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He said: “By other ways, by other ports

Thou to the shore shalt come, not here, for passage ;

A lighter vessel needs must carry thee.”
And unto him the Guide : “Vex thee not, Charon;

It is so willed there where is power to do

That which is willed; and farther question not.” Thereat were quieted the fleecy cheeks

Of him the ferryman of the livid fen,

Who round about his eyes had wheels of fame. But all those souls who weary were and naked 100

Their color changed and gnashed their teeth together,

As soon as they had heard those cruel words. God they blasphemed and their progenitors,

The human race, the place, the time, the seed

Of their engendering and of their birth! Thereafter all together they drew back,

Bitterly weeping, to the accursed shore,

Which waiteth every man who fears not God. Charon the demon, with the eyes of glede,

Beckoning to them, collects them all together, 110

Beats with his oar whoever lags behind.
As in the autumn-time the leaves fall off,

First one and then another, till the branch
Unto the earth surrenders all its spoils ;


In similar wise the evil seed of Adam

Throw themselves from that margin one by one,

At signals, as a bird unto its lure. So they depart across the dusky wave,

And ere upon the other side they land,

Again on this side a new troop assembles. “My son,” the courteous Master said to me,

“All those who perish in the wrath of God

Here meet together out of every land; And ready are they to pass o'er the river,

Because celestial Justice spurs them on,

So that their fear is turned into desire. This way there never passes a good soul;

And hence if Charon doth complain of thee,

Well mayst thou know now what his speech imports.” This being finished, all the dusk champaign

130 Trembled so violently, that of that terror

The recollection bathes me still with sweat. The land of tears gave forth a blast of wind,

And fulminated a vermilion light,

Which overmastered in me every sense, And as a man whom sleep hath seized I fell.



BROKE the deep lethargy within my head

A heavy thunder, so that I upstarted,

Like to a person who by force is wakened; And round about I moved my rested eyes,

Uprisen erect, and steadfastly I gazed,

To recognize the place wherein I was. True is it, that upon the verge I found me

Of the abysmal valley dolorous,

That gathers thunder of infinite ululations. Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,

So that by fixing on its depths my sight

Nothing whatever I discerned therein. “ Let us descend now into the blind world,”

Began the Poet, pallid utterly;

“I will be first, and thou shalt second be.” And I, who of his color was aware,

Said: “How shall I come, if thou art afraid,
Who'rt wont to be a comfort to my fears ?”


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