9780880013734

Dante's Inferno: Translations by Twenty Contrmporary Poets

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780880013734

  • ISBN10:

    0880013737

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 4/12/2010
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Summary

In the middle of the journey of our life where the straight road had been lost sight of.How hard it is to say what it was like in the thick of thickets, in a wood so dense and gnarled the very thought of it renews my panic.It is bitter almost as death itself is bitter. But to rehearse the good it also brought me How I got into it I cannot clearly say for I was moving like a sleepwalker the moment I stepped out of the right way, But when I came to the bottom of a hill standing off at the far end of that valley where a great terror had disheartened mealready in the rays of the planet which leads and keeps men straight on every road.Then I sensed a quiet influence settling into those depths in me that had been rocked and pitifully troubled all night longAnd as a survivorgasping on,the sand turns his head back to study in a daze the dangerous combers, so my mindTurned back, although it was reeling forward, back to inspect a pass that had proved fatal heretofore to everyone who entered.then began to climb up the waste slopes once more with my firm foot always the lower one beneath meWhen suddenly the spotted fluent shape of a leopard crossed my path not far up from the bottom of the slope, Harrying me, confronting my advance, loping round me, leaping in my face so that I turned back downhill more than once.The morning was beginning all above,the sun was rising up among the stars that rose with him when the Divine LoveFirst set those lovely things in motion, so I was encouraged to face with better hope the beast skipping in its merry skinBy

Excerpts

In the middle of the journey of our life

I found myself astray in a dark wood

where the straight road had been lost sight of.

How hard it is to say what it was like

in the thick of thickets, in a wood so dense and gnarled

the very thought of it renews my panic.

It is bitter almost as death itself is bitter.

But to rehearse the good it also brought me

I will speak about the other things I saw there.

How I got into it I cannot clearly say

for I was moving like a sleepwalker

the moment I stepped out of the right way,

But when I came to the bottom of a hill

standing off at the far end of that valley

where a great terror had disheartened me

I looked up, and saw how its shoulders glowed

already in the rays of the planet

which leads and keeps men straight on every road.

Then I sensed a quiet influence settling

into those depths in me that had been rocked

and pitifully troubled all night long

And as a survivor gasping on the sand

turns his head back to study in a daze

the dangerous combers, so my mind

Turned back, although it was reeling forward,

back to inspect a pass that had proved fatal

heretofore to everyone who entered.

I rested a little then, for I was weary,

then began to climb up the waste slopes once more

with my firm foot always the lower one beneath me

When suddenly the spotted fluent shape

of a leopard crossed my path

not far up from the bottom of the slope,

Harrying me, confronting my advance,

loping round me, leaping in my face

so that I turned back downhill more than once.

The morning was beginning all above,

the sun was rising up among the stars

that rose with him when the Divine Love

First set those lovely things in motion,

so I was encouraged to face with better hope

the beast skipping in its merry skin

By the time of day, the sweetness of the season:

but not enough not to be frightened by

the sudden apparition of a lion

That came for me with his head in the air

and so maddened by hunger that it seemed

the air itself was bristling with fear.

And a she-wolf, so thin she looked as if

all her appetites were gnawing at her.

She had already brought many to grief

And I was so overcome at the sight of her

my courage broke and I immediately lost heart

in climbing the mountain any farther.

And as somebody who thinks he is going to win

every time will be the most distressed one

whenever his turn comes to be the loser

I was like that as I retreated from

the animal's turbulent head-on attack

gradually, to where the sun is dumb.

While I was slipping back, about to sink

back to the depths, I caught sight of one

who seemed through a long silence indistinct.

When I saw him in that great waste land

I cried out to him, "Pity me,

whatever you are, shade or a living man."

He answered me, "No, not a living man

though I was once alive, and had Lombards

for parents, both of them Mantuan.

Although I was born sub Julio, my prime

was spent in the heyday of the false gods

when I lived in Rome, in good Augustus' time.

I was a poet, and I sang of that just son

of Anchises who came out of Troy

after the burning of proud Ilion.

But why do you face back into misery?

Why do you not keep on up the sweet hill,

the source and cause of all felicity?"

"Oh, are you then Virgil, are you the fountainhead

of that wide river of speech constantly brimming?"

I answered and for shame kept my head bowed.

"You are the light and glory of other poets.

0 let it avail me now, the long devotion

that made me love your book and cleave to it.

You are my master, my authority.

I learned from you and from you alone

the illustrious style for which they honor me.

Look at the beast that has forced me to turn back.

Help me, 0 famous sage, to confront her

for she makes my veins race and my pulses shake."

"You will have to go another way around,"

he answered, when he saw me weeping,

"to escape the toils and thickets of this ground;

Because this animal you are troubled by

lets no man pass but harasses him

until she kills him by her savagery,

And she is so consumed by viciousness

hat nothing fills her, and so insatiable

that feeding only makes her ravenous.

There are many animals she couples with

and there will be more of them, until the Hound

shall come and grind her in the jaws of death.

He will not glut himself on ground or riches,

but wisdom, love, and virtue will sustain him

and the two Feltros will vie to be his birthplace.

To humble Italy, for which the virgin

Camilla died bleeding, and Turnus died, and Nisus

and Euryalus, he will bring salvation.

He will pursue the wolf through every town

until he has hunted and hounded her to hell

where envy unleashed her first and set her on.

Therefore, for your own good, I think the best course

is to follow me and I will be your guide

and lead you from here through an eternal place

Where you will hear desperate screaming and will see

those long-lost spirits in torment suffering

the second death in perpetuity.

And then you will see those who are not distressed

in the fire because they hope to come,

whenever their time comes, among the blessed.

If you want to ascend among these, then you

will be guided by a soul worthier than I

and I will leave you with her when I go;

For that Emperor above does not allow

me or my like to come into His city

because I was a rebel to His law.

His empire is everywhere but His high seat

and city are there, in His proper kingdom.

0 happy is the man He calls to it."

And I said to him, "I ask you, poet,

in the name of that God you were ignorant of

and to help me to escape my own worst fate,

Lead me to that place described by you

so that I may see St. Peter's Gate

and those other ones you spoke of in their sorrow."

Then he set off and I began to follow.

(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dantes Inferno by D. Halpern Copyright 2003 by D. Halpern
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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