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Inferno Canto02

Written by: Dante Alighieri | Biography
 | Quotes (37) |
 Lo giorno se n'andava, e l'aere bruno 
toglieva li animai che sono in terra 
da le fatiche loro; e io sol uno 

The day was now departing; the dark air 
released the living beings of the earth 
from work and weariness; and I myself 


m'apparecchiava a sostener la guerra 
s? del cammino e s? de la pietate, 
che ritrarr? la mente che non erra . 

alone prepared to undergo the battle 
both of the journeying and of the pity, 
which memory, mistaking not, shall show. 


O muse, o alto ingegno, or m'aiutate; 
o mente che scrivesti ci? ch'io vidi, 
qui si parr? la tua nobilitate . 

O Muses, o high genius, help me now; 
o memory that set down what I saw, 
here shall your excellence reveal itself! 


Io cominciai: «Poeta che mi guidi, 
guarda la mia virt? s'ell'? possente, 
prima ch'a l'alto passo tu mi fidi . 

I started: "Poet, you who are my guide, 
see if the force in me is strong enough 
before you let me face that rugged pass. 


Tu dici che di Silvio il parente, 
corruttibile ancora, ad immortale 
secolo and?, e fu sensibilmente . 

You say that he who fathered Sylvius, 
while he was still corruptible, had journeyed 
into the deathless world with his live body. 


Per?, se l'avversario d'ogne male 
cortese i fu, pensando l'alto effetto 
ch'uscir dovea di lui e 'l chi e 'l quale , 

For, if the Enemy of every evil 
was courteous to him, considering 
all he would cause and who and what he was, 


non pare indegno ad omo d'intelletto; 
ch'e' fu de l'alma Roma e di suo impero 
ne l'empireo ciel per padre eletto : 

that does not seem incomprehensible, 
since in the empyrean heaven he was chosen 
to father honored Rome and her empire; 


la quale e 'l quale, a voler dir lo vero, 
fu stabilita per lo loco santo 
u' siede il successor del maggior Piero . 

and if the truth be told, Rome and her realm 
were destined to become the sacred place, 
the seat of the successor of great Peter. 


Per quest'andata onde li dai tu vanto, 
intese cose che furon cagione 
di sua vittoria e del papale ammanto . 

And through the journey you ascribe to him, 
he came to learn of things that were to bring 
his victory and, too, the papal mantle. 


Andovvi poi lo Vas d'elezione, 
per recarne conforto a quella fede 
ch'? principio a la via di salvazione . 

Later the Chosen Vessel travelled there, 
to bring us back assurance of that faith 
with which the way to our salvation starts. 


Ma io perch? venirvi? o chi 'l concede? 
Io non Enea, io non Paulo sono: 
me degno a ci? n? io n? altri 'l crede . 

But why should I go there? Who sanctions it? 
For I am not Aeneas, am not Paul; 
nor I nor others think myself so worthy. 


Per che, se del venire io m'abbandono, 
temo che la venuta non sia folle. 
Se' savio; intendi me' ch'i' non ragiono ». 

Therefore, if I consent to start this journey, 
I fear my venture may be wild and empty. 
You're wise; you know far more than what I say." 


E qual ? quei che disvuol ci? che volle 
e per novi pensier cangia proposta, 
s? che dal cominciar tutto si tolle , 

And just as he who unwills what he wills 
and shifts what he intends to seek new ends 
so that he's drawn from what he had begun, 


tal mi fec'io 'n quella oscura costa, 
perch?, pensando, consumai la 'mpresa 
che fu nel cominciar cotanto tosta. 

so was I in the midst of that dark land, 
because, with all my thinking, I annulled 
the task I had so quickly undertaken. 


«S'i' ho ben la parola tua intesa», 
rispuose del magnanimo quell'ombra; 
«l'anima tua ? da viltade offesa ; 

"If I have understood what you have said," 
replied the shade of that great-hearted one, 
"your soul has been assailed by cowardice, 


la qual molte fiate l'omo ingombra 
s? che d'onrata impresa lo rivolve, 
come falso veder bestia quand'ombra . 

which often weighs so heavily on a man- 
distracting him from honorable trials- 
as phantoms frighten beasts when shadows fall. 


