Dante Quotes in Inferno
Midway this way of life we're bound upon,
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.
Canst thou be Virgil? Thou that fount of splendour
Whence poured so wide a stream of lordly speech?
And greater honour yet they [Homer, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan] did me—yea,
Into their fellowship they deigned invite
And make me sixth among such minds as they.
Nay, but I tell not all that I saw then;
The long theme drives me hard, and everywhere
The wondrous truth outstrips my staggering pen.
So we stirred
Our footsteps citywards, with hearts reposed,
Safely protected by the heavenly word.
Keep handy my Thesaurus, where I yet
Live on; I ask no more.
So may thy soul these many years abide
Housed in thy body, and the after-light
Of fame shine long behind thee.
Put off this sloth [...]
Sitting on feather-pillows, lying reclined
Beneath the blanket is no way to fame—
Fame, without which man's life wastes out of mind,
Leaving on earth no more memorial
Than foam in water or smoke upon the wind.
Florence, rejoice, because thy soaring fame
Beats its broad wings across both land and sea,
And all the deep of Hell rings with thy name!
Five of thy noble townsmen did I see
Among the thieves; which makes me blush anew,
And mighty little honour it does to thee.
Who, though with words unshackled from the rhymes,
Could yet tell full the tale of wounds and blood
Now shown me, let him try ten thousand times?
The self-same tongue that first had wounded me,
Bringing the scarlet blood to both my cheeks,
Thus to my sore applied the remedy.
As ‘tis, I tremble lest the telling mar
The tale; for, truly, to describe the great
Fundament of the world is very far
From being a task for idle wits at play,
But may those heavenly ladies aid my lay
That helped Amphion wall high Thebes with stone,
Lest from the truth my wandering verses stray.
How cold I grew, how faint with fearfulness,
Ask me not, Reader; I shall not waste breath
Telling what words are powerless to express.
Each mouth devoured a sinner clenched within,
Frayed by the fangs like flax beneath a brake;
Three at a time he tortured them for sin.