Metamorphosis and Mystery

  • the double helix of the Virgilio-narrative: affective strand interwoven with intellective strand
  • the lengthy narrative sequence of the broken bridges: Inferno 21.106 – Inferno 24.64
  • exoticism and orientalism: the Libyan sands, Ethiopia, the Arabian desert
  • discourse of the body: from Inferno 13 to Inferno 24-25
  • metamorphosis as a complex of ideas about which Dante has been thinking for decades; cf. the “forma vera” in verse 10 of the early sonnet Piangete, amanti (Vita Nuova VIII [3])
  • metamorphosis as an opportunity to go to the heart of how humans conceive of self: if our shape changes, does our substance—our essence—change as well? Ovid’s treatment of these issues in the Metamorphoses is valorized by Dante
  • metamorphosis as an opportunity to tackle fundamental Christian mysteries
  • Man ⇒ Dust ⇒ Man: in malo Death and Resurrection

Inferno 24 begins with the erudite simile devoted to the villanello (the farmer or peasant) who is chagrined by the unexpected sight of snow and then relieved when he realizes that the snow is frost and that he will be able to take his sheep to pasture. This long simile will resolve into an installment of the Virgilio-narrative, since it turns out to be a rhetorically complex way to tell us that Dante is relieved when Virgilio’s demeanor changes from “turbato un poco d’ira nel sembiante” (somewhat disturbed, with anger in his eyes [Inf. 23.146]), as he was at the end of Inferno 23, to tender and affectionate, as he will be by the time we reach the end of the simile, in verses 20-21 of Inferno 24. In these verses, the poet tells us that Virgilio turns to him “with that sweet manner / I first had seen along the mountain’s base”: “ con quel piglio / dolce ch’io vidi prima a piè del monte” (Inf. 24.20-21).

As I wrote in Dante’s Poets, this information constitutes an affectively charged moment in the ongoing Virgilio-narrative. The adjective dolce retroactively revises what we learned about Virgilio’s affect in Inferno 1, rewriting the formal teacher/student relationship of Inferno 1 into the tender filial/paternal dynamic that we saw in Inferno 23:

What is remarkable about this passage is not so much the tenderness of Virgilio’s regard per se as the author’s specification that he first saw such a “sweet look” at the foot of the mountain, i.e. in Inferno 1, where Dante tries to climb the colle and fails. At that point in the narrative there is no indication of any loving demonstration on Virgilio’s part toward Dante, or of any sweetness in his look; indeed, the meeting between the two poets is described in stiff and formal terms, as is their relationship throughout the early cantos of the Inferno. Therefore, in specifying that Virgilio’s “piglio / dolce” (where the enjambment puts dolce into relief) is first seen “a piè del monte”, Dante is retrospectively rewriting the original meeting of Inferno 1, instituting an affective tie which at the time was not there. Not only are we forced to revisualize the episode of canto I, but also to conjure up many another sweet glance that the narrative has not seen fit to mention. Thus, in two lines Dante inscribes a new thread of affectivity into the texture of the Inferno, casting a long sweet light all the way back to canto 1. (Dante’s Poets, p. 239)

The verses that inscribe Virgilio’s “piglio / dolce” where it had not previously existed do not occur in Inferno 24 fortuitously.

Virgilio’s retroactive “piglio / dolce” is part of a subtle strategy of counterbalancing that dictates the moves in Dante’s Virgilio-narrative. Dante here engages the dialectical principles of the double helix narrative structure that he is creating, whereby an affective narrative strand is interwoven with an intellective narrative strand.

After the narrator has undermined Virgilio in the intellective domain, he then takes care to enhance him in the affective domain. Thus, in the previous canti the narrator has greatly compromised Virgilio’s standing as “quel savio gentil che tutto seppe” (that gentle sage, who knew all [Inf. 7.3]), allowing him to be deceived by a devil and condescendingly instructed by hypocrites. In the very aftermath of this narrative nadir in Virgilio’s authority, the same narrator who has worked to undermine that authority makes sure to reinforce the affective ties between him and the pilgrim. He does this by referring to Virgilio’s “care piante” (dear feet) in the last verse of Inferno 23 and then to his “piglio / dolce” (sweet manner) in Inferno 24.20-21.

“Vergil functions as a paradox at the heart of the poem” is the formulation I used in Dante’s Poets, a paradox through which the reader is forced, with the pilgrim, “into the dilemma of loving that which is fallible, corruptible, and transitory—into the human experience par excellence”:

At the outset of Inferno 24, Vergil has just emerged severely tarnished from a test that spans three cantos: he has been lied to by Malacoda, and humiliated by the discovery. Precisely at this moment of intellectual defeat, Dante tightens the affective screws; if Vergil is to function as a paradox at the heart of the poem, the reader must not be allowed easily to dismiss him, but instead must be forced, with the pilgrim, into the dilemma of loving and respecting that which is fallible, corruptible, and transitory—i.e. into the human experience par excellence. This is accomplished rhetorically by the insinuation of affective language into the narrative at the moments of greatest intellective stress. Thus, at the end of Inferno 23, after Catalano has informed Vergil that devils are liars, Vergil walks off with great strides in evident anger, and the author concludes the canto as follows: “ond’ io da li ’ncarcati mi parti’ / dietro a le poste de le care piante” (so I departed from those burdened spirits, / while following the prints of his dear feet [Inf. 23.147-48]). The reference to Vergil’s “dear feet”—“care piante”—at this juncture represents an escalation in the tension of the Vergilian dialectic; although the great sage has been treated like a fool by a hypocrite in hell, his charge loves him not less, but more. The “dear feet” are in fact an element in an affective crescendo that peaks with the “sweet look” of Inferno 24, and that begins with the simile in which Vergil is compared to the mother who rescues her son from a burning house, a simile that has the effect of neutralizing the event it is illustrating. (Dante’s Poets, pp. 239-40)

The simile of the villanello also contributes in fascinating ways to the Inferno’s ongoing meditation on representation and semiosis, as discussed in The Undivine Comedy. It is a densely semiotic moment, in this respect akin to the Aesop’s Fable moment the opens the preceding canto, Inferno 23:

