« AnteriorContinuar »
The Poets had noticed two beacon lights at the top of the tower. These denoted the arrival of two souls. There was also a third light on the other side of the lake. This announced the approach of the Ferryman. A boat arrives in charge of Phlegyas, who in his lifetime had burnt the temple of Apollo, and whose function it now was to convey the souls of heretics into the fiery City of Dis. On the passage Dante encounters, and converses with, Philippo Argenti, a Florentine, who had been noted for his brutal and ferocious temper. Passing within the moats which surround the territory of Dis, they find the gate thronged with devils, who resist their entrance. Excluded by the devils, they await the advent of aid from above.
My theme pursuing, I relate that some
Time ere we gain'd the lofty turret's base
Our eyes roved upward towards the summit, where We saw two little streams of light extend,
To which a third made answer from afar— 5
So far that it was scarce discernible.
Then turning to that other sea, wherein
All wisdom lay, I said; 'What meaneth this?
What answereth yon flamelet ? and who are they That tend it ?' He replied; 'Over the dun 10
Waters already may'st thou note what comes
Apace, if the lake-fumes conceal it not' Ne'er leapt the winged arrow from the string
Or ran its course more swiftly thro' the air
Than I descried a little vessel there 15
Shoot o'er the leaden waves to where we stood,
Under the guidance of a single pilot,
Who cried aloud, ' Ho art thou come—damn'd spirit!' To whom the Master spake; 'Phlegyas! Phlegyas!
In vain thou criest thus—this time: thou wilt 20
Not have us save in passing o'er the lake.'
Been done to him, then chafes resentfully;
So was't with Phlegyas in his gather'd wrath. Thereon my Guide went down into the boat, 25
And then he made me enter after him,
Nor, till I was within it, seem'd it fraught. Scarce had the Guide and I made entrance, when
The ancient craft went ploughing thro' the water
More deeply than with others it was wont. 30 While thus we sped across the stagnant pool,
One cover'd o'er with slime arose, and said
To me; 'Why comest thou before the time ?'
But who art thou made thus deform i t and he; 35
'Thou seëst I am one of those in pain.'
Accursed spirit! may'st thou e'er remain:
I know thee yet, all grimed as thou art.'
Whereat the Master caught and thrust him back,
Saying,'Away there with the other hounds!'
And kiss'd my cheek, and said; 'Disdainful soul!
Thrice blessed was the womb that compass'd thee. 45 He was full fraught with pride in the fair world,
With naught of grace to deck his memory;
Thus is his spirit rack'd with furious rage.
Wallow like swine impure, view'd thro' all time 50
With hate, and scorn, and shameful ignominy!'
To see him soused within this bestial slush,
Ere we alight from off the pool.' And he
Responded thus; 'Or ere the other shore SS
Comes within prospect, thou shalt have thy wish.
After a while I saw so fierce a rush
Cried with one voice; 'At Philip Argentine !' 1
Here left we him that I no more can tell:
But to mine ears loud cries of anguish borne 65
Made me bend forward opening wide mine eyes.
When the good Master thus; 'Here, O my son,
And I; ' O Master, in the valley there 70
Clearly I can discern its minarets
Impaled.' And he replied; 'The eternal flame,
1 So called from having his horse shod with silver.
We pass'd within the deep wide moats, with which
Not without first wide circuit made we came
'Out with you !' cried to us,' the gate is here.'
More than a thousand thronging there I saw—
The region of the dead by death unslain?' 85
Whereat the experienced Master made a sign
They bated somewhat of their huge disdain,
On his fool's road let him return alone,
Think, reader, how my courage falter'd then,
Hearing the sound of those accursed words: 95
I thought that I should ne'er return again.
'O my beloved Guide, who more than seven Times hast restored my safety, and hast led My steps thro' perils dire that round me lay,