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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.
Thus they are mingled with the wretched band

Of the angels who rebelled not, nor were true
Unto their God, but for themselves would stand.

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.
No fame of them throughout the world hath place :

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.
Straightway I surely knew that concourse grim

Was even the wretched sect of those who are
With God, as with his foes, of no esteem.

each one,

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.
And he to me: These things shall be, anon,

Recounted, when our steps we shall arrest,

Upon the dismal shore of Acheron.
With eyes abashed, and downcast, fearing lest
Aught in

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 !
Ne'er hope to look upon the heaven, again.

I come to bear you to the further side,
Into endless gloom,—scorching and freezing pain.

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.
And thus my guide : Charon, from wrath forbear;

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
From whence they sprung, and where their birth had

Then, one and all, they on their way proceed,

Wailing aloud, unto the evil shore

That waits each man who fears not God, indeed.
Charon, the fiend with eyes of burning ore,

Beckoning them, gathers all his shuddering prey,
And striketh those who linger, with his oar.

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.
The tearful earth sent forth a sudden wind,

And blazed a vermeil light, a light of Hell,
Which conquered all my senses.

Faint and blind
And, as a man with slumber seized, I fell.

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