Inferno Canto02

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
sì del cammino e sì de la pietate,
che ritrarrà 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 ciò ch'io vidi,
qui si parrà 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 virtù s'ell'è 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 andò, 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.

Però, 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'è 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 perché venirvi? o chi 'l concede?
Io non Enea, io non Paulo sono:
me degno a ciò né io né 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 è quei che disvuol ciò che volle
e per novi pensier cangia proposta,
sì 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,
perché, 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 è 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
sì 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 acciò 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 chiamò beata
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Dante Alighieri

Durante degli Alighieri, simply referred to as Dante, was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. more…

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