[ocr errors]

With the same fury, and the same uproar,

As dogs leap out upon a mendicant,

Who on a sudden begs, where'er he stops, They issued from beneath the little bridge,

And turned against him all their grappling-irons ;

But he cried out : “Be none of you malignant! Before those hooks of yours lay hold of me,

Let one of you step forward, who may hear me,

And then take counsel as to grappling me.” 75 They all cried out: “Let Malacoda go”;

Whereat one started, and the rest stood still,

And he came to him, saying: “What avails it?” “Thinkest thou, Malacoda, to behold me

Advanced into this place,” my Master said, 80

“ Safe hitherto from all your skill of fence, Without the will divine, and fate auspicious ?

Let me go on, for it in Heaven is willed

That I another show this savage road.” Then was his arrogance so humbled in him,

That he let fall his grapnel at his feet,

And to the others said: “Now strike him not.”
And unto me my Guide: “O thou, who sittest

Among the splinters of the bridge crouched down,
Securely now return to me again.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



Wherefore I started and came swiftly to him;

And all the devils forward thrust themselves,

So that I feared they would not keep their compact. And thus beheld I once afraid the soldiers

Who issued under safeguard from Caprona,

Seeing themselves among so many foes. Close did I press myself with all my person

Beside my Leader, and turned not mine eyes

From off their countenance, which was not good. They lowered their rakes, and “Wilt thou have me hit him,”

They said to one another, “on the rump?” 101

And answered: “Yes; see that thou nick him with it.” But the same demon who was holding parley

With my Conductor turned him very quickly,

And said: “Be quiet, be quiet, Scarmiglione”; 105 Then said to us : “ You can no farther go

Forward upon this crag, because is lying

All shattered, at the bottom, the sixth arch. And if it still doth please you to go onward,

Pursue your way along upon this rock;

Near is another crag that yields a path.
Yesterday, five hours later than this hour,

One thousand and two hundred sixty-six
Years were complete, that here the way was broken.


TS were CO

I 20


I send in that direction some of mine

To see if any one doth air himself;

Go ye with them; for they will not be vicious. Step forward Alichino and Calcabrina,”

Began he to cry out, “and thou, Cagnazzo;

And Barbariccia do thou guide the ten. Come forward, Libicocco and Draghignazzo,

And tuskëd Ciriatto and Graffiacane,

And Farfarello and mad Rubicante ; Search ye all round about the boiling pitch ;

Let these be safe as far as the next crag,

That all unbroken passes o’er the dens.” “O me! what is it, Master, that I see?

Pray let us go,” I said, “ without an escort,

If thou knowest how, since for myself I ask none. If thou art as observant as thy wont is,

Dost thou not see that they do gnash their teeth,

And with their brows are threatening woe to us ?” And he to me: “I will not have thee fear;

Let them gnash on, according to their fancy,

Because they do it for those boiling wretches.” 135 Along the left-hand dike they wheeled about ;

But first had each one thrust his tongue between

His teeth towards their leader for a signal; And he had made a trumpet of his rump.




I HAVE erewhile seen horsemen moving camp,

Begin the storming, and their muster make,

And sometimes starting off for their escape; Vaunt-couriers have I seen upon your land,

O Aretines, and foragers go forth,

Tournaments stricken, and the joustings run, Sometimes with trumpets and sometimes with bells,

With kettle-drums, and signals of the castles,

And with our own, and with outlandish things, But never yet with bagpipe so uncouth

Did I see horsemen move, nor infantry,

Nor ship by any sign of land or star.
We went upon our way with the ten demons;

Ah, savage company! but in the church

With saints, and in the tavern with the gluttons! 15 Ever upon the pitch was my intent,

To see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
And of the people who therein were burned.

[ocr errors]


Even as the dolphins, when they make a sign

To mariners by arching of the back,

That they should counsel take to save their vessel, Thus sometimes, to alleviate his pain,

One of the sinners would display his back,

And in less time conceal it than it lightens. As on the brink of water in a ditch

The frogs stand only with their muzzles out,

So that they hide their feet and other bulk, So upon every side the sinners stood;

But ever as Barbariccia near them came,

Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew. 30 I saw, and still my heart doth shudder at it,

One waiting thus, even as it comes to pass

One frog remains, and down another dives; And Graffiacan, who most confronted him,

Grappled him by his tresses smeared with pitch, 35

And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter. I knew, before, the names of all of them,

So had I noted them when they were chosen,

And when they called each other, listened how. “O Rubicante, see that thou do lay

Thy claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,”
Cried all together the accursed ones.


« ElőzőTovább »