Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Hell eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 106 pages of information about Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Hell.

Thus go they over through the umber’d wave,
And ever they on the opposing bank
Be landed, on this side another throng
Still gathers.  “Son,” thus spake the courteous guide,
“Those, who die subject to the wrath of God,
All here together come from every clime,
And to o’erpass the river are not loth: 
For so heaven’s justice goads them on, that fear
Is turn’d into desire.  Hence ne’er hath past
Good spirit.  If of thee Charon complain,
Now mayst thou know the import of his words.”

This said, the gloomy region trembling shook
So terribly, that yet with clammy dews
Fear chills my brow.  The sad earth gave a blast,
That, lightening, shot forth a vermilion flame,
Which all my senses conquer’d quite, and I
Down dropp’d, as one with sudden slumber seiz’d.

CANTO IV

Broke the deep slumber in my brain a crash
Of heavy thunder, that I shook myself,
As one by main force rous’d.  Risen upright,
My rested eyes I mov’d around, and search’d
With fixed ken to know what place it was,
Wherein I stood.  For certain on the brink
I found me of the lamentable vale,
The dread abyss, that joins a thund’rous sound
Of plaints innumerable.  Dark and deep,
And thick with clouds o’erspread, mine eye in vain
Explor’d its bottom, nor could aught discern.

“Now let us to the blind world there beneath
Descend;” the bard began all pale of look: 
“I go the first, and thou shalt follow next.”

Then I his alter’d hue perceiving, thus: 
“How may I speed, if thou yieldest to dread,
Who still art wont to comfort me in doubt?”

He then:  “The anguish of that race below
With pity stains my cheek, which thou for fear
Mistakest.  Let us on.  Our length of way
Urges to haste.”  Onward, this said, he mov’d;
And ent’ring led me with him on the bounds
Of the first circle, that surrounds th’ abyss. 
Here, as mine ear could note, no plaint was heard
Except of sighs, that made th’ eternal air
Tremble, not caus’d by tortures, but from grief
Felt by those multitudes, many and vast,
Of men, women, and infants.  Then to me
The gentle guide:  “Inquir’st thou not what spirits
Are these, which thou beholdest?  Ere thou pass
Farther, I would thou know, that these of sin
Were blameless; and if aught they merited,
It profits not, since baptism was not theirs,
The portal to thy faith.  If they before
The Gospel liv’d, they serv’d not God aright;
And among such am I. For these defects,
And for no other evil, we are lost;”

“Only so far afflicted, that we live
Desiring without hope.”  So grief assail’d
My heart at hearing this, for well I knew
Suspended in that Limbo many a soul
Of mighty worth.  “O tell me, sire rever’d! 
Tell me, my master!” I began through wish
Of full assurance in that holy faith,
Which vanquishes all error; “say, did e’er
Any, or through his own or other’s merit,
Come forth from thence, whom afterward was blest?”

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Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Hell from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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