Canto XXIX

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   THE many people and the divers wounds
2   These eyes of mine had so inebriated,
3   That they were wishful to stand still and weep;
4   But said Virgilius: What dost thou still gaze at?
5   Why is thy sight still riveted down there
6   Among the mournful, mutilated shades ?
7   Thou hast not done so at the other Bolge;
8   Consider, if to count them thou believest,
9   That two-and-twenty miles the valley winds,
10   And now the moon is underneath our feet;
11   Henceforth the time allotted us is brief,
12   And more is to be seen than what thou seest.
13   If thou hadst, I made answer thereupon
14   Attended to the cause for which I looked,
15   Perhaps a longer stay thou wouldst have pardoned.
16   Meanwhile my Guide departed, and behind him
17   I went, already making my reply,
18   And superadding: In that cavern where
19   I held mine eyes with such attention fixed,
20   I think a spirit of my blood laments
21   The sin which down below there costs so much
22   Then said the Master: Be no longer broken
23   Thy thought from this time forward upon him;
24   Attend elsewhere, and there let him remain;
25   For him I saw below the little bridge,
26   Pointing at thee, and threatening with his finger
27   Fiercely, and heard him called Geri del Bello.
28   So wholly at that time wast thou impeded
29   By him who formerly held Altaforte,
30   Thou didst not look that way; so he departed.
31   O my Conductor, his own violent death,
32   Which is not yet avenged for him,I said,
33   By any who is sharer in the shame,
34   Made him disdainful; whence he went away,
35   As I imagine, without speaking to me,
36   And thereby made me pity him the more.
37   Thus did we speak as far as the first place
38   Upon the crag, which the next valley shows
39   Down to the bottom, if there were more light.
40   When we were now right over the last cloister
41   Of Malebolge, so that its lay-brothers
42   Could manifest themselves unto our sight,
43   Divers lamentings pierced me through and through,
44   Which with compassion had their arrows barbed,
45   Whereat mine ears I covered with my hands.
46   What pain would be, if from the hospitals
47   Of Valdichiana, ‘twixt July and September,
48   And of Maremma and Sardinia
49   All the diseases in one moat were gathered,
50   Such was it here, and such a stench came from it
51   As from putrescent limbs is wont to issue.
52   We had descended on the furthest bank
53   From the long crag, upon the left hand still,
54   And then more vivid was my power of sight
55   Down tow’rds the bottom, where the ministress
56   Of the high Lord, Justice infallible,
57   Punishes forgers, which she here records.
58   I do not think a sadder sight to see
59   Was in Aegina the whole people sick,
60   (When was the air so full of pestilence,
61   The animals, down to the little worm,
62   All fell, and afterwards the ancient people,
63   According as the poets have affirmed,
64   Were from the seed of ants restored again,)
65   Than was it to behold through that dark
66   The spirits languishing in divers heaps.
67   This on the belly, that upon the back
68   One of the other lay, and others crawling
69   Shifted themselves along the dismal road.
70   We step by step went onward without speech,
71   Gazing upon and listening to the sick
72   Who had not strength enough to lift their bodies.
73   I saw two sitting leaned against each other,
74   As leans in heating platter against platter,
75   From head to foot bespotted o’er with scabs;
76   And never saw I plied a currycomb
77   By stable-boy for whom his master waits,
78   Or him who keeps awake unwillingly,
79   As every one was plying fast the bite
80   Of nails upon himself, for the great rage
81   Of itching which no other succour had.
82   And the nails downward with them dragged the scab,
83   In fashion as a knife the scales of bream,
84   Or any other fish that has them largest.
85   O thou, that with thy fingers dost dismail thee,
86   Began my Leader unto one of them,
87   And makest of them pincers now and then,
88   Tell me if any Latian is with those
89   Who are herein; so may thy nails suffice thee
90   To all eternity unto this work.
91   Latians are we, whom thou so wasted seest,
92   Both of us here, one weeping made reply;
93   But who art thou, that questionest about us?
94   And said the Guide: One am I who descends
95   Down with this living man from cliff to cliff,
96   And I intend to show Hell unto him.
97   Then broken was their mutual support,
98   And trembling each one turned himself to me,
99   With others who had heard him by rebound.
100   Wholly to me did the good Master gather,
101   Saying: Say unto them whate’er thou wishest.
102   And I began, since he would have it so:
103   So may your memory not steal away
104   In the first world from out the minds of men,
105   But so may it survive ‘neath many suns,
106   Say to me who ye are, and of what people;
107   Let not your foul and loathsome punishment
108   Make you afraid to show yourselves to me.
109   I of Arezzo was, one made reply,
110   And Albert of Siena had me burned;
111   But what I died for does not bring me here.
112   ‘Tis true I said to him, speaking in jest,
113   That I could rise by flight into the air,
114   And he who had conceit, but little wit,
115   Would have me show to him the art; and only
116   Because no Daedelus I made him, made me
117   Be burned by one who held him as his son.
118   But unto the last Bolgia of the ten,
119   For alchemy, which in the world I practised,
120   Minos, who cannot err, has me condemned.
121   And to the Poet said I: Now was ever
122   So vain a people as the Sienese?
123   Not for a certainty the French by far.
124   Whereat the other leper, who had heard me,
125   Replied unto my speech: Taking out Stricca,
126   Who knew the art of moderate expenses,
127   And Niccolo, who the luxurious use
128   Of cloves discovered earliest of all
129   Within that garden where such seed takes root;
130   And taking out the band, among whom squandered
131   Caccia d’Ascian his vineyards and vast woods,
132   And where his wit the Abbagliato proffered!
133   But,that thou know who thus doth second thee
134   Against the Sienese, make sharp thine eye
135   Tow’rds me, so that my face well answer thee,
136   And thou shalt see I am Capocchio’s shade,
137   Who metals falsified by alchemy;
138   Thou must remember, if I well descry thee,
139   How I a skilful ape of nature was.