Canto XXXII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   IF I had rhymes both rough and stridulous,
2   As were appropriate to the dismal hole
3   Down upon which thrust all the other rocks,
 
4   I would press out the juice of my conception
5   More fully; but because I have them not,
6   Not without fear I bring myself to speak;
 
7   For ’tis no enterprise to take in jest,
8   To sketch the bottom of all the universe,
9   Nor for a tongue that cries Mamma and Babbo.
 
10   But may those Ladies help this verse of mine,
11   Who helped Amphion in enclosing Thebes,
12   That from the fact the word be not diverse.
 
13   O rabble ill-begotten above all,
14   Who’re in the place to speak of which is hard,
15   ‘Twere better ye had here been sheep or goats !
 
16   When we were down within the darksome well,
17   Beneath the giant’s feet, but lower far,
18   And I was scanning still the lofty wall,
 
19   heard it said to me: Look how thou steppest!
20   Take heed thou do not trample with thy feet
21   The heads of the tired, miserable brothers!
 
22   Whereat I turned me round, and saw before me
23   And underfoot a lake, that from the frost
24   The semblance had of glass, and not of water.
 
25   So thick a veil ne’er made upon its current
26   In winter-time Danube in Austria,
27   Nor there beneath the frigid sky the Don,
 
28   As there was here; so that if Tambernich
29   Had fallen upon it, or Pietrapana,
30   E’en at the edge ‘twould not have given a creak.
 
31   And as to croak the frog doth place himself
32   With muzzle out of water,–when is dreaming
33   Of gleaning oftentimes the peasant-girl,–
 
34   Livid, as far down as where shame appears,
35   Were the disconsolate shades within the ice,
36   Setting their teeth unto the note of storks.
 
37   Each one his countenance held downward bent:
38   From mouth the cold, from eyes the doeful heart
39   Among them witness of itself procures.
 
40   When round about me somewhat I had looked,
41   I downward turned me, and saw two so close,
42   The hair upon their heads together mingled.
 
43   Ye who so strain your breasts together, tell me,
44   I said. who are you; and they bent their necks,
45   And when to me their faces they had lifted,
 
46   Their eyes, which first were only moist within,
47   Gushed o’er the eyelids, and the frost congealed
48   The tears between, and locked them up again.
 
49   Clamp never bound together wood with wood
50   So strongly; whereat they, like two he-goats,
51   Butted together, so much wrath o’ercame them.
 
52   And one, who had by reason of the cold
53   Lost both his ears, still with his visage downward,
54   Said: Why dost thou so mirror thyself in us?
 
55   If thou desire to know who these two are,
56   The valley whence Bisenzio descends
57   Belonged to them and to their father Albert.
 
58   They from one body came, and all Caina
59   Thou shalt search through, and shalt not find a shade
60   More worthy to be fixed in gelatine;
 
61   Not he in whom were broken breast and shadow
62   At one and the same blow by Arthur’s hand;
63   Focaccia not; not he who me encumbers
 
64   So with his head I see no farther forward,
65   And bore the name of Sassol Mascheroni;
66   Well knowest thou who he was, if thou artTuscan.
 
67   And that thou put me not to further speech,
68   Know that I Camicion de’ Pazzi was,
69   And wait Carlino to exonerate me.
 
70   Then I beheld a thousand faces, made
71   Purple with cold; whence o’er me comes a shudder,
72   And evermore will come, at frozen ponds.
 
73   And while we were advancing tow’rds the middle,
74   Where everything of weight unites together,
75   And I was shivering in the eternal shade,
 
76   Whether ’twere will, or destiny, or chance,
77   I know not; but in walking ‘mong the heads
78   I struck my foot hard in the face of one.
 
79   And I: My Master, now wait here for me,
80   That I through him may issue from a doubt;
81   Then thou mayst hurry me, as thou shalt wish.
 
82   The Leader stopped; and to that one I said
83   Who was blaspheming vehemently still:
84   Who art thou, that thus reprehendest others?
 
85   Now who art thou, that goest through Antenora
86   Smiting, replied he, other people’s cheeks,
87   So that, if thou wert living, ’twere too much?
 
88   Living I am, and dear to thee it may be,
89   Was my response, ‘ if thou demandest fame,
90   That ‘mid the other notes thy name I place.
 
91   And he to me: For the reverse I long;
92   Take thyself hence, and give me no more trouble;
93   For ill thou knowest to flatter in this hollow.
 
94   Then by the scalp behind I seized upon him,
95   And said: It must needs be thou name thyself,
96   Or not a hair remain upon thee here.
 
97   Whence he to me: Though thou strip off my hair,
98   I will not tell thee who I am, nor show thee,
99   If on my head a thousand times thou fall.
 
100   I had his hair in hand already twisted,
101   And more than one shock of it had pulled out,
102   He barking, with his eyes held firmly down,
 
103   When cried another: What doth ail thee, Bocca?
104   Is’t not enough to clatter with thy jaws,
105   But thou must bark ? what devil touches thee?
 
106   Now, said I,I care not to have thee speak,
107   Accursed traitor; for unto thy shame
108   I will report of thee veracious news.
 
109   Begone, replied he,and tell what thou wilt,
110   But be not silent, if thou issue hence,
111   Of him who had just now his tongue so prompt;
 
112   He weepeth here the silver of the French;
113   ‘I saw,’ thus canst thou phrase it, ‘ him of Duera
114   There where the sinners stand out in the cold.’
 
115   If thou shouldst questioned be who else was there,
116   Thou hast beside thee him of Beccaria,
117   Of whom the gorget Florence slit asunder;
 
118   Gianni del Soldanier, I think, may be
119   Yonder with Ganellon, and Tebaldello
120   Who oped Faenza when the people slep
 
121   Already we had gone away from him,
122   When I beheld two frozen in one hole,
123   So that one head a hood was to the other;
 
124   And even as bread through hunger is devoured,
125   The uppermost on the other set his teeth,
126   There where the brain is to the nape united.
 
127   Not in another fashion Tydeus gnawed
128   The temples of Menalippus in disdain,
129   Than that one di-l the skull and the other things.
 
130   O thou, who showest by such bestial sign
131   Thy hatred against him whom thou art eating,
132   Tell me the wherefore, said I,with this compact, us
 
133   That if thou rightfully of him complain,
134   In knowing who ye are, and his transgression,
135   I in the world above repay thee for it,
 
136   If that wherewith I speak be not dried up.