Inferno: Canto XVII

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"Behold the monster with the pointed tail,
Who cleaves the hills, and breaketh walls and weapons,
Behold him who infecteth all the world."

Thus unto me my Guide began to say,
And beckoned him that he should come to shore,
Near to the confine of the trodden marble;

And that uncleanly image of deceit
Came up and thrust ashore its head and bust,
But on the border did not drag its tail.

The face was as the face of a just man,
Its semblance outwardly was so benign,
And of a serpent all the trunk beside.

Two paws it had, hairy unto the armpits;
The back, and breast, and both the sides it had
Depicted o'er with nooses and with shields.

With colours more, groundwork or broidery
Never in cloth did Tartars make nor Turks,
Nor were such tissues by Arachne laid.

As sometimes wherries lie upon the shore,
That part are in the water, part on land;
And as among the guzzling Germans there,

The beaver plants himself to wage his war;
So that vile monster lay upon the border,
Which is of stone, and shutteth in the sand.

His tail was wholly quivering in the void,
Contorting upwards the envenomed fork,
That in the guise of scorpion armed its point.

The Guide said: "Now perforce must turn aside
Our way a little, even to that beast
Malevolent, that yonder coucheth him."

We therefore on the right side descended,
And made ten steps upon the outer verge,
Completely to avoid the sand and flame;

And after we are come to him, I see
A little farther off upon the sand
A people sitting near the hollow place.

Then said to me the Master: "So that full
Experience of this round thou bear away,
Now go and see what their condition is.

There let thy conversation be concise;
Till thou returnest I will speak with him,
That he concede to us his stalwart shoulders."

Thus farther still upon the outermost
Head of that seventh circle all alone
I went, where sat the melancholy folk.

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
By fleas, 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,
Which certain colour 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,
Said unto me: "What dost thou in this moat?

Now get thee gone; and sincethou'rt still alive,
Know that a neighbour 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.

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
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.

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.

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,
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.

Onward he goeth, swimming slowly, slowly;
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
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,
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,

He sped away as arrow from the string.

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La Commedia Divina: Inferno: Canto XVII
"Ecco la fiera con la coda aguzza,
  che passa i monti, e rompe i muri e l'armi!
  Ecco colei che tutto 'l mondo appuzza!".

Si` comincio` lo mio duca a parlarmi;
  e accennolle che venisse a proda
  vicino al fin d'i passeggiati marmi.

E quella sozza imagine di froda
  sen venne, e arrivo` la testa e 'l busto,
  ma 'n su la riva non trasse la coda.

La faccia sua era faccia d'uom giusto,
  tanto benigna avea di fuor la pelle,
  e d'un serpente tutto l'altro fusto;

due branche avea pilose insin l'ascelle;
  lo dosso e 'l petto e ambedue le coste
  dipinti avea di nodi e di rotelle.

Con piu` color, sommesse e sovraposte
  non fer mai drappi Tartari ne' Turchi,
  ne' fuor tai tele per Aragne imposte.

Come tal volta stanno a riva i burchi,
  che parte sono in acqua e parte in terra,
  e come la` tra li Tedeschi lurchi

lo bivero s'assetta a far sua guerra,
  cosi` la fiera pessima si stava
  su l'orlo ch'e` di pietra e 'l sabbion serra.

Nel vano tutta sua coda guizzava,
  torcendo in su` la venenosa forca
  ch'a guisa di scorpion la punta armava.

Lo duca disse: "Or convien che si torca
  la nostra via un poco insino a quella
  bestia malvagia che cola` si corca".

Pero` scendemmo a la destra mammella,
  e diece passi femmo in su lo stremo,
  per ben cessar la rena e la fiammella.

E quando noi a lei venuti semo,
  poco piu` oltre veggio in su la rena
  gente seder propinqua al loco scemo.

Quivi 'l maestro "Accio` che tutta piena
  esperienza d'esto giron porti",
  mi disse, "va, e vedi la lor mena.

Li tuoi ragionamenti sian la` corti:
  mentre che torni, parlero` con questa,
  che ne conceda i suoi omeri forti".

Cosi` ancor su per la strema testa
  di quel settimo cerchio tutto solo
  andai, dove sedea la gente mesta.