Although this simile presents us with less sheer multivalence than the Aesop’s fable analogy, it begins to explore the implications of semiotic failure in a way that the earlier passage does not, by raising the larger issue of representation through its use of artistic/mimetic language. The peasant mistakenly believes the frost to be snow because the frost has imitated the snow; borrowing from the lexicon of mimesis, the poet tells us that the frost “copies the image of its white sister”. Attempting to represent snow, the frost appropriates the mode of art, and it fails, for like all art—all human representation—it is nondurable, subject to time: “little lasts the point of its pen”. As compared to Purgatorio 10, where art is assimilated to nature and becomes real, infallible, here nature is assimilated to art, becoming fallible, corruptible, subject to time. From a concern with the shifting values of signs, Dante’s meditation broadens to engage the constraints of human representation. (The Undivine Comedy, p. 87)

Finally, the simile looks forward to the materia of the next bolgia: verse 13—“veggendo ’l mondo aver cangiata faccia” (seeing the world to have changed its face [Inf. 24.13])—states the theme of metamorphosis in succinct fashion. Moreover, the employment of equivocal rhymes (the same word in appearance but having different meanings, like faccia / faccia in verses 11 and 13) anticipates metamorphosis, the experience that dominates the seventh bolgia.

Whereas the words faccia / faccia possess the same shape (appearance) but have a different substance (meaning), metamorphosis is a transformation in which the same substance takes on a different shape.

Through verse 64, Inferno 24 is devoted to the climb out of the sixth bolgia. The two travelers, in their haste to get away from the pursuing demons, slid down into the sixth bolgia on their backs, as fast as water channeled through a sluice to a mill (Inf. 23.46-48). By contrast, they have to scramble up the other side arduously, engaged in a kind of mountain climbing as they grapple with the crags of the bolgia’s wall and the boulders strewn about when the bridges over the sixth bolgia collapsed. The use of the term “ruina” in verse 24, the technical term for the ruins created in hell by the coming of Christ, underscores the importance of the lengthy narrative sequence of the broken bridges, a sequence that begins in Inferno 21, verse 106, and will not be completed until the travelers look down into the seventh bolgia, beginning in verse 65 of Inferno 24.

* * *

Inferno 24 is the first of two canti that treat the seventh bolgia, home of the thieves. These are fraudulent thieves, as compared to the violent robbers plunged into the river of blood in Inferno 12. Dante takes care to clarify the distinction between these thieves and the earlier robbers (as he does not, for instance, clarify the distinction between the prodigals in the fourth circle and the wastrels in the second rung of the seventh circle). He does this by specifying in Inferno 25 that the centaur Cacus “[n]on va co’ suoi fratei per un cammino” (does not ride the same road as his brothers [Inf. 25.28])—his “brothers” are the centaurs who inhabit and guard the first ring of the circle of violence—because of the fraudulent nature of his theft: “per lo furto che frodolente fece” (Inf. 25.29).

In this way, Dante uses the fiction of his underworld to make his taxonomic point. The surprising presence of the centaur Cacus here, in the bolgia of fraudulent thieves, is glossed by way of the “normative” collocation of centaurs within Dante’s fiction: centaurs belong to the first ring of the circle of violence, the ring that houses those who were violent toward others, in both their persons and their possessions. If a centaur is found elsewhere than in the first ring of the seventh circle, there must be a good reason, namely the fraud that governed Cacus’ thievery: “per lo furto che frodolente fece” (Inf. 25.29).

The relation between the sin of theft and the contrapasso (various kinds of metamorphoses) may plausibly—but to my mind not compellingly—be based on the violation of what Dorothy Sayers calls “the distinction between meum and tuum”. Natalino Sapegno explains the contrapasso thus: “i ladri sono qui a loro volta derubati, e della proprietà più intima ed inalienabile, la loro stessa figura umana” (The thieves are here in turn robbed of their most intimate and inalienable property, their own human bodies; see Sapegno, ed., Inferno [Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1968], p. 270).

Let me say explicitly that the spectacular nature of the contrapasso in this bolgia is disproportionate to the sin in question, and, to my mind, no amount of investigation will eliminate this disproportion. The suggestion put forward by Robert Hollander, whereby this bolgia recalls the “the ‘primal scene’ of thievery in Eden” (Hollander commentary, Inferno 24, at verses 91-96, accessed through http://dantelab.dartmouth.edu), certainly raises the status of the theft, as well as predicting the presence of serpents, but ultimately does not offer a sufficient hermeneutic lens for this canto.

Dante himself does not treat the violation of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by Adam and Eve as a fraudulent theft, but as a form of incontinence—what I call “epistemological incontinence” (see the title to the Introduction to Purgatorio 19). He insists on this point by placing grafts from the tree of Eden on his terrace of gluttony in Purgatory. In Purgatorio 32, where the primal scene in Eve is recreated by Dante, the griffin/Christ is congratulated precisely for not having eaten from this tree:

  Beato se’, grifon, che non discendi
col becco d’esto legno dolce al gusto,
poscia che mal si torce il ventre quindi. (Purg. 32.43-45)
  Blessed are you, whose beak does not, o griffin,
pluck the sweet-tasting fruit that is forbidden
and then afflicts the belly that has eaten!

Moreover, thievery in the treatment of Inferno 24-25 clearly has a civic dimension, given the apostrophes to Pistoia and Florence that frame the seventh bolgia and the Black Guelph Florentine families to which the thieves belong. It is thus better to say that Dante uses thievery much as he used sodomy, as an opportunity for a discourse on Florence and its corrupted values.

* * *

Most importantly, Dante uses the bolgia of the thieves in order to tackle the concept of metamorphosis itself. In analogous fashion, he uses the circle of lust not to connect to any of the timeworn moralistic formulae regarding lust that were in circulation but to tackle a complex of issues at the heart of his poem and of his life-long meditation: the issues of reading, authorship, reception, responsibility. Metamorphosis, like authorship, is a complex of ideas about which Dante has been thinking for decades by the time he writes Inferno 24 and 25. Already in the sonnet Piangete, amanti (Vita Nuova VIII [3]), as discussed in Dante’s Lyric Poetry (p. 75), Dante probes the issue of the “forma vera” (10), playing with the boundaries between animate and inanimate, life and death.

Metamorphosis boasts both a classical pedigree and profound religious implications. As a concept that probes the implications of a being that changes its shape, metamorphosis poses such questions as: what is lost, ontologically? what is gained?, does the self that has undergone metamorphosis remain an immutable self?

