from THE DIVINE COMEDY, translation by Lawrence Binyon, Copyright 1947 Viking Press
"Here lamentation, groans, and wailings deep
Reverberated through the starless air,
So that it made me at the beginning weep.
Uncouth tongues, horrible shriekings of despair,
Shrill and faint voices, cries of pain and rage,
And, with it all, smiting of hands, were there,
Making a tumult, nothing could assuage,
To swirl in the air that knows not day or night,
Like sand within the whirlwind's eddying cage."
Inferno, Canto III, Lines 22-30
"I am now in the Third Circle of the Rain,
Eternal, cold, accurst, and charged with woe.
Its law and quality ever the same remain.
Big hail, and clots of muddied water, and snow
Pour downward through the darkness of the air:
The ground they beat stinks with the overflow."
Inferno, Canto VI, Lines 7-12
"Ah! Divine Justice! Who crowds throe on throe,
Toil upon Toil, such as mine eyes now met?
Why doth our guilt so ruin us and undo?"
Inferno, Canto VII, Lines 19-21
"And I who stood with fixed looks intent
Saw muddied people in that slough who stuck,
All naked and with brows in anger bent.
Not with hands only each the other struck
But with the head and breast and heels that spurn:
At one another with their teeth they pluck."
Inferno, Canto VII, Lines 109-114
"Ah, well should men be circumspection taught
With those who seen not only the deed done
But with their sense look through into the thought."
Inferno, Canto XVI, Lines 117-120
"Wisdom supreme! how dost thou show thine art
In heaven and earth and in the pit profound,
And of thy justice make exact the chart!"
Inferno, Canto XIX, Lines 10-12
"In the round valley I saw a people weep
As they came on, all silent, at the pace
Our Litanies, in their processions keep.
When deeper down my eyes perused the place,
Each appeared strangely to be wrenched awry
Between the upper chest and lower face.
For toward the reins the chin was screwed, whereby
With gait reversed they were constrained to go,
For to look forth this posture would deny.
Perhaps by palsy's overmastering throe
Some may have been thus quite distorted, yet
I ne'er saw such, nor think it could be so.
Reader, so God vouchsafe thee fruit to get
Of what thou readest, think now in thy mind
If I could keep my cheeks from being wet
When this our image in such twisted kind
I saw, that tears out of their eyelids prest
Ran down their buttocks by the cleft behind.
Truly I wept, apposed upon the breast
Of the hard granite, so that my Guide said:
'Art thou then still so foolish, like the rest?
Here pity lives when it is rightly dead.
What more impiety can he avow
Whose heart rebelleth at God's judgment dread?'"
Inferno, Canto XX, Lines 7-30
"Step by step went we without speech or sound
Looking and listening to the sick, who drooped
Helpless to raise their bodies from the ground.
I saw two sit who one another propt,
As pan is propt on pan for the warmth's sake,
From head to foot bespotted and corrupt.
Ne'er saw I curry-comb more frenzy take
From hand of groom for whom his master waits
Or one who is kept unwillingly awake,
Than here did the anguished clawing upon pates
And bodies, as each plied the nail to appease
The fury of the itch that nothing yet abates.
Those fevered nails the scabby leprosies
Scraped as a knife the scales of carp or bream
Or what fish hath them larger yet than these."
Inferno, Canto XXIX, Lines 70-84
"We passed on, where the frost imprisons close
Another crew, stark in a rugged heap,
Not bent down, but reversed all where they froze.
The very weeping there forbids to weep;
And the grief, finding in the eyes a stop,
Turns inward to make anguish bite more deep.
For their first tears collect in one great drop,
And like a vizor of crystal, in the space
Beneath the brows, fill all the hollow up."
Inferno, Canto XXXIII, Lines 91-99
"The Emperor of the kingdom of despair
By half the breast emerged out of the ice;
And I may with a giant more compare
Than giants with those monstrous arms of his.
Consider now how huge must be the whole
Proportioned to the part of such a size...
O what a marvel smote me with amaze
When I beheld three faces on his head!...
He wept with six eyes, and the tears beneath
Over three chins with bloody slaver dropt.
