Inferno: Canto VIII
I say, continuing,
that long before
to the foot of that high tower had come,
Our eyes went upward to the summit of it,
By reason of two
flamelets we saw placed there,
from afar another answer them,
So far, that hardly could the eye attain it.
And, to the sea of
all discernment turned,
said: "What sayeth this, and what respondeth
That other fire? and who are they that made it?"
And he to me:
"Across the turbid waves
is expected thou canst now discern,
If reek of the morass conceal it not."
Cord never shot an
arrow from itself
sped away athwart the air so swift,
As I beheld a very little boat
Come o'er the water
tow'rds us at that moment,
the guidance of a single pilot,
Who shouted, "Now art thou arrived, fell soul?"
Phlegyas, Phlegyas, thou criest out in vain
this once," said my Lord; "thou shalt not have us
Longer than in the passing of the slough."
As he who listens
to some great deceit
has been done to him, and then resents it,
Such became Phlegyas, in his gathered wrath.
My Guide descended
down into the boat,
then he made me enter after him,
And only when I entered seemed it laden.
Soon as the Guide
and I were in the boat,
antique prow goes on its way, dividing
More of the water than 'tis wont with others.
While we were
running through the dead canal,
in front of me one full of mire,
And said, "Who 'rt thou that comest ere the hour?"
And I to him:
"Although I come, I stay not;
who art thou that hast become so squalid?"
"Thou seest that I am one who weeps," he answered.
And I to him: "With
weeping and with wailing,
spirit maledict, do thou remain;
For thee I know, though thou art all defiled."
Then stretched he
both his hands unto the boat;
my wary Master thrust him back,
Saying, "Away there with the other dogs!"
Thereafter with his
arms he clasped my neck;
kissed my face, and said: "Disdainful soul,
Blessed be she who bore thee in her bosom.
That was an
arrogant person in the world;
is none, that decks his memory;
So likewise here his shade is furious.
How many are
esteemed great kings up there,
here shall be like unto swine in mire,
Leaving behind them horrible dispraises!"
And I: "My Master,
much should I be pleased,
I could see him soused into this broth,
Before we issue forth out of the lake."
And he to me: "Ere
unto thee the shore
itself, thou shalt be satisfied;
Such a desire 'tis meet thou shouldst enjoy."
A little after
that, I saw such havoc
of him by the people of the mire,
That still I praise and thank my God for it.
They all were
shouting, "At Philippo Argenti!"
that exasperate spirit Florentine
Turned round upon himself with his own teeth.
We left him there,
and more of him I tell not;
on mine ears there smote a lamentation,
Whence forward I intent unbar mine eyes.
And the good Master
said: "Even now, my Son,
city draweth near whose name is Dis,
With the grave citizens, with the great throng."
And I: "Its mosques
already, Master, clearly
there in the valley I discern
Vermilion, as if issuing from the fire
They were." And he
to me: "The fire eternal
kindles them within makes them look red,
As thou beholdest in this nether Hell."
Then we arrived
within the moats profound,
circumvallate that disconsolate city;
The walls appeared to me to be of iron.
Not without making
first a circuit wide,
came unto a place where loud the pilot
Cried out to us, "Debark, here is the entrance."
More than a
thousand at the gates I saw
of the Heavens rained down, who angrily
Were saying, "Who is this that without death
Goes through the
kingdom of the people dead?"
my sagacious Master made a sign
Of wishing secretly to speak with them.
A little then they
quelled their great disdain,
said: "Come thou alone, and he begone
Who has so boldly entered these dominions.
Let him return
alone by his mad road;
if he can; for thou shalt here remain,
Who hast escorted him through such dark regions."
Think, Reader, if I
utterance of the accursed words;
For never to return here I believed.
"O my dear Guide,
who more than seven times
rendered me security, and drawn me
From imminent peril that before me stood,
Do not desert me,"
said I, "thus undone;
if the going farther be denied us,
Let us retrace our steps together swiftly."
And that Lord, who
had led me thitherward,
unto me: "Fear not; because our passage
None can take from us, it by Such is given.
But here await me,
and thy weary spirit
and nourish with a better hope;
For in this nether world I will not leave thee."
So onward goes and
there abandons me
Father sweet, and I remain in doubt,
For No and Yes within my head contend.
I could not hear
what he proposed to them;
with them there he did not linger long,
Ere each within in rivalry ran back.
They closed the
portals, those our adversaries,
my Lord's breast, who had remained without
And turned to me with footsteps far between.
His eyes cast down,
his forehead shorn had he
all its boldness, and he said, with sighs,
"Who has denied to me the dolesome houses?"
And unto me: "Thou,
because I am angry,
not, for I will conquer in the trial,
Whatever for defence within be planned.
This arrogance of
theirs is nothing new;
once they used it at less secret gate,
Which finds itself without a fastening still.
O'er it didst thou
behold the dead inscription;
now this side of it descends the steep,
Passing across the circles without escort,
One by whose means
the city shall be opened."