Although Ovid’s metamorphoses are traditionally treated by commentators as no more than occasions for “bel narrare” (Chiavacci Leonardi, ed., Inferno [Milan: Mondadori, 2005], p. 732), I believe that Dante saw great metaphysical profundity in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Dante certainly would have associated with Ovid the word “forma”, which he uses with metaphysical import as early as the sonnet Piangete, amanti (“forma vera”), and which Ovid uses in his first verse: “In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas / corpora” (My mind is bent to tell of bodies changed into new forms [trans. of Frank Justus Miller, Loeb Classical Library edition]). The word forma has an important story to tell in the Commedia, coming into its own in Paradiso, as does Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Dante viewed Ovid’s text as an examination of identity, selfhood, sexuality, embodiment, and essence—all ideas at the heart of Christian religious thought. I will come back to these issues in the Introduction to Inferno 25.

Above I defined metamorphosis as a transformation in which the same substance or essence takes on a different shape. For Dante, metamorphosis offers an opportunity to think as well about its counterpart, metousiosis, the Greek term that refers to a change of essence or inner reality. Greek metousiosis is the equivalent of Latin transsubstantiatio or transsubstantiation, which is the technical term used by theologians for the change by which the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become in actual reality the body and blood of Christ.

The questions Dante is posing go to the heart of how humans conceive of self: if our shape changes, does our substance—our essence—change as well?

In the Metamorphoses, Peleus desires Thetis, who changes shape to elude him. Peleus receives counsel to “bind her with snares and close-clinging thongs” while she sleeps and to hold on tenaciously throughout her shape-changing until she returns to her first form: “And though she take a hundred lying forms, let her not escape thee, but hold her close, whatever she may be, until she take again the form she had at first” (Metamorphoses, Book 11, lines 253-54, trans. Miller). In Latin, he must hold on until she regains the shape—“reformet”—of what she was, until she returns to “what she was before”: “quod fuit ante” (254). What Thetis was before, at the beginning—“quod fuit ante”—is what she will be again. The use of the verb esse, to be, tells us everything: Ovid is writing about essence, about being.

Ovid’s idea that the essential self remains present is one that Dante retains in this bolgia, where the souls are bound not with cords but by serpents who are fellow sinners, and where—as always in Dante’s Hell, but more sensationally so because of their shape-changes—their true punishment is that they never cease to be themselves.

* * *

The seventh is perhaps the most spectacular ring in Dante’s hell: it swarms with serpents of all stripes and sizes. The gruesome sight of all those snakes occasions an erudite and classically-inspired boast with an exotic and orientalizing flavor. Dante tells us that the evil pestilences he saw here find no match in the Libyan desert (described in the Pharsalia by Lucan, whose Latin names for various serpents Dante here repeats), nor can such an evil mass be found in Ethiopia, or in the Arabian desert:

  e vidivi entro terribile stipa
di serpenti, e di sì diversa mena
che la memoria il sangue ancor mi scipa.
  Più non si vanti Libia con sua rena; 
ché se chelidri, iaculi e faree
produce, e cencri con anfisibena,
  né tante pestilenzie né sì ree
mostrò già mai con tutta l’Etiopia
né con ciò che di sopra al Mar Rosso èe. (Inf. 24.82-90)
  and there within I saw a dreadful swarm
of serpents so extravagant in form—
remembering them still drains my blood from me.
  Let Libya boast no more about her sands;
for if she breeds chelydri, jaculi,
cenchres with amphisbaena, pareae,
  she never showed—not with all of Ethiopia
or all the land that borders the Red Sea—
so many, such malignant, pestilences.

The classical references to Lucan prepare for the remarkable poetic challenges of Inferno 25.94-102, where Dante will tell of metamorphoses that, he boasts, outdo those of both Ovid and Lucan.

The seventh bolgia features metamorphoses, changes of shape inflicted by serpents upon sinners. We will eventually learn that the serpents are themselves sinners who have previously been changed to serpents. The vicious circularity of the bolgia of the thieves is therefore absolute: far from the solidarity between sinners that Ciampolo offers to betray in the bolgia of barratry (Inferno 22), now we find a situation so degraded that there is no solidarity in the first instance. While in the fifth bolgia the demons were God’s “ministers”, here the sinners are both ministers and recipients of God’s justice.

A discourse on shape-changing necessitates consideration of the shape that changes, i.e. the body. The ongoing thematic of the body is one that we saw already developed, for instance, in Inferno 13. We remember that in Inferno 13 the human shape is not present at all: the souls of the suicides are “embodied” as trees. The static metamorphoses that we saw in Inferno 13 have become dynamic in Inferno 24. In Inferno 13 a metamorphosis from human shape into tree shape is stipulated as having taken place once, at the moment of the soul’s assignment to the ring of suicide. In the bolgia of thieves we find dynamic and ongoing metamorphoses that apparently have no beginning or ending. Not only has flora become fauna (trees have become snakes), but the metamorphoses themselves are never static: they are always changing.

The discourse on the body takes lexical form in the many body-parts named in this bolgia, for instance in this terzina’s description of the sexualized bondage inflicted on the sinners by their serpent-comrades:

  con serpi le man dietro avean legate;
quelle ficcavan per le ren la coda
e ’l capo, ed eran dinanzi aggroppate. (Inf. 24.94-96)
  Their hands were tied behind by serpents; these
had thrust their head and tail right through the loins,
and then were knotted on the other side.

We note the eerily sexualized component to the way in which the serpents “thrust their head and tail right through the loins” in order to bind the sinners into knots. I will return to the sexualized language of this bolgia in the Introduction to Inferno 25.

Man ⇒ Dust ⇒ Man:

in malo Death and Resurrection

Dante’s gaze rests in verse 97 upon a specific sinner who is pierced by a serpent “just where the neck and shoulders form a knot”: “là dove ’l collo a le spalle s’annoda” [Inf. 24.99]). The result is that the sinner is incinerated, literally, turning to ash, only then to recompose into human form. This metamorphosis—from man to dust and then again to man—is a perverse Resurrection, compared indeed to the death and rebirth of the phoenix (a mythological bird used in Christian imagery as a figura Christi): “Così per li gran savi si confessa / che la fenice more e poi rinasce” (just so, it is asserted by great sages, / the phoenix dies and then is born again [Inf. 24.106-7]).

Dante has here used metamorphosis to present a fundamental Christian mystery, death followed by resurrection, rendered in a perverted and hellish mirror-image of itself.

