Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO XV - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO XV - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.) 
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The Italian Text with a Translation in English Blank Verse and a Commentary by Courtney Langdon, vol. 1 (Inferno) (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1918). English version.
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The Seventh Circle. The Third Ring
Violence against Nature. Sodomites
- One of the hard embankments bears us now,
- and overhead the brook’s mist shades them so,
- that from the fire it saves the stream and banks.
- Such bulwarks as, to keep the sea away,
- the Flemings make between Witsand and Bruges,
- through fearing lest the high-tide break upon them;
- and as the Paduans make along the Brenta,
- their villages and strongholds to defend,
- ere Chiarentana feel the summer heat;
- in such a way were those embankments made,
- although the master did not make them there
- so high or thick, whoe’er he may have been.
- So far we were already from the wood,
- that I could not have seen just where it was,
- even had I turned around to look behind,
- when we a band of spirits met, who came
- along the bank, each one of whom looked hard
- at us, as in the evening one is wont
- to look at people, when the moon is new;
- and toward us they were knitting close their brows,
- as an old tailor at his needle’s eye.
- When by that gathering I had thus been eyed,
- one of them, who had recognized me, seizing
- my garment’s hem, exclaimed: “How wonderful!”
- And I, when toward me he had stretched his arm,
- fastened upon his roasted face mine eyes,
- so that, though blistered, it did not prevent
- mine intellect from recognizing him;
- and downward having bent my face toward his,
- I answered him: “Are you here, Ser Brunetto?”
- And that one: “O my son, be not displeased
- should Brunetto Latini a little way
- turn back with thee, and let the troop go on.”
- “I beg you to with all my power;” said I,
- “and if you ’d have me sit with you, I will,
- if it please that one; for with him I go.”
- “O son,” he said, “whoever of this herd
- stands still at all, lies prone a hundred years,
- nor shields himself when smitten by the fire.
- Therefore go on; I ’ll follow at thy skirts,
- and then I ’ll join again my company,
- which goes bewailing its eternal loss.”
- I dared not from the path descend, to go
- upon his level there; but held my head
- bowed down, like one who walks in reverence.
- And he began: “What fortune or what fate
- before thy last day leadeth thee down here,
- and who is he that showeth thee the way?”
- I answered him: “When in the life serene
- up yonder, in a vale I lost my way,
- before my age had rounded out its noon.
- Thereon I turned my back but yestermorn;
- this one, as I returned to it, appeared
- to me, and o’er this path now leads me home.”
- And he to me: “If thine own star thou follow,
- thou canst not fail to reach a glorious port,
- if in the lovely life I judged aright;
- and had I not so prematurely died,
- I, seeing Heaven so well disposed toward thee,
- had given thee comfort in thy work. But that
- ungrateful, wicked people, which of old
- came down from Fièsolë, and which e’en now
- smacks of the mountain and of hard grey stone,
- for thy well-doing shall become thy foe;
- and rightly, for among the acid sorbs
- it is not fitting that sweet figs bear fruit.
- An old fame in the world proclaims them blind,
- a greedy, envious, overweening folk;
- see to it that thou cleanse thee from their ways!
- Thy fortune hath in store for thee such honor,
- that either party shall be hungry for thee;
- but distant from the goat shall be the grass.
- Let, then, the beasts of Fièsolë make litter
- with their own selves, nor let them touch the plant,
- if on their dungheap any burgeon still,
- in which the sacred seed may live again
- of those old Romans who remained therein,
- when of such wickedness the nest was made!”
- “If perfectly fulfilled had been my prayer,”
- I then replied to him, “you had not yet
- been banished from the natural life of man;
- for in my mind is fixed, and stirs e’en now
- my heart, that dear and kind paternal face
- you showed, when in the world from time to time
- you taught me how man makes himself eternal;
- and how much gratitude I feel for this,
- must, while I live, be in my words perceived.
- What of my course you tell, I write, and keep,
- with other texts, for a Lady to explain,
- who can, if ever I attain to her.
- I only wish that this be clear to you,
- that I, if but my conscience chide me not,
- am ready for whatever Fortune wills.
- Not new unto mine ears is such reward;
- hence, as she lists, let Fortune turn her wheel,
- and let the country clown his mattock ply!”
- Thereat my Teacher over his right cheek
- turned back, and looked at me; and then he said:
- “He listens well, who giveth heed to this.”
- Nor speaking less do I, on this account,
- go on with Ser Brunetto, asking who
- his fellows were, of greatest note and rank.
- And he to me: ’T is well to know of some;
- our silence on the rest will merit praise,
- for short the time were for so long a talk.
- Know then, in brief, that clerics were they all,
- and mighty men of letters of great fame,
- soiled by the self same sin when in the world.
- And with that sad crowd yonder Priscian goes,
- and Francis of Accorso, too; and him,
- if thou hadst had a longing for such scurf,
- thou couldst have seen there, whom the servants’ Servant
- changed from the Arno to the Bacchigliònë,
- where he behind him left his ill-strained nerves.
- I ’d speak of more; but I can come and talk
- no further, for a new dust-cloud I see
- rising o’er yonder from the sandy plain.
- People, with whom I must not be, are coming;
- let my Tesoro, in which I ’m still alive,
- be recommended thee; I ask no more.”
- Then round he turned, and seemed to be of those
- who at Verona run across the meadow
- to win the green cloth; and of these he seemed
- not he who loses, but the one who wins.