Inferno: Canto XXII
I have erewhile
seen horsemen moving camp,
the storming, and their muster make,
And sometimes starting off for their escape;
I seen upon your land,
Aretines, and foragers go forth,
Tournaments stricken, and the joustings run,
trumpets and sometimes with bells,
kettle-drums, and signals of the castles,
And with our own, and with outlandish things,
But never yet with
bagpipe so uncouth
I see horsemen move, nor infantry,
Nor ship by any sign of land or star.
We went upon our
way with the ten demons;
savage company! but in the church
With saints, and in the tavern with the gluttons!
Ever upon the pitch
was my intent,
see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
And of the people who therein were burned.
Even as the
dolphins, when they make a sign
mariners by arching of the back,
That they should counsel take to save their vessel,
Thus sometimes, to
alleviate his pain,
of the sinners would display his back,
And in less time conceal it than it lightens.
As on the brink of
water in a ditch
frogs stand only with their muzzles out,
So that they hide their feet and other bulk,
So upon every side
the sinners stood;
ever as Barbariccia near them came,
Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew.
I saw, and still my
heart doth shudder at it,
waiting thus, even as it comes to pass
One frog remains, and down another dives;
And Graffiacan, who
most confronted him,
him by his tresses smeared with pitch,
And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter.
I knew, before, the
names of all of them,
had I noted them when they were chosen,
And when they called each other, listened how.
"O Rubicante, see
that thou do lay
claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,"
Cried all together the accursed ones.
And I: "My Master,
see to it, if thou canst,
thou mayst know who is the luckless wight,
Thus come into his adversaries' hands."
Near to the side of
him my Leader drew,
of him whence he was; and he replied:
"I in the kingdom of Navarre was born;
My mother placed me
servant to a lord,
she had borne me to a ribald knave,
Destroyer of himself and of his things.
Then I domestic was
of good King Thibault;
set me there to practise barratry,
For which I pay the reckoning in this heat."
And Ciriatto, from
whose mouth projected,
either side, a tusk, as in a boar,
Caused him to feel how one of them could rip.
cats the mouse had come;
Barbariccia clasped him in his arms,
And said: "Stand ye aside, while I enfork him."
And to my Master he
turned round his head;
him again," he said, "if more thou wish
To know from him, before some one destroy him."
The Guide: "Now
tell then of the other culprits;
thou any one who is a Latian,
Under the pitch?" And he: "I separated
Lately from one who
was a neighbour to it;
that I still were covered up with him,
For I should fear not either claw nor hook!"
And Libicocco: "We
have borne too much;"
with his grapnel seized him by the arm,
So that, by rending, he tore off a tendon.
wished to pounce upon him
at the legs; whence their Decurion
Turned round and round about with evil look.
When they again
somewhat were pacified,
him, who still was looking at his wound,
Demanded my Conductor without stay:
"Who was that one,
from whom a luckless parting
sayest thou hast made, to come ashore?"
And he replied: "It was the Friar Gomita,
He of Gallura,
vessel of all fraud,
had the enemies of his Lord in hand,
And dealt so with them each exults thereat;
Money he took, and
let them smoothly off,
he says; and in other offices
A barrator was he, not mean but sovereign.
him one Don Michael Zanche
Logodoro; and of Sardinia
To gossip never do their tongues feel tired.
O me! see that one,
how he grinds his teeth;
farther would I speak, but am afraid
Lest he to scratch my itch be making ready."
And the grand
Provost, turned to Farfarello,
rolled his eyes about as if to strike,
Said: "Stand aside there, thou malicious bird."
"If you desire
either to see or hear,"
terror-stricken recommenced thereon,
"Tuscans or Lombards, I will make them come.
But let the
Malebranche cease a little,
that these may not their revenges fear,
And I, down sitting in this very place,
For one that I am
will make seven come,
I shall whistle, as our custom is
To do whenever one of us comes out."
Cagnazzo at these
words his muzzle lifted,
his head, and said: "Just hear the trick
Which he has thought of, down to throw himself!"
Whence he, who
snares in great abundance had,
"I by far too cunning am,
When I procure for mine a greater sadness."
Alichin held not
in, but running counter
the rest, said to him: "If thou dive,
I will not follow thee upon the gallop,
But I will beat my
wings above the pitch;
height be left, and be the bank a shield
To see if thou alone dost countervail us."
O thou who readest,
thou shalt hear new sport!
to the other side his eyes averted;
He first, who most reluctant was to do it.
selected well his time;
his feet on land, and in a moment
Leaped, and released himself from their design.
Whereat each one
was suddenly stung with shame,
he most who was cause of the defeat;
Therefore he moved, and cried: "Thou art o'ertakern."
But little it
availed, for wings could not
the fear; the other one went under,
And, flying, upward he his breast directed;
Not otherwise the
duck upon a sudden
under, when the falcon is approaching,
And upward he returneth cross and weary.
Infuriate at the
behind him followed close, desirous
The other should escape, to have a quarrel.
And when the
barrator had disappeared,
turned his talons upon his companion,
And grappled with him right above the moat.
But sooth the other
was a doughty sparhawk
clapperclaw him well; and both of them
Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.
intercessor was the heat;
ne'ertheless of rising there was naught,
To such degree they had their wings belimed.
Lamenting with the
four of them fly to the other side
With all their gaffs, and very speedily
This side and that
they to their posts descended;
stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
Who were already baked within the crust,
And in this manner
busied did we leave them.