The new life and resurrection that the Christian soul finds in Christ is here a degraded pantomime in which the soul is resurrected only to die again. The dust does not “return to the earth as it was: and the spirit . . . unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7); rather, in a perversion of the biblical text, the dust rises over and over again.

This infernal Resurrection is followed by a dialogue with the unhappily resurrected soul, who turns out to be Vanni Fucci of Pistoia. The thief concludes Inferno 24 by insisting on his bestiality—“Vita bestial mi piacque e non umana” (the bestial life pleased me, and not the human [Inf. 24.124])—as though nothing could be more natural and fitting than to find himself bound and trussed by snakes. And then he gives vent to a political prophecy about the fall of the White Guelphs (Vanni Fucci is a Black Guelph, like the others in this bolgia, while Dante is a White Guelph) that he states is intended to wound Dante to the quick: “E detto l’ho perchè doler ti debbia!” (And I have told you this to make you grieve! [Inf. 24.151]). This hate-filled jab is the conclusion of Inferno 24.

Coordinated Reading

The Undivine Comedy, Chapter 4, “Narrative and Style in Lower Hell”, pp. 86-87; Dante’s Poets, pp. 223-25, 239-40; Dante’s Lyric Poetry, p. 75. To explore further the precise Ovidian intertextuality of this and other canti, see Intertextual Dante, edited by Julie van Peteghem.

Recommended Citation

Barolini, Teodolinda. “Inferno 24: Metamorphosis and Mystery.” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2017. https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/inferno/inferno-24/

About the Commento

1 In quella parte del giovanetto anno
2 che ’l sole i crin sotto l’Aquario tempra
3 e già le notti al mezzo dì sen vanno,

4 quando la brina in su la terra assempra
5 l’imagine di sua sorella bianca,
6 ma poco dura a la sua penna tempra,

7 lo villanello a cui la roba manca,
8 si leva, e guarda, e vede la campagna
9 biancheggiar tutta; ond’ ei si batte l’anca,

10 ritorna in casa, e qua e là si lagna,
11 come ’l tapin che non sa che si faccia;
12 poi riede, e la speranza ringavagna,

13 veggendo ’l mondo aver cangiata faccia
14 in poco d’ora, e prende suo vincastro,
15 e fuor le pecorelle a pascer caccia.

16 Così mi fece sbigottir lo mastro
17 quand’ io li vidi sì turbar la fronte,
18 e così tosto al mal giunse lo ’mpiastro;

19 ché, come noi venimmo al guasto ponte,
20 lo duca a me si volse con quel piglio
21 dolce ch’io vidi prima a piè del monte.

22 Le braccia aperse, dopo alcun consiglio
23 eletto seco riguardando prima
24 ben la ruina, e diedemi di piglio.

25 E come quei ch’adopera ed estima,
26 che sempre par che ’nnanzi si proveggia,
27 così, levando me sù ver’ la cima

28 d’un ronchione, avvisava un’altra scheggia
29 dicendo: «Sovra quella poi t’aggrappa;
30 ma tenta pria s’è tal ch’ella ti reggia».

31 Non era via da vestito di cappa,
32 ché noi a pena, ei lieve e io sospinto,
33 potavam sù montar di chiappa in chiappa.

34 E se non fosse che da quel precinto
35 più che da l’altro era la costa corta,
36 non so di lui, ma io sarei ben vinto.

37 Ma perché Malebolge inver’ la porta
38 del bassissimo pozzo tutta pende,
39 lo sito di ciascuna valle porta

40 che l’una costa surge e l’altra scende;
41 noi pur venimmo al fine in su la punta
42 onde l’ultima pietra si scoscende.

43 La lena m’era del polmon sì munta
44 quand’ io fui sù, ch’i’ non potea più oltre,
45 anzi m’assisi ne la prima giunta.

46 «Omai convien che tu così ti spoltre»,
47 disse ’l maestro; «ché, seggendo in piuma,
48 in fama non si vien, né sotto coltre;

49 sanza la qual chi sua vita consuma,
50 cotal vestigio in terra di sé lascia,
51 qual fummo in aere e in acqua la schiuma.

52 E però leva sù; vinci l’ambascia
53 con l’animo che vince ogne battaglia,
54 se col suo grave corpo non s’accascia.

55 Più lunga scala convien che si saglia;
56 non basta da costoro esser partito.
57 Se tu mi ’ntendi, or fa sì che ti vaglia».

58 Leva’mi allor, mostrandomi fornito
59 meglio di lena ch’i’ non mi senta,
60 e dissi: «Va, ch’i’ son forte e ardito».

61 Su per lo scoglio prendemmo la via,
62 ch’era ronchioso, stretto e malagevole,
63 ed erto più assai che quel di pria.

64 Parlando andava per non parer fievole;
65 onde una voce uscì de l’altro fosso,
66 a parole formar disconvenevole.

67 Non so che disse, ancor che sovra ’l dosso
68 fossi de l’arco già che varca quivi;
69 ma chi parlava ad ire parea mosso.

70 Io era vòlto in giù, ma li occhi vivi
71 non poteano ire al fondo per lo scuro;
72 per ch’io: «Maestro, fa che tu arrivi

73 da l’altro cinghio e dismontiam lo muro;
74 ché, com’ i’ odo quinci e non intendo,
75 così giù veggio e neente affiguro».

76 «Altra risposta», disse, «non ti rendo
77 se non lo far; ché la dimanda onesta
78 si de’ seguir con l’opera tacendo».

79 Noi discendemmo il ponte da la testa
80 dove s’aggiugne con l’ottava ripa,
81 e poi mi fu la bolgia manifesta:

82 e vidivi entro terribile stipa
83 di serpenti, e di sì diversa mena
84 che la memoria il sangue ancor mi scipa.

85 Più non si vanti Libia con sua rena;
86 ché se chelidri, iaculi e faree
87 produce, e cencri con anfisibena,

88 né tante pestilenzie né sì ree
89 mostrò già mai con tutta l’Etïopia
90 né con ciò che di sopra al Mar Rosso èe.

91 Tra questa cruda e tristissima copia
92 corrëan genti nude e spaventate,
93 sanza sperar pertugio o elitropia:

94 con serpi le man dietro avean legate;
95 quelle ficcavan per le ren la coda
96 e ’l capo, ed eran dinanzi aggroppate.

97 Ed ecco a un ch’era da nostra proda,
98 s’avventò un serpente che ’l trafisse
99 là dove ’l collo a le spalle s’annoda.

