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“ If I did think my answer were to one,
Who ever could return unto the world,
This flame should rest unshaken. But since ne'er,
If true be told me, any from this depth
Has found his upward way, I answer thee,
Nor fear lest infamy record the words.

“ A man of arms at first, I cloth’d me then In good Saint Francis' girdle, hoping so

T have made amends. And certainly my hope
Had fail'd not, but that he, whom curses light on,
The' high priest again seduc'd me into sin.
And how and wherefore listen while I tell.
Long as this spirit moy'd the bones and pulp
My mother gave me, less my deeds bespake
The nature of the lion than the fox.
All ways of winding subtlety I knew,
And with such art conducted, that the sound
Reach'd the world's limit. Soon as to that part
Of life I found me come, when each behoves
To lower sails and gather in the lines;
That which before had pleased me then I rued,
And to repentance and confession turn’d;
Wretch that I was! and well it had bested me!
The chief of the new Pharisees meantime,
Waging his warfare near the Lateran,
Not with the Saracens or Jews (his foes
All Christians were, nor against Acre one
Had fought, nor traffic'd in the Soldan's land),
He his great charge nor sacred ministry
In himself, rev’renc'd, nor in me that cord,
Which us’d to mark with leanness whom it girded.
As in Socrate, Constantine besough:
To cure his leprosy Sylvester's aid,
So me to cure the fever of his pride
This man besought: my counsel to that end
He ask'd : and I was silent: for his words
Seem'd drunken : but forthwith he thus resum'd:
•From thy heart banish fear: of all offence
1 hitherto absolve thee. In return,
• Teach me my purpose so to execute,





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"That Penestrino cumber earth no more. Heav'n, as thou knowest, I have power to shut *And open : and the keys are therefore twain, 100 The which my predecessor meanly priz'd.'

“ Then, yielding to the forceful arguments, Of silence as more perilous I deemid, And answer'd : Father! since thou washest me • Clear of that guilt wherein I now must fall,

105 Large promise with performance scant, be sure, · Shall make thee triumph in thy lofty seat.'

“ When I was number'd with the dead, then came Saint Francis for me; but a cherub dark He met, who cried : “Wrong me not; he is mine, • And must below to join the wretched crew,

110 For the deceitful counsel which he gave.

E'er since I watch'd him, hov'ring at his hair,
No power can the impenitent absolve;
Nor to repent and will at once consist,
By contradiction absolute forbid.'

115 Oh mis’ry! how I shook myself, when he Seiz'd me, and cried, “Thou haply thought'st me not "A disputant in logic so exact.' To Minos down he bore me, and the judge Twin'd eight times round his callous back the tail, 120 Which biting with excess of rage, he spake : • This is a guilty soul, that in the fire • Must vanish.' Hence perdition-doom'd I rove A prey to rankling sorrow in this garb."

When he had thus fulfill’d his words, the flame 125 In dolour parted, beating to and fro, And writhing its sharp horn. We onward went, I and my leader, up along the rock, Far as another arch, that overhangs The foss, wherein the penalty is paid

130 Of those, who load them with committed sin.

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Who, e'en in words anfetter'd, might at full
Tell of the wounds and blood that now I saw,





Though he repeated oft the tale? No tongue
So vast a theme could equal, speech and thought
Both impotent alike. If in one band
Collected, stood the people all, who e'er
Pour'd on Apulia's happy soil their blood,
Slain by the Trojans, and in that long war
When of the rings the measur'd booty made
A pile so high, as Rome's historian writes
Who errs not, with the multitude, that felt
The grinding force of Guiscard's Norman steel,
And those the rest, whose bones are gather'd yet
At Ceperano, there where treachery
Branded th' Apulian name, or where beyond
Thy walls, O Tagliacozzo, without arms
The old Alardo conquer'd ; and his limbs
One were to show transpiero'd, another his
Clean lopt away; a spectacle like this
Were but a thing of nought, to the hideous sight
Of the ninth chasm. A rundlet, that hath lost
Its middle or side stave, gapes not so wide,
As one I mark’d, torn from the chin throughout
Down to the hinder passage : 'twixt the legs
Dangling his entrails hung, the midriff lay
Open to view, and wretched ventricle,
That turns th' englutted aliment to dross.

