« PreviousContinue »
But tell me, those within the fat lagoon,
Whom the wind drives, and whom the rain doth beat,
And who encounter with such bitter tongues,
Not punished, if God has them in his wrath,
And if he has not, wherefore in such fashion ?
Thine intellect from that which it is wont?
Or, sooth, thy mind where is it elsewhere looking ?
With which thine Ethics thoroughly discusses
The dispositions three, that Heaven abides not,-
Bestiality ? and how Incontinence
Less God offendeth, and less blame attracts ?
And to thy mind recallest who they are
That up outside are undergoing penance,
They separated are, and why less wroth
Justice divine doth smite them with its hammer.” “O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,
Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,
That doubting pleases me no less than knowing !
“There where thou sayest that usury offends
Goodness divine, and disengage the knot.” • Philosophy," he said, “to him who heeds it,
Noteth, not only in one place alone,
After what manner Nature takes her course
And if thy Physics carefully thou notest,
After not many pages shalt thou find,
Follows, as the disciple doth the master;
So that your art is, as it were, God's grandchild.
Genesis at the beginning, it behoves
Mankind to gain their life and to advance ;
Nature herself and in her follower
Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.
For quivering are the Fishes on the horizon,
And the Wain wholly over Caurus lies,
The place where to descend the bank we came
Was alpine, and from what was there, moreover,
Of such a kind that every eye would shun it.
Smote, on this side of Trent, the Adige,
Either by earthquake or by failing stay,
Unto the plain the cliff is shattered so,
Some path 'twould give to him who was above;
And on the border of the broken chasm
The infamy of Crete was stretched along,
And when he us beheld, he bit himself,
Even as one whom anger racks within.
Thou think'st that here may be the Duke of Athens,
Who in the world above brought death to thee?
Instructed by thy sister, but he comes
In order to behold your punishments.”
In which he has received the mortal' blow,
Who cannot walk, but staggers here and there,
And he, the wary, cried : “Run to the passage ;
While he is wroth, 'tis well thou shouldst descerid."
Of stones, which oftentimes did move themselves
Beneath my feet, from the unwonted burden.
Perhaps upon this ruin, which is guarded
By that brute anger which just now I quenched,
I here descended to the nether Hell,
This precipice had not yet fallen down.
Before His coming who the mighty spoil
Upon all sides the deep and loathsome valley
Trembled so, that I thought the Universe
Was thrilled with love, by which there are who think The world ofttimes converted into chaos;
And at that moment this primeval crag
Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow, But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near
The river of blood, within which boiling is
Whoe'er by violence doth injure others.” O blind cupidity, O wrath insane,
That spurs us onward so in our short life,
And in the eternal then so badly steeps us ! I saw an ample moat bent like a bow,
As one which all the plain encompasses,
Conformable to what my Guide had said. And between this and the embankment's foot
Centaurs in file were running, armed with arrows,
As in the world they used the chase to follow. Beholding us descend, each one stood still,
And from the squadron three detached themselves;
With bows and arrows in advance selected ; And from afar one cried : “Unto what torment
Come ye, who down the hillside are descending ?
Tell us from there; if not, I draw the bow.” My Master said : “Our answer will we make
To Chiron, near you there ; in evil hour,
That will of thine was evermore so hasty."
Who perished for the lovely Dejanira,
And for himself, himself did vengeance take. And he in the midst, who at his breast is gazing,
Is the great Chiron, who brought up Achilles ;
That other Pholus is, who was so wrathful. Thousands and thousands go about the moat
Shooting with shafts whatever soul emerges
Out of the blood, more than his crime allots.” Near we approached unto those monsters fleet;
Chiron an arrow took, and with the notch
Backward upon his jaws he put his beard. After he had uncovered his great mouth,
He said to his companions : "Are you ware
That he behind moveth whate'er he touches?
And my good Guide, who now was at his breast,
Replied : “Indeed he lives, and thus alone
Me it behoves to show him the dark valley ;
Necessity, and not delight, impels us. Seme one withdrew from singing Halleluja,
Who unto me committed this new office;
No thief is he, nor I a thievish spirit.
My steps along this savage thoroughfare,
Give us some one of thine, to be with us, And who may show us where to pass the ford,
And who may carry this one on his back;
For 'tis no spirit that can walk the air.” Upon his right breast Chiron wheeled about,
And said to Nessus: “ Turn and do thou guide thein,
And warn aside, if other band may meet you." We with our faithful escort onward moved,
Along the brink of the vermilion boiling,
Wherein the boiled were uttering loud laments. Teople I saw within up to the eyebrows,
And the great Centaur said: “Tyrants are these,
Who dealt in bloodshed and in pillaging. Here they lament their pitiless mischiefs; here
Is Alexander, and fierce Dionysius
Who upon Sicily brought dolorous years. That forehead there which has the hair so black
Is Azzolin ; and the other who is blond,
Obizzo is of Esti, who, in truth,
Then turned I to the Poet; and he said,
“Now he be first to thee, and second I.” A little farther on the Centaur stopped
Above a folk, who far down as the throat
Seemed from that boiling stream to issue forth. A shade he showed us on one side alone,
Saying: “He cleft asunder in God's bosom
The heart that still upon the Thames is honoured." Then people saw I, who from out the river
Lifted their heads and also all the chest;
And many among these I recognised. Thus ever more and more grew shallower
That blood, so that the feet alone it covered;
And there across the moat our passage was. " Even as thou here upon this side beholdest
The boiling stream, that aye diminishes,"
That on this other more and more declines
Its bed, until it reunites itself
Where it behoveth tyranny to groan. Justice divine, upon this side, is goading
That Attila, who was a scourge on earth,
And Pyrrhus, and Sextus ; and for ever milks The tears which with the boiling it unseals
In Rinier da Corneto and Rinier Pazzo,
Who made upon the highways so much war." Then back he turned, and passed again the ford.
Nor yet had Nessus reached the other side,
When we had put ourselves within a wood,
That was not marked by any path whatever. Not foliage green, but of a dusky colour,
Not branches smooth, but gnarled and intertangled,
Not apple-trees were there, but thorns with poison. Such tangled thickets have not, nor so dense,
Those savage wild beasts, that in hatred hold
'Twixt Cecina and Corneto the tilled places. There do the hideous Harpies make their nests,
Who chased the Trojans from the Strophades,
With sad announcement of impending doom; Broad wings have they, and necks and faces human,
And feet with claws, and their great bellies fledged ;
They make laments upon the wondrous trees. And the good Master : “ Ere thou enter farther,
Know that thou art within the second round,”
Thus he began to say, “and shalt be, till Thou comest out upon the horrible sand ;
Therefore look well around, and thou shalt see
Things that will credence give unto my speech." I heard on all sides lamentations uttered,
And person none beheld I who might make them,
Whence, utterly bewildered, I stood still. I think he thought that I perhaps might think
So many voices issued through those trunks
From people who concealed themselves from us;
Some little spray from any of these trees,