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- Divine Comedy - 5/27 -


We read no more." While thus one spirit spake, The other wail'd so sorely, that heartstruck I through compassion fainting, seem'd not far From death, and like a corpse fell to the ground.

CANTO VI

MY sense reviving, that erewhile had droop'd With pity for the kindred shades, whence grief O'ercame me wholly, straight around I see New torments, new tormented souls, which way Soe'er I move, or turn, or bend my sight. In the third circle I arrive, of show'rs Ceaseless, accursed, heavy, and cold, unchang'd For ever, both in kind and in degree. Large hail, discolour'd water, sleety flaw Through the dun midnight air stream'd down amain: Stank all the land whereon that tempest fell.

Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange, Through his wide threefold throat barks as a dog Over the multitude immers'd beneath. His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard, His belly large, and claw'd the hands, with which He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs Piecemeal disparts. Howling there spread, as curs, Under the rainy deluge, with one side The other screening, oft they roll them round, A wretched, godless crew. When that great worm Descried us, savage Cerberus, he op'd His jaws, and the fangs show'd us; not a limb Of him but trembled. Then my guide, his palms Expanding on the ground, thence filled with earth Rais'd them, and cast it in his ravenous maw.

E'en as a dog, that yelling bays for food His keeper, when the morsel comes, lets fall His fury, bent alone with eager haste To swallow it; so dropp'd the loathsome cheeks Of demon Cerberus, who thund'ring stuns The spirits, that they for deafness wish in vain.

We, o'er the shades thrown prostrate by the brunt Of the heavy tempest passing, set our feet Upon their emptiness, that substance seem'd.

They all along the earth extended lay Save one, that sudden rais'd himself to sit, Soon as that way he saw us pass. "O thou!" He cried, "who through the infernal shades art led, Own, if again thou know'st me. Thou wast fram'd Or ere my frame was broken." I replied: "The anguish thou endur'st perchance so takes Thy form from my remembrance, that it seems As if I saw thee never. But inform Me who thou art, that in a place so sad Art set, and in such torment, that although Other be greater, more disgustful none Can be imagin'd." He in answer thus:

"Thy city heap'd with envy to the brim, Ay that the measure overflows its bounds, Held me in brighter days. Ye citizens Were wont to name me Ciacco. For the sin Of glutt'ny, damned vice, beneath this rain, E'en as thou see'st, I with fatigue am worn; Nor I sole spirit in this woe: all these Have by like crime incurr'd like punishment."

No more he said, and I my speech resum'd: "Ciacco! thy dire affliction grieves me much, Even to tears. But tell me, if thou know'st, What shall at length befall the citizens Of the divided city; whether any just one Inhabit there: and tell me of the cause, Whence jarring discord hath assail'd it thus?"

He then: "After long striving they will come To blood; and the wild party from the woods Will chase the other with much injury forth. Then it behoves, that this must fall, within Three solar circles; and the other rise By borrow'd force of one, who under shore Now rests. It shall a long space hold aloof Its forehead, keeping under heavy weight The other oppress'd, indignant at the load, And grieving sore. The just are two in number, But they neglected. Av'rice, envy, pride, Three fatal sparks, have set the hearts of all On fire." Here ceas'd the lamentable sound; And I continu'd thus: "Still would I learn More from thee, farther parley still entreat. Of Farinata and Tegghiaio say, They who so well deserv'd, of Giacopo, Arrigo, Mosca, and the rest, who bent Their minds on working good. Oh! tell me where They bide, and to their knowledge let me come. For I am press'd with keen desire to hear, If heaven's sweet cup or poisonous drug of hell Be to their lip assign'd." He answer'd straight: "These are yet blacker spirits. Various crimes Have sunk them deeper in the dark abyss. If thou so far descendest, thou mayst see them. But to the pleasant world when thou return'st, Of me make mention, I entreat thee, there. No more I tell thee, answer thee no more."

This said, his fixed eyes he turn'd askance, A little ey'd me, then bent down his head, And 'midst his blind companions with it fell.

When thus my guide: "No more his bed he leaves, Ere the last angel-trumpet blow. The Power Adverse to these shall then in glory come, Each one forthwith to his sad tomb repair, Resume his fleshly vesture and his form, And hear the eternal doom re-echoing rend The vault." So pass'd we through that mixture foul Of spirits and rain, with tardy steps; meanwhile Touching, though slightly, on the life to come. For thus I question'd: "Shall these tortures, Sir! When the great sentence passes, be increas'd, Or mitigated, or as now severe?"

He then: "Consult thy knowledge; that decides That as each thing to more perfection grows, It feels more sensibly both good and pain. Though ne'er to true perfection may arrive This race accurs'd, yet nearer then than now They shall approach it." Compassing that path Circuitous we journeyed, and discourse Much more than I relate between us pass'd: Till at the point, where the steps led below, Arriv'd, there Plutus, the great foe, we found.

CANTO VII

"AH me! O Satan! Satan!" loud exclaim'd Plutus, in accent hoarse of wild alarm: And the kind sage, whom no event surpris'd, To comfort me thus spake: "Let not thy fear Harm thee, for power in him, be sure, is none To hinder down this rock thy safe descent." Then to that sworn lip turning, "Peace!" he cried,

"Curs'd wolf! thy fury inward on thyself Prey, and consume thee! Through the dark profound Not without cause he passes. So 't is will'd On high, there where the great Archangel pour'd Heav'n's vengeance on the first adulterer proud."

As sails full spread and bellying with the wind Drop suddenly collaps'd, if the mast split; So to the ground down dropp'd the cruel fiend.

Thus we, descending to the fourth steep ledge, Gain'd on the dismal shore, that all the woe Hems in of all the universe. Ah me! Almighty Justice! in what store thou heap'st New pains, new troubles, as I here beheld! Wherefore doth fault of ours bring us to this?

E'en as a billow, on Charybdis rising, Against encounter'd billow dashing breaks; Such is the dance this wretched race must lead, Whom more than elsewhere numerous here I found, From one side and the other, with loud voice, Both roll'd on weights by main forge of their breasts, Then smote together, and each one forthwith Roll'd them back voluble, turning again, Exclaiming these, "Why holdest thou so fast?" Those answering, "And why castest thou away?" So still repeating their despiteful song, They to the opposite point on either hand Travers'd the horrid circle: then arriv'd, Both turn'd them round, and through the middle space Conflicting met again. At sight whereof I, stung with grief, thus spake: "O say, my guide! What race is this? Were these, whose heads are shorn, On our left hand, all sep'rate to the church?"

He straight replied: "In their first life these all In mind were so distorted, that they made, According to due measure, of their wealth, No use. This clearly from their words collect, Which they howl forth, at each extremity Arriving of the circle, where their crime Contrary' in kind disparts them. To the church Were separate those, that with no hairy cowls Are crown'd, both Popes and Cardinals, o'er whom Av'rice dominion absolute maintains."

I then: "Mid such as these some needs must be, Whom I shall recognize, that with the blot Of these foul sins were stain'd." He answering thus: "Vain thought conceiv'st thou. That ignoble life, Which made them vile before, now makes them dark,


Divine Comedy - 5/27

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