I know not what it said, though o'er the back

I now was of the arch that passes there;

But he seemed moved to anger who was speaking. I was bent downward, but my living eyes : 70

Could not attain the bottom, for the dark;

Wherefore I: “Master, see that thou arrive At the next round, and let us descend the wall ;

For as from hence I hear and understand not,

So I look down and nothing I distinguish.” 75 “Other response,” he said, “I make thee not,

Except the doing; for the modest asking

Ought to be followed by the deed in silence.” We from the bridge descended at its head,

Where it connects itself with the eighth bank, 80

And then was manifest to me the Bolgia; And I beheld therein a terrible throng

Of serpents, and of such a monstrous kind,

That the remembrance still congeals my blood. Let Lybia boast no longer with her sand;

For if Chelydri, Jaculi, and Phareæ

She breeds, with Cenchri and with Amphisbæna,
Neither so many plagues nor so malignant

E’er showed she with all Ethiopia,
Nor with whatever on the Red Sea is !

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Among this cruel and most dismal throng

People were running naked and affrighted,

Without the hope of hole or heliotrope. They had their hands with serpents bound behind them; These riveted upon their reins the tail

95 And head, and were in front of them entwined. And lo! at one who was upon our side

There darted forth a serpent, which transfixed him

There where the neck is knotted to the shoulders. Nor 0 so quickly e'er, nor I was written,

As he took fire, and burned; and ashes wholly

Behoved it that in falling he became.
And when he on the ground was thus destroyed,

The ashes drew together, and of themselves

Into himself they instantly returned. Even thus by the great sages 't is confessed

The phænix dies, and then is born again,

When it approaches its five-hundredth year ; On herb or grain it feeds not in its life,

But only on tears of incense and amomum,

And nard and myrrh are its last winding-sheet.
And as he is who falls, and knows not how,

By force of demons who to earth down drag him,
Or other oppilation that binds man,


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When he arises and around him looks,

Wholly bewildered by the mighty anguish

Which he has suffered, and in looking sighs ; Such was that sinner after he had risen.

Justice of God! O how severe it is,

That blows like these in vengeance poureth down ! 120 The Guide thereafter asked him who he was ;

Whence he replied: “I rained from Tuscany

A short time since into this cruel gorge. A bestial life, and not a human, pleased me,

Even as the mule I was; I’m Vanni Fucci,

Beast, and Pistoia was my worthy den.” And I unto the Guide: “Tell him to stir not,

And ask what crime has thrust him here below,

For once a man of blood and wrath I saw him.” And the sinner, who had heard, dissembled not, 130

But unto me directed mind and face,

And with a melancholy shame was painted. Then said: “It pains me more that thou hast caught me

Amid this misery where thou seest me,

Than when I from the other life was taken. 135 What thou demandest I cannot deny ;

So low am I put down because I robbed
The sacristy of the fair ornaments,


And falsely once 't was laid upon another ;

But that thou mayst not such a sight enjoy,

If thou shalt e'er be out of the dark places, Thine ears to my announcement ope and hear :

Pistoia first of Neri groweth meagre;

Then Florence doth renew her men and manners; Mars draws a vapor up from Val di Magra, . 145

Which is with turbid clouds enveloped round,

And with impetuous and bitter tempest Over Campo Picen shall be the battle ;

When it shall suddenly rend the mist asunder,

So that each Bianco shall thereby be smitten. And this I've said that it may give thee pain.”




AT the conclusion of his words, the thief

Lifted his hands aloft with both the figs,

Crying: “Take that, God, for at thee I aim them.” From that time forth the serpents were my friends ; For one entwined itself about his neck

5 As if it said: “I will not thou speak more”; And round his arms another, and rebound him,

Clinching itself together so in front,

That with them he could not a motion make. Pistoia, ah, Pistoia ! why resolve not

To burn thyself to ashes and so perish,

Since in ill-doing thou thy seed excellest ? Through all the sombre circles of this Hell,

Spirit I saw not against God so proud,

Not he who fell at Thebes down from the walls! 15 He fled away, and spake no further word;

And I beheld a Centaur full of rage
Come crying out: “Where is, where is the scoffer ?”


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