Inferno: Canto XXXIV
us; therefore look in front of thee,"
My Master said, "if thou discernest him."
As, when there
breathes a heavy fog, or when
hemisphere is darkening into night,
Appears far off a mill the wind is turning,
Methought that such
a building then I saw;
for the wind, I drew myself behind
My Guide, because there was no other shelter.
Now was I, and with
fear in verse I put it,
where the shades were wholly covered up,
And glimmered through like unto straws in glass.
Some prone are
lying, others stand erect,
with the head, and that one with the soles;
Another, bow-like, face to feet inverts.
When in advance so
far we had proceeded,
it my Master pleased to show to me
The creature who once had the beauteous semblance,
He from before me
moved and made me stop,
"Behold Dis, and behold the place
Where thou with fortitude must arm thyself."
How frozen I became
and powerless then,
it not, Reader, for I write it not,
Because all language would be insufficient.
I did not die, and
I alive remained not;
for thyself now, hast thou aught of wit,
What I became, being of both deprived.
The Emperor of the
his mid-breast forth issued from the ice;
And better with a giant I compare
Than do the giants
with those arms of his;
now how great must be that whole,
Which unto such a part conforms itself.
Were he as fair
once, as he now is foul,
lifted up his brow against his Maker,
Well may proceed from him all tribulation.
O, what a marvel it
appeared to me,
I beheld three faces on his head!
The one in front, and that vermilion was;
Two were the
others, that were joined with this
the middle part of either shoulder,
And they were joined together at the crest;
And the right-hand
one seemed 'twixt white and yellow;
left was such to look upon as those
Who come from where the Nile falls valley-ward.
came forth two mighty wings,
as befitting were so great a bird;
Sails of the sea I never saw so large.
No feathers had
they, but as of a bat
fashion was; and he was waving them,
So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom.
wholly was congealed.
six eyes did he weep, and down three chins
Trickled the tear-drops and the bloody drivel.
At every mouth he
with his teeth was crunching
sinner, in the manner of a brake,
So that he three of them tormented thus.
To him in front the
biting was as naught
the clawing, for sometimes the spine
Utterly stripped of all the skin remained.
"That soul up there
which has the greatest pain,"
Master said, "is Judas Iscariot;
With head inside, he plies his legs without.
Of the two others,
who head downward are,
one who hangs from the black jowl is Brutus;
See how he writhes himself, and speaks no word.
And the other, who
so stalwart seems, is Cassius.
night is reascending, and 'tis time
That we depart, for we have seen the whole."
As seemed him good,
I clasped him round the neck,
he the vantage seized of time and place,
And when the wings were opened wide apart,
He laid fast hold
upon the shaggy sides;
fell to fell descended downward then
Between the thick hair and the frozen crust.
When we were come
to where the thigh revolves
on the thickness of the haunch,
The Guide, with labour and with hard-drawn breath,
Turned round his
head where he had had his legs,
grappled to the hair, as one who mounts,
So that to Hell I thought we were returning.
"Keep fast thy
hold, for by such stairs as these,"
Master said, panting as one fatigued,
"Must we perforce depart from so much evil."
Then through the
opening of a rock he issued,
down upon the margin seated me;
Then tow'rds me he outstretched his wary step.
I lifted up mine
eyes and thought to see
in the same way I had left him;
And I beheld him upward hold his legs.
And if I then
stolid people think who do not see
What the point is beyond which I had passed.
"Rise up," the
Master said, "upon thy feet;
way is long, and difficult the road,
And now the sun to middle-tierce returns."
It was not any
where we were, but dungeon natural,
With floor uneven and unease of light.
"Ere from the abyss
I tear myself away,
Master," said I when I had arisen,
"To draw me from an error speak a little;
Where is the ice?
and how is this one fixed
upside down? and how in such short time
From eve to morn has the sun made his transit?"
And he to me: "Thou
art beyond the centre, where I grasped
The hair of the fell worm, who mines the world.
That side thou
wast, so long as I descended;
round I turned me, thou didst pass the point
To which things heavy draw from every side,
And now beneath the
hemisphere art come
that which overhangs the vast
Dry-land, and 'neath whose cope was put to death
The Man who without
sin was born and lived.
hast thy feet upon the little sphere
Which makes the other face of the Judecca.
Here it is morn
when it is evening there;
he who with his hair a stairway made us
Still fixed remaineth as he was before.
Upon this side he
fell down out of heaven;
all the land, that whilom here emerged,
For fear of him made of the sea a veil,
And came to our
hemisphere; and peradventure
flee from him, what on this side appears
Left the place vacant here, and back recoiled."
A place there is
below, from Beelzebub
far receding as the tomb extends,
Which not by sight is known, but by the sound
Of a small rivulet,
that there descendeth
chasm within the stone, which it has gnawed
With course that winds about and slightly falls.
The Guide and I
into that hidden road
entered, to return to the bright world;
And without care of having any rest
We mounted up, he
first and I the second,
I beheld through a round aperture
Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;
Thence we came
forth to rebehold the stars.
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