Canto XXX

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   ‘TWAS at the time when Juno was enraged,
2   For Semele, against the Theban blood,
3   As she already more than once had shown,
 
4   So reft of reason Arthamas became,
5   That, seeing his own wife with children twain
6   Walking encumbered upon either hand,
 
7   He cried: Spread out the nets, that I may take
8   The lioness and her whelps upon the passage;
9   And then extended his unpitying claws,
 
10   Seizing the first, who had the name Learchus,
11   And whirled him round, and dashed him on a rock;
12   And she, with the other burthen, drowned herself;–
 
13   And at the time when fortune downward hurled
14   The Trojan’s arrogance, that all things dared,
15   So that the king was with his kingdom crushed,
 
16   Hecuba sad, disconsolate, and captive,
17   When lifeless she beheld Polyxena,
18   And of her Polydorus on the shore
 
19   Of ocean was the dolorous one aware,
20   Out of her senses like a dog she barked,
21   So much the anguish had her mind distorted;
 
22   But not of Thebes the furies nor the Trojan
23   Were ever seen in any one so cruel
24   In goading beasts, and much more human members,
 
25   As I beheld two shadows pale and naked,
26   Who, biting, in the manner ran along
27   That a boar does, when from the sty turned loose.
 
28   One to Capocchio came, and by the nape
29   Seized with its teeth his neck, so that in dragging
30   It made his belly grate the solid bottom.
 
31   And the Aretine, who trembling had remained,
32   Said to me: That mad sprite is Gianni Schicchi,
33   And raving goes thus harrying other people.
 
34   O, said I to him, so may not the other
35   Set teeth on thee, let it not weary thee
36   To tell us who it is, ere it dart hence.
 
37   And he to me: That is the ancient ghost
38   Of the nefarious Myrrha, who became
39   Beyond all rightful love her father’s lover.
 
40   She came to sir with him after this manner,
41   By counterfeiting of another’s form;
42   As he who goeth yonder undertook,
 
43   That he might gain the lady of the herd,
44   To counterfeit in himself Buoso Donati,
45   Making a will and giving it due form.
 
46   And after the two maniacs had passed
47   On whom I held mine eye, I turned it back
48   To look upon the other evil-born.
 
49   I saw one made in fashion of a lute,
50   If he had only had the groin cut off
51   Just at the point at which a man is forked.
 
52   The heavy dropsy, that so disproportions
53   The limbs with humours, which it ill concocts,
54   That the face corresponds not to the belly,
 
55   Compelled him so to hold his lips apart
56   As does the hectic, who because of thirst
57   One tow’rds the chin, the other upward turns.
 
58   O ye, who without any torment are,
59   And why I know not, in the world of woe,
60   He said to us, behold, and be attentive
 
61   Unto the misery of Master Adam;
62   I had while living much of what I wished,
63   And now, alas ! a drop of water crave.
 
64   The rivulets, that from the verdant hills
65   Of Cassentin descend down into Arno,
66   Making their channels to be cold and moist,
 
67   Ever before me stand, and not in vain;
68   For far more doth their image dry me up
69   Than the disease which strips my face of flesh.
 
70   The rigid justice that chastises me
71   Draweth occasion from the place in which
72   I sinned, to put the more my sighs in flight.
 
73   There is Romena, where I counterfeited
74   The currency imprinted with the Baptist,
75   For which I left my body burned above.
 
76   But if I here could see the tristful soul
77   Of Guido, or Alessandro, or their brother,
78   For Branda’s fount I would Dot give the sight.
 
79   One is within already, if the raving
80   Shades that are going round about speak truth;
81   But what avails it me, whose limbs are tied ?
 
82   If I were only still so light, that in
83   A hundred years I could advance one inch,
84   I had already started on the way,
 
85   Seeking him out among this squalid folk,
86   Although the circuit be eleven miles,
87   And be not less than half a mile across.
 
88   For them am I in. such a family;
89   They did induce me into coining florins,
90   Which had three carats of impurity.
 
91   And I to him: Who are the two poor wretches
92   That smoke like unto a wet hand in winter,
93   Lying there close upon thy right-hand confines?
 
94   I found them here,replied he, when I rained
95   Into this chasm, and since they have not turned,
96   Nor do I think they will for evermore.
 
97   One the false woman is who accused Joseph,
98   The other the false Sinon, Greek of Troy;
99   From acute fever they send forth such reek.
 
100   And one of them, who felt himself annoyed
101   At being, peradventure, named so darkly,
102   Smote with the fist upon his hardened paunch.
 
103   It gave a sound, as if it were a drum;
104   And Master Adam smote him in the face,
105   With arm that did not seem to be less hard,
 
106   Saying to him: Although be taken from me
107   All motion, for my limbs that heavy are,
108   I have an arm unfettered for such need.
 
109   Whereat he answer made: When thou didst go
110   Unto the fire, thou hadst it not so ready:
111   But hadst it so and more when thou wast coining.
 
112   The dropsical: Thou sayest true in that;
113   But thou wast not so true a witness there,
114   Where thou wast questioned of the truth at Troy.
 
115   If I spake false, thou falsifiedst the coin,
116   Said Sinon; and for one fault I am here,
117   And thou for more than any other demon.
 
118   Remember,perjurer,about the horse,
119   He made reply who had the swollen belly,
120   And rueful be it thee the whole world knows it.
 
121   Rueful to thee the thirst be wherewith cracks
122   Thy tongue, the Greek said, and the putrid water
123   That hedges so thy paunch before thine eyes.
 
124   Then the false-coiner: So is gaping wide
125   Thy mouth for speaking evil, as ’tis wont;
126   Because if I have thirst, and humour stuff me
 
127   Thou hast the burning and the head that aches,
128   And to lick up the mirror of Narcissus
129   Thou wouldst not want words many to invite thee.
 
130   In listening to them was I wholly fixed,
131   When said the Master to me: Now just look,
132   For little wants it that I quarrel with thee.
 
133   When him I heard in anger speak to me,
134   I turned me round towards him with such shame
135   That still it eddies through my memory.
 
136   And as he is who dreams of his own harm,
137   Who dreaming wishes it may be a dream,
138   So that he craves what is, as if it were not;
 
139   Such I became, not having power to speak,
140   For to excuse myself I wished, and still
141   Excused myself, and did not think I did it.
 
142   Less shame doth wash away a greater fault,
143   The Master said, than this of thine has been;
144   Therefore thyself disburden of all sadness,
 
145   And make account that I am aye beside thee,
146   If e’er it come to pass that fortune bring thee
147   Where there are people in a like dispute;
 
148   Fora base wish it is to wish to hear it.