The thief held up his hands when he was through,
The serpents were my friends from that time forth,
And another went around his arms to snake
Pistoia, Pistoia!--Why haven't you decreed
In evildoing? In all the circles of Hell
Speaking no more then, Vanni Fucci fled,
As he charged up. I think more snakes than lodge
Of our human form. He bore behind his nape,
"This centaur's name is Cacus," my master said,
He doesn't walk the same road as his clan
That ended his crooked habits: he died for it.
While he was saying this, the centaur sped
Until they shouted to us, "Who are you?"
When chance disposes, one had some cause to name
To stay alert, with a finger that I laid
Be little wonder, for I who saw it know
A serpent darted forward that had six feet,
A grip upon the belly, with each fore-limb
To both his thighs, extending its tail to flex
As firmly as the horrid beast entwined
And mixed their colors; and neither could be contstrued
That moves before it that is not yet black,
At how you change, Agnello!--already you
Into one face, where both were lost. The sides
Grew members that were never seen before.
Yet neither--such, its pace deliberate,
Between the hedges so that it seems a flash
Toward the bellies of the two who stayed;
When life begins--then fell before his feet,
Of sleep or fever had taken him. He eyed
And their smoke met. Let Lucan now attend
What I will let fly next. And Ovid, who writes
One to a serpent, and makes the other spill
Front-to-front natures so both forms as they met
Its tail to make a fork; the wounded one
The split tail took the shape the other lost,
Inside the armpits; the animal's feet appeared
Became the member man conceals. From his,
Hair here and strips it there, the one shape falls
They each were changing: the one who newly stood
Behind smooth cheeks; what didn't course to an ear
He that lay prone propelled his nose and face
Whole and prepared for speech was split instead--
A beast fled down the valley with a hiss;
The third, and said: "I'll have Buoso trot
And mutate--and may its strangeness excuse my pen,
My mind somewhat bewildered, yet none of these
Of Puccio Sciancato, who of the three
Whose death, Gaville, you have good cause to grieve.
Rejoice, O Florence, since you are so great,
I found among those there for their thievery
But if we dream the truth near morning time,
Already, it would not have come too soon.
The older I become. We left the place,
On our descent, my guide climbed up again
Climbing that jaggged ridge's rocks and spurs.
My art to make its genius more restrained
Star or some better thing has made it mine
(Resting on a hill that time of year when he
To the mosquito) all down the valley's face,
Glittering, as I saw when I attained
That what he saw was Elijah's chariot
Except by looking at the flame alone,
Showing its plunder, though every flame contrives
A better view, and if I didn't grip
I gazed intently down, my master said,
"My Master, to hear you say it makes me sure,
Which at its top is so split into two
Tormented Ulysses and Diomedes
The horse that made the doorway through which went forth
Makes Deidamia mourn Achilles, and there
If they can speak within those sparks of flame--
Until their horned flame makes its way to us;
And thereofore I accept it. But restrain
My master waited as the flame drew near
If I deserved of you while I was alive--
But rather grant that one of you will tell
And murmur like fire the wind beats, and to ply
"When Circe had detained me more than a year
Not fondness for my son, nor any claim
My longing for experience of the world,
By that small company that still had not
As far as Spain, Morocco, Sardinia, a host
The narrow outlet where Hercules let stand
And on the other sailed beyond Seville.
So little is the vigil we see remain
Leading us onward--of the world which has
But for the pursuit of knowledge and the good.'
I would have found them difficult to restrain.
Flight, always gaining on the left. The night
Rose from the sea. The moon's low face glowed full
When dim in the distance we saw a mountaintop:
For from the newfound land a storm had grown,
With all the waters three times, lifting up
Until the sea had closed up over us."
The flame already was quiet and erect again,
Was drawing near, the confused sound it made
For the first time when he who gave it shape
Inside its body, to bellow--so that, though brass,
From fire, the melancholy words were transmuted
As the tongue had in trying to form their sound,
In Lombard, 'Now continue on your road,
To stop and speak; you see that I am free
Sweet land above, from which I carry all
From the hill country between Urbino and where,
When my guide nudged me, saying, "You may discourse
O soul concealed below, is not yet cleared
Ravenna still remains as many a year,
The long siege, once, and struck the Frenchmen down
Both the old mastiff and new of Verrucchio,
Along the Santerno and the Lamone lie
From summer to winter. And the town that feels
Somewhere between tyranny's and freedom's ways.
In answering you, so may your name endure,
Its sharp tip rapidly, first here, then there,
Back to the world, this tongue of flame would have
Not fearing infamy I will answer you.