Whilst eagerly I fix on him my gaze,
He ey'd me, with his hands laid his breast bare,
And cried ; “Now mark how I do rip me! lo!
How is Mohammed mangled ! before me
Walks Ali weeping, from the chin his face
Cleft to the forelock; and the others all
Whom here thou seest, while they liv’d, did sow
Scandal and schism, and therefore thus are rent.
A fiend is here behind, who with his sword
Hacks us thus cruelly, slivering again
Each of this ream, when we have compast round
The dismal way, for first our gashes close
Ere we repass before him. But who
Art thou, that standest musing on the rock,
Haply so lingering to delay the pain





40 60

Sentenc'd upon thy crimes?' “ Him death not yet,”
My guide rejoin'd, “hath overta’en, nor sin
Conducts to torment; but, that he may make

Full trial of your state, I who am dead
Must through the depths of hell, from orb to orb,
Conduct him. Trust my words, for they are true.”

More than a hundred spirits, when that they heard, Stood in the foss to mark me, through amaze

50 Forgetful of their pangs. “Thou, who perchance Shalt shortly view the sun, this warning thou Bear to Dolcino : bid him, if he wish not Here soon to follow me, that with good store Of food he arm him, lest impris'ning snows

55 Yield him a victim to Novara's power, No easy conquest else." With foot uprais'd For stepping, spake Mohammed, on the ground Then fix'd it to depart. Another shade, Pierc'd in the throat, his nostrils mutilate E’en from beneath the eyebrows, and one ear Lopt off, who with the rest through wonder stood Gazing, before the rest advanc'd, and bar’d His wind-pipe, that without was all o’ersmear'd With crimson stain. 50 thou !” said he, “whom sin 65 Condemns not, and whom erst (unless too near Resemblance do deceive me) I aloft Have seen on Latian ground, call thou to mind Piero of Medicina, if again Returning, thou behold'st the pleasant land

70 That from Vercelli slopes to Mercabo; And there instruct the twain, whom Fano boasts Her worthiest sons, Guido and Angelo, That if 't is giv’n us here to scan aright The future, they out of life's tenement

75 Shall be cast forth, and whelm'd under the waves Near to Cattolica, through perfidy. Of a fell tyrant. "Twixt the Cyprian isle And Balearic, ne'er hath Neptune seen An injury so foul, by pirates done Or Argive crew of old. That one-ey'd traitor (Whose realm there is a spirit here were fain


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Ilis eye had still lack'd sight of them shall bring
To conf'rence with him, then so shape his end,
That they shall need not 'gainst Focara's wind 85
Offer up vow nor pray’r." I answering thus :
“ Declare, as thou dost wish that I above
May carry tidings of thee, who is he,
In whom that sight doth wake such sad remembrance ?

Forthwith he laid his hand on the cheek-bone 90
Of one, his fellow-spirit, and his jaws
Expanding, cried : “ Lo! this is he I wot of;
He speaks not for himself: the outcast this
Who overwhelm’d the doubt in Cæsar's mind,
Affirming that delay to men prepar'd

Was ever harmful." Oh! how terrified
Methought was Curio, from whose throat was cut
The tongue, which spake that hardy word. Then one
Maim'd of each hand, uplifted in the gloom
The bleeding stumps, that they with gory spots 100
Sullied his face, and cried : “ Remember thee
Of Mosca, too, I who, alas ! exclaim'd,
• The deed once done there is an end,' that prov’d
A seed of sorrow to the Tuscan race.”

I added : Ay, and death to thine own tribe.” 105

Whence heaping woe on woe he hurried off,
As one grief stung to madness. But I there
Still linger’d to behold the troop, and saw
Things, such as I may fear without more proof
To tell of, but that conscience makes me firm, 110
The boon companion, who her strong breast-plate
Buckles on him, that feels no guilt within
And bids him on and fear not. Without doubt
I saw, and yet it seems to pass before me,
A headless trunk, that even as the rest

Of the sad flock pac'd onward. By the hair
It bore the sever'd member, lantern-wise
Pendent in hand, which look'd at us and said,
“ Woe's me!” The spirit lighted thus himself,
And two there were in one, and one in two.

120 How that


be he knows who ordereth so. When at the bridge's foot direct he stood,

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