Per li occhi fora scoppiava lor duolo;
  e` di qua, di la` soccorrien con le mani
  quando a' vapori, e quando al caldo suolo:

non altrimenti fan di state i cani
  or col ceffo, or col pie`, quando son morsi
  o da pulci o da mosche o da tafani.

Poi che nel viso a certi li occhi porsi,
  ne' quali 'l doloroso foco casca,
  non ne conobbi alcun; ma io m'accorsi

che dal collo a ciascun pendea una tasca
  ch'avea certo colore e certo segno,
  e quindi par che 'l loro occhio si pasca.

E com'io riguardando tra lor vegno,
  in una borsa gialla vidi azzurro
  che d'un leone avea faccia e contegno.

Poi, procedendo di mio sguardo il curro,
  vidine un'altra come sangue rossa,
  mostrando un'oca bianca piu` che burro.

E un che d'una scrofa azzurra e grossa
  segnato avea lo suo sacchetto bianco,
  mi disse: "Che fai tu in questa fossa?

Or te ne va; e perche' se' vivo anco,
  sappi che 'l mio vicin Vitaliano
  sedera` qui dal mio sinistro fianco.

Con questi Fiorentin son padoano:
  spesse fiate mi 'ntronan li orecchi
  gridando: "Vegna 'l cavalier sovrano,

che rechera` la tasca con tre becchi!".
  Qui distorse la bocca e di fuor trasse
  la lingua, come bue che 'l naso lecchi.

E io, temendo no 'l piu` star crucciasse
  lui che di poco star m'avea 'mmonito,
  torna'mi in dietro da l'anime lasse.

Trova' il duca mio ch'era salito
  gia` su la groppa del fiero animale,
  e disse a me: "Or sie forte e ardito.

Omai si scende per si` fatte scale:
  monta dinanzi, ch'i' voglio esser mezzo,
  si` che la coda non possa far male".

Qual e` colui che si` presso ha 'l riprezzo
  de la quartana, c'ha gia` l'unghie smorte,
  e triema tutto pur guardando 'l rezzo,

tal divenn'io a le parole porte;
  ma vergogna mi fe' le sue minacce,
  che innanzi a buon segnor fa servo forte.

I' m'assettai in su quelle spallacce;
  si` volli dir, ma la voce non venne
  com'io credetti: 'Fa che tu m'abbracce'.

Ma esso, ch'altra volta mi sovvenne
  ad altro forse, tosto ch'i' montai
  con le braccia m'avvinse e mi sostenne;

e disse: "Gerion, moviti omai:
  le rote larghe e lo scender sia poco:
  pensa la nova soma che tu hai".

Come la navicella esce di loco
  in dietro in dietro, si` quindi si tolse;
  e poi ch'al tutto si senti` a gioco,

la` 'v'era 'l petto, la coda rivolse,
  e quella tesa, come anguilla, mosse,
  e con le branche l'aere a se' raccolse.

Maggior paura non credo che fosse
  quando Fetonte abbandono` li freni,
  per che 'l ciel, come pare ancor, si cosse;

ne' quando Icaro misero le reni
  senti` spennar per la scaldata cera,
  gridando il padre a lui "Mala via tieni!",

che fu la mia, quando vidi ch'i' era
  ne l'aere d'ogne parte, e vidi spenta
  ogne veduta fuor che de la fera.

Ella sen va notando lenta lenta:
  rota e discende, ma non me n'accorgo
  se non che al viso e di sotto mi venta.

Io sentia gia` da la man destra il gorgo
  far sotto noi un orribile scroscio,
  per che con li occhi 'n giu` la testa sporgo.

Allor fu' io piu` timido a lo stoscio,
  pero` ch'i' vidi fuochi e senti' pianti;
  ond'io tremando tutto mi raccoscio.

E vidi poi, che' nol vedea davanti,
  lo scendere e 'l girar per li gran mali
  che s'appressavan da diversi canti.

Come 'l falcon ch'e` stato assai su l'ali,
  che sanza veder logoro o uccello
  fa dire al falconiere "Ome`, tu cali!",

discende lasso onde si move isnello,
  per cento rote, e da lunge si pone
  dal suo maestro, disdegnoso e fello;

cosi` ne puose al fondo Gerione
  al pie` al pie` de la stagliata rocca
  e, discarcate le nostre persone,

si dileguo` come da corda cocca.

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