Inferno: Canto XV
Now bears us onward
one of the hard margins,
so the brooklet's mist o'ershadows it,
From fire it saves the water and the dikes.
Even as the
Flemings, 'twixt Cadsand and Bruges,
the flood that tow'rds them hurls itself,
Their bulwarks build to put the sea to flight;
And as the Paduans
along the Brenta,
guard their villas and their villages,
Or ever Chiarentana feel the heat;
In such similitude
had those been made,
not so lofty nor so thick,
Whoever he might be, the master made them.
Now were we from
the forest so remote,
could not have discovered where it was,
Even if backward I had turned myself,
When we a company
of souls encountered,
came beside the dike, and every one
Gazed at us, as at evening we are wont
To eye each other
under a new moon,
so towards us sharpened they their brows
As an old tailor at the needle's eye.
Thus scrutinised by
such a family,
some one I was recognised, who seized
My garment's hem, and cried out, "What a marvel!"
And I, when he
stretched forth his arm to me,
his baked aspect fastened so mine eyes,
That the scorched countenance prevented not
His recognition by
bowing down my face unto his own,
I made reply, "Are you here, Ser Brunetto?"
And he: "May't not
displease thee, O my son,
a brief space with thee Brunetto Latini
Backward return and let the trail go on."
I said to him:
"With all my power I ask it;
if you wish me to sit down with you,
I will, if he please, for I go with him."
"O son," he said,
"whoever of this herd
moment stops, lies then a hundred years,
Nor fans himself when smiteth him the fire.
Therefore go on; I
at thy skirts will come,
afterward will I rejoin my band,
Which goes lamenting its eternal doom."
I did not dare to
go down from the road
to walk with him; but my head bowed
I held as one who goeth reverently.
And he began: "What
fortune or what fate
the last day leadeth thee down here?
And who is this that showeth thee the way?"
"Up there above us
in the life serene,"
answered him, "I lost me in a valley,
Or ever yet my age had been completed.
But yestermorn I
turned my back upon it;
one appeared to me, returning thither,
And homeward leadeth me along this road."
And he to me: "If
thou thy star do follow,
canst not fail thee of a glorious port,
If well I judged in the life beautiful.
And if I had not
died so prematurely,
Heaven thus benignant unto thee,
I would have given thee comfort in the work.
But that ungrateful
and malignant people,
of old time from Fesole descended,
And smacks still of the mountain and the granite,
Will make itself,
for thy good deeds, thy foe;
it is right; for among crabbed sorbs
It ill befits the sweet fig to bear fruit.
Old rumour in the
world proclaims them blind;
people avaricious, envious, proud;
Take heed that of their customs thou do cleanse thee.
Thy fortune so much
honour doth reserve thee,
party and the other shall be hungry
For thee; but far from goat shall be the grass.
Their litter let
the beasts of Fesole
of themselves, nor let them touch the plant,
If any still upon their dunghill rise,
In which may yet
revive the consecrated
of those Romans, who remained there when
The nest of such great malice it became."
"If my entreaty
wholly were fulfilled,"
I to him, "not yet would you be
In banishment from human nature placed;
For in my mind is
fixed, and touches now
heart the dear and good paternal image
Of you, when in the world from hour to hour
You taught me how a
man becomes eternal;
how much I am grateful, while I live
Behoves that in my language be discerned.
What you narrate of
my career I write,
keep it to be glossed with other text
By a Lady who can do it, if I reach her.
This much will I
have manifest to you;
that my conscience do not chide me,
For whatsoever Fortune I am ready.
Such handsel is not
new unto mine ears;
let Fortune turn her wheel around
As it may please her, and the churl his mattock."
My Master thereupon
on his right cheek
backward turn himself, and looked at me;
Then said: "He listeneth well who noteth it."
Nor speaking less
on that account, I go
Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are
His most known and most eminent companions.
And he to me: "To
know of some is well;
others it were laudable to be silent,
For short would be the time for so much speech.
Know them in sum,
that all of them were clerks,
men of letters great and of great fame,
In the world tainted with the selfsame sin.
yonder with that wretched crowd,
Francis of Accorso; and thou hadst seen there
If thou hadst had a hankering for such scurf,
That one, who by
the Servant of the Servants
Arno was transferred to Bacchiglione,
Where he has left his sin-excited nerves.
More would I say,
but coming and discoursing
be no longer; for that I behold
New smoke uprising yonder from the sand.
A people comes with
whom I may not be;
unto thee be my Tesoro,
In which I still live, and no more I ask."
Then he turned
round, and seemed to be of those
at Verona run for the Green Mantle
Across the plain; and seemed to be among them
The one who wins,
and not the one who loses.