100 Né O sì tosto mai né I si scrisse,
101 com’ el s’accese e arse, e cener tutto
102 convenne che cascando divenisse;

103 e poi che fu a terra sì distrutto,
104 la polver si raccolse per sé stessa
105 e ’n quel medesmo ritornò di butto.

106 Così per li gran savi si confessa
107 che la fenice more e poi rinasce,
108 quando al cinquecentesimo anno appressa;

109 erba né biado in sua vita non pasce,
110 ma sol d’incenso lagrime e d’amomo,
111 e nardo e mirra son l’ultime fasce.

112 E qual è quel che cade, e non sa como,
113 per forza di demon ch’a terra il tira,
114 o d’altra oppilazion che lega l’omo,

115 quando si leva, che ’ntorno si mira
116 tutto smarrito de la grande angoscia
117 ch’elli ha sofferta, e guardando sospira:

118 tal era ’l peccator levato poscia.
119 Oh potenza di Dio, quant’ è severa,
120 che cotai colpi per vendetta croscia!

121 Lo duca il domandò poi chi ello era;
122 per ch’ei rispuose: «Io piovvi di Toscana,
123 poco tempo è, in questa gola fiera.

124 Vita bestial mi piacque e non umana,
125 sì come a mul ch’i’ fui; son Vanni Fucci
126 bestia, e Pistoia mi fu degna tana».

127 E ïo al duca: «Dilli che non mucci,
128 e domanda che colpa qua giù ’l pinse;
129 ch’io ’l vidi uomo di sangue e di crucci».

130 E ’l peccator, che ’ntese, non s’infinse,
131 ma drizzò verso me l’animo e ’l volto,
132 e di trista vergogna si dipinse;

133 poi disse: «Più mi duol che tu m’hai colto
134 ne la miseria dove tu mi vedi,
135 che quando fui de l’altra vita tolto.

136 Io non posso negar quel che tu chiedi;
137 in giù son messo tanto perch’ io fui
138 ladro a la sagrestia d’i belli arredi,

139 e falsamente già fu apposto altrui.
140 Ma perché di tal vista tu non godi,
141 se mai sarai di fuor da’ luoghi bui,

142 apri li orecchi al mio annunzio, e odi.
143 Pistoia in pria d’i Neri si dimagra;
144 poi Fiorenza rinova gente e modi.

145 Tragge Marte vapor di Val di Magra
146 ch’è di torbidi nuvoli involuto;
147 e con tempesta impetüosa e agra

148 sovra Campo Picen fia combattuto;
149 ond’ ei repente spezzerà la nebbia,
150 sì ch’ogne Bianco ne sarà feruto.

151 E detto l’ho perché doler ti debbia!».

In that part of the young year when the sun
begins to warm its locks beneath Aquarius
and nights grow shorter, equaling the days,

when hoarfrost mimes the image of his white
sister upon the ground—but not for long,
because the pen he uses is not sharp—

the farmer who is short of fodder rises
and looks and sees the fields all white, at which
he slaps his thigh, turns back into the house,

and here and there complains like some poor wretch
who doesn’t know what can be done, and then
goes out again and gathers up new hope

on seeing that the world has changed its face
in so few hours, and he takes his staff
and hurries out his flock of sheep to pasture.

So did my master fill me with dismay
when I saw how his brow was deeply troubled,
yet then the plaster soothed the sore as quickly:

for soon as we were on the broken bridge,
my guide turned back to me with that sweet manner
I first had seen along the mountain’s base.

And he examined carefully the ruin;
then having picked the way we would ascend,
he opened up his arms and thrust me forward.

And just as he who ponders as he labors,
who’s always ready for the step ahead,
so, as he lifted me up toward the summit

of one great crag, he’d see another spur,
saying: “That is the one you will grip next,
but try it first to see if it is firm.”

That was no path for those with cloaks of lead,
for he and I—he, light; I, with support—
could hardly make it up from spur to spur.

And were it not that, down from this enclosure,
the slope was shorter than the bank before,
I cannot speak for him, but I should surely

have been defeated. But since Malebolge
runs right into the mouth of its last well,
the placement of each valley means it must

have one bank high and have the other short;
and so we reached, at length, the jutting where
the last stone of the ruined bridge breaks off.

The breath within my lungs was so exhausted
from climbing, I could not go on; in fact,
as soon as I had reached that stone, I sat.

“Now you must cast aside your laziness,”
my master said, “for he who rests on down
or under covers cannot come to fame;

and he who spends his life without renown
leaves such a vestige of himself on earth
as smoke bequeaths to air or foam to water.

Therefore, get up; defeat your breathlessness
with spirit that can win all battles if
the body’s heaviness does not deter it.

A longer ladder still is to be climbed;
it’s not enough to have left them behind;
if you have understood, now profit from it.”

Then I arose and showed myself far better
equipped with breath than I had been before:
“Go on, for I am strong and confident.”

We took our upward way upon the ridge,
with crags more jagged, narrow, difficult,
and much more steep than we had crossed before.

I spoke as we went on, not to seem weak;
at this, a voice came from the ditch beyond—
a voice that was not suited to form words.

I know not what he said, although I was
already at the summit of the bridge
that crosses there; and yet he seemed to move.

I had bent downward, but my living eyes
could not see to the bottom through that dark;
at which I said: “O master, can we reach

the other belt? Let us descend the wall,
for as I hear and cannot understand,
so I see down but can distinguish nothing.”

“The only answer that I give to you
is doing it,” he said. “A just request
is to be met in silence, by the act.”

We then climbed down the bridge, just at the end
where it runs right into the eighth embankment,
and now the moat was plain enough to me;

and there within I saw a dreadful swarm
of serpents so extravagant in form—
remembering them still drains my blood from me.

Let Libya boast no more about her sands;
for if she breeds chelydri, jaculi,
cenchres with amphisbaena, pareae,

she never showed—with all of Ethiopia
or all the land that borders the Red Sea—
so many, such malignant, pestilences.

Among this cruel and depressing swarm,
ran people who were naked, terrified,
with no hope of a hole or heliotrope.

Their hands were tied behind by serpents; these
had thrust their head and tail right through the loins,
and then were knotted on the other side.

And—there!—a serpent sprang with force at one
who stood upon our shore, transfixing him
just where the neck and shoulders form a knot.

