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Said to me: “This transfixed one, whom thou seest,

Counselled the Pharisees that it was meet

To put one man to torture for the people. Crosswise and naked is he on the path,

As thou perceivest; and he needs must feel,

Whoever passes, first how much he weighs; And in like mode his father-in-law is punished

Within this moat, and the others of the council,

Which for the Jews was a malignant seed.” And thereupon I saw Virgilius marvel

O’er him who was extended on the cross

So vilely in eternal banishment.
Then he directed to the Friar this voice :

“Be not displeased, if granted thee, to tell us

If to the right hand any pass slope down By which we two may issue forth from here,

Without constraining some of the black angels

To come and extricate us from this deep.” Then he made answer : “ Nearer than thou hopest

There is a rock, that forth from the great circle

Proceeds, and crosses all the cruel valleys,
Save that at this 't is broken, and does not bridge it;

You will be able to mount up the ruin,
That sidelong slopes and at the bottom rises.”





The Leader stood awhile with head bowed down ;

Then said : “The business badly he recounted

Who grapples with his hook the sinners yonder.” And the Friar : “Many of the Devil's vices

Once heard I at Bologna, and among them,

That he's a liar and the father of lies.” Thereat my Leader with great strides went on,

Somewhat disturbed with anger in his looks ;

Whence from the heavy-laden I departed After the prints of his beloved feet.

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IN that part of the youthful year wherein

The Sun his locks beneath Aquarius tempers,

And now the nights draw near to half the day, What time the hoar-frost copies on the ground

The outward semblance of her sister white,

But little lasts the temper of her pen, The husbandman, whose forage faileth him,

Rises, and looks, and seeth the champaign

All gleaming white, whereat he beats his flank, Returns in doors, and up and down laments,

Like a poor wretch, who knows not what to do;

Then he returns, and hope revives again, Seeing the world has changed its countenance

In little time, and takes his shepherd's crook,

And forth the little lambs to pasture drives.
Thus did the Master fill me with alarm,

When I beheld his forehead so disturbed,
And to the ailment came as soon the plaster.



as we came


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For as we came unto the ruined bridge,

The Leader turned to me with that sweet look

Which at the mountain's foot I first beheld. His arms he opened, after some advisement

Within himself elected, looking first

Well at the ruin, and laid hold of me. And even as he who acts and meditates,

For aye it seems that he provides beforehand,

So upward lifting me towards the summit Of a huge rock, he scanned another crag,

Saying: “To that one grapple afterwards,

But try first if ’t is such that it will hold thee.” This was no way for one clothed with a cloak;

For hardly we, he light, and I pushed upward,

Were able to ascend from jag to jag. And had it not been, that upon that precinct

Shorter was the ascent than on the other,

He I know not, but I had been dead beat. But because Malebolge tow'rds the mouth

Of the profoundest well is all inclining,

The structure of each valley doth import
That one bank rises and the other sinks.

Still we arrived at length upon the point
Wherefrom the last stone breaks itself asunder.





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The breath was from my lungs so milked away,

When I was up, that I could go no farther,

Nay, I sat down upon my first arrival. “Now it behoves thee thus to put off sloth,”

My Master said ; " for sitting upon down,

Or under quilt, one cometh not to fame, Withouten which whoso his life consumes

Such vestige leaveth of himself on earth,

As smoke in air or in the water foam.
And therefore raise thee up, o'ercome the anguish

With spirit that o'ercometh every battle,

If with its heavy body it sink not.
A longer stairway it behoves thee mount;

'T is not enough from these to have departed;

Let it avail thee, if thou understand me.” Then I uprose, showing myself provided

Better with breath than I did feel myself,

And said: “Go on, for I am strong and bold.” 60 Upward we took our way along the crag,

Which jagged was, and narrow, and difficult,

And more precipitous far than that before.
Speaking I went, not to appear exhausted ;

Whereat a voice from the next moat came forth, 65
Not well adapted to articulate words.

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