Divine Comedy

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"O, of the other poets honour and light, Avail me the long study and great love That have impelled me to explore thy volume!

Thou art my master, and my author thou, Thou art alone the one from whom I took The beautiful style that has done honour to me.

Behold the beast, for which I have turned back; Do thou protect me from her, famous Sage, For she doth make my veins and pulses tremble."

"Thee it behoves to take another road," Responded he, when he beheld me weeping, "If from this savage place thou wouldst escape;

Because this beast, at which thou criest out, Suffers not any one to pass her way, But so doth harass him, that she destroys him;

And has a nature so malign and ruthless, That never doth she glut her greedy will, And after food is hungrier than before.

Many the animals with whom she weds, And more they shall be still, until the Greyhound Comes, who shall make her perish in her pain.

He shall not feed on either earth or pelf, But upon wisdom, and on love and virtue; 'Twixt Feltro and Feltro shall his nation be;

Of that low Italy shall he be the saviour, On whose account the maid Camilla died, Euryalus, Turnus, Nisus, of their wounds;

Through every city shall he hunt her down, Until he shall have driven her back to Hell, There from whence envy first did let her loose.

Therefore I think and judge it for thy best Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide, And lead thee hence through the eternal place,

Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations, Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate, Who cry out each one for the second death;

And thou shalt see those who contented are Within the fire, because they hope to come, Whene'er it may be, to the blessed people;

To whom, then, if thou wishest to ascend, A soul shall be for that than I more worthy; With her at my departure I will leave thee;

Because that Emperor, who reigns above, In that I was rebellious to his law, Wills that through me none come into his city.

He governs everywhere, and there he reigns; There is his city and his lofty throne; O happy he whom thereto he elects!"

And I to him: "Poet, I thee entreat, By that same God whom thou didst never know, So that I may escape this woe and worse,

Thou wouldst conduct me there where thou hast said, That I may see the portal of Saint Peter, And those thou makest so disconsolate."

Then he moved on, and I behind him followed.

Inferno: Canto II

Day was departing, and the embrowned air Released the animals that are on earth From their fatigues; and I the only one

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

O Muses, O high genius, now assist me! O memory, that didst write down what I saw, Here thy nobility shall be manifest!

And I began: "Poet, who guidest me, Regard my manhood, if it be sufficient, Ere to the arduous pass thou dost confide me.

Thou sayest, 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 unmeet it seems not; 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 stablished as the holy place, wherein Sits the successor of the greatest Peter.

Upon this journey, whence thou givest him vaunt, Things did he hear, which the occasion were Both of his victory and the papal mantle.

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

But I, why thither come, or who concedes it? I not Aeneas am, I am not Paul, Nor I, nor others, think me worthy of it.

Therefore, if I resign myself to come, I fear the coming may be ill-advised; Thou'rt wise, and knowest better than I speak."

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