No o or i has ever been transcribed
so quickly as that soul caught fire and burned
and, as he fell, completely turned to ashes;

and when he lay, undone, upon the ground,
the dust of him collected by itself
and instantly returned to what it was:

just so, it is asserted by great sages,
that, when it reaches its five—hundredth year,
the phoenix dies and then is born again;

lifelong it never feeds on grass or grain,
only on drops of incense and amomum;
its final winding sheets are nard and myrrh.

And just as he who falls, and knows not how—
by demon’s force that drags him to the ground
or by some other hindrance that binds man—

who, when he rises, stares about him, all
bewildered by the heavy anguish he
has suffered, sighing as he looks around;

so did this sinner stare when he arose.
Oh, how severe it is, the power of God
that, as its vengeance, showers down such blows!

My guide then asked that sinner who he was;
to this he answered: “Not long since, I rained
from Tuscany into this savage maw.

Mule that I was, the bestial life pleased me
and not the human; I am Vanni Fucci,
beast; and the den that suited me—Pistoia.”

And I to Virgil: “Tell him not to slip
away, and ask what sin has thrust him here;
I knew him as a man of blood and anger.”

The sinner heard and did not try to feign
but turned his mind and face, intent, toward me;
and coloring with miserable shame,

he said: “I suffer more because you’ve caught me
in this, the misery you see, than I
suffered when taken from the other life.

I can’t refuse to answer what you ask:
I am set down so far because I robbed
the sacristy of its fair ornaments,

and someone else was falsely blamed for that.
But lest this sight give you too much delight,
if you can ever leave these lands of darkness,

open your ears to my announcement, hear:
Pistoia first will strip herself of Blacks,
then Florence will renew her men and manners.

From Val di Magra, Mars will draw a vapor
which turbid clouds will try to wrap; the clash
between them will be fierce, impetuous,

a tempest, fought upon Campo Piceno,
until that vapor, vigorous, shall crack
the mist, and every White be struck by it.

And I have told you this to make you grieve.”

IN that part of the youthful year wherein
The Sun his locks beneath Aquarius tempers,
And now the nights draw near to half the day,

What time the hoar-frost copies on the ground
The outward semblance of her sister white,
But little lasts the temper of her pen,

The husbandman, whose forage faileth him,
Rises, and looks, and seeth the champaign
All gleaming white, whereat he beats his flank,

Returns in doors, and up and down laments,
Like a poor wretch, who knows not what to do;
Then he returns and hope revives again,

Seeing the world has changed its countenance
In little time, and takes his shepherd’s crook,
And forth the little lambs to pasture drives.

Thus did the Master fill me with alarm
When I beheld his forehead so disturbed,
And to the ailment came as soon the plaster.

For as we came unto the ruined bridge
The Leader turned to me with that sweet look
Which at the mountain’s foot I first beheld.

His arms he opened, after some advisement
Within himself elected, looking first
Well at the ruin, and laid hold of me.

And even as he who acts and meditates,
For aye it seems that he provides beforehand,
So upward lifting me towards the summit

Of a huge rock, he scanned another crag,
Saying: “To that one grapple afterwards,
But try first if ’tis such that it will hold thee.”

This was no way for one clothed with a cloak;
For hardly we, he light, and I pushed upward,
Were able to ascend from jag to jag.

And had it not been, that upon that precinct
Shorter was the ascent than on the other,
He I know not, but I had been dead beat.

But because Malebolge tow’rds the mouth
Of the profoundest well is all inclining,
The structure of each valley doth import

That one bank rises and the other sinks.
Still we arrived at length upon the point
Wherefrom the last stone breaks itself asunder.

The breath was from my lungs so milked away,
When I was up, that I could go no farther,
Nay, I sat down upon my first arrival.

“Now it behoves thee thus to put off sloth,”
My Master said; “for sitting upon down,
Or under quilt, one cometh not to fame,

Withouten which whoso his life consumes
Such vestige leaveth of himself on earth.
As smoke in air or in the water foam.

And therefore raise thee up, o’ercome the anguish
With spirit that o’ercometh every battle,
If with its heavy body it sink not.

A longer stairway it behoves thee mount;
‘Tis not enough from these to have departed;
Let it avail thee, if thou understand me.”

Then I uprose, showing myself provided
Better with breath than I did feel myself,
And said: “Go on, for I am strong and bold.”

Upward we took our way along the crag,
Which jagged was, and narrow, and difficult,
And more precipitous far than that before.

Speaking I went, not to appear exhausted;
Whereat a voice from the next moat came forth,
Not well adapted to articulate words.

I know not what it said, though o’er the back
I now was of the arch that passes there;
But he seemed moved to anger who was speaking

I was bent downward, but my living eyes
Could not attain the bottom, for the dark;
Wherefore I: “Master, see that thou arrive

At the next round, and let us descend the wall;
For as from hence I hear and understand not,
So I look down and nothing I distinguish.”

“Other response,” he said, “I make thee not,
Except the doing; for the modest asking
Ought to be followed by the deed in silence.”

We from the bridge descended at its head,
Where it connects itself with the eighth bank,
And then was manifest to me the Bolgia;

And I beheld therein a terrible throng
Of serpents, and of such a monstrous kind,
That the remembrance still congeals my blood

Let Libya boast no longer with her sand;
For if Chelydri, Jaculi, and Pharae
She breeds, with Cenchri and with Ammhisbaena.

Neither so many plagues nor so malignant
E’er showed she with all Ethiopia,
Nor with whatever on the Red Sea is !

Among this cruel and most dismal throng
People were running naked and affrighted.
Without the hope of hole or heliotrope.

They had their hands with serpents bound behind them;
These riveted upon their reins the tail
And head, and were in front of them entwined.

And lo ! at one who was upon our side
There darted forth a serpent, which transfixed him
There where the neck is knotted to the shoulders.

Nor _O_ so quickly e’er, nor _I_ was written,
As he took fire, and burned; and ashes wholly
Behoved it that in falling he became.

And when he on the ground was thus destroyed,
The ashes drew together, and of themselves
Into himself they instantly returned.

Even thus by the great sages ’tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year;

On herb or grain it feeds not in its life,
But only on tears of incense and amomum,
And nard and myrrh are its last winding-sheet.

And as he is who falls, and knows not how,
By force of demons who to earth down drag him,
Or other oppilation that binds man,

When he arises and around him looks,
Wholly bewildered by the mighty anguish
Which he has suffered, and in looking sighs;

Such was that sinner after he had risen.
Justice of God ! O how severe it is,
That blows like these in vengeance poureth down !

