Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dante 27

Dante's Inferno XXII:
From Inferno: Canto XXII:
Ever upon the pitch was my intent,
  To see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
  And of the people who therein were burned.
So upon every side the sinners stood;
  But ever as Barbariccia near them came,
  Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew.

I saw, and still my heart doth shudder at it,
  One waiting thus, even as it comes to pass
  One frog remains, and down another dives;

And Graffiacan, who most confronted him,
  Grappled him by his tresses smeared with pitch,
  And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter.

I knew, before, the names of all of them,
  So had I noted them when they were chosen,
  And when they called each other, listened how.

"O Rubicante, see that thou do lay
  Thy claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,"
  Cried all together the accursed ones.

And I: "My Master, see to it, if thou canst,
  That thou mayst know who is the luckless wight,
  Thus come into his adversaries' hands."

Near to the side of him my Leader drew,
  Asked of him whence he was; and he replied:
  "I in the kingdom of Navarre was born;

My mother placed me servant to a lord,
  For she had borne me to a ribald knave,
  Destroyer of himself and of his things.

Then I domestic was of good King Thibault;
  I set me there to practise barratry,
  For which I pay the reckoning in this heat."

Infuriate at the mockery, Calcabrina
  Flying behind him followed close, desirous
  The other should escape, to have a quarrel.

And when the barrator had disappeared,
  He turned his talons upon his companion,
  And grappled with him right above the moat.

But sooth the other was a doughty sparhawk
  To clapper-claw him well; and both of them
  Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.

A sudden intercessor was the heat;
  But ne'ertheless of rising there was naught,
  To such degree they had their wings belimed.

Lamenting with the others, Barbariccia
  Made four of them fly to the other side
  With all their gaffs, and very speedily

This side and that they to their posts descended;
  They stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
  Who were already baked within the crust,

And in this manner busied did we leave them.

Blake's Illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy, object 44
The Baffled Devils Fighting

From page 147 of Klonski:
Ciampolo was talking with Dante and Virgil (he apparently thought they had some control over the horrible mess where he found himself). He proposed to put the devils on his politican adversaries if they would let him go, but he abandoned that artifice to dive into the pitch.
Alchino and Calcabrina turn their hawklike claws on one another until they fell into the pond.

(If Dante and Blake lived today, they might well refer to the two antagonists as Republicans and Democrats!!) Dante and Virgil make their escape along the rim.

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