Inferno: Canto XIV

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Because the charity of my native place
Constrained me, gathered I the scattered leaves,
And gave them back to him, who now was hoarse.

Then came we to the confine, where disparted
The second round is from the third, and where
A horrible form of Justice is beheld.

Clearly to manifest these novel things,
I say that we arrived upon a plain,
Which from its bed rejecteth every plant;

The dolorous forest is a garland to it
All round about, as the sad moat to that;
There close upon the edge we stayed our feet.

The soil was of an arid and thick sand,
Not of another fashion made than that
Which by the feet of Cato once was pressed.

Vengeance of God, O how much oughtest thou
By each one to be dreaded, who doth read
That which was manifest unto mine eyes!

Of naked Souls beheld I many herds,
Who all were weeping very miserably,
And over them seemed set a law diverse.

Supine upon the ground some folk were lying;
And some were sitting all drawn up together,
And others went about continually.

Those who were going round were far the more,
And those were less who lay down to their torment,
But had their tongues more loosed to lamentation.

O'er all the sand-waste, with a gradual fall,
Were raining down dilated flakes of fire,
As of the snow on Alp without a wind.

As Alexander, in those torrid parts
Of India, beheld upon his host
Flames fall unbroken till they reached the ground.

Whence he provided with his phalanxes
To trample down the soil, because the vapour
Better extinguished was while it was single

Thus was descending the eternal heat,
Whereby the sand was set on fire, like tinder
Beneath the steel, for doubling of the dole.

Without repose forever was the dance
Of miserable hands, now there, now here,
Shaking away from off them the fresh gleeds.

"Master," began I, "thou who overcomest
All things except the demons dire, that issued
Against us at the entrance of the gate,

Who is that mighty one who seems to heed not
The fire, and lieth lowering and disdainful,
So that the rain seems not to ripen him?"

And he himself, who had become aware
That I was questioning my Guide about him,
Cried: "Such as I was living, am I, dead.

If Jove should weary out his smith, from whom
He seized in anger the sharp thunderbolt,
Wherewith upon the last day I was smitten,

And if he wearied out by turns the others
In Mongibello at the swarthy forge,
Vociferating, 'Help, good Vulcan, help!'

Even as he did there at the fight of Phlegra,
And shot his bolts at me with all his might,
He would not have thereby a joyous vengeance."

Then did my Leader speak with such great force,
That I had never heard him speak so loud:
"O Capaneus, in that is not extinguished

Thine arrogance, thou punished art the more;
Not any torment, saving thine own rage,
Would be unto thy fury pain complete."

Then he turned round to me with better lip,
Saying: "One of the Seven Kings was he
Who Thebes besieged, and held, and seems to hold

God in Disdain, and little seems to prize him;
But, as I said to him, his own despites
Are for his breast the fittest ornaments.

Now follow me, and mind thou do not place
As yet thy feet upon the burning sand,
But always keep them close unto the wood."

Speaking no word, we came to where there gushes
Forth from the wood a little rivulet,
Whose redness makes my hair still stand on end.

As from the Bulicame springs the brooklet,
The sinful women later share among them,
So downward through the sand it went its way.

The bottom of it, and both sloping banks,
Were made of stone, and the margins at the side;
Whence I perceived that there the passage was.

"In all the rest which I have shown to thee
sincewe have entered in within the gate
Whose threshold unto no one is denied,

Nothing has been discovered by thine eyes
So notable as is the present river,
Which all the little flames above it quenches."

These words were of my Leader; whence I prayed him
That he would give me largess of the food,
For which he had given me largess of desire.

"In the mid-sea there sits a wasted land,"
Said he thereafterward, "whose name is Crete,
Under whose king the world of old was chaste.

There is a mountain there, that once was glad
With waters and with leaves, which was called Ida;
Now 'tis deserted, as a thing worn out.

Rhea once chose it for the faithful cradle
Of her own son; and to conceal him better,
Whene'er he cried, she there had clamours made.

A grand old man stands in the mount erect,
Who holds his shoulders turned tow'rds Damietta,
And looks at Rome as if it were his mirror.

His head is fashioned of refined gold,
And of pure silver are the arms and breast;
Then he is brass as far down as the fork.

