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The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Hell, Vol

Produced by David Widger

THE VISION

OF

HELL, PURGATORY, AND PARADISE

BY

DANTE ALIGHIERI

TRANSLATED BY

THE REV. H. F. CARY, M.A.

HELL

OR THE INFERNO

Part 5

Cantos 9 - 12

CANTO IX

THE hue, which coward dread on my pale cheeks Imprinted, when I saw my guide turn back, Chas'd that from his which newly they had worn, And inwardly restrain'd it. He, as one Who listens, stood attentive: for his eye Not far could lead him through the sable air, And the thick-gath'ring cloud. "It yet behooves We win this fight"--thus he began--"if not-- Such aid to us is offer'd.--Oh, how long Me seems it, ere the promis'd help arrive!"

I noted, how the sequel of his words Clok'd their beginning; for the last he spake Agreed not with the first. But not the less My fear was at his saying; sith I drew To import worse perchance, than that he held, His mutilated speech. "Doth ever any Into this rueful concave's extreme depth Descend, out of the first degree, whose pain Is deprivation merely of sweet hope?"

Thus I inquiring. "Rarely," he replied, "It chances, that among us any makes This journey, which I wend. Erewhile 'tis true Once came I here beneath, conjur'd by fell Erictho, sorceress, who compell'd the shades Back to their bodies. No long space my flesh Was naked of me, when within these walls She made me enter, to draw forth a spirit From out of Judas' circle. Lowest place Is that of all, obscurest, and remov'd Farthest from heav'n's all-circling orb. The road Full well I know: thou therefore rest secure. That lake, the noisome stench exhaling, round The city' of grief encompasses, which now We may not enter without rage." Yet more He added: but I hold it not in mind, For that mine eye toward the lofty tower Had drawn me wholly, to its burning top. Where in an instant I beheld uprisen At once three hellish furies stain'd with blood: In limb and motion feminine they seem'd; Around them greenest hydras twisting roll'd Their volumes; adders and cerastes crept Instead of hair, and their fierce temples bound.

He knowing well the miserable hags Who tend the queen of endless woe, thus spake:

"Mark thou each dire Erinnys. To the left This is Megaera; on the right hand she, Who wails, Alecto; and Tisiphone I' th' midst." This said, in silence he remain'd Their breast they each one clawing tore; themselves Smote with their palms, and such shrill clamour rais'd, That to the bard I clung, suspicion-bound. "Hasten Medusa: so to adamant Him shall we change;" all looking down exclaim'd. "E'en when by Theseus' might assail'd, we took No ill revenge." "Turn thyself round, and keep Thy count'nance hid; for if the Gorgon dire Be shown, and thou shouldst view it, thy return Upwards would be for ever lost." This said, Himself my gentle master turn'd me round, Nor trusted he my hands, but with his own He also hid me. Ye of intellect Sound and entire, mark well the lore conceal'd Under close texture of the mystic strain!


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