Divine Comedy

Italian narrative poem by Dante Alighieri
(Redirected from Dante's Inferno)

The Divine Comedy (c. 1308–1320) is an Italian long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered to be the preeminent work in Italian literature and one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written (also in most present-day Italian-market editions), as the standardized Italian language. It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The narrative describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise or Heaven, while allegorically the poem represents the soul's journey towards God.


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.

Canto I

  • Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
    mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
    ché la diritta via era smarrita.
    lines 1–3
    • 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.

      (tr. Mandelbaum)
    • Midway upon the journey of our life
      I found myself within a forest dark,
      For the straight-forward pathway had been lost.
      (tr. Longfellow)
  • Io non so ben ridir com' io v'entrai,
    tanto era pien di sonno in su quel punto
    che la verace via abbandonai;
    lines 10-12
    • I cannot well repeat how there I entered,
      ⁠So full was I of slumber at the moment
      ⁠In which I had abandoned the true way.
      (tr. Longfellow)
  • E come quei che con lena affannata,
    uscito fuor del pelago a la riva,
    si volge a l'acqua perigliosa e guata.
    lines 22–24
    • And just as he who, with exhausted breath,
      having escaped from the sea to shore,
      turns to the perilous waters and gazes.
      (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • così l' animo mio, che ancor fuggiva,
    si volse indietro a rimirar lo passo
    che non lasciò giammai persona viva.
    lines 25-27
    • So did my soul, that still was fleeing onward,
      ⁠Turn itself back to re-behold the pass
      ⁠Which never yet a living person left.
      (tr. Longfellow)
  • ed ha natura sì malvagia e ria,
    che mai non empie la bramosa voglia,
    e dopo il pasto ha più fame che pria.
    lines 97-99
    • And has a nature so malign and ruthless,
      ⁠That never doth she glut her greedy will,
      ⁠And after food is hungrier than before.
      (tr. Longfellow)

Canto II

Day was departing.
  • Lo giorno se n'andava, e l'aere bruno
    toglieva li animai che sono in terra
    da le fatiche loro.
    • Day was departing, and the embrowned air
      Released the animals that are on earth
      From their fatigues.
    • lines 1–3 (tr. Longfellow)
  • And as he is, who unwills what he willed,
    ⁠And by new thoughts doth his intention change,
    ⁠So that from his design he quite withdraws,
    Such I became, upon that dark hillside,
    ⁠Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
    ⁠Which was so very prompt in the beginning.
    • lines 37-42 (tr. Longfellow)
  • "If I have well thy language understood,"
    ⁠Replied that shade of the Magnanimous,
    ⁠"Thy soul attainted is with cowardice,
    Which many times a man encumbers so,
    ⁠It turns him back from honored enterprise,
    ⁠As false sight doth a beast, when he is shy.
    • lines 42-48 (tr. Longfellow)
Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go.
  • Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go;
    ⁠I come from there, where I would fain return;
    ⁠Love moved me, which compelleth me to speak.
    • lines 70-72 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Of those things only should one be afraid
    ⁠Which have the power of doing others harm;
    ⁠Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful.
    • lines 88-90 (tr. Longfellow)
  • God in his mercy such created me
    ⁠That misery of yours attains me not,
    ⁠Nor any flame assails me of this burning.
    • lines 91-93 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Thou hast my heart so with desire disposed
    ⁠To the adventure, with these words of thine,
    ⁠That to my first intent I have returned.
    Now go, for one sole will is in us both,
    ⁠Thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Master thou."
    ⁠Thus said I to him; and when he had moved,
    I entered on the deep and savage way.
    • lines 136-142 (tr. Longfellow)