From that point downward all is chosen iron,
Save that the right foot is of kiln-baked clay,
And more he stands on that than on the other.

Each part, except the gold, is by a fissure
Asunder cleft, that dripping is with tears,
Which gathered together perforate that cavern.

From rock to rock they fall into this valley;
Acheron, Styx, and Phlegethon they form
Then downward go along this narrow sluice

Unto that point where is no more descending.
They form Cocytus; what that pool may be
Thou shalt behold, so here 'tis not narrated."

And I to him: "If so the present runnel
Doth take its rise in this way from our world,
Why only on this verge appears it to us?"

And he to me: "Thou knowest the place is round,
And notwithstanding thou hast journeyed far,
Still to the left descending to the bottom,

Thou hast not yet through all the circle turned.
Therefore if something new appear to us,
It should not bring amazement to thy face."

And I again: "Master, where shall be found
Lethe and Phlegethon, for of one thou'rt silent,
And sayest the other of this rain is made?"

"In all thy questions truly thou dost please me,"
Replied he; "but the boiling of the red
Water might well solve one of them thou makest.

Thou shalt see Lethe, but outside this moat,
There where the Souls repair to lave themselves,
When sin repented of has been removed."

Then said he: "It is time now to abandon
The wood; take heed that thou come after me;
A way the margins make that are not burning,

And over them all vapours are extinguished."

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La Divina Commedia: Inferno: Canto XIV
Poi che la carita` del natio loco
  mi strinse, raunai le fronde sparte,
  e rende'le a colui, ch'era gia` fioco.

Indi venimmo al fine ove si parte
  lo secondo giron dal terzo, e dove
  si vede di giustizia orribil arte.

A ben manifestar le cose nove,
  dico che arrivammo ad una landa
  che dal suo letto ogne pianta rimove.

La dolorosa selva l'e` ghirlanda
  intorno, come 'l fosso tristo ad essa:
  quivi fermammo i passi a randa a randa.

Lo spazzo era una rena arida e spessa,
  non d'altra foggia fatta che colei
  che fu da' pie` di Caton gia` soppressa.

O vendetta di Dio, quanto tu dei
  esser temuta da ciascun che legge
  cio` che fu manifesto a li occhi miei!

D'anime nude vidi molte gregge
  che piangean tutte assai miseramente,
  e parea posta lor diversa legge.

Supin giacea in terra alcuna gente,
  alcuna si sedea tutta raccolta,
  e altra andava continuamente.

Quella che giva intorno era piu` molta,
  e quella men che giacea al tormento,
  ma piu` al duolo avea la lingua sciolta.

Sovra tutto 'l sabbion, d'un cader lento,
  piovean di foco dilatate falde,
  come di neve in alpe sanza vento.

Quali Alessandro in quelle parti calde
  d'India vide sopra 'l suo stuolo
  fiamme cadere infino a terra salde,

per ch'ei provide a scalpitar lo suolo
  con le sue schiere, accio` che lo vapore
  mei si stingueva mentre ch'era solo:

tale scendeva l'etternale ardore;
  onde la rena s'accendea, com'esca
  sotto focile, a doppiar lo dolore.

Sanza riposo mai era la tresca
  de le misere mani, or quindi or quinci
  escotendo da se' l'arsura fresca.

I' cominciai: "Maestro, tu che vinci
  tutte le cose, fuor che ' demon duri
  ch'a l'intrar de la porta incontra uscinci,

chi e` quel grande che non par che curi
  lo 'ncendio e giace dispettoso e torto,
  si` che la pioggia non par che 'l marturi?"

E quel medesmo, che si fu accorto
  ch'io domandava il mio duca di lui,
  grido`: "Qual io fui vivo, tal son morto.

Se Giove stanchi 'l suo fabbro da cui
  crucciato prese la folgore aguta
  onde l'ultimo di` percosso fui;

o s'elli stanchi li altri a muta a muta
  in Mongibello a la focina negra,
  chiamando "Buon Vulcano, aiuta, aiuta!"

si` com'el fece a la pugna di Flegra,
  e me saetti con tutta sua forza,
  non ne potrebbe aver vendetta allegra."