Penance by wearing the rope; indeed that thought
Again the sins that I had practiced at first:
In the flesh and bones my mother gave me, were those
And practiced them with so much cunning art
Of life when we should let our sails descend
An order and--woe to say!--my life as friar
And not against the Saracens or Jews,
Who went as merchants to the Sultan's domain;
Nor in me the friar's cord which at one time
To have him cure his leprosy--this man
Of pride. He asked my counsel, and I remained
Your heart should not respond mistrustfully,
To level Palestrina to the earth.
Seemed not dear to my predecessor.' Then, driven
Father, that you are washing me of the taint
Will bring your high throne triumph over all.'
Appeared and, 'Do not carry him off,' it said,
And I have hovered near his hair since then,
And repent at once, because the contradiction
He said, and took me, and carried me away
And then declared, 'This wicked one is bound
Bitter to myself." And as his discourse ceased
We journeyed on, my leader and I, and went
Who earned their burden by splitting things asunder.
Who could find words, even in free-running prose,
It's certain no human tongue could take the measure
If all the Apulians who long ago mounred
By their own blood in the long Carthanginian war--
And they who took their mortal blows in battle
And the soldiers massacred in the stratagem shaped
And some were showing wounds still hot and open,
I saw in that Ninth Chasm. No barrle staved-in
Down to the farting-place, and from the splayed
We swallow turn to shit. Seeing my eyes
And mangles himself, torn open down the breast!
Split open from the chin along his face
A devil waits with a sword back there to carve
Our wounds close up before we pass him again--
"Neither has death yet reached him, nor does he stay
Who am dead, lead him through Hell a rightful guide,
More than a hundred shades were gathered there
Forgetting their torment in wonder for a time.
Punishment, he had better store up grain
After he had lifted his foot to resume the pace,
Another there, whose face was cruelly broken,
With recognition as well as wonder. "Ah, you,"
Your face when I still walked above in Italy.
Remember Pier da Medicina. And tell
Then by a tyrant's treachery they will drown
Cyprus and Majorca, whether committed by
Found bitter by another who's with me here)
For safe winds near Focara--not ever again."
What man do you mean, who found a city bitter?"
He does not speak, who once, in exile, knew
'Delaying when he's ready hurts a man.' "
One with both hands lopped off came forward to shout,
A slogan uging bloodshed, when I said
"--and death to your family line," utterly undone
I stayed to see more, one sight so incredible
I saw--and writing it now, my brain still envisions--
And the trunk was carrying the severed head,
He was himself and his lamp as he strode along,
Reaching the bridge, the trunk held the head up high
If there is punishment harder than mine in Hell.
The one against the other, by the evil turn
From the wickedness contrived by Achitophel.
This retribution that you see is mine."
That mass of people wounded so curiously
"What are you staring at? Why let your vision
To delay like this at any other pit.
For twenty-two miles. And already the moon
Than you see here." "If you had given heed
Meanwhile my guide went on, and in his steps
Of time I gazed so steadily just now,
The master answered, "Let your intelligence
Down where he is, below the bridge--for there
Them call him Geri del Bello. So complete
Your eyes his direction till he was gone."
By any of those he shares dishonor with,
Without addressing me, and with this action
Walking the ridge until we reached the spot
Up above Malebolge's last cloister now
Whose shaft was barbed with pity--and at this,
All of the sick who endure disease's course
In Maremma and Sardinia, to lie
Is given off by festering limbs, arose.
Grew clearer to my sight, in which the one
Upon the shades whose sin is to falsify;
Aegina's whole population fallen ill
Succumbed (and afterward, the poets aver
All through that murky valley, bow a horde
Across his neighbor's shoulders, or perhaps
We went on, watching and listening to the sick,
As pan is leaned against pan to warm them dry,
Who knows that he is making his master wait,
As each of these was laboring to rake
Which has no other relief: their nails were snagging
Still larger scales some other fish might have.
As pincers: say if any of these who dwell
That you perform throughout eternity--"
Disfigured here," he answered, weeping. "But who
Downward from level to level, and I mean
Closer to me, both trembling and alert,
Speak to them as you choose." So I complied,
But live on under many suns, tell me
Should not discourage you from speaking out."
That which I died for is not what brought me here.
In flight: he, curious, but not much blessed
For him to have me burned: the sentence fell
Is why I was doomed to this last ditch of ten
Another people as vain as the Sienese?
Responded, "Some, you'll grant exceptions for:
Of the costly cult of cloves--a fine tradition
Where Caccia d'Asciano freely spent out
But so you know who seconds you in this vein
The answer given to you by my face:
You recall how good I was at aping nature."