Canto III

Abandon all hope, you who enter here.
  • Per me si va ne la città dolente,
    per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
    per me si va tra la perduta gente.
    Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
    fecemi la divina potestate,
    la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore.
    Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
    se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
    Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate
    • Through me the way is to the city dolent;
      Through me the way is to eternal dole;
      Through me the way among the people lost.
      Justice incited my sublime Creator;
      ⁠Created me divine Omnipotence,
      ⁠The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.
      Before me there were no created things,
      ⁠Only eterne, and I eternal last.
      "⁠All hope abandon, ye who enter in!"
    • lines 1-9 (tr. Longfellow)
    • Variant Translation: Through me you go to the grief wracked city;
      Through me you go to everlasting pain;
      Through me you go a pass among lost souls.
      Justice inspired my exalted Creator:
      I am a creature of the Holiest Power,
      of Wisdom in the Highest and of Primal Love.
      Nothing till I was made was made, only eternal beings.
      And I endure eternally.
      Abandon all hope — Ye Who Enter Here
    • Variant translation: 'Through me the way to the suffering city;
      Through me the everlasting pain;
      Through me the way that runs among the Lost.
      Justice urged on my exalted Creator:
      Divine Power made me,
      The Supreme Wisdom and the Primal Love.
      Nothing was made before me but eternal things
      And I endure eternally.
      Abandon all hope - You Who Enter Here.'
    • Variant Translation: 'I am the way into the city of woe.
      I am the way to a forsaken people.
      I am the way into eternal sorrow.
      Sacred justice moved my architect.
      I was raised here by divine omnipotence, primordial love and ultimate intellect
      Only those elements time cannot wear are beyond me,
      and beyond time I stand.
      Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.'
    • Note: Full inscription on the top of the gate. Often quoted with the translated form "Abandon hope all ye who enter here". The word "all" modifies hope, not those who enter: "ogni speranza" means "all hope".
  • Qui si convien lasciare ogni sospetto;
    ogni viltà convien che qui sia morta.
    • Here one must leave behind all hesitation;
      here every cowardice must meet its death.
    • lines 14–15 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Quivi sospiri, pianti e alti guai
    risonavan per l'aere sanza stelle,
    per ch'io al cominciar ne lagrimai.
    Diverse lingue, orribili favelle,
    parole di dolore, accenti d'ira,
    voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle
    facevano un tumolto, il qual s'aggira
    sempre in quell'aura sanza tempo tinta,
    come la rena quando turbo spira.
    • Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries
      were echoing across the starless air,
      so that, as soon as I set out, I wept.
      Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements,
      accents of anger, words of suffering,
      and voices shrill and faint, and beating hands—
      all went to make a tumult that will whirl
      forever through that turbid, timeless air,
      like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls.
    • lines 22–30 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Questo misero modo
    tegnon l'anime triste di coloro
    che visser sanza 'nfamia e sanza lodo.
    • This miserable state
      is borne by the wretched souls of those
      who lived without disgrace and without praise.
    • lines 34–36 (tr. John D. Sinclair).
  • Caccianli i ciel per non esser men belli,
    né lo profondo inferno li riceve,
    ch'alcuna gloria i rei avrebber d'elli.
    • Heaven, to keep its beauty,
      cast them out, but even Hell itself would not receive them
      for fear the wicked there might glory over them.
    • lines 40–42 (tr. Mark Musa).
  • These have no longer any hope of death;
    ⁠And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
    ⁠They envious are of every other fate.
    No fame of them the world permits to be;
    ⁠Misericord and Justice both disdain them.
    ⁠Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass.
    • lines 46-51 (tr. Longfellow)
  • And after it there came so long a train
    ⁠Of people, that I ne'er would have believed
    ⁠That ever Death so many had undone.
    • lines 55-57 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Vidi e conobbi l'ombra di colui
    che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto.
    • I looked, and I beheld the shade of him
      Who made through cowardice the great refusal.
    • lines 59–60 (tr. Longfellow).
    • The decision of Pope Celestine V to abdicate the Papacy and allow Dante's enemy, Pope Boniface VIII, to gain power.
  • Incontanente intesi e certo fui
    che questa era la setta d'i cattivi
    a Dio spiacenti e a' nemici sui.
    • At once I understood,
      and I was sure this was that sect of evil souls who were
      hateful to God and to His enemies.
    • lines 61–63 (tr. Mark Musa).
  • Non isperate mai veder lo cielo:
    i' vegno per menarvi a l'altra riva
    ne le tenebre etterne, in caldo e 'n gelo.
    • Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens;
      I come to lead you to the other shore,
      To the eternal shades in heat and frost.
    • lines 85–87 (tr. Longfellow).
  • E tu che se' costì, anima viva,
    pàrtiti da cotesti che son morti.
    • And you, the living soul, you over there
      get away from all these people who are dead.
    • lines 88–89 (tr. Mark Musa).

