Canto XXXIII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   His mouth uplifted from his grim repast,
2   That sinner, wiping it upon the hair
3   Of the same head that he behind had wasted.
 
4   Then he began: Thou wilt that I renew
5   The desperate grief, which wrings my heart already
6   To think of only, ere I speak of it;
 
7   But if my words be seed that may bear fruit
8   Of infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw,
9   Speaking and weeping shalt thou see together.
 
10   I know not who thou art, nor by what mode
11   Thou hast come down here; but a Florentine
12   Thou seemest to me truly, when I hear thee.
 
13   Thou hast to know I was Count Ugolino,
14   And this one was Ruggieri the Archbishop;
15   Now I will tell thee why I am such a neighbour.
 
16   That, by effect of his malicious thoughts
17   Trusting in him I was made prisoner,
18   And after put to death, I need not say;
 
19   But ne’ertheless what thou canst not have heard,
20   That is to say, how cruel was my death,
21   Hear shalt thou, and shalt know if he has wronged me.
 
22   A narrow perforation in the mew,
23   Which bears because of me the title of Famine,
24   And in which others still must be locked up,
 
25   Had shown me through its opening many moons
26   Already, when I dreamed the evil dream
27   Which of the future rent for me the veil.
 
28   This one appeared to me as lord and master,
29   Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain
30   For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see.
 
31   With sleuth-hounds gaunt, and eager, and well trained,
32   Gualandi with Sismondi and Lanfranchi
33   He had sent out before him to the front
 
34   After brief course seemed unto me forespent
35   The father and the sons, and with sharp tushes
36   It seemed to me I saw their flanks ripped open.
 
37   When I before the morrow was awake,
38   Moaning amid their sleep I heard my sons
39   Who with me were, and asking after bread.
 
40   Cruel indeed art thou, if yet thou grieve not,
41   Thinking of what my heart foreboded me,
42   And weep’st thou not, what art thou wont to weep at?
 
43   They were awake now, and the hour drew nigh
44   At which our food used to be brought to us,
45   And through his dream was each one apprehensive;
 
46   And I heard locking up the under door
47   Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word
48   I gazed into the faces of my sons.
 
49   I wept not, I within so turned to stone;
50   They wept; and darling little Anselm mine
51   Said:’Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?’
 
52   Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made
53   All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter,
54   Until another sun rose on the world.
 
55   As now a little glimmer made its way
56   Into the dolorous prison, and I saw
57   Upon four faces my own very aspect
 
58   Both of my hands in agony I bit,
59   And, thinking that I did it from desire
60   Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,
 
61   And said they:’Father, much less pain ’twill give us
62   If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us
63   With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.’
 
64   I calmed me then, not to make them more sad.
65   That day we all were silent, and the next.
66   Ah!obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open?
 
67   When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo
68   Threw himself down outstretched before my feet,
69   Saying,’My father, why dost thou not help me?’
 
70   And there he died; and, as thou seest me,
71   I saw the three fall, one by one, between
72   The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,
 
73   Already blind,to groping over each,
74   And three days called them after they were dead;
75   Then hunger did what sorrow could not do.
 
76   When he had said this, with his eyes distorted,
77   The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth,
78   Which, as a dog’s, upon the bone were strong.
 
79   Ah! Pisa, thou opprobrium of the people
80   Of the fair land there where the Si doth sound,
81   Since slow to punish thee thy neighbours are,
 
82   Let the Capraia and Gorgona move,
83   And make a hedge across the mouth of Arno
84   That every person in thee it may drown!
 
85   For if Count Ugolino had the fame
86   Of having in thy castles thee betrayed,
87   Thou shouldst not on such cross have put his sons.
 
88   Guiltless of any crime, thou modern Thebes!
89   Their youth made Uguccione and Brigata,
90   And the other two my song doth name above!
 
91   We passed still farther onward, where the ice
92   Another people ruggedly enswathes,
93   Not downward turned, but all of them reversed.
 
94   Weeping itself there does not let them weep,
95   An(l grief that finds a barrier in the eyes
96   Turns itself inward to increase the anguish;
 
97   Because the earliest tears a cluster form,
98   And, in the manner of a crystal visor,
99   Fill all the cup beneath the eyebrow full.
 
100   And notwithstanding that, as in a callus,
101   Because of cold all sensibility
102   Its station had abandoned in my face,
 
103   Still it appeared to me I felt some wind;
104   Whence I: My Master, who sets this in motion?
105   Is not below here every vapour quenched?
 
106   Whence he to me: Full soon shalt thou be where
107   Thine eye shall answer make to thee of this,
108   Seeing the cause which raineth down the blast.
 
109   And one of the wretches of the frozen crust
110   Cried out to us: O souls so merciless
111   That the last post is given unto you,
 
112   Lift from mine eyes the rigid veils, that I
113   May vent the sorrow which impregns my heart
114   A little, e’er the weeping recongeal.
 
115   Whence I to him: If thou wouldst have me help thee
116   Say who thou wast; and if I free thee not,
117   May I go to the bottom of the ice.
 
118   Then he replied: I am Friar Alberigo;
119   He am I of the fruit of the bad garden,
120   Who here a date am getting for my fig.
 
121   O,said I to him, now art thou, too, dead?
122   And he to me: How may my body fare
123   Up in the world, no knowledge I possess.
 
124   Such an advantage has this Ptolomaea,
125   That oftentimes the soul descendeth here
126   Sooner than Atropos in motion sets it.
 
127   And, that thou mayest more willingly remove
128   From off my countenance these glassy tears,
129   Know that as soon as any soul betrays
 
130   As I have done, his body by a demon
131   Is taken from him, who thereafter rules it,
132   Until his time has wholly been revolved.
 
133   Itself down rushes into such a cistern;
134   And still perchance above appears the body
135   Of yonder shade, that winters here behind me.
 
136   This thou shouldst know, if thou hast just come down;
137   It is Ser Branca d’ Oria, and many years
138   Have passed away since he was thus locked up.
 
139   I think, said I to him,thou dost deceive me;
140   For Branca d’ Oria is not dead as yet,
141   And eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes.
 
142   In moat above,said he,of Malebranche,
143   There where is boiling the tenacious pitch,
144   As yet had Michel Zanche not arrived,
 
145   When this one left a devil in his stead
146   In his own body and one near of kin,
147   Who made together with him the betrayal.
 
148   But hitherward stretch out thy hand forthwith,
149   Open mine eyes ;–and open them I did not,
150   And to be rude to him was courtesy.
 
151   Ah, Genoese ! ye men at variance
152   With every virtue, full of every vice
153   Wherefore are ye not scattered from the world
 
154   For with the vilest spirit of Romagna
155   I found of you one such, who for his deeds
156   In soul already in Cocytus bathes,
 
157   And still above in body seems alive!