Canto XXII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   I HAVE erewhile seen horsemen moving camp,
2   Begin the storming, and their muster make,
3   And sometimes starting off for their escape;
 
4   Vaunt-couriers have I seen upon your land,
5   O Aretines, and foragers go forth,
6   Tournaments stricken, and the joustings run,
 
7   Sometimes with trumpets and sometimes with bells,
8   With kettle-drums, and signals of the castles,
9   And with our own, and with outlandish things,
 
10   But never yet with bagpipe so uncouth
11   Did I see horsemen move, nor infantry,
12   Nor ship by any sign of land or star.
 
13   We went upon our way with the ten demons:
14   Ah, savage company ! but in the church
15   With saints, and in the tavern with the gluttons!
 
16   Ever upon the pitch was my intent,
17   To see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
18   And of the people who therein were burned.
 
19   Even as the dolphins, when they make a sign
20   To mariners by arching of the back,
21   That they should counsel take to save their vessel,
 
22   Thus sometimes, to alleviate his pain,
23   One of the sinners would display his back,
24   And in less time conceal it than it lightens.
 
25   As on the brink of water in a ditch
26   The frogs stand only with their muzzles out,
27   So that they hide their feet and other bulk.
 
28   So upon every side the sinners stood;
29   But ever as Barbariccia near them came,
30   Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew.
 
31   I saw, and still my heart doth shudder at it,
32   One waiting thus, even as it comes to pass
33   One frog remains, and down another dives;
 
34   And Graffiacan, who most confronted him,
35   Grappled him by his tresses smeared with pitch,
36   And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter.
 
37   I knew, before, the names of all of them,
38   So had I noted them when they were chosen,
39   And when they called each other, listened how.
 
40   O Rubicante, see that thou do lay
41   Thy claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,
42   Cried all together the accursed ones.
 
43   And I: My Master, see to it, if thou canst,
44   That thou mayst know who is the luckless wight,
45   Thus come into his adversaries’ hands.
 
46   Near to the side of him my Leader drew,
47   Asked of him whence he was; and he replied:
48   I in the kingdom of Navarre was born;
 
49   My mother placed me servant to a lord,
50   For she had borne me to a ribald knave,
51   Destroyer of himself and of his things.
 
52   Then I domestic was of good King Thibault;
53   I set me there to practise barratry,
54   For which I pay the reckoning in this heat.
 
55   And Ciriatto, from whose mouth projected,
56   On either side, a tusk, as in a boar,
57   Caused him to feel how one of them could rip.
 
58   Among malicious cats the mouse had come;
59   But Barbariccia clasped him in his arms,
60   And said: Stand ye aside, while I enfork him.
 
61   And to my Master he turned round his head;
62   Ask him again, he said,if more thou wish
63   To know from him, before some one destroy him.
 
64   The Guide: Now tell then of the other culprits;
65   Knowest thou any one who is a Latian,
66   Under the pitch ? And he: I separated
 
67   Lately from one who was a neighbour to it;
68   Would that I still were covered up with him,
69   For I should fear not either claw nor hook!
 
70   And Libicocco: We have borne too much;
71   And with his grapnel seized him by the arm,
72   So that, by rending, he tore off a tendon.
 
73   Eke Draghignazzo wished to pounce upon him
74   Down at the legs; whence their Decurion
75   Turned round and round about with evil look.
 
76   When they again somewhat were pacified,
77   Of him, who still was looking at his wound,
78   Demanded my Conductor without stay:
 
79   Who was that one, from whom a luckless parting
80   Thou sayest thou hast made, to come ashore?
81   And he replied It was the Friar Gomita,
 
82   He of Gallura, vessel of all fraud,
83   Who had the enemies of his Lord in hand,
84   And dealt so with them each exults thereat;
 
85   Money he took, and let them smoothly off,
86   As he says; and in other offices
87   A barrator was he, not mean but sovereign.
 
88   Foregathers with him one Don Michael Zanche
89   Of Logodoro; and of Sardinia
90   To gossip never do their tongues feel tired.
 
91   O me ! see that one, how he grinds his teeth;
92   Still farther would I speak, but am afraid
93   Lest he to scratch my itch be making ready.
 
94   And the grand Provost, turned to Farfarello,
95   Who rolled his eyes about as if to strike,
96   Said: Stand aside there, thou malicious bird.
 
97   If you desire either to see or hear,
98   The terror-stricken recommenced thereon,
99   Tuscans or Lombards. I will make them come.
 
100   But let the Malebranche cease a little,
101   So that these may not their revenges fear,
102   And I, down sitting in this very place,
 
103   For one that I am will make seven come,
104   When I shall whistle, as our custom is
105   To do whenever one of us comes out.
 
106   Cagnazzo at these words his muzzle lifted,
107   Shaking his head, and said: Just hear the trick
108   Which he has thought of, down to throw himself!
 
109   Whence he, who snares in great abundance had,
110   Responded: I by far too cunning am,
111   When I procure for mine a greater sadness.
 
112   Alichin held not in, but running counter
113   Unto the rest, said to him: If thou dive,
114   I will not follow thee upon the gallop,
 
115   But I will beat my wings above the pitch;
116   The height be left, and be the bank a shield
117   To see if thou alone dost countervail us.
 
118   O thou who readest, thou shalt hear new sport!
119   Each to the other side his eyes averted;
120   He first, who most reluctant was to do it.
 
121   The Navarrese selected well his time;
122   Planted his feet on land, and in a moment
123   Leaped, and released himself from their design.
 
124   Whereat each one was suddenly stung with shame,
125   But he most who was cause of the defeat;
126   Therefore he moved, and cried: Thou art o’ertakern.
 
127   But little it availed, for wings could not
128   Outstrip the fear; the other one went under,
129   And, flying, upward he his breast directed;
 
130   Not otherwise the duck upon a sudden
131   Dives under, when the falcon is approaching,
132   And upward he returneth cross and weary.
 
133   Infuriate at the mockery, Calcabrina
134   Flying behind him followed close, desirous
135   The other should escape, to have a quarrel.
 
136   And when the barrator had disappeared,
137   He turned his talons upon his companion,
138   And grappled with him right above the moat.
 
139   But sooth the other was a doughty sparhawk
140   To clapperclaw him well; and both of them
141   Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.
 
142   A sudden intercessor was the heat;
143   But ne’ertheless of rising there was naught,
144   To such degree they had their wings belimed.
 
145   Lamenting with the others, Barbariccia
146   Made four of them fly to the other side
147   With all their gaffs, and very speedily
 
148   This side and that they to their posts descended;
149   They stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
150   Who were already baked within the crust,
 
151   And in this manner busied did we leave them.