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To the dire breath accustom’d, afterward
Regard it not. My master thus; to whom
Answering I spake : “Some compensation find
That the time past not wholly lost.” He then :
“Lo! how my thoughts e’en to thy wishes tend !
My son ! within these rocks,” he thus began,
“ Are three close circles in gradation plac’d,
As these which now thou leav'st. Each one is full
Of spirits accurs’d; but that the sight alone
Hereafter suffice thee, listen how
And for what cause in durance they abide.

“ Of all malicious act abhorr'd in heaven,
The end is injury; and all such end
Either by force or fraud works other's woe
But fraud, because of man peculiar evil,
To God is more displeasing; and beneath
The fraudulent are therefore doom'd to' endure
Severer pang. The violent occupy
All the first circle; and because to force
Three persons are obnoxious, in three rounds
Hach within other sep’rate is it fram’d.
To God, his neighbour, and himself, by man
Force may be offer'd ; to himself I say
And his possessions, as thou soon shalt hear
At full. Death, violent death, and painful wounds
Upon his neighbour he inflicts; and wastes
By devastation, pillage, and the flames,
His substance. Slayers, and each one that smites
In malice, plund'rers, and all robbers, hence
The torment undergo of the first round
In different herds. Man can do violence
To' himself and his own blessings : and for this
He in the second round must aye deplore
With unavailing penitence his crime,
Whoe'er deprives himself of life and light,
In reckless lavishment his talent wastes,
And sorrows there where he shou'd dwell in joy.
To God inay force be offer’d, in the heart
Denying and blaspheming his high power,
And nature with her kindly law contemning.




50 55




And thence the inmost round marks with its seal
Sodom and Cahors, and all such as speak
Contemptuously' of the Godhead in their hearts.

“Fraud, that in every conscience leaves a sting,
May be by man employ'd on one, whose trust
He wins, or on another who withholds
Strict confidence. Seems as the latter way
Broke but the bond of love which Nature makes.
Whence in the second circle have their nest
Dissimulation, witchcraft, flatteries,
Theft, falsehood, simony, all who seduce
To lust, or set their honesty at pawn,
With such vile scum as these. The other way
Forgets both Nature's general love, and that
Which thereto added afterwards gives birth
To special faith. Whence in the lesser circle,
Point of the universe, dread seat of Dis,
The traitor is eternally consum’d.”

I thus: “Instructor, clearly thy discourse
Proceeds, distinguishing the hideous chasm
And its inhabitants with skill exact.
But tell me this : they of the dull, fat pool,
Whom the rain beats, or whom the tempest drives,
Or who with tongues so fierce conflicting meet,
Wherefore within the city fire-illum'd
Are not these punish’d, if God's wrath be on them ?
And if it be not, wherefore in such guise
Are they condemned ?” He answer thus return'd:
“Wherefore in dotage wanders thus thy mind,
Not so accustom'd ? or what other thoughts
Possess it ? Dwell not in thy memory
The words, wherein thy ethic page describes
Three dispositions adverse to Heav'n's will,
Incont'nence, malice, and mad brutishness,
And how incontinence the least offends
God, and least guilt incurs? If well thou note
This judgment, and remember who they are,
Without these walls to vain repentance doom'd,
Thou shalt discern why they apart are plac'd
From these fell spirits, and less wreakful pour's




90 95



Justice divine on them its vengeance down.”

"O Sun! who healest all imperfect sight,
Thou so content'st me, when thou solv’st my doubt,
That ignorance not less than knowledge charms.
Yet somewhat turn thee back," I in these words
Continu’d, “where thou saidst, that usury
Offends celestial Goodness; and this knot
Perplex'd unravel.” He thus made reply:

Philosophy, to an attentive ear,
Clearly points out, not in one part alone,
How imitative nature takes her course
From the celestial mind and from its art :
And where her laws the Stagyrite unfolds,
Not many leaves scann'd o'er, observing well
Thou shalt discover, that your art on her
Obsequious follows, as the learner treads
In his instructor's step, so that your

Deserves the name of second in descent
From God. These two, if thou recall to mind
Creation's holy book, from the beginning
Were the right source of life and excellence
To human kind. But in another path
The usurer walks ; and Nature in herself
And in her follower thus he sets at nought,
Placing elsewhere his hope. But follow now
My steps on forward journey bent; for now
The Pisces play with undulating glance
Along the horizon, and the Wain lies all
O’er the north-west ; and onward there a space
Is our steep passage down the rocky height.”





