From bridge to bridge
thus, speaking other things
Of which my Comedy
cares not to sing
We came along, and held the summit, when
We halted to behold another fissure
and other vain
And I beheld it marvellous
As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in the winter
the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels o'er again,
For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
of that which many a voyage has made;
at the prow
, one at the stern
This one makes oars
, and that one cordage
Another mends the mainsail
and the mizzen
Thus, not by fire
, but by the art
Was boiling down below there a dense pitch
Which upon every side the bank belimed.
I saw it, but I did not see within it
Aught but the bubbles that the boiling raised,
And all swell up and resubside compressed.
The while below there fixedly I gazed,
My Leader, crying out: "Beware, beware!
Drew me unto himself from where I stood.
Then I turned round, as one who is impatient
To see what it behoves him to escape,
And whom a sudden terror doth unman,
Who, while he looks, delays not his departure;
And I beheld behind us a black devil
Running along upon the crag, approach.
Ah, how ferocious
was he in his aspect!
And how he seemed to me in action ruthless,
With open wings and light
upon his feet!
His shoulders, which sharp-pointed were and high,
did encumber with both haunches
And he held clutched the sinews
of the feet.
From off our bridge, he said: "O Malebranche
Behold one of the elder
s of Saint Zita
Plunge him beneath, for I return for others
Unto that town, which is well furnished with them.
All there are barrator
s, except Bonturo
there is changed."
He hurled him down, and over the hard crag
Turned round, and never was a mastiff
In so much hurry to pursue a thief
The other sank, and rose again face downward;
But the demon
s, under cover of the bridge,
Cried: "Here the Santo Volto
has no place!
Here swims one otherwise than in the Serchio
Therefore, if for our gaffs thou wishest not,
Do not uplift thyself above the pitch."
They seized him then with more than a hundred rakes;
They said: "It here behoves thee to dance covered,
That, if thou canst, thou secretly mayest pilfer."
Not otherwise the cooks their scullion
Immerse into the middle of the caldron
The meat with hooks, so that it may not float.
Said the good Master
to me: "That it be not
Apparent thou art
Behind a jag
, that thou mayest have some screen;
And for no outrage
that is done to me
Be thou afraid, because these things I know,
For once before was I in such a scuffle."
Then he passed on beyond the bridge's head,
And as upon the sixth bank
Need was for him to have a steadfast front.
With the same fury, and the same uproar,
s leap out upon a mendicant
Who on a sudden begs, where'er he stops,
They issued from beneath the little bridge,
And turned against him all their grappling-irons
But he cried out: "Be none of you malignant
Before those hooks of yours lay hold of me,
Let one of you step forward, who may hear me,
And then take counsel as to grappling me."
They all cried out: "Let Malacoda
Whereat one started, and the rest stood still,
And he came to him, saying: "What avail
"Thinkest thou, Malacoda
, to behold me
Advanced into this place," my Master
"Safe hitherto from all your skill of fence
Without the will divine
, and fate auspicious
Let me go on, for it in Heaven
That I another show this savage
Then was his arrogance
so humbled in him,
That he let fall his grapnel
at his feet,
And to the others said: "Now strike him not."
And unto me my Guide
: "O thou, who sittest
Among the splinters
of the bridge crouched down,
Securely now return to me again."
Wherefore I started and came swiftly to him;
And all the devil
s forward thrust themselves,
So that I fear
ed they would not keep their compact
And thus beheld I once afraid the soldiers
Who issued under safeguard
Seeing themselves among so many foes.
Close did I press myself with all my person
Beside my Leader, and turned not mine eyes
From off their countenance, which was not good
They lowered their rakes, and "Wilt thou have me hit him,"
They said to one another, "on the rump
And answered: "Yes; see that thou nick
him with it."
But the same demon
who was holding parley
With my Conductor
turned him very quickly,
And said: "Be quiet, be quiet, Scarmiglione
Then said to us: "You can no farther go
Forward upon this crag, because is lying
All shattered, at the bottom, the sixth arch
And if it still doth please you to go onward,
Pursue your way along upon this rock
Near is another crag that yields a path.
Yesterday, five hours later than this hour,
One thousand and two hundred sixty-six
Years were complete, that here the way was broken.
I send in that direction some of mine
To see if any one doth air himself;
Go ye with them; for they will not be vicious
Step forward, Alichino
Began he to cry out, "and thou, Cagnazzo
, do thou Guide
Come forward, Libicocco
And tusked Ciriatto
and mad Rubicante
Search ye all round about the boiling pitch;
Let these be safe as far as the next crag,
That all unbroken passes o'er the dens."
"O me! what is it, Master
, that I see?
Pray let us go," I said, "without an escort,
If thou knowest how, since
for myself I ask none.
If thou art
as observant as thy wont is,
Dost thou not see that they do gnash their teeth,
And with their brows
are threatening woe to us?"
And he to me: "I will not have thee fear
Let them gnash on, according to their fancy
Because they do it for those boiling wretches
Along the left-hand dike they wheeled about;
But first had each one thrust his tongue between
His teeth towards their leader for a signal;
And he had made a trumpet of his rump