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One drop of water now, alas! I crave.
The rills, that glitter down the grassy slopes
Of Casentino,' making fresh and soft
The banks whereby they glide to Arno's stream,
Stand ever in my view; and not in vain;
For more the pictured semblance dries me up,
Much more than the disease, which makes the flesh
Desert these shrivel'd cheeks. So from the place,
Where I transgress'd, stern justice urging me,
Takes means to quicken more my. laboring sighs.
There is Romena, where I falsified
The metal with the Baptist's form imprest,
For which on earth I left my body burnt.
But if I here might see the sorrowing soul
Of Guido, Alessandro, or their brother,
For Branda's limpid springo I would not change
The welcome sight. One is e'en now within,
If truly the mad spirits tell, that round
Are wandering. But wherein besteads me that?
My limbs are fetter'd. Were I but so light,
That I each hundred years might move one inch,
I had set forth already on this path,
Seeking him out amidst the shapeless crew,
Although eleven miles it wind, not less
Than half of one across. They brought me down
Among this tribe; induced by them, I stamp'd
The florens with three carats of alloy."
“Who are that abject pair," I next inquired,
“ That closely bounding thee upon thy right
Lie smoking, like a hand in winter steep'd
In the chill stream?”—“ When to this gulf I droppid,"
He answer'd, “here I found them; since that hour
They have not turn'd, nor ever shall, I ween,
Till time hath run his course. One is that dame,
The false accusero of the Hebrew youth;
Sinon the other, that false Greek from Troy.
Sharp fever drains the reeky moistness out,
In such a cloud upsteam'd.” When that he heard,
One, gallid perchance to be so darkly named,
With clench'd hand smote him on the braced paunch,
That like a drum resounded: but forthwith
Adamo smote him on the face, the blow
Returning with his arm, that seem'd as hard.
“ Though my o'erweighty limbs have ta’en from me
The power to move," said he, “I have an arm
At liberty for such employ.” To whom
Was answer'd: “When thou wentest to the fire,
Thou hadst it not so ready at command;
Then readier when it coin'd the impostor gold.”
And thus the dropsied: “Ay, now speak'st thou true:
But there thou gavest not such true testimony,
When thou wast question'd of the truth, at Troy."
“If I spake false, thou falsely stamp'dst the coin," Said Sinon; "I am here for but one fault, And thou for more than any imp beside.”
“Remember," he replied, “ O perjured one! The horse remember, that did teem with death; And all the world be witness to thy guilt.”
“To thine," return’d the Greek, “ witness the thirst
Whence thy tongue cracks, witness the fluid mound
Rear'd by thy belly up before thine eyes,
A mass corrupt.” To whom the coiner thus:
“ Thy mouth gapes wide as ever to let pass
Its evil saying. Me if thirst assails,
Yet I am stuft with moisture. Thou art parch’d:
Pains rack thy head: no urging wouldst thou need
To make thee lap Narcissus' mirror up.”
I was all fix'd to listen, when my guide
Admonish'd: “Now beware. A little more,
And I do quarrel with thee.” I perceived
How angrily he spake, and toward him turn'd
With shame so poignant, as remember'd yet
Confounds me. As a man that dreams of harm
Befallen him, dreaming wishes it a dream,
And that which is, desires as if it were not;
Such then was I, who, wanting power to speak,
Wish’d to excuse myself, and all the while
Excused me, though unweeting that I did.
“More grievous fault than thine has been, less shame,”
My master cried, “might expiate. Therefore cast
All sorrow from thy soul; and if again
Chance bring thee, where like conference is held,
Think I am ever at thy side. To hear
Such wrangling is a joy for vulgar minds.”
ARGUMENT.-The Poets, following the sound of a loud horn, are led by it to the ninth circle, in which there are four rounds, one enclosed within the other, and containing as many sorts of traitors; but the present Canto shows only that the circle is encompassed with Giants, one of whom, Antaeus, takes them both in his arms and places them at the bottom of the circle.
HE very tongue whose keen reproof before
Had wounded me, that either cheek was stain'd,
Now minister'd my cure. So have I heard,
Achilles' and his father's javelin caused
Pain first, and then the boon of health restored.
