Inferno: Canto XXVIII
Who ever could,
e'en with untrammelled words,
of the blood and of the wounds in full
Which now I saw, by many times narrating?
Each tongue would
for a certainty fall short
reason of our speech and memory,
That have small room to comprehend so much.
If were again
assembled all the people
formerly upon the fateful land
Of Puglia were lamenting for their blood
Shed by the Romans
and the lingering war
of the rings made such illustrious spoils,
As Livy has recorded, who errs not,
With those who felt
the agony of blows
making counterstand to Robert Guiscard,
And all the rest, whose bones are gathered still
At Ceperano, where
each Apulian, and at Tagliacozzo,
Where without arms the old Alardo conquered,
And one his limb
transpierced, and one lopped off,
show, it would be nothing to compare
With the disgusting mode of the ninth Bolgia.
A cask by losing
centre-piece or cant
never shattered so, as I saw one
Rent from the chin to where one breaketh wind.
Between his legs
were hanging down his entrails;
heart was visible, and the dismal sack
That maketh excrement of what is eaten.
While I was all
absorbed in seeing him,
looked at me, and opened with his hands
His bosom, saying: "See now how I rend me;
How mutilated, see,
front of me doth Ali weeping go,
Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin;
And all the others
whom thou here beholdest,
of scandal and of schism
While living were, and therefore are cleft thus.
A devil is behind
here, who doth cleave us
cruelly, unto the falchion's edge
Putting again each one of all this ream,
When we have gone
around the doleful road;
reason that our wounds are closed again
Ere any one in front of him repass.
But who art thou,
that musest on the crag,
to postpone going to the pain
That is adjudged upon thine accusations?"
"Nor death hath
reached him yet, nor guilt doth bring him,"
Master made reply, "to be tormented;
But to procure him full experience,
Me, who am dead,
behoves it to conduct him
here through Hell, from circle unto circle;
And this is true as that I speak to thee."
More than a hundred
were there when they heard him,
in the moat stood still to look at me,
Through wonderment oblivious of their torture.
"Now say to Fra
Dolcino, then, to arm him,
who perhaps wilt shortly see the sun,
If soon he wish not here to follow me,
So with provisions,
that no stress of snow
give the victory to the Novarese,
Which otherwise to gain would not be easy."
After one foot to
go away he lifted,
word did Mahomet say unto me,
Then to depart upon the ground he stretched it.
Another one, who
had his throat pierced through,
nose cut off close underneath the brows,
And had no longer but a single ear,
Staying to look in
wonder with the others,
the others did his gullet open,
Which outwardly was red in every part,
And said: "O thou,
whom guilt doth not condemn,
whom I once saw up in Latian land,
Unless too great similitude deceive me,
Call to remembrance
Pier da Medicina,
e'er thou see again the lovely plain
That from Vercelli slopes to Marcabo,
And make it known
to the best two of Fano,
Messer Guido and Angiolello likewise,
That if foreseeing here be not in vain,
Cast over from
their vessel shall they be,
drowned near unto the Cattolica,
By the betrayal of a tyrant fell.
Between the isles
of Cyprus and Majorca
ne'er yet beheld so great a crime,
Neither of pirates nor Argolic people.
That traitor, who
sees only with one eye,
holds the land, which some one here with me
Would fain be fasting from the vision of,
Will make them come
unto a parley with him;
will do so, that to Focara's wind
They will not stand in need of vow or prayer."
And I to him: "Show
to me and declare,
thou wouldst have me bear up news of thee,
Who is this person of the bitter vision."
Then did he lay his
hand upon the jaw
one of his companions, and his mouth
Oped, crying: "This is he, and he speaks not.
This one, being
banished, every doubt submerged
Caesar by affirming the forearmed
Always with detriment allowed delay."
O how bewildered
unto me appeared,
tongue asunder in his windpipe slit,
Curio, who in speaking was so bold!
And one, who both
his hands dissevered had,
stumps uplifting through the murky air,
So that the blood made horrible his face,
Cried out: "Thou
shalt remember Mosca also,
said, alas! 'A thing done has an end!'
Which was an ill seed for the Tuscan people."
"And death unto thy
race," thereto I added;
he, accumulating woe on woe,
Departed, like a person sad and crazed.
But I remained to
look upon the crowd;
saw a thing which I should be afraid,
Without some further proof, even to recount,
If it were not that
conscience reassures me,
good companion which emboldens man
Beneath the hauberk of its feeling pure.
I truly saw, and
still I seem to see it,
trunk without a head walk in like manner
As walked the others of the mournful herd.
And by the hair it
held the head dissevered,
from the hand in fashion of a lantern,
And that upon us gazed and said: "O me!"
It of itself made
to itself a lamp,
they were two in one, and one in two;
How that can be, He knows who so ordains it.
When it was come
close to the bridge's foot,
lifted high its arm with all the head,
To bring more closely unto us its words,
Which were: "Behold
now the sore penalty,
who dost breathing go the dead beholding;
Behold if any be as great as this.
And so that thou
may carry news of me,
that Bertram de Born am I, the same
Who gave to the Young King the evil comfort.
I made the father
and the son rebellious;
not more with Absalom
And David did with his accursed goadings.
Because I parted
persons so united,
do I now bear my brain, alas!
From its beginning, which is in this trunk.
Thus is observed in
me the counterpoise."