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Because I parted persons so united,

Parted do I now bear my brain, alas !

From its beginning, which is in this trunk. Thus is observed in me the counterpoise.”




THE many people and the divers wounds


of mine had so inebriated, That they were wishful to stand still and weep; But said Virgilius: “What dost thou still


at ? Why is thy sight still riveted down there

Among the mournful, mutilated shades? Thou hast not done so at the other Bolge;

Consider, if to count them thou believest,

That two-and-twenty miles the valley winds, And now the moon is underneath our feet;

Henceforth the time allotted us is brief,

And more is to be seen than what thou seest." “ If thou hadst,” I made answer thereupon,

“ Attended to the cause for which I looked,

Perhaps a longer stay thou wouldst have pardoned.” 15 Meanwhile

my Guide departed, and behind him
went, already making my reply,
And superadding: “In that cavern where

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I held mine eyes with such attention fixed,

I think a spirit of my blood laments

The sin which down below there costs so much.” Then said the Master : “Be no longer broken

Thy thought from this time forward upon him;

Attend elsewhere, and there let him remain; For him I saw below the little bridge,

Pointing at thee, and threatening with his finger

Fiercely, and heard him called Geri del Bello. So wholly at that time wast thou impeded

By him who formerly held Altaforte,

Thou didst not look that way; so he departed.” “O my Conductor, his own violent death,

Which is not yet avenged for him,” I said,

“By any who is sharer in the shame, Made him disdainful; whence he went away,

As I imagine, without speaking to me,

And thereby made me pity him the more. Thus did we speak as far as the first place

Upon the crag, which the next valley shows

Down to the bottom, if there were more light.
When we were now right over the last cloister

Of Malebolge, so that its lay-brothers
Could manifest themselves unto our sight,





Divers lamentings pierced me through and through,

Which with compassion had their arrows barbed,
Whereat mine ears I covered with


hands. What pain would be, if from the hospitals

Of Valdichiana, 'twixt July and September,

And of Maremma and Sardinia
All the diseases in one moat were gathered,

Such was it here, and such a stench came from it

As from putrescent limbs is wont to issue. We had descended on the furthest bank

From the long crag, upon the left hand still,

And then more vivid was my power of sight Down tow'rds the bottom, where the ministress

Of the high Lord, Justice infallible,

Punishes forgers, which she here records. I do not think a sadder sight to see

Was in Ægina the whole people sick,

(When was the air so full of pestilence, The animals, down to the little worm,

All fell, and afterwards the ancient people,

According as the poets have affirmed,
Were from the seed of ants restored again,)

Than was it to behold through that dark valley
The spirits languishing in divers heaps.






This on the belly, that upon the back

One of the other lay, and others crawling

Shifted themselves along the dismal road. We step by step went onward without speech,

Gazing upon and listening to the sick

Who had not strength enough to lift their bodies. I saw two sitting leaned against each other,

As leans in heating platter against platter,

From head to foot bespotted o’er with scabs ; And never saw I plied a currycomb

By stable-boy for whom his master waits,

Or him who keeps awake unwillingly, As every one was plying fast the bite

Of nails upon himself, for the great rage

Of itching which no other succor had.
And the nails downward with them dragged the scab,

In fashion as a knife the scales of bream,

other fish that has them largest.
“O thou, that with thy fingers dost dismail thee,”

Began my Leader unto one of them,

“And makest of them pincers now and then, Tell me if any Latian is with those

Who are herein ; so may thy nails suffice thee
To all eternity unto this work.”




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