Da questa tema acci? che tu ti solve, 
dirotti perch'io venni e quel ch'io 'ntesi 
nel primo punto che di te mi dolve . 

That you may be delivered from this fear, 
I'll tell you why I came and what I heard 
when I first felt compassion for your pain. 


Io era tra color che son sospesi, 
e donna mi chiam? beata e bella, 
tal che di comandare io la richiesi . 

I was among those souls who are suspended; 
a lady called to me, so blessed, so lovely 
that I implored to serve at her command. 


Lucevan li occhi suoi pi? che la stella; 
e cominciommi a dir soave e piana, 
con angelica voce, in sua favella : 

Her eyes surpassed the splendor of the star's; 
and she began to speak to me-so gently 
and softly-with angelic voice. She said: 


"O anima cortese mantoana, 
di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura, 
e durer? quanto 'l mondo lontana , 

'O spirit of the courteous Mantuan, 
whose fame is still a presence in the world 
and shall endure as long as the world lasts, 


l'amico mio, e non de la ventura, 
ne la diserta piaggia ? impedito 
s? nel cammin, che volt'? per paura ; 

my friend, who has not been the friend of fortune, 
is hindered in his path along that lonely 
hillside; he has been turned aside by terror. 


e temo che non sia gi? s? smarrito, 
ch'io mi sia tardi al soccorso levata, 
per quel ch'i' ho di lui nel cielo udito . 

From all that I have heard of him in Heaven, 
he is, I fear, already so astray 
that I have come to help him much too late. 


Or movi, e con la tua parola ornata 
e con ci? c'ha mestieri al suo campare 
l'aiuta, s? ch'i' ne sia consolata . 

Go now; with your persuasive word, with all 
that is required to see that he escapes, 
bring help to him, that I may be consoled. 


I' son Beatrice che ti faccio andare; 
vegno del loco ove tornar disio; 
amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare . 

For I am Beatrice who send you on; 
I come from where I most long to return; 
Love prompted me, that Love which makes me speak. 


Quando sar? dinanzi al segnor mio, 
di te mi loder? sovente a lui". 
Tacette allora, e poi comincia' io : 

When once again I stand before my Lord, 
then I shall often let Him hear your praises.' 
Now Beatrice was silent. I began: 


"O donna di virt?, sola per cui 
l'umana spezie eccede ogne contento 
di quel ciel c'ha minor li cerchi sui , 

'O Lady of virtue, the sole reason why 
the human race surpasses all that lies 
beneath the heaven with the smallest spheres, 


tanto m'aggrada il tuo comandamento, 
che l'ubidir, se gi? fosse, m'? tardi; 
pi? non t'? uo' ch'aprirmi il tuo talento . 

so welcome is your wish, that even if 
it were already done, it would seem tardy; 
all you need do is let me know your will. 


Ma dimmi la cagion che non ti guardi 
de lo scender qua giuso in questo centro 
de l'ampio loco ove tornar tu ardi ". 

But tell me why you have not been more prudent- 
descending to this center, moving from 
that spacious place where you long to return?' 


"Da che tu vuo' saver cotanto a dentro, 
dirotti brievemente", mi rispuose, 
"perch'io non temo di venir qua entro . 

'Because you want to fathom things so deeply, 
I now shall tell you promptly,' she replied, 
'why I am not afraid to enter here. 


Temer si dee di sole quelle cose 
c'hanno potenza di fare altrui male; 
de l'altre no, ch? non son paurose . 

One ought to be afraid of nothing other 
than things possessed of power to do us harm, 
but things innocuous need not be feared. 


I' son fatta da Dio, sua merc?, tale, 
che la vostra miseria non mi tange, 
n? fiamma d'esto incendio non m'assale . 

God, in His graciousness, has made me so 
that this, your misery, cannot touch me; 
I can withstand the fires flaming here. 


Donna ? gentil nel ciel che si compiange 
di questo 'mpedimento ov'io ti mando, 
s? che duro giudicio l? s? frange . 

