Inferno: Canto XXVII
Already was the
flame erect and quiet,
speak no more, and now departed from us
With the permission of the gentle Poet;
When yet another,
which behind it came,
us to turn our eyes upon its top
By a confused sound that issued from it.
As the Sicilian
bull (that bellowed first
the lament of him, and that was right,
Who with his file had modulated it)
Bellowed so with
the voice of the afflicted,
notwithstanding it was made of brass,
Still it appeared with agony transfixed;
Thus, by not having
any way or issue
first from out the fire, to its own language
Converted were the melancholy words.
when they had gathered way
through the point, giving it that vibration
The tongue had given them in their passage out,
We heard it said:
"O thou, at whom I aim
voice, and who but now wast speaking Lombard,
Saying, 'Now go thy way, no more I urge thee,'
Because I come
perchance a little late,
stay and speak with me let it not irk thee;
Thou seest it irks not me, and I am burning.
If thou but lately
into this blind world
fallen down from that sweet Latian land,
Wherefrom I bring the whole of my transgression,
Say, if the
Romagnuols have peace or war,
I was from the mountains there between
Urbino and the yoke whence Tiber bursts."
I still was
downward bent and listening,
my Conductor touched me on the side,
Saying: "Speak thou: this one a Latian is."
And I, who had
beforehand my reply
readiness, forthwith began to speak:
"O soul, that down below there art concealed,
Romagna thine is
not and never has been
war in the bosom of its tyrants;
But open war I none have left there now.
Ravenna stands as
it long years has stood;
Eagle of Polenta there is brooding,
So that she covers Cervia with her vans.
The city which once
made the long resistance,
of the French a sanguinary heap,
Beneath the Green Paws finds itself again;
ancient Mastiff and the new,
made such bad disposal of Montagna,
Where they are wont make wimbles of their teeth.
The cities of
Lamone and Santerno
the Lioncel of the white lair,
Who changes sides 'twixt summer-time and winter;
And that of which
the Savio bathes the flank,
as it lies between the plain and mountain,
Lives between tyranny and a free state.
Now I entreat thee
tell us who thou art;
not more stubborn than the rest have been,
So may thy name hold front there in the world."
After the fire a
little more had roared
its own fashion, the sharp point it moved
This way and that, and then gave forth such breath:
"If I believed that
my reply were made
one who to the world would e'er return,
This flame without more flickering would stand still;
But inasmuch as
never from this depth
any one return, if I hear true,
Without the fear of infamy I answer,
I was a man of
arms, then Cordelier,
thus begirt to make amends;
And truly my belief had been fulfilled
But for the High
Priest, whom may ill betide,
put me back into my former sins;
And how and wherefore I will have thee hear.
While I was still
the form of bone and pulp
mother gave to me, the deeds I did
Were not those of a lion, but a fox.
and the covert ways
knew them all, and practised so their craft,
That to the ends of earth the sound went forth.
When now unto that
portion of mine age
saw myself arrived, when each one ought
To lower the sails, and coil away the ropes,
That which before
had pleased me then displeased me;
penitent and confessing I surrendered,
Ah woe is me! and it would have bestead me;
The Leader of the
a war near unto Lateran,
And not with Saracens nor with the Jews,
For each one of his
enemies was Christian,
none of them had been to conquer Acre,
Nor merchandising in the Sultan's land,
Nor the high
office, nor the sacred orders,
him regarded, nor in me that cord
Which used to make those girt with it more meagre;
But even as
Constantine sought out Sylvester
cure his leprosy, within Soracte,
So this one sought me out as an adept
To cure him of the
fever of his pride.
he asked of me, and I was silent,
Because his words appeared inebriate.
And then he said:
'Be not thy heart afraid;
I thee absolve; and thou instruct me
How to raze Palestrina to the ground.
Heaven have I power
to lock and to unlock,
thou dost know; therefore the keys are two,
The which my predecessor held not dear.'
Then urged me on
his weighty arguments
where my silence was the worst advice;
And said I: 'Father, since thou washest me
Of that sin into
which I now must fall,
promise long with the fulfilment short
Will make thee triumph in thy lofty seat.'
afterward, when I was dead,
me; but one of the black Cherubim
Said to him: 'Take him not; do me no wrong;
He must come down
among my servitors,
he gave the fraudulent advice
From which time forth I have been at his hair;
For who repents not
cannot be absolved,
can one both repent and will at once,
Because of the contradiction which consents not.'
O miserable me! how
I did shudder
he seized on me, saying: 'Peradventure
Thou didst not think that I was a logician!'
He bore me unto
Minos, who entwined
times his tail about his stubborn back,
And after he had bitten it in great rage,
Said: 'Of the
thievish fire a culprit this;'
here where thou seest, am I lost,
And vested thus in going I bemoan me."
When it had thus
completed its recital,
flame departed uttering lamentations,
Writhing and flapping its sharp-pointed horn.
Onward we passed,
both I and my Conductor,
o'er the crag above another arch,
Which the moat covers, where is paid the fee
By those who,
sowing discord, win their burden.