Inferno: Canto XXIX
The many people and
the divers wounds
eyes of mine had so inebriated,
That they were wishful to stand still and weep;
But said Virgilius:
"What dost thou still gaze at?
is thy sight still riveted down there
Among the mournful, mutilated shades?
Thou hast not done
so at the other Bolge;
if to count them thou believest,
That two-and-twenty miles the valley winds,
And now the moon is
underneath our feet;
the time allotted us is brief,
And more is to be seen than what thou seest."
"If thou hadst," I
made answer thereupon,
to the cause for which I looked,
Perhaps a longer stay thou wouldst have pardoned."
Meanwhile my Guide
departed, and behind him
went, already making my reply,
And superadding: "In that cavern where
I held mine eyes
with such attention fixed,
think a spirit of my blood laments
The sin which down below there costs so much."
Then said the
Master: "Be no longer broken
thought from this time forward upon him;
Attend elsewhere, and there let him remain;
For him I saw below
the little bridge,
at thee, and threatening with his finger
Fiercely, and heard him called Geri del Bello.
So wholly at that
time wast thou impeded
him who formerly held Altaforte,
Thou didst not look that way; so he departed."
"O my Conductor,
his own violent death,
is not yet avenged for him," I said,
"By any who is sharer in the shame,
disdainful; whence he went away,
I imagine, without speaking to me,
And thereby made me pity him the more."
Thus did we speak
as far as the first place
the crag, which the next valley shows
Down to the bottom, if there were more light.
When we were now
right over the last cloister
Malebolge, so that its lay-brothers
Could manifest themselves unto our sight,
pierced me through and through,
with compassion had their arrows barbed,
Whereat mine ears I covered with my hands.
What pain would be,
if from the hospitals
Valdichiana, 'twixt July and September,
And of Maremma and Sardinia
All the diseases in
one moat were gathered,
was it here, and such a stench came from it
As from putrescent limbs is wont to issue.
We had descended on
the furthest bank
the long crag, upon the left hand still,
And then more vivid was my power of sight
Down tow'rds the
bottom, where the ministress
the high Lord, Justice infallible,
Punishes forgers, which she here records.
I do not think a
sadder sight to see
in Aegina the whole people sick,
(When was the air so full of pestilence,
The animals, down
to the little worm,
fell, and afterwards the ancient people,
According as the poets have affirmed,
Were from the seed
of ants restored again,)
was it to behold through that dark valley
The spirits languishing in divers heaps.
This on the belly,
that upon the back
of the other lay, and others crawling
Shifted themselves along the dismal road.
We step by step
went onward without speech,
upon and listening to the sick
Who had not strength enough to lift their bodies.
I saw two sitting
leaned against each other,
leans in heating platter against platter,
From head to foot bespotted o'er with scabs;
And never saw I
plied a currycomb
stable-boy for whom his master waits,
Or him who keeps awake unwillingly,
As every one was
plying fast the bite
nails upon himself, for the great rage
Of itching which no other succour had.
And the nails
downward with them dragged the scab,
fashion as a knife the scales of bream,
Or any other fish that has them largest.
"O thou, that with
thy fingers dost dismail thee,"
my Leader unto one of them,
"And makest of them pincers now and then,
Tell me if any
Latian is with those
are herein; so may thy nails suffice thee
To all eternity unto this work."
"Latians are we,
whom thou so wasted seest,
of us here," one weeping made reply;
"But who art thou, that questionest about us?"
And said the Guide:
"One am I who descends
with this living man from cliff to cliff,
And I intend to show Hell unto him."
Then broken was
their mutual support,
trembling each one turned himself to me,
With others who had heard him by rebound.
Wholly to me did
the good Master gather,
"Say unto them whate'er thou wishest."
And I began, since he would have it so:
"So may your memory
not steal away
the first world from out the minds of men,
But so may it survive 'neath many suns,
Say to me who ye
are, and of what people;
not your foul and loathsome punishment
Make you afraid to show yourselves to me."
"I of Arezzo was,"
one made reply,
Albert of Siena had me burned;
But what I died for does not bring me here.
'Tis true I said to
him, speaking in jest,
I could rise by flight into the air,
And he who had conceit, but little wit,
Would have me show
to him the art; and only
no Daedalus I made him, made me
Be burned by one who held him as his son.
But unto the last
Bolgia of the ten,
alchemy, which in the world I practised,
Minos, who cannot err, has me condemned."
And to the Poet
said I: "Now was ever
vain a people as the Sienese?
Not for a certainty the French by far."
Whereat the other
leper, who had heard me,
unto my speech: "Taking out Stricca,
Who knew the art of moderate expenses,
And Niccolo, who
the luxurious use
cloves discovered earliest of all
Within that garden where such seed takes root;
And taking out the
band, among whom squandered
d'Ascian his vineyards and vast woods,
And where his wit the Abbagliato proffered!
But, that thou know
who thus doth second thee
the Sienese, make sharp thine eye
Tow'rds me, so that my face well answer thee,
And thou shalt see
I am Capocchio's shade,
metals falsified by alchemy;
Thou must remember, if I well descry thee,
How I a skilful ape
of nature was."