In Heaven there's a gentle lady-one 
who weeps for the distress toward which I send you, 
so that stern judgment up above is shattered. 


Questa chiese Lucia in suo dimando 
e disse: - Or ha bisogno il tuo fedele 
di te, e io a te lo raccomando -. 

And it was she who called upon Lucia, 
requesting of her: "Now your faithful one 
has need of you, and I commend him to you." 


Lucia, nimica di ciascun crudele, 
si mosse, e venne al loco dov'i' era, 
che mi sedea con l'antica Rachele . 

Lucia, enemy of every cruelty, 
arose and made her way to where I was, 
sitting beside the venerable Rachel. 


Disse: - Beatrice, loda di Dio vera, 
ch? non soccorri quei che t'am? tanto, 
ch'usc? per te de la volgare schiera ? 

She said: "You, Beatrice, true praise of God, 
why have you not helped him who loves you so 
that-for your sake-he's left the vulgar crowd? 


non odi tu la pieta del suo pianto? 
non vedi tu la morte che 'l combatte 
su la fiumana ove 'l mar non ha vanto ? - 

Do you not hear the anguish in his cry? 
Do you not see the death he wars against 
upon that river ruthless as the sea?" 


Al mondo non fur mai persone ratte 
a far lor pro o a fuggir lor danno, 
com'io, dopo cotai parole fatte, 

No one within this world has ever been 
so quick to seek his good or flee his harm 
as I-when she had finished speaking thus- 

venni qua gi? del mio beato scanno, 
fidandomi del tuo parlare onesto, 
ch'onora te e quei ch'udito l'hanno ". 

to come below, down from my blessed station; 
I trusted in your honest utterance, 
which honors you and those who've listened to you.' 


Poscia che m'ebbe ragionato questo, 
li occhi lucenti lagrimando volse; 
per che mi fece del venir pi? presto ; 

When she had finished with her words to me, 
she turned aside her gleaming, tearful eyes, 
which only made me hurry all the more. 


e venni a te cos? com'ella volse; 
d'inanzi a quella fiera ti levai 
che del bel monte il corto andar ti tolse . 

And, just as she had wished, I came to you: 
I snatched you from the path of the fierce beast 
that barred the shortest way up the fair mountain. 


Dunque: che ?? perch?, perch? restai? 
perch? tanta vilt? nel core allette? 
perch? ardire e franchezza non hai ? 

What is it then? Why, why do you resist? 
Why does your heart host so much cowardice? 
Where are your daring and your openness 


poscia che tai tre donne benedette 
curan di te ne la corte del cielo, 
e 'l mio parlar tanto ben ti promette? ». 

as long as there are three such blessed women 
concerned for you within the court of Heaven 
and my words promise you so great a good?" 


Quali fioretti dal notturno gelo 
chinati e chiusi, poi che 'l sol li 'mbianca 
si drizzan tutti aperti in loro stelo , 

As little flowers, which the chill of night 
has bent and huddled, when the white sun strikes 
grow straight and open fully on their stems, 


tal mi fec'io di mia virtude stanca, 
e tanto buono ardire al cor mi corse, 
ch'i' cominciai come persona franca : 

so did I, too, with my exhausted force; 
and such warm daring rushed into my heart 
that I-as one who has been freed-began: 


«Oh pietosa colei che mi soccorse! 
e te cortese ch'ubidisti tosto 
a le vere parole che ti porse ! 

"O she, compassionate, who has helped me! 
And you who, courteous, obeyed so quickly 
the true words that she had addressed to you! 


Tu m'hai con disiderio il cor disposto 
s? al venir con le parole tue, 
ch'i' son tornato nel primo proposto . 

You, with your words, have so disposed my heart 
to longing for this journey-I return 
to what I was at first prepared to do. 


Or va, ch'un sol volere ? d'ambedue: 
tu duca, tu segnore, e tu maestro». 
Cos? li dissi; e poi che mosso fue , 

Now go; a single will fills both of us: 
you are my guide, my governor, my master." 
These were my words to him; when he advanced 


intrai per lo cammino alto e silvestro . 

I entered on the steep and savage path.



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