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'Change him to adamant—Medusa!' thus
'Turn thee behind, and close thine eyes, for if 55
The Gorgon once appear, and thou behold,
So spake my Guide, nor rested there, but turn'd
O ye, that have discerning minds, behold
And now far echoing o'er the troubled waves
Broke the loud crash of a terrific sound 65
That shook both margins of the lake, and seem'd
As if occasion'd by a wind that lashed
The boughs rends down, and strews them all abroad: 70
3 Theseus aided Pirithous in his attempt to carry off Proserpine.
Mine eyes he loosed, and ' Now,' said he, 'direct
The visual nerve athwart the eternal foam,
On this side where the smoke is most intense.' 75
As frogs in presence of the water-snake,
Their foe, fly frighted, shoaling thro' the waves,
Till 'neath the sheltering mould they vanish all; More than a thousand ruin'd spirits there
I saw thus flying before One, who pass'd 80
Across the Stygian pool with feet unwet.
His left hand often passing o'er his brow;
Nor gave he other sign of weariness. I could perceive that he was sent from heaven, 85
And moved towards my Guide, who signall'd me
To hold my peace, and do him reverence. Ah me! how full of high disdain he seem'd!
He came up to the gate, which with his wand
He open'd, for no bars could him restrain. 90
'Outcasts of heaven, despisèd people!' thus
Upon the horrid threshold he began;
'Whence harbour ye this insolence within
Which never can be frustrate of its ends, 95
And which has oft before your pains increased 1
What boots it thus to wrestle with the fates ?
Then back upon the filthy road he turn'd, 100
And made no sign to us, but seem'd as one
Than of the work whereon to us he came.
And we our steps moved onward towards the land
In peace after the hallow'd words. Within 105
The gates we pass'd without annoy; and I,
Myself within, moved round mine eyes, and lo!
On either hand I saw a spacious plain 110
Tormented all with agonising woe.
Ev'n as at Aries, where the Rhone stays its flow,
The sepulchres make all the strand to heave 115
In mounds; so did they here on either hand,
There were dispread between the sepulchres
None greater: and from beneath their lids—which were
When I thus; 'Master, say, what spirits are these
That buried thus within these vaults disclose 125
Their presence by these lamentable sighs V
And he thereto; 'Here are the Heresiarchs
Like here with like lie sepulchred for ever: 130
And different temperatures are found within.'
Between the torments and the lofty walls.
4 The sepulchres referred to in this passage are probably old Roman tombs. The Rhone forms a lake at Aries. Quarnaro is the gulf of that name, which washes the confines of Italy and Croatia.
The Poets traverse the City of Dis. Dante converses with Farinata degli Uberti, the Ghibelline chief; also with Cavalcante Cavalcanti, a Florentine of the Guelf party, whose son, Guido, was his friend.
Thus while we paced along a narrow way
Between the land's wall and the torturing fires, My Master first, and I close following him, 'Virtue supreme, who thro' the unhallow'd spheres
Leadest me as thou wiliest,' I began; 5
'Speak to me, and my longing wish fulfil.
When from Jehoshaphat their inmates shall