Allora il duca mio parlo` di forza
  tanto, ch'i' non l'avea si` forte udito:
  "O Capaneo, in cio` che non s'ammorza

la tua superbia, se' tu piu` punito:
  nullo martiro, fuor che la tua rabbia,  
  sarebbe al tuo furor dolor compito."

Poi si rivolse a me con miglior labbia
  dicendo: "Quei fu l'un d'i sette regi
  ch'assiser Tebe; ed ebbe e par ch'elli abbia

Dio in disdegno, e poco par che 'l pregi;
  ma, com'io dissi lui, li suoi dispetti
  sono al suo petto assai debiti fregi.

Or mi vien dietro, e guarda che non metti,
  ancor, li piedi ne la rena arsiccia;
  ma sempre al bosco tien li piedi stretti."

Tacendo divenimmo la` 've spiccia
  fuor de la selva un picciol fiumicello,
  lo cui rossore ancor mi raccapriccia.

Quale del Bulicame esce ruscello
  che parton poi tra lor le peccatrici,
  tal per la rena giu` sen giva quello.

Lo fondo suo e ambo le pendici
  fatt'era 'n pietra, e ' margini dallato;
  per ch'io m'accorsi che 'l passo era lici.

"Tra tutto l'altro ch'i' t'ho dimostrato,
  poscia che noi intrammo per la porta
  lo cui sogliare a nessuno e` negato,

cosa non fu da li tuoi occhi scorta
  notabile com'e` 'l presente rio,
  che sovra se' tutte fiammelle ammorta."

Queste parole fuor del duca mio;
  per ch'io 'l pregai che mi largisse 'l pasto
  di cui largito m'avea il disio.

"In mezzo mar siede un paese guasto,"
  diss'elli allora, "che s'appella Creta,
  sotto 'l cui rege fu gia` 'l mondo casto.

Una montagna v'e` che gia` fu lieta
  d'acqua e di fronde, che si chiamo` Ida:
  or e` diserta come cosa vieta.

Rea la scelse gia` per cuna fida
  del suo figliuolo, e per celarlo meglio,
  quando piangea, vi facea far le grida.

Dentro dal monte sta dritto un gran veglio,
  che tien volte le spalle inver' Dammiata
  e Roma guarda come suo speglio.

La sua testa e` di fin oro formata,
  e puro argento son le braccia e 'l petto,
  poi e` di rame infino a la forcata;

da indi in giuso e` tutto ferro eletto,
  salvo che 'l destro piede e` terra cotta;
  e sta 'n su quel piu` che 'n su l'altro, eretto.

Ciascuna parte, fuor che l'oro, e` rotta
  d'una fessura che lagrime goccia,
  le quali, accolte, foran quella grotta.

Lor corso in questa valle si diroccia:
  fanno Acheronte, Stige e Flegetonta;
  poi sen van giu` per questa stretta doccia

infin, la` ove piu` non si dismonta
  fanno Cocito; e qual sia quello stagno
  tu lo vedrai, pero` qui non si conta."

E io a lui: "Se 'l presente rigagno
  si diriva cosi` dal nostro mondo,
  perche' ci appar pur a questo vivagno?"

Ed elli a me: "Tu sai che 'l loco e` tondo;
  e tutto che tu sie venuto molto,
  pur a sinistra, giu` calando al fondo,

non se' ancor per tutto il cerchio volto:
  per che, se cosa n'apparisce nova,
  non de' addur maraviglia al tuo volto."

E io ancor: "Maestro, ove si trova
  Flegetonta e Lete`? che' de l'un taci,
  e l'altro di' che si fa d'esta piova."

"In tutte tue question certo mi piaci,"
  rispuose; "ma 'l bollor de l'acqua rossa
  dovea ben solver l'una che tu faci.

Lete` vedrai, ma fuor di questa fossa,
  la` dove vanno l'anime a lavarsi
  quando la colpa pentuta e` rimossa."

Poi disse: "Omai e` tempo da scostarsi
  dal bosco; fa che di retro a me vegne:
  li margini fan via, che non son arsi,

e sopra loro ogne vapor si spegne."

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