Dante's Inferno by Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
Dante's Inferno by Dante Alighieri
The Divine Comedy

Cantos
I
II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII
XVIII XIX XX XXI XXII XXIII XXIV XXV XXVI XXVII
XXVIII XXIX XXX XXXI XXXII XXXIII XXXIV

Canto II

The light was departing. The brown air drew down.
Releasing the animals that are on earth
From their fatigues; and I one man alone

Made myself ready to sustain the war,
Both of the way and likewise of the woe,
Which memory that errors will not retrace.

Oh Muses, Oh high genius, now be my aid!
O memory, that you did write down what I saw,
Here your nobility will be displayed!

And I began: "Poet, you who must guide me,
Regard my manhood, if it be sufficient,
Ere to the arduous pass you do confide me.

You say, that of Silvius the parent,
While yet corruptible, unto the world
Immortal went, and was there bodily.

But if the adversary of all evil
Was courteous, thinking of the high effect
That issue would from him, and who, and what,

To men of intellect it seems not unmeet ;
For he was of great Rome, and of her empire
In the empyreal heaven as father chosen;

The which and what, wishing to speak the truth,
Were established as the holy place, wherein
Sits the successor of the greatest Peter.

Upon this journey, when you give him vaunt,
Things he head, which the occasion were
Both of his victory and the papal mantle.

Thither went afterwards the Chosen Vessel,
To bring back comfort from that Faith,
Which of salvation's way is the beginning.

But I, why thither come, or who concedes it?
I am not Aeneas , I am not Paul,
Not I, not others, think me worthy of it.

Therefore, if I resign myself to come,
I fear the coming may be ill-advised;
You are wise, and know better than I speak."

And as he is, who unwills what he willed,
And by new thoughts does his intention change,
So that from his design he quite withdraws,

Such I became, upon that dark hillside,
Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
Which was so very prompt in the beginning.

"If I have understood your language well,"
Replied that shade of the Magnanimous,
"Your soul is attainted with cowardice,

Which many times a man encumbers so,
It turns him back from honoured enterprise,
As false sight does a beast, when he is shy.

That you may free yourself from this apprehension,
I'll tell you why I came, and what I heard
At the first moment when I grieved for you.

Among those was I who are in suspense,
And a fair, saintly Lady called to me
In such wise, I asked her to command me.

Her eyes where shining brighter than the Star;
And she began to say, gentle and low,
With voice angelical, in her own language:

'Oh spirit courteous of Mantua,
Of whom the fame still in the world endures,
And will endure, long-lasting as the world;

A friend of mine, and not the friend of fortune,
Upon the desert slope is so impeded
Upon his way, that he has turned through terror,

And may, I fear, already be so lost,
That I too late have risen to his succour,
From that which I have heard of him in Heaven.

Bestir thee now, and with your speech ornate,
And with what needful is for his release,
Assist him so, that I may be consoled.

Beatrice am I, who do bid you go;
I come from there, where I would fain return;
Love moved me, which compell me to speak and show.

When I shall be in presence of my Lord,
Full often will I praise you to him.'
Then she paused, and thereafter I began:

'O Lady of virtue, you alone through whom
The human race exceed all contained
Within the heaven that has the lesser circles,

So grateful unto me is you commandment,
To obey, if it were already done, was late;
No farther need your ope to me your wish.

But the cause tell me why you do not shun
The here descending down into this center,
From the vast place you burn to return to.'

'Since thou wouldst fain so inwardly discern,
Briefly will I relate,' she answered me,
'Why I am not afraid to enter here.

Of those things only should one be afraid
Which have the power of doing others harm;
Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful.

God in his mercy such created me
That misery of yours attains me not,
Not any flame assails me of this burning.

A gentle Lady is in Heaven, who grieves
At this impediment, to which I send you,
So that stern judgment there above is broken.

In her entreaty she besought Lucia,
And said, "Your faithful one now stands in need
Of you, and to you I recommend him."

Lucia, foe of all that is cruel,
Hastened away, and came unto the place
Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel.

"Beatrice" said she, "the true praise of God,
Why succourest thou not him, who loved you so,
For thee he issued from the vulgar herd?

Do you not hear the pity of his plaint?
Do you not see the death that combats him
Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt?"

Never were persons in the world so swift
To work their weal and to escape their woe,
As I, after such words as these were uttered,

Came hither downward from my blessed seat,
Confiding in your dignified discourse,
Which honours you, and those who've listened to it.'

After she had spoken to me,
Weeping, her shining eyes she turned away;
Whereby she made me swifter in my coming;

And to you I came, as she desired;
I have delivered you from that wild beast,
Which barred the beautiful mountain's short ascent.

What is it, then? Why, why do you delay?
Why is such baseness bedded in your heart?
Daring and hardihood why have you not,

Seeing that three such Ladies benedight
Are caring for thee in the court of Heaven,
And so much good my speech does promise you?"

Even as the flowerets, by nocturnal chill,
Bowed down and closed, when the sun whitens them,
Uplift themselves all open on their stems;

Such I became with my exhausted strength,
And such good courage to my heart there coursed,
That I began, like an intrepid person:

"Oh she compassionate, who succoured me,
And you so courteous, who has obeyed so soon
The words of truth which she addressed to you!

You have my heart so with desire disposed
To the adventure, with these words of yours,
That to my first intent I have returned.

Now go, for one sole will is in us both,
Thou Leader, and thou Lord, and my Master."
Now lead on: one will serve us two in this

He turned when I had spoken; and at his back,
I entered on the deep and savage track.

 

Dante's Inferno by Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
Dante's Inferno by Dante Alighieri
The Divine Comedy

Cantos
I
II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII
XVIII XIX XX XXI XXII XXIII XXIV XXV XXVI XXVII
XXVIII XXIX XXX XXXI XXXII XXXIII XXXIV


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