The Guide thereafter asked him who he was;
Whence he replied: “I rained from Tuscany
A short time since into this cruel gorge.

A bestial life, and not a human, pleased me,
Even as the mule I was; I’m Vanni Fucci,
Beast, and Pistoia was my worthy den.”

And I unto the Guide: “Tell him to stir not,
And ask what crime has thrust him here below,
For once a man of blood and wrath I saw him.”

And the sinner, who had heard, dissembled not,
But unto me directed mind and face,
And with a melancholy shame was painted.

Then said: “It pains me more that thou hast caught me
Amid this misery where thou seest me,
Than when I from the other life was taken.

What thou demandest I cannot deny;
So low am I put down because I robbed
The sacristy of the fair ornaments,

And falsely once ’twas laid upon another;
But that thou mayst not such a sight enjoy,
If thou shalt e’er be out of the dark places,

Thine ears to my announcement ope and hear:
Pistoia first of Neri groweth meagre;
Then Florence doth renew her men and manners;

Mars draws a vapour up from Val di Magra,
Which is with turbid clouds enveloped round,
And with impetuous and bitter tempest

Over Campo Picen shall be the battle;
When it shall suddenly rend the mist asunder,
So that each Bianco shall thereby be smitten

And this I’ve said that it may give thee pain.”

In that part of the young year when the sun
begins to warm its locks beneath Aquarius
and nights grow shorter, equaling the days,

when hoarfrost mimes the image of his white
sister upon the ground—but not for long,
because the pen he uses is not sharp—

the farmer who is short of fodder rises
and looks and sees the fields all white, at which
he slaps his thigh, turns back into the house,

and here and there complains like some poor wretch
who doesn’t know what can be done, and then
goes out again and gathers up new hope

on seeing that the world has changed its face
in so few hours, and he takes his staff
and hurries out his flock of sheep to pasture.

So did my master fill me with dismay
when I saw how his brow was deeply troubled,
yet then the plaster soothed the sore as quickly:

for soon as we were on the broken bridge,
my guide turned back to me with that sweet manner
I first had seen along the mountain’s base.

And he examined carefully the ruin;
then having picked the way we would ascend,
he opened up his arms and thrust me forward.

And just as he who ponders as he labors,
who’s always ready for the step ahead,
so, as he lifted me up toward the summit

of one great crag, he’d see another spur,
saying: “That is the one you will grip next,
but try it first to see if it is firm.”

That was no path for those with cloaks of lead,
for he and I—he, light; I, with support—
could hardly make it up from spur to spur.

And were it not that, down from this enclosure,
the slope was shorter than the bank before,
I cannot speak for him, but I should surely

have been defeated. But since Malebolge
runs right into the mouth of its last well,
the placement of each valley means it must

have one bank high and have the other short;
and so we reached, at length, the jutting where
the last stone of the ruined bridge breaks off.

The breath within my lungs was so exhausted
from climbing, I could not go on; in fact,
as soon as I had reached that stone, I sat.

“Now you must cast aside your laziness,”
my master said, “for he who rests on down
or under covers cannot come to fame;

and he who spends his life without renown
leaves such a vestige of himself on earth
as smoke bequeaths to air or foam to water.

Therefore, get up; defeat your breathlessness
with spirit that can win all battles if
the body’s heaviness does not deter it.

A longer ladder still is to be climbed;
it’s not enough to have left them behind;
if you have understood, now profit from it.”

Then I arose and showed myself far better
equipped with breath than I had been before:
“Go on, for I am strong and confident.”

We took our upward way upon the ridge,
with crags more jagged, narrow, difficult,
and much more steep than we had crossed before.

I spoke as we went on, not to seem weak;
at this, a voice came from the ditch beyond—
a voice that was not suited to form words.

I know not what he said, although I was
already at the summit of the bridge
that crosses there; and yet he seemed to move.

I had bent downward, but my living eyes
could not see to the bottom through that dark;
at which I said: “O master, can we reach

the other belt? Let us descend the wall,
for as I hear and cannot understand,
so I see down but can distinguish nothing.”

“The only answer that I give to you
is doing it,” he said. “A just request
is to be met in silence, by the act.”

We then climbed down the bridge, just at the end
where it runs right into the eighth embankment,
and now the moat was plain enough to me;

and there within I saw a dreadful swarm
of serpents so extravagant in form—
remembering them still drains my blood from me.

Let Libya boast no more about her sands;
for if she breeds chelydri, jaculi,
cenchres with amphisbaena, pareae,

she never showed—with all of Ethiopia
or all the land that borders the Red Sea—
so many, such malignant, pestilences.

Among this cruel and depressing swarm,
ran people who were naked, terrified,
with no hope of a hole or heliotrope.

Their hands were tied behind by serpents; these
had thrust their head and tail right through the loins,
and then were knotted on the other side.

And—there!—a serpent sprang with force at one
who stood upon our shore, transfixing him
just where the neck and shoulders form a knot.

No o or i has ever been transcribed
so quickly as that soul caught fire and burned
and, as he fell, completely turned to ashes;

and when he lay, undone, upon the ground,
the dust of him collected by itself
and instantly returned to what it was:

just so, it is asserted by great sages,
that, when it reaches its five—hundredth year,
the phoenix dies and then is born again;

lifelong it never feeds on grass or grain,
only on drops of incense and amomum;
its final winding sheets are nard and myrrh.

And just as he who falls, and knows not how—
by demon’s force that drags him to the ground
or by some other hindrance that binds man—

who, when he rises, stares about him, all
bewildered by the heavy anguish he
has suffered, sighing as he looks around;

so did this sinner stare when he arose.
Oh, how severe it is, the power of God
that, as its vengeance, showers down such blows!

My guide then asked that sinner who he was;
to this he answered: “Not long since, I rained
from Tuscany into this savage maw.

Mule that I was, the bestial life pleased me
and not the human; I am Vanni Fucci,
beast; and the den that suited me—Pistoia.”

And I to Virgil: “Tell him not to slip
away, and ask what sin has thrust him here;
I knew him as a man of blood and anger.”

The sinner heard and did not try to feign
but turned his mind and face, intent, toward me;
and coloring with miserable shame,

he said: “I suffer more because you’ve caught me
in this, the misery you see, than I
suffered when taken from the other life.

