[Translation from Dante, Inferno Canto xxxiii 1-78]

1 From his dire food the grisly felon raised
2 His gore-dyed lips, which on the clottered locks
3 Of the half-devoured head he wiped, and thus
4 Began: 'Would'st thou revive the deep despair,
5 The anguish, that, unuttered, natheless wrings
6 My inmost heart? Yet if the telling may
7 Beget the traitor's infamy, whom thus
8 I ceaseless gnaw insatiate, thou shalt see me
9 At once give loose to utterance and to tears.
10 'I know not who thou art nor on what errand
11 Sent hither; but a Florentine my ear,
12 Won by thy tongue, declares thee. Know, thou see'st
13 In me Count Ugolino, and Ruggieri,
14 Pisa's perfidious prelate, this: now hear
15 My wrongs and from them judge of my revenge.
16 'That I did trust him, that I was betrayed
17 By trusting, and by treachery slain, it recks not
18 That I advise thee; that which yet remains
19 To thee and all unknown (a horrid tale),
20 The bitterness of death, I shall unfold.
21 Attend, and say if he have injured me.
22 'Through a small crevice opening, what scant light
23 That grim and antique tower admitted (since
24 Of me the Tower of Famine hight, and known
25 To many a wretch) already 'gan the dawn
26 To send. The whilst I slumbering lay, a sleep
27 Prophetic of my woes with direful hand
28 Oped the dark veil of fate. I saw methought
29 Toward Pisa's mount, that intercepts the view
30 Of Lucca, chased by hell-hounds gaunt and bloody
31 A wolf full-grown; with fleet and equal speed
32 His young ones ran beside him. Lanfranc there
33 And Sigismundo and Gualandi rode
34 Amain, my deadly foes, headed by this
35 The deadliest: he their chief, the foremost he
36 Flashed to pursue and cheer the eager cry.
37 Nor long endured the chase: the panting sire,
38 Of strength bereft, his helpless offspring soon
39 O'erta'en beheld, and in their trembling flanks
40 The hungry pack their sharp-set fangs embrued.
41 'The morn had scarce commenced when I awoke:
42 My children (they were with me) sleep as yet
43 Gave not to know their sum of misery,
44 But yet in low and uncompleted sounds
45 I heard 'em wail for bread. Oh! thou art cruel,
46 Or thou dost mourn to think what my poor heart
47 Foresaw, foreknew; oh! if thou weep not now,
48 Where are thy tears? Too soon they had aroused them,
49 Sad with the fears of sleep, and now the hour
50 Of timely food approached; when, at the gate
51 Below, I heard the dreadful clank of bars
52 And fastening bolts. Then on my children's eyes
53 Speechless my sight I fixed, nor wept, for all
54 Within was stone. They wept, unhappy boys,
55 They wept; and first my little dear Anselmo
56 Cried, 'Father, why do you gaze so sternly?
57 What would you have?' Yet wept I not or answered
58 All that whole day or the succeeding night,
59 Till a new sun arose with weakly gleam
60 And wan, such as mought entrance find within
61 That house of woe. But oh! when I beheld
62 My sons, and in four faces saw my own
63 Despair reflected, either hand I gnawed
64 For anguish, which they construed hunger. Straight
65 Arising all they cried, 'Far less shall be
66 Our sufferings, sir, if you resume your gift;
67 These miserable limbs with flesh you clothed;
68 Take back what once was yours.' I swallowed down
69 My struggling sorrow, nor to heighten theirs.
70 That day and yet another, mute we sat
71 And motionless. O earth, could'st thou not gape
72 Quick to devour me? Yet a fourth day came,
73 When Gaddo, at my feet outstretched, imploring
74 In vain my help, expired; ere the sixth morn
75 Had dawned, my other three before my eyes
76 Died one by one. I saw 'em fall; I heard
77 Their doleful cries. For three days more I groped
78 About among their cold remains (for then
79 Hunger had reft my eyesight), often calling
80 On their dear names, that heard me now no more;
81 The fourth, what sorrow could not, famine did.'
82 He finished; then with unrelenting eye
83 Askance he turned him, hasty to renew
84 The hellish feast, and rent his trembling prey.

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Title (in Source Edition): [Translation from Dante, Inferno Canto xxxiii 1-78]
Author: Thomas Gray
Themes:
Genres: blank verse; translation

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Source edition

Thomas Gray: English poems. Web. Oxford: Thomas Gray Archive, 2002, p. . http://www.thomasgray.org/texts/poems.shtml

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been silently modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

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