The Vision of Hell, Complete The Inferno

- By Dante Alighieri
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Dante Alighieri (Italian: [ˈdante aliˈɡjɛːri]), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri[note 1] and often referred to simply as Dante (/ˈdɑːnteɪ, ˈdænteɪ, ˈdænti/,[2][3] also US: /ˈdɑːnti/;[4] c. 1265 – 1321), was an Italian poet, writer and philosopher.[5] His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa (modern Italian: Commedia) and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio,[6] is widely considered one of the most important poems of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.[7][8] Dante is known for establishing the use of the vernacular in literature at a time when most poetry was written in Latin, making it accessible only to the most educated readers. His De vulgari eloquentia (On Eloquence in the Vernacular) was one of the first scholarly defenses of the vernacular. His use of the Tuscan dialect for works such as The New Life (1295) and Divine Comedy helped establish the modern-day standardized Italian language, and set a precedent that important Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would later follow.
NOW came I where the water's din was heard, As down it fell into the other round, Resounding like the hum of swarming bees: When forth together issu'd from a troop, That pass'd beneath the fierce tormenting storm, Three spirits, running swift. They towards us came, And each one cried aloud, "Oh do thou stay! Whom by the fashion of thy garb we deem To be some inmate of our evil land."
Ah me! what wounds I mark'd upon their limbs, Recent and old, inflicted by the flames! E'en the remembrance of them grieves me yet.
Attentive to their cry my teacher paus'd, And turn'd to me his visage, and then spake; "Wait now! our courtesy these merit well: And were 't not for the nature of the place, Whence glide the fiery darts, I should have said, That haste had better suited thee than them."
They, when we stopp'd, resum'd their ancient wail, And soon as they had reach'd us, all the three Whirl'd round together in one restless wheel. As naked champions, smear'd with slippery oil, Are wont intent to watch their place of hold And vantage, ere in closer strife they meet; Thus each one, as he wheel'd, his countenance At me directed, so that opposite The neck mov'd ever to the twinkling feet.
"If misery of this drear wilderness," Thus one began, "added to our sad cheer And destitute, do call forth scorn on us And our entreaties, let our great renown Incline thee to inform us who thou art, That dost imprint with living feet unharm'd The soil of Hell. He, in whose track thou see'st My steps pursuing, naked though he be And reft of all, was of more high estate Than thou believest; grandchild of the chaste Gualdrada, him they Guidoguerra call'd, Who in his lifetime many a noble act Achiev'd, both by his wisdom and his sword. The other, next to me that beats the sand, Is Aldobrandi, name deserving well, In the upper world, of honour; and myself Who in this torment do partake with them, Am Rusticucci, whom, past doubt, my wife Of savage temper, more than aught beside Hath to this evil brought." If from the fire I had been shelter'd, down amidst them straight I then had cast me, nor my guide, I deem, Would have restrain'd my going; but that fear Of the dire burning vanquish'd the desire, Which made me eager of their wish'd embrace.
I then began: "Not scorn, but grief much more, Such as long time alone can cure, your doom Fix'd deep within me, soon as this my lord Spake words, whose tenour taught me to expect That such a race, as ye are, was at hand. I am a countryman of yours, who still Affectionate have utter'd, and have heard Your deeds and names renown'd. Leaving the gall For the sweet fruit I go, that a sure guide Hath promis'd to me. But behooves, that far As to the centre first I downward tend."
"So may long space thy spirit guide thy limbs," He answer straight return'd; "and so thy fame Shine bright, when thou art gone; as thou shalt tell, If courtesy and valour, as they wont, Dwell in our city, or have vanish'd clean? For one amidst us late condemn'd to wail, Borsiere, yonder walking with his peers, Grieves us no little by the news he brings."
"An upstart multitude and sudden gains, Pride and excess, O Florence! have in thee Engender'd, so that now in tears thou mourn'st!" Thus cried I with my face uprais'd, and they All three, who for an answer took my words, Look'd at each other, as men look when truth Comes to their ear. "If thou at other times," They all at once rejoin'd, "so easily Satisfy those, who question, happy thou, Gifted with words, so apt to speak thy thought! Wherefore if thou escape this darksome clime, Returning to behold the radiant stars, When thou with pleasure shalt retrace the past, See that of us thou speak among mankind."
This said, they broke the circle, and so swift Fled, that as pinions seem'd their nimble feet.
Not in so short a time might one have said "Amen," as they had vanish'd. Straight my guide Pursu'd his track. I follow'd; and small space Had we pass'd onward, when the water's sound Was now so near at hand, that we had scarce Heard one another's speech for the loud din.
E'en as the river, that holds on its course Unmingled, from the mount of Vesulo, On the left side of Apennine, toward The east, which Acquacheta higher up They call, ere it descend into the vale, At Forli by that name no longer known, Rebellows o'er Saint Benedict, roll'd on From the Alpine summit down a precipice, Where space enough to lodge a thousand spreads; Thus downward from a craggy steep we found, That this dark wave resounded, roaring loud, So that the ear its clamour soon had stunn'd.
I had a cord that brac'd my girdle round, Wherewith I erst had thought fast bound to take The painted leopard. This when I had all Unloosen'd from me (so my master bade) I gather'd up, and stretch'd it forth to him. Then to the right he turn'd, and from the brink Standing few paces distant, cast it down Into the deep abyss. "And somewhat strange," Thus to myself I spake, "signal so strange Betokens, which my guide with earnest eye Thus follows." Ah! what caution must men use With those who look not at the deed alone, But spy into the thoughts with subtle skill!
"Quickly shall come," he said, "what I expect, Thine eye discover quickly, that whereof Thy thought is dreaming." Ever to that truth, Which but the semblance of a falsehood wears, A man, if possible, should bar his lip; Since, although blameless, he incurs reproach. But silence here were vain; and by these notes Which now I sing, reader! I swear to thee, So may they favour find to latest times! That through the gross and murky air I spied A shape come swimming up, that might have quell'd The stoutest heart with wonder, in such guise As one returns, who hath been down to loose An anchor grappled fast against some rock, Or to aught else that in the salt wave lies, Who upward springing close draws in his feet.

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Word Lists:

Upstart : a person who has risen suddenly to wealth or high position, especially one who behaves arrogantly

Vantage : a place or position affording a good view of something

Clime : a region considered with reference to its climate

Imprint : impress or stamp (a mark or outline) on a surface or body

Wail : a prolonged high-pitched cry of pain, grief, or anger

Semblance : the outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is different

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Additional Information:

Words: 1076

Unique Words : 520

Sentences : 41

Reading Time : 4:46

Noun : 287

Conjunction : 118

Adverb : 72

Interjection : 3

Adjective : 82

Pronoun : 148

Verb : 134

Preposition : 118

Letter Count : 4,500

Sentiment : Positive

Tone : Conversational

Difficult Words : 290

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