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Inferno Canto 01

Dante Alighieri 1265 (Florence) – 1321 (Ravenna)



Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
ché la diritta via era smarrita .

When I had journeyed half of our life's way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.

Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
che nel pensier rinova la paura !

Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was,
that savage forest, dense and difficult,
which even in recall renews my fear:

Tant'è amara che poco è più morte;
ma per trattar del ben ch'i' vi trovai,
dirò de l'altre cose ch'i' v'ho scorte .

so bitter-death is hardly more severe!
But to retell the good discovered there,
I'll also tell the other things I saw.

Io non so ben ridir com'i' v'intrai,
tant'era pien di sonno a quel punto
che la verace via abbandonai .

I cannot clearly say how I had entered
the wood; I was so full of sleep just at
the point where I abandoned the true path.

Ma poi ch'i' fui al piè d'un colle giunto,
là dove terminava quella valle
che m'avea di paura il cor compunto ,

But when I'd reached the bottom of a hill-
it rose along the boundary of the valley
that had harassed my heart with so much fear-

guardai in alto, e vidi le sue spalle
vestite già de' raggi del pianeta
che mena dritto altrui per ogne calle .

I looked on high and saw its shoulders clothed
already by the rays of that same planet
which serves to lead men straight along all roads.

Allor fu la paura un poco queta
che nel lago del cor m'era durata
la notte ch'i' passai con tanta pieta .

At this my fear was somewhat quieted;
for through the night of sorrow I had spent,
the lake within my heart felt terror present.

E come quei che con lena affannata
uscito fuor del pelago a la riva
si volge a l'acqua perigliosa e guata ,

And just as he who, with exhausted breath,
having escaped from sea to shore, turns back
to watch the dangerous waters he has quit,

così l'animo mio, ch'ancor fuggiva,
si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo
che non lasciò già mai persona viva .

so did my spirit, still a fugitive,
turn back to look intently at the pass
that never has let any man survive.

Poi ch'èi posato un poco il corpo lasso,
ripresi via per la piaggia diserta,
sì che 'l piè fermo sempre era 'l più basso .

I let my tired body rest awhile.
Moving again, I tried the lonely slope-
my firm foot always was the one below.

Ed ecco, quasi al cominciar de l'erta,
una lonza leggera e presta molto,
che di pel macolato era coverta ;

And almost where the hillside starts to rise-
look there!-a leopard, very quick and lithe,
a leopard covered with a spotted hide.

e non mi si partia dinanzi al volto,
anzi 'mpediva tanto il mio cammino,
ch'i' fui per ritornar più volte vòlto .

He did not disappear from sight, but stayed;
indeed, he so impeded my ascent
that I had often to turn back again.

Temp'era dal principio del mattino,
e 'l sol montava 'n sù con quelle stelle
ch'eran con lui quando l'amor divino

The time was the beginning of the morning;
the sun was rising now in fellowship
with the same stars that had escorted it

mosse di prima quelle cose belle;
sì ch'a bene sperar m'era cagione
di quella fiera a la gaetta pelle

when Divine Love first moved those things of beauty;
so that the hour and the gentle season
gave me good cause for hopefulness on seeing

l'ora del tempo e la dolce stagione;
ma non sì che paura non mi desse
la vista che m'apparve d'un leone .

that beast before me with his speckled skin;
but hope was hardly able to prevent
the fear I felt when I beheld a lion.

Questi parea che contra me venisse
con la test'alta e con rabbiosa fame,
sì che parea che l'aere ne tremesse .

His head held high and ravenous with hunger-
even the air around him seemed to shudder-
this lion seemed to make his way against me.

Ed una lupa, che di tutte brame
sembiava carca ne la sua magrezza,
e molte genti fé già viver grame ,

And then a she-wolf showed herself; she seemed
to carry every craving in her leanness;
she had already brought despair to many.

questa mi porse tanto di gravezza
con la paura ch'uscia di sua vista,
ch'io perdei la speranza de l'altezza .

The very sight of her so weighted me
with fearfulness that I ab
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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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