Turning our back upon the vale of woe,
We cross'd the encircled mound in silence. There
Was less than day and less than night, that far
Mine eye advanced not: but I heard a horn
Sounded so loud, the peal it rang had made
The thunder feeble. Following its course
The adverse way, my strained eyes were bent
On that one spot. So terrible a blast
Orlando" blew not, when that dismal rout
O'erthrew the host of Charlemain, and quench'd
His saintly warfare. Thitherward not long
My head was raised, when many a lofty tower
Methought I spied. “Master,” said I, “what land
* “When Charlemain with all his from the giant Jatmund, and which,
peerage fell at Fontarabia.” as Turpin and the Islandic bards reMilton, “Paradise Lost,” b. i. 586. port, was endued with magical See Warton’s “Hist, of Eng. Poet- power, and might be heard at the ry,” vol. i. sect. iii. p. 132. “This distance of twenty miles.” See
is the horn which Orlando won the Paradise, Canto xviii. 5—VOL. xx HC
Is this?” He answer'd straight: “Too long a space
Of intervening darkness has thine eye
To traverse: thou hast therefore widely err'd
In thy imagining. Thither arrived
Thou well shalt see, how distance can delude
The sense. A little therefore urge thee on.”
Then tenderly he caught me by the hand;
“ Yet know," said he, “ere farther we advance,
That it less strange may seem, these are not towers,
But giants. In the pit they stand immersed,
Each from his navel downward, round the bank.”
As when a fog disperseth gradually,
Our vision traces what the mist involves
Condensed in air; so piercing through the gross
And gloomy atmosphere, as more and more
We near'd toward the brink, mine error fled
And fear came o'er me. As with circling round
Of turrets, Montereggion crowns his walls;
E’en thus the shore, encompassing the abyss,
Was turreted with giants, half their length
Uprearing, horrible, whom Jove from Heaven
Yet threatens, when his muttering thunder rolls.
Of one already I descried the face,
Shoulders, and breast, and of the belly huge
Great part, and both arms down along his ribs.
All-teeming Nature, when her plastic hand
Left framing of these monsters, did display
Past doubt her wisdom, taking from mad War
Such slaves to do his bidding; and if she
Repent her not of the elephant and whale,
Who ponders well confesses her therein
Wiser and more discreet; for when brute force
And evil will are back'd with subtlety,
Resistance none avails. His visage seem'd
In length and bulk, as doth the pine that tops ? A castle near Siena.
Saint Peter's Roman fane; and the other bones
Of like proportion, so that from above
The bank, which girdled him below, such height
Arose his stature, that three Friezelanders
Had striven in vain to reach but to his hair.
Full thirty ample palms was he exposed
Downward from whence a man his garment loops.
“Raphel“ baï ameth, sabì almì: "
So shouted his fierce lips, which sweeter hymns
Became not; and my guide address'd him thus:
“O senseless spirit! let thy horn for thee
Interpret: therewith vent thy rage, if rage
Or other passion wring thee. Search thy neck,
There shalt thou find the belt that binds it on.
Spirit confused ! lo, on thy mighty breast
Where hangs the baldrick !” Then to me he spake:
“He doth accuse himself. Nimrod is this,
Through whose ill counsel in the world no more
One tongue prevails. But pass we on, nor waste
Our words; for so each language is to him,
As his to others, understood by none."
Then to the leftward turning sped we forth,
And at a sling's throw found another shade.
Far fiercer and more huge. I cannot say
What master hand had girt him; but he held
Behind the right arm fetter'd, and before,
The other, with a chain, that fasten'd him
From the neck down; and five times round his form
Apparent met the wreathed links. “This proud one
Would of his strength against almighty Jove
Make trial,” said my guide: “whence he is thus
Requited: Ephialtes him they call.
Great was his prowess, when the giants brought
Fear on the gods: those arms, which then he plied,
Now moves he never.” Forthwith I return'd:
“Fain would I, if 't were possible, mine eyes,
Of Briareus immeasurable, gain'd
Experience next.” He answered: “Thou shalt see
* Unmeaning sounds, to express the confusion at the building of Babel.