At each mouth he was tearing with his teeth
A sinner, as is flax by heckle frayed;
Each of the three of them so suffereth.
The one in front naught of the biting made
Beside the clawing, which at whiles so wrought
That on the back the skin remained all flayed.
'That soul up there to the worst penance brought
is Judas the Iscariot,' spoke my Lord.
'His head within, he plies his legs without.
Of the other two, hanging with head downward,
Brutus it is whom the black mouth doth maul.
See how he writhes and utters not a word!
Cassius the other who seems so large to sprawl.'"
Inferno, Canto XXXIV, Lines 28-67
"Perceive ye not that we are worms, designed
To form the angelic butterfly, that goes
To judgment, leaving all defence behind?
Why doth your mind take such exalted pose,
Since ye, disabled, are as insects, mean
As worm which never transformation knows?"
Purgatorio, Canto X, Lines 124-129
"The Good ineffable and infinite
That is on high so runneth unto love
As a beam comes to a body that is bright.
So much it gives as warmth it findeth of,
So that, how far so-ever love be poured,
The eternal goodness doth its best improve.
And the more people on high have that accord,
The more to love well are there, and more love is,
And mirror-like 'tis given and restored."
Purgatorio, Canto XV, Lines 67-75
"God fears no sops to avert his stroke."
Purgatorio, Canto XXXIII, Line 36
"Reason, thou see'st, hath all too short a wing."
Paradiso, Canto II, Line 57
"The Divine Bounty, in which no shadow is found
Of envy, as it burns from inward, spills
Eternal beauties sparkling all around."
Paradiso, Canto VII, Lines 64-66
"Distracted mortals! of what paltry worth
Are the arguments whereby ye are so prone
Senselessly to beat down your wings to earth!
One wooed the Law, one the Aphorisms, one
Coveted the priesthood, and another pressed
Through force or fraud to acquire dominion;
One plunder, and one business, quite possessed;
One in the pleasures of the carnal sty
Grew weary; another his own ease caressed;"
Paradiso, Canto VII, Lines 64-66
"O ye perpetual flowers content
In the eternal gladness! ye who make
Your odours all seem to me one sweet scent,
Breathe on me and break the fast wherewith I ache
And which hath kept me long in hunger lean
Because on earth it found no food to take."
Paradiso, Canto XIX, Lines 22-27
"There is no light save from that perfect peace
Which never is clouded: it is else darkness,
Shadow of the flesh, or poison of its disease."
Paradiso, Canto XIX, Lines 64-66
"Predestination! how remote and dim
Thy root lies hidden from the intellect
Which only glimpses the First Cause Supreme!
And you, ye mortals, keep your judgment checked,
Since we, who see God, have not therefore skill
To know yet all the number of the elect."
Paradiso, Canto XX, Lines 130-135
"O chosen band, to the great supper called
Of the blessed Lamb who giveth you to feast
So that desire in you is still forestalled,
If by the grace of God this man foretaste
Of that which falleth from your table, ere
The days appointed to him of life have ceased,
Think on his boundless longing, and then spare
Some drops for his bedewing from those pools
Ye drink of, whence comes that which is his care."
Paradiso, Canto XXIV, Lines 1-9
"'Hope,' said I,
'Is certain expectation that the heart
Has of the future glory; the effect
Of divine grace and precedent desert.
Me did the light from many stars direct;
He first distilled it into me with his breath,
Singer supreme of the supreme Prefect.
For let them put their trust in thee he saith
In his psalm, all who know thy name; and who
Knoweth it not, if he possess my faith.'"
Paradiso, Canto XXV, Lines 66-75
"O Covetousness, so hasty to submerge
Mortals, that each and all are powerless
To draw their eyes forth from thy blinding surge!
The will indeed in men still flourishes;
But drenchings of continual rain convert
Sound plums into a wrinkled rottenness."
Paradiso, Canto XXVII, Lines 121-126
"We from the greatest body move,
Emerging in the heaven that is pure light;
Light of the understanding, full of love,
Love of the true good, full of joy within,
Joy that transcends all the heart conceiveth of."
Paradiso, Canto XXX, Lines 38-42