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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 443 pages of information about Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Complete.

CANTO XVI

Hell’s dunnest gloom, or night unlustrous, dark,
Of every planes ’reft, and pall’d in clouds,
Did never spread before the sight a veil
In thickness like that fog, nor to the sense
So palpable and gross.  Ent’ring its shade,
Mine eye endured not with unclosed lids;
Which marking, near me drew the faithful guide,
Offering me his shoulder for a stay. 
     As the blind man behind his leader walks,
Lest he should err, or stumble unawares
On what might harm him, or perhaps destroy,
I journey’d through that bitter air and foul,
Still list’ning to my escort’s warning voice,
“Look that from me thou part not.”  Straight I heard
Voices, and each one seem’d to pray for peace,
And for compassion, to the Lamb of God
That taketh sins away.  Their prelude still
Was “Agnus Dei,” and through all the choir,
One voice, one measure ran, that perfect seem’d
The concord of their song.  “Are these I hear
Spirits, O master?” I exclaim’d; and he: 
“Thou aim’st aright:  these loose the bonds of wrath.” 
     “Now who art thou, that through our smoke dost cleave? 
And speak’st of us, as thou thyself e’en yet
Dividest time by calends?” So one voice
Bespake me; whence my master said:  “Reply;
And ask, if upward hence the passage lead.” 
     “O being! who dost make thee pure, to stand
Beautiful once more in thy Maker’s sight! 
Along with me:  and thou shalt hear and wonder.” 
Thus I, whereto the spirit answering spake: 
“Long as ’t is lawful for me, shall my steps
Follow on thine; and since the cloudy smoke
Forbids the seeing, hearing in its stead
Shall keep us join’d.”  I then forthwith began
“Yet in my mortal swathing, I ascend
To higher regions, and am hither come
Through the fearful agony of hell. 
And, if so largely God hath doled his grace,
That, clean beside all modern precedent,
He wills me to behold his kingly state,
From me conceal not who thou wast, ere death
Had loos’d thee; but instruct me:  and instruct
If rightly to the pass I tend; thy words
The way directing as a safe escort.” 
     “I was of Lombardy, and Marco call’d: 
Not inexperienc’d of the world, that worth
I still affected, from which all have turn’d
The nerveless bow aside.  Thy course tends right
Unto the summit:”  and, replying thus,
He added, “I beseech thee pray for me,
When thou shalt come aloft.”  And I to him: 
“Accept my faith for pledge I will perform
What thou requirest.  Yet one doubt remains,
That wrings me sorely, if I solve it not,
Singly before it urg’d me, doubled now
By thine opinion, when I couple that
With one elsewhere declar’d, each strength’ning other. 
The world indeed is even so forlorn
Of all good as thou speak’st it and so swarms
With every evil.  Yet, beseech thee, point

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