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We are come unto the place wherein, I said,
That thou the woeful people shalt behold
Who've lost the intellect's chief good, and aid. And when he laid his hand on mine, with bold
And cheerful face, whence I my strength renewed,
Within he set me, 'mongst the things untold. There sighs, and bitter plaints, and wailings loud
Resounded all throughout the starless air,
So that, at first, I wept in wretched mood. There divers tongues of horrible despair,
Words of great woe, accents of wrath and dread,
Clapping of hands, and loud hoarse voices, there, A tumult made that ever widely spread, Through the stained air, but not with clouds im
browned, Like sand, when whirlwinds lift it high o'er head. And I, with error thus begirt, around,
Said : Master, what is that which now I hear?
What folk are those so quelled with woe profound ? And he replied : In this sad guise, appear
The sorry souls of those who, in their land,
Lived without fame, and without sentence clear.
Of the angels who rebelled not, nor were true
The heavens cast them out, because they grew
Not loathlier; nor deep Hell can them receive,
For thence some glory were to the evil crew. And I: Master what heavy burdens cleave
To those, which make them wail, with tireless breath?
Quoth he: I'll tell thee briefly, nor deceive. Those whom thou seest have no hope of death;
And, their blind life is so despised and base,
They envy every other kind beneath.
Mercy and Justice them alike disdain.
Let us not speak of such; but look, and pass. And I beheld, and saw a standard, plain,
Which few around so swiftly, and around,
Methought it seemed unworthy rest to gain : And after it came following, without bound,
So long a train of people that I ne'er
Had deemed that Death so great to slay had found. When I had recognized, in their career,
Some among these, I saw the shade of him
Who made the great refusal, through vile fear.
Was even the wretched sect of those who are
Those hapless ones who ne'er were living, bare
And naked were, and oft were stung, full sore,
By hornets and by wasps that mustered there : From these their cheeks with blood were streaming o'er;
Blood mixed with tears that, flowing to their feet,
By loathsome worms was gathered, evermore. When I looked further, by a river great
I saw much people on its shore, I wis ;
Wherefore I said : Master, now let me weet What those may be, and what the custom is
Which makes them seem so prompt to pass,
As I discern, by light so faint as this.
Recounted, when our steps we shall arrest,
Upon the dismal shore of Acheron.
my words displeasing he should mark, Until the flood we gained, from speech I ceased. And lo! towards us coming, in a bark,
An old man, white through ancient locks, amain
Crying : Woe, woe unto you, spirits dark !
I come to bear you to the further side,
And thou, O living soul that dost abide
Yonder, depart from those, for dead are they :
But, when he saw I parted not, he cried : Through other parts, and by another way,
Thou soon shalt reach a shore to pass, not here;
For thee a swifter vessel must convey.
For thus it is decreed where what is willed
Must be : no further question thou, nor fear. Thereat, full soon, the woolly cheeks were stilled
Of the grim boatman of the livid marsh,
Whose eyes with wheels of fire were girt and filled. But, when they heard those words cruel and harsh,
The souls forlorn that naked were, in sin,
They changed their colour, and their teeth they gnash. God they blasphemed, their parents, and their kin,
The human kind, the place, the time and seed
Wailing aloud, unto the evil shore
That waits each man who fears not God, indeed.
Beckoning them, gathers all his shuddering prey,
Even as the leaves of autumn fall
away, One after other, till the naked bough
Sees all its spoils on earth, in sere decay; Right so, the evil seed of Adam, now,
From off that shore fling themselves, one by one;
Like birds unto the call, by signs they go. Thus went they away over the billows dun;
And, ere across to yonder side they've sped,
On this a new troop gathers to be gone. My son, to me the courteous master said,
All they, who die under the wrath of God,
Come hither from all countries, doubly dead, And they are prompt to overpass the flood,
Because the divine justice spurs them on,
And changeth to desire their fearful mood. From hence no spirit good passed ever one:
Therefore if Charon, plaining for thee, spoke,
Now mayest thou know why such his speech and tone. This being ended, that dark country shook
So strongly, that the terror of my mind
Still bathes me o'er with sweat, as back I look.
And blazed a vermeil light, a light of Hell,
Faint and blind