I can’t refuse to answer what you ask:
I am set down so far because I robbed
the sacristy of its fair ornaments,

and someone else was falsely blamed for that.
But lest this sight give you too much delight,
if you can ever leave these lands of darkness,

open your ears to my announcement, hear:
Pistoia first will strip herself of Blacks,
then Florence will renew her men and manners.

From Val di Magra, Mars will draw a vapor
which turbid clouds will try to wrap; the clash
between them will be fierce, impetuous,

a tempest, fought upon Campo Piceno,
until that vapor, vigorous, shall crack
the mist, and every White be struck by it.

And I have told you this to make you grieve.”

IN that part of the youthful year wherein
The Sun his locks beneath Aquarius tempers,
And now the nights draw near to half the day,

What time the hoar-frost copies on the ground
The outward semblance of her sister white,
But little lasts the temper of her pen,

The husbandman, whose forage faileth him,
Rises, and looks, and seeth the champaign
All gleaming white, whereat he beats his flank,

Returns in doors, and up and down laments,
Like a poor wretch, who knows not what to do;
Then he returns and hope revives again,

Seeing the world has changed its countenance
In little time, and takes his shepherd’s crook,
And forth the little lambs to pasture drives.

Thus did the Master fill me with alarm
When I beheld his forehead so disturbed,
And to the ailment came as soon the plaster.

For as we came unto the ruined bridge
The Leader turned to me with that sweet look
Which at the mountain’s foot I first beheld.

His arms he opened, after some advisement
Within himself elected, looking first
Well at the ruin, and laid hold of me.

And even as he who acts and meditates,
For aye it seems that he provides beforehand,
So upward lifting me towards the summit

Of a huge rock, he scanned another crag,
Saying: “To that one grapple afterwards,
But try first if ’tis such that it will hold thee.”

This was no way for one clothed with a cloak;
For hardly we, he light, and I pushed upward,
Were able to ascend from jag to jag.

And had it not been, that upon that precinct
Shorter was the ascent than on the other,
He I know not, but I had been dead beat.

But because Malebolge tow’rds the mouth
Of the profoundest well is all inclining,
The structure of each valley doth import

That one bank rises and the other sinks.
Still we arrived at length upon the point
Wherefrom the last stone breaks itself asunder.

The breath was from my lungs so milked away,
When I was up, that I could go no farther,
Nay, I sat down upon my first arrival.

“Now it behoves thee thus to put off sloth,”
My Master said; “for sitting upon down,
Or under quilt, one cometh not to fame,

Withouten which whoso his life consumes
Such vestige leaveth of himself on earth.
As smoke in air or in the water foam.

And therefore raise thee up, o’ercome the anguish
With spirit that o’ercometh every battle,
If with its heavy body it sink not.

A longer stairway it behoves thee mount;
‘Tis not enough from these to have departed;
Let it avail thee, if thou understand me.”

Then I uprose, showing myself provided
Better with breath than I did feel myself,
And said: “Go on, for I am strong and bold.”

Upward we took our way along the crag,
Which jagged was, and narrow, and difficult,
And more precipitous far than that before.

Speaking I went, not to appear exhausted;
Whereat a voice from the next moat came forth,
Not well adapted to articulate words.

I know not what it said, though o’er the back
I now was of the arch that passes there;
But he seemed moved to anger who was speaking

I was bent downward, but my living eyes
Could not attain the bottom, for the dark;
Wherefore I: “Master, see that thou arrive

At the next round, and let us descend the wall;
For as from hence I hear and understand not,
So I look down and nothing I distinguish.”

“Other response,” he said, “I make thee not,
Except the doing; for the modest asking
Ought to be followed by the deed in silence.”

We from the bridge descended at its head,
Where it connects itself with the eighth bank,
And then was manifest to me the Bolgia;

And I beheld therein a terrible throng
Of serpents, and of such a monstrous kind,
That the remembrance still congeals my blood

Let Libya boast no longer with her sand;
For if Chelydri, Jaculi, and Pharae
She breeds, with Cenchri and with Ammhisbaena.

Neither so many plagues nor so malignant
E’er showed she with all Ethiopia,
Nor with whatever on the Red Sea is !

Among this cruel and most dismal throng
People were running naked and affrighted.
Without the hope of hole or heliotrope.

They had their hands with serpents bound behind them;
These riveted upon their reins the tail
And head, and were in front of them entwined.

And lo ! at one who was upon our side
There darted forth a serpent, which transfixed him
There where the neck is knotted to the shoulders.

Nor _O_ so quickly e’er, nor _I_ was written,
As he took fire, and burned; and ashes wholly
Behoved it that in falling he became.

And when he on the ground was thus destroyed,
The ashes drew together, and of themselves
Into himself they instantly returned.

Even thus by the great sages ’tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year;

On herb or grain it feeds not in its life,
But only on tears of incense and amomum,
And nard and myrrh are its last winding-sheet.

And as he is who falls, and knows not how,
By force of demons who to earth down drag him,
Or other oppilation that binds man,

When he arises and around him looks,
Wholly bewildered by the mighty anguish
Which he has suffered, and in looking sighs;

Such was that sinner after he had risen.
Justice of God ! O how severe it is,
That blows like these in vengeance poureth down !

The Guide thereafter asked him who he was;
Whence he replied: “I rained from Tuscany
A short time since into this cruel gorge.

A bestial life, and not a human, pleased me,
Even as the mule I was; I’m Vanni Fucci,
Beast, and Pistoia was my worthy den.”

And I unto the Guide: “Tell him to stir not,
And ask what crime has thrust him here below,
For once a man of blood and wrath I saw him.”

And the sinner, who had heard, dissembled not,
But unto me directed mind and face,
And with a melancholy shame was painted.

Then said: “It pains me more that thou hast caught me
Amid this misery where thou seest me,
Than when I from the other life was taken.

What thou demandest I cannot deny;
So low am I put down because I robbed
The sacristy of the fair ornaments,

And falsely once ’twas laid upon another;
But that thou mayst not such a sight enjoy,
If thou shalt e’er be out of the dark places,

Thine ears to my announcement ope and hear:
Pistoia first of Neri groweth meagre;
Then Florence doth renew her men and manners;

Mars draws a vapour up from Val di Magra,
Which is with turbid clouds enveloped round,
And with impetuous and bitter tempest

Over Campo Picen shall be the battle;
When it shall suddenly rend the mist asunder,
So that each Bianco shall thereby be smitten

And this I’ve said that it may give thee pain.”