The place where to descend the precipice
We came, was rough as Alp, and on its verge
Such object lay, as every eye would shun.

As is that ruin, which Adice's stream
On this side Trento struck, should'ring the wave,
Or loos’d by earthquake or for lack of prop;


For from the mountain's summit, whence it mor'd
To the low level, so the headlong rock
Is shiver'd, that some passage it might give
To him who from above would pass; e'en such 10
Into the chasm was that descent: and there
At point of the disparted ridge lay stretch'd
The infamy of Crete, detested brood
Of the feign'd heifer : and at sight of us
It gnaw'd itself, as one with rage distract.

To him my guide exclaim'd : “Perchance thou deem'st
The King of Athens here, who, in the world
Above, thy death contrivd. Monster! avaunt!
He comes not tutor’d by thy sister's art,
But to behold your torments is he come.”

20 Like to a bull, that with impetuous spring Darts, at the moment when the fatal blow Hath struck him, but unable to proceed Plunges on either side; so saw I plunge The Minotaur; whereat the sage exclaim'd :

25 “Run to the passage! while he storms, 't is well That thou descend.” Thus down our road we took Through those dilapidated crags, that oft Mov'd underneath my feet, to weight like theirs Unus'd. I pond'ring went, and thus he spake: 30 “ Perhaps thy thoughts are of this ruin'd steep, Guarded by the brute violence, which I Have vanquish'd now. Know then, that when I erst Hither descended to the nether hell, This rock was not yet fallen. But past doubt (If well I mark) not long ere He arrived, Who carried off from Dis the mighty spoil Of the highest circle, then through all its bounds Such trembling seiz'd the deep concave and foul, I thought the universe was thrill’d with love,

40 Whereby, there are who deem, the world hath oft Been into chaos turn'd: and in that point, Here, and elsewhere, that old rock toppled down. But fix thine eyes beneath : the river of blood Approaches, in the which all those are steep'd, 45 Who have by violence injur’d.” O blind lust!


O foolish wrath! who so dost goad us on
In the brief life, and in the eternal then
Thus miserably o'erwhelm us. I beheld
An ample foss, that in a bow was bent,

As circling all the plain; for so my guide
Had told. Between it and the rampart's base
On trail ran Centaurs, with keen arrows arm’d,
As to the chase they on the earth were wont.

At seeing is descend they each one stood;
And issuing from the troop, three sped with bows
And missile weapons chosen first; of whom
One cried from far : “ Say to what pain ye come
Condemn’d, who down this steep have journied ? Speak
From whence ye stand, or else the bow I draw.” 60

To whom my guide : “Our answer shall be made
To Chiron, there, when nearer him we come.
Ill was thy mind, thus ever quick and rash.”

Then me he touch'd, and spake: “Nessus is this,
Who for the fair Deianira died,

65 And wrought himself revenge for his own fate. He in the midst, that on his breast looks down, Is the great Chiron who Achilles nurs’d; That other Pholus, prone to wrath.” Around The foss these go by thousands, aiming shafts

70 At whatsoever spirit dares emerge From out the blood, more than his guilt allows.

We to those beasts, that rapid strode along, Drew near, when Chiron took an arrow forth, And with the notch push'd back his shaggy beard 75 To the cheek-bone, then his great month to view Exposing, to his fellows thus exclaim'd: “ Are ye aware, that he who comes behind Moves what he touches ? The feet of the dead Are not so wont. My trusty guide, who now

80 Stood near his breast, where the two natures join, Thus made reply : “He is indeed alive, And solitary so must needs by me Be shown the gloomy vale, thereto induc'd By strict necessity, not by delight.

85 She left her joyful harpings in the sky,

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