Canto IV

  • True is it, that upon the verge I found me
    ⁠Of the abysmal valley dolorous,
    ⁠That gathers thunder of infinite ululations.
    Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,
    ⁠So that by fixing on its depths my sight
    ⁠Nothing whatever I discerned therein.
    • lines 7-12 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Another way my sapient Guide conducts me
    ⁠Forth from the quiet to the air that trembles;
    And to a place I come where nothing shines.
    • lines 149-151 (tr. Longfellow)

Canto V

  • Io venni in loco d'ogne luce muto,
    che mugghia come fa mar per tempesta,
    se da contrari venti è combattuto.
    • I came into a place void of all light,
      which bellows like the sea in tempest,
      when it is combated by warring winds.
    • Canto V, lines 28–30 (tr. Charles S. Singleton).
    • Variant translation (Longfellow):
      I came into a place mute of all light,
      ⁠Which bellows as the sea does in a tempest,
      ⁠If by opposing winds 't is combated.
  • I understood that unto such a torment
    ⁠The carnal malefactors were condemned,
    ⁠Who reason subjugate to appetite.
    And as the wings of starlings bear them on
    ⁠In the cold season in large band and full,
    ⁠So doth that blast the spirits maledict;
    It hither, thither, downward, upward, drives them;
    ⁠No hope doth comfort them forevermore,
    ⁠Not of repose, but even of lesser pain.
    • lines 37-45 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Amor, ch'al cor gentil ratto s'apprende,
    prese costui de la bella persona
    che mi fu tolta; e 'l modo ancor m'offende.
    Amor, ch'a nullo amato amar perdona,
    mi prese del costui piacer sì forte,
    che, come vedi, ancor non m'abbandona.
    • Love, which is quickly kindled in the gentle heart,
      seized this man for the fair form that was
      taken from me, and the manner afflicts me still.
      Love, which absolves no one beloved from loving,
      seized me so strongly with his charm
      that, as thou seest, it does not leave me yet.
    • lines 100–105 (tr. Sinclair).
There is no greater sorrow
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In misery.
  • Nessun maggior dolore
    Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
    Nella miseria.
    • There is no greater sorrow
      Than to be mindful of the happy time
      In misery.
    • lines 121–123 (tr. Longfellow).
That day we read no more.
  • Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto
    di Lancialotto come amor lo strinse;
    soli eravamo e sanza alcun sospetto.
    Per più fïate li occhi ci sospinse
    quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso;
    ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.
    Quando leggemmo il disïato riso
    esser basciato da cotanto amante,
    questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,
    la bocca mi basciò tutto tremante.
    Galeotto fu 'l libro e chi lo scrisse:
    quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante.
    • One day, to pass the time away, we read
      of Lancelot—how love had overcome him.
      We were alone, and we suspected nothing.
      And time and time again that reading led
      our eyes to meet, and made our faces pale,
      and yet one point alone defeated us.
      When we had read how the desired smile
      was kissed by one who was so true a lover,
      this one, who never shall be parted from me,
      while all his body trembled, kissed my mouth.
      A Gallehault indeed, that book and he
      who wrote it, too; that day we read no more.
    • lines 127–138 (tr. Mandelbaum).

Canto VI

  • At the return of consciousness, that closed
    Before the pity of those two relations,
    ⁠Which utterly with sadness had confused me,
    New torments I behold, and new tormented
    ⁠Around me, whichsoever way I move,
    ⁠And whichsoever way I turn, and gaze.
    • lines 1-6 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Superbia, invidia e avarizia sono
    le tre faville c'hanno i cuori accesi.
    • Pride, Envy, and Avarice are
      the three sparks that have set these hearts on fire.
    • lines 74–75 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Quanto la cosa è più perfetta,
    più senta il bene, e così la doglienza.
    • As the thing more perfect is,
      The more it feels of pleasure and of pain.
    • lines 107–108 (tr. Longfellow).

Canto VII

  • Then he turned round unto that bloated lip,
    ⁠And said: "Be silent, thou accursed wolf;
    ⁠Consume within thyself with thine own rage.
    Not causeless is this journey to the abyss;
    ⁠Thus