Inferno: Canto VII
"Pape Satan, Pape
Plutus with his clucking voice began;
And that benignant Sage, who all things knew,
Said, to encourage
me: "Let not thy fear
thee; for any power that he may have
Shall not prevent thy going down this crag."
Then he turned
round unto that bloated lip,
said: "Be silent, thou accursed wolf;
Consume within thyself with thine own rage.
Not causeless is
this journey to the abyss;
is it willed on high, where Michael wrought
Vengeance upon the proud adultery."
Even as the sails
inflated by the wind
together fall when snaps the mast,
So fell the cruel monster to the earth.
Thus we descended
into the fourth chasm,
still farther on the dolesome shore
Which all the woe of the universe insacks.
Justice of God, ah!
who heaps up so many
toils and sufferings as I beheld?
And why doth our transgression waste us so?
As doth the billow
there upon Charybdis,
breaks itself on that which it encounters,
So here the folk must dance their roundelay.
Here saw I people,
more than elsewhere, many,
one side and the other, with great howls,
Rolling weights forward by main force of chest.
together, and then at that point
one turned backward, rolling retrograde,
Crying, "Why keepest?" and, "Why squanderest thou?"
Thus they returned
along the lurid circle
either hand unto the opposite point,
Shouting their shameful metre evermore.
Then each, when he
arrived there, wheeled about
his half-circle to another joust;
And I, who had my heart pierced as it were,
Master, now declare to me
people these are, and if all were clerks,
These shaven crowns upon the left of us."
And he to me: "All
of them were asquint
intellect in the first life, so much
That there with measure they no spending made.
their voices bark it forth,
they reach the two points of the circle,
Where sunders them the opposite defect.
Clerks those were
who no hairy covering
on the head, and Popes and Cardinals,
In whom doth Avarice practise its excess."
And I: "My Master,
among such as these
ought forsooth to recognise some few,
Who were infected with these maladies."
And he to me: "Vain
thought thou entertainest;
undiscerning life which made them sordid
Now makes them unto all discernment dim.
Forever shall they
come to these two buttings;
from the sepulchre shall rise again
With the fist closed, and these with tresses shorn.
Ill giving and ill
keeping the fair world
ta'en from them, and placed them in this scuffle;
Whate'er it be, no words adorn I for it.
Now canst thou,
Son, behold the transient farce
goods that are committed unto Fortune,
For which the human race each other buffet;
For all the gold
that is beneath the moon,
ever has been, of these weary souls
Could never make a single one repose."
"Master," I said to
him, "now tell me also
is this Fortune which thou speakest of,
That has the world's goods so within its clutches?"
And he to me: "O
ignorance is this which doth beset you?
Now will I have thee learn my judgment of her.
omniscience everything transcends
heavens created, and gave who should guide them,
That every part to every part may shine,
light in equal measure;
in like manner to the mundane splendours
Ordained a general ministress and guide,
That she might
change at times the empty treasures
race to race, from one blood to another,
Beyond resistance of all human wisdom.
people triumphs, and another
in pursuance of her judgment,
Which hidden is, as in the grass a serpent.
Your knowledge has
no counterstand against her;
makes provision, judges, and pursues
Her governance, as theirs the other gods.
have not any truce;
makes her precipitate,
So often cometh who his turn obtains.
And this is she who
is so crucified
by those who ought to give her praise,
Giving her blame amiss, and bad repute.
But she is
blissful, and she hears it not;
the other primal creatures gladsome
She turns her sphere, and blissful she rejoices.
Let us descend now
unto greater woe;
sinks each star that was ascending
When I set out, and loitering is forbidden."
We crossed the
circle to the other bank,
to a fount that boils, and pours itself
Along a gully that runs out of it.
The water was more
sombre far than perse;
we, in company with the dusky waves,
Made entrance downward by a path uncouth.
A marsh it makes,
which has the name of Styx,
tristful brooklet, when it has descended
Down to the foot of the malign gray shores.
And I, who stood
intent upon beholding,
people mud-besprent in that lagoon,
All of them naked and with angry look.
They smote each
other not alone with hands,
with the head and with the breast and feet,
Tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.
Said the good
Master: "Son, thou now beholdest
souls of those whom anger overcame;
And likewise I would have thee know for certain
Beneath the water
people are who sigh
make this water bubble at the surface,
As the eye tells thee wheresoe'er it turns.
Fixed in the mire
they say, 'We sullen were
the sweet air, which by the sun is gladdened,
Bearing within ourselves the sluggish reek;
Now we are sullen
in this sable mire.'
hymn do they keep gurgling in their throats,
For with unbroken words they cannot say it."
Thus we went
circling round the filthy fen
great arc 'twixt the dry bank and the swamp,
With eyes turned unto those who gorge the mire;
Unto the foot of a
tower we came at last.