by his own merit hence,

Or by another's, who was blessed thereafter ?”
And he, who understood my covert speech,


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Replied: "I was a novice in this state,

When I saw hither come a Mighty One,

With sign of victory incoronate.
Hence he drew forth the shade of the First Parent,

And that of his son Abel, and of Noah,

Of Moses the lawgiver, and the obedient
Abraham, patriarch, and David, king,

Israel with his father and his children,

And Rachel, for whose sake he did so much,
And others many, and he made them blessed ;

And thou must know, that earlier than these

Never were any human spirits saved.”
We ceased not to advance because he spake,

But still were passing onward through the forest,

The forest, say I, of thick-crowded ghosts.
far as yet our way


This side the summit, when I saw a fire

That overcame a hemisphere of darkness.
We were a little distant from it still,

But not so far that I in part discerned not

That honourable people held that place.
“O thou who honourest every art and science,

Who may these be, which such great honour have,

That from the fashion of the rest it parts them ?"
And he to me : “ The honourable name,

That sounds of them above there in thy life,

Wins grace in Heaven, that so advances them.”
In the mean time a voice was heard by me:

“All honour be to the pre-eminent l'oet;

His shade returns again, that was departed.”
After the voice had ceased and quiet was,

Four mighty shades I saw approaching us ;

Semblance had they nor sorrowful nor glad.
To say to me began my gracious Master :

“ Him with that falchion in his hand behold,

Who comes before the three, even as their lord.
That one is Homer, Poet sovereign ;

He who comes next is Horace, the satirist;

The third is Ovid, and the last is Lucan.
Because to each of these with me applies

The name that solitary voice proclaimed,

They do me honour, and in that do well."
Thus I beheld assemble the fair school

Of that lord of the song pre-eminent,
Who o'er the others like an eagle soars.

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When they together had discoursed somewhat,

They turned to me with signs of salutation,

And on beholding this, my Master smiled ;
And more of honour still, much more, they did me,

In that they made me one of their own band ;

So that the sixth was I, 'mid so much wit. Thus we went on as far as to the light,

Things saying 'tis becoming to keep silent,

As was the saying of them where I was. Me came unto a noble castle's foot,

Seven times encompassed with lofty walls,

Defended round by a fair rivulet ;
This we passed over even as firm ground;

Through portals seven I entered with these Sages;

We came into a meadow of fresh verdure. People were there with solemn eyes and slow,

Of great authority in their countenance ;

They spake but seldom, and with gentle voices. Thus we withdrew ourselves upon one side

Into an opening luminous and lofty,

So that they all of them were visible. There opposite, upon the green enamel,

Were pointed out to me the mighty spirits,

Whom to have seen I feel myself exalted. I saw Electra with companions many,

'Mongst whom I knew both Hector and Æneas,

Cæsar in armour with gersalcon eyes ; I saw Camilla and Penthesilea

On the other side, and saw the King Latinus,

Who with Lavinia his daughter sat;
I saw that Brutus who drove Tarquin forth,

Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia,

And saw alone, apart, the Saladin. When I had lifted up my brows a little,

The Master I beheld of those who know,

Sit with his philosophic family.

gaze upon him, and all do him honour.
There I beheld both Socrates and Plato,

Who nearer him before the others stand;
Den:ocritus, who puts the world on chance,

Diogenes, Anaxagoras, and Thales,

Zeno, Empedocles, and Heraclitus;
Of qualities I saw the good collector,

Hight Dioscorides; and Orpheus saw I,
Tully and Livy, and moral Seneca,



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