Inferno: Canto XXIX

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The many people and the divers wounds
These eyes of mine had so inebriated,
That they were wishful to stand still and weep;

But said Virgilius: "What dost thou still gaze 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."

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

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 my 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 Aegina 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 succour had.

And the nails downward with them dragged the scab,
In fashion as a knife the scales of bream,
Or any 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."

"Latians are we, whom thou so wasted seest,
Both of us here," one weeping made reply;
"But who art thou, that questionest about us?"

And said the Guide: "One am I who descends
Down with this living man from cliff to cliff,
And I intend to show Hell unto him."

Then broken was their mutual support,
And trembling each one turned himself to me,
With others who had heard him by rebound.

Wholly to me did the good Master gather,
Saying: "Say unto them whate'er thou wishest."
And I began, since he would have it so:

"So may your memory not steal away
In the first world from out the minds of men,
But so may it survive 'neath many suns,

Say to me who ye are, and of what people;
Let not your foul and loathsome punishment
Make you afraid to show yourselves to me."

"I of Arezzo was," one made reply,
"And Albert of Siena had me burned;
But what I died for does not bring me here.

'Tis true I said to him, speaking in jest,
That I could rise by flight into the air,
And he who had conceit, but little wit,

Would have me show to him the art; and only
Because no Daedalus I made him, made me
Be burned by one who held him as his son.

But unto the last Bolgia of the ten,
For alchemy, which in the world I practised,
Minos, who cannot err, has me condemned."

And to the poet said I: "Now was ever
So vain a people as the Sienese?
Not for a certainty the French by far."

Whereat the other leper, who had heard me,
Replied unto my speech: "Taking out Stricca,
Who knew the art of moderate expenses,

And Niccolo, who the luxurious use
Of cloves discovered earliest of all
Within that garden where such seed takes root;

And taking out the band, among whom squandered
Caccia d'Ascian his vineyards and vast woods,
And where his wit the Abbagliato proffered!

But, that thou know who thus doth second thee
Against the Sienese, make sharp thine eye
Tow'rds me, so that my face well answer thee,

And thou shalt see I am Capocchio's shade,
Who metals falsified by alchemy;
Thou must remember, if I well descry thee,

How I a skilful ape of nature was."

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La Divina Commedia: Inferno: Canto XXIX
La molta gente e le diverse piaghe
  avean le luci mie si` inebriate,
  che de lo stare a piangere eran vaghe.

Ma Virgilio mi disse: "Che pur guate?
  perche' la vista tua pur si soffolge
  la` giu` tra l'ombre triste smozzicate?

Tu non hai fatto si` a l'altre bolge;
  pensa, se tu annoverar le credi,
  che miglia ventidue la valle volge.

E gia` la luna e` sotto i nostri piedi:
  lo tempo e` poco omai che n'e` concesso,
  e altro e` da veder che tu non vedi".

"Se tu avessi", rispuos'io appresso,
  "atteso a la cagion perch'io guardava,
  forse m'avresti ancor lo star dimesso".

Parte sen giva, e io retro li andava,
  lo duca, gia` faccendo la risposta,
  e soggiugnendo: "Dentro a quella cava

dov'io tenea or li occhi si` a posta,
  credo ch'un spirto del mio sangue pianga
  la colpa che la` giu` cotanto costa".

Allor disse 'l maestro: "Non si franga
  lo tuo pensier da qui innanzi sovr'ello.
  Attendi ad altro, ed ei la` si rimanga;

ch'io vidi lui a pie` del ponticello
  mostrarti, e minacciar forte, col dito,
  e udi' 'l nominar Geri del Bello.

Tu eri allor si` del tutto impedito
  sovra colui che gia` tenne Altaforte,
  che non guardasti in la`, si` fu partito".

"O duca mio, la violenta morte
  che non li e` vendicata ancor", diss'io,
  "per alcun che de l'onta sia consorte,

fece lui disdegnoso; ond'el sen gio
  sanza parlarmi, si` com'io estimo:
  e in cio` m'ha el fatto a se' piu` pio".

Cosi` parlammo infino al loco primo
  che de lo scoglio l'altra valle mostra,
  se piu` lume vi fosse, tutto ad imo.

Quando noi fummo sor l'ultima chiostra
  di Malebolge, si` che i suoi conversi
  potean parere a la veduta nostra,

lamenti saettaron me diversi,
  che di pieta` ferrati avean li strali;
  ond'io li orecchi con le man copersi.

