Page images
PDF
EPUB

Thus farther still upon the outermost

Head of that seventh circle all alone
I went, where sat the melancholy folk.

45 Out of their eyes was gushing forth their woe;

This way, that way, they helped them with their hands

Now from the flames and now from the hot soil. Not otherwise in summer do the dogs,

Now with the foot, now with the muzzle, when 50

By Aleas, or flies, or gadflies, they are bitten. When I had turned mine eyes upon the faces

Of some, on whom the dolorous fire is falling,

Not one of them I knew; but I perceived That from the neck of each there hung a pouch, 55

Which certain color had, and certain blazon ;

And thereupon it seems their eyes are feeding. And as I gazing round me come among them,

Upon a yellow pouch I azure saw

That had the face and posture of a lion. Proceeding then the current of my sight,

Another of them saw I, red as blood,

Display a goose more white than butter is.
And one, who with an azure sow and gravid

Emblazoned had his little pouch of white, 65
Said unto me: “ What dost thou in this moat ?

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Now get thee gone; and since thou 'rt still alive,

Know that a neighbor of mine, Vitaliano,

Will have his seat here on my left-hand side. A Paduan am I with these Florentines ;

Full many a time they thunder in mine ears,

Exclaiming, ‘Come the sovereign cavalier,
He who shall bring the satchel with three goats””;

Then twisted he his mouth, and forth he thrust

His tongue, like to an ox that licks its nose. 75 And fearing lest my longer stay might vex

Him who had warned me not to tarry long,

Backward I turned me from those weary souls. I found my Guide, who had already mounted

Upon the back of that wild animal,

And said to me: “Now be both strong and bold. Now we descend by stairways such as these ;

Mount thou in front, for I will be midway,

So that the tail may have no power to harm thee.” · Such as he is who has so near the ague

85 Of quartan that his nails are blue already,

And trembles all, but looking at the shade ;
Even such became I at those proffered words ;

But shame in me his menaces produced,
Which maketh servant strong before good master. 90

So

[ocr errors]

en 2

100

I seated me upon those monstrous shoulders ;

I wished to say, and yet the voice came not

As I believed, “ Take heed that thou embrace me.” But he, who other times had rescued me

In other peril, soon as I had mounted,

Within his arms encircled and sustained me, And said: “Now, Geryon, bestir thyself;

The circles large, and the descent be little ;

Think of the novel burden which thou hast.” Even as the little vessel shoves from shore,

Backward, still backward, so he thence withdrew;

And when he wholly felt himself afloat,
There where his breast had been he turned his tail,

And that extended like an eel he moved,

And with his paws drew to himself the air. 105 A greater fear I do not think there was

What time abandoned Phaeton the reins,

Whereby the heavens, as still appears, were scorched; Nor when the wretched Icarus his flanks

Felt stripped of feathers by the melting wax, 110

His father crying, “ An ill way thou takest!”
Than was my own, when I perceived myself

On all sides in the air, and saw extinguished
The sight of everything but of the monster.

[ocr errors]

119

[ocr errors]

Onward he goeth, swimming slowly, slowly; 115

Wheels and descends, but I perceive it only

By wind upon my face and from below. I heard already on the right the whirlpool

Making a horrible crashing under us ;

Whence I thrust out my head with eyes cast downward. Then was I still more fearful of the abyss ;

Because I fires beheld, and heard laments,

Whereat I, trembling, all the closer cling. I saw then, for before I had not seen it,

The turning and descending, by great horrors 125

That were approaching upon divers sides. As falcon who has long been on the wing,

Who, without seeing either lure or bird,

Maketh the falconer say, “ Ah me, thou stoopest," Descendeth weary, whence he started swiftly, 130

Thorough a hundred circles, and alights

Far from his master, sullen and disdainful; Even thus did Geryon place us on the bottom,

Close to the bases of the rough-hewn rock,

And being disencumbered of our persons, 135 He sped away as arrow from the string.

[ocr errors]

14

CANTO XVIII.

THERE is a place in Hell called Malebolge,

Wholly of stone and of an iron color,

As is the circle that around it turns. Right in the middle of the field malign

There yawns a well exceeding wide and deep, 5

Of which its place the structure will recount. Round, then, is that enclosure which remains

Between the well and foot of the high, hard bank,

And has distinct in valleys ten its bottom. As where for the protection of the walls

Many and many moats surround the castles,

The part in which they are a figure forms, Just such an image those presented there;

And as about such strongholds from their gates

Unto the outer bank are little bridges,
So from the precipice’s base did crags

Project, which intersected dikes and moats,
Unto the well that truncates and collects them.

O

d

re

IS

« PreviousContinue »