Qual dolor fora, se de li spedali,
  di Valdichiana tra 'l luglio e 'l settembre
  e di Maremma e di Sardigna i mali

fossero in una fossa tutti 'nsembre,
  tal era quivi, e tal puzzo n'usciva
  qual suol venir de le marcite membre.

Noi discendemmo in su l'ultima riva
  del lungo scoglio, pur da man sinistra;
  e allor fu la mia vista piu` viva

giu` ver lo fondo, la 've la ministra
  de l'alto Sire infallibil giustizia
  punisce i falsador che qui registra.

Non credo ch'a veder maggior tristizia
  fosse in Egina il popol tutto infermo,
  quando fu l'aere si` pien di malizia,

che li animali, infino al picciol vermo,
  cascaron tutti, e poi le genti antiche,
  secondo che i poeti hanno per fermo,

si ristorar di seme di formiche;
  ch'era a veder per quella oscura valle
  languir li spirti per diverse biche.

Qual sovra 'l ventre, e qual sovra le spalle
  l'un de l'altro giacea, e qual carpone
  si trasmutava per lo tristo calle.

Passo passo andavam sanza sermone,
  guardando e ascoltando li ammalati,
  che non potean levar le lor persone.

Io vidi due sedere a se' poggiati,
  com'a scaldar si poggia tegghia a tegghia,
  dal capo al pie` di schianze macolati;

e non vidi gia` mai menare stregghia
  a ragazzo aspettato dal segnorso,
  ne' a colui che mal volontier vegghia,

come ciascun menava spesso il morso
  de l'unghie sopra se' per la gran rabbia
  del pizzicor, che non ha piu` soccorso;

e si` traevan giu` l'unghie la scabbia,
  come coltel di scardova le scaglie
  o d'altro pesce che piu` larghe l'abbia.

"O tu che con le dita ti dismaglie",
  comincio` 'l duca mio a l'un di loro,
  "e che fai d'esse talvolta tanaglie,

dinne s'alcun Latino e` tra costoro
  che son quinc'entro, se l'unghia ti basti
  etternalmente a cotesto lavoro".

"Latin siam noi, che tu vedi si` guasti
  qui ambedue", rispuose l'un piangendo;
  "ma tu chi se' che di noi dimandasti?".

E 'l duca disse: "I' son un che discendo
  con questo vivo giu` di balzo in balzo,
  e di mostrar lo 'nferno a lui intendo".

Allor si ruppe lo comun rincalzo;
  e tremando ciascuno a me si volse
  con altri che l'udiron di rimbalzo.

Lo buon maestro a me tutto s'accolse,
  dicendo: "Di` a lor cio` che tu vuoli";
  e io incominciai, poscia ch'ei volse:

"Se la vostra memoria non s'imboli
  nel primo mondo da l'umane menti,
  ma s'ella viva sotto molti soli,

ditemi chi voi siete e di che genti;
  la vostra sconcia e fastidiosa pena
  di palesarvi a me non vi spaventi".

"Io fui d'Arezzo, e Albero da Siena",
  rispuose l'un, "mi fe' mettere al foco;
  ma quel per ch'io mori' qui non mi mena.

Vero e` ch'i' dissi lui, parlando a gioco:
  "I' mi saprei levar per l'aere a volo";
  e quei, ch'avea vaghezza e senno poco,

volle ch'i' li mostrassi l'arte; e solo
  perch'io nol feci Dedalo, mi fece
  ardere a tal che l'avea per figliuolo.

Ma nell 'ultima bolgia de le diece
  me per l'alchimia che nel mondo usai
  danno` Minos, a cui fallar non lece".

E io dissi al poeta: "Or fu gia` mai
  gente si` vana come la sanese?
  Certo non la francesca si` d'assai!".

Onde l'altro lebbroso, che m'intese,
  rispuose al detto mio: "Tra'mene Stricca
  che seppe far le temperate spese,

e Niccolo` che la costuma ricca
  del garofano prima discoverse
  ne l'orto dove tal seme s'appicca;

e tra'ne la brigata in che disperse
  Caccia d'Ascian la vigna e la gran fonda,
  e l'Abbagliato suo senno proferse.

Ma perche' sappi chi si` ti seconda
  contra i Sanesi, aguzza ver me l'occhio,
  si` che la faccia mia ben ti risponda:

si` vedrai ch'io son l'ombra di Capocchio,
  che falsai li metalli con l'alchimia;
  e te dee ricordar, se ben t'adocchio,

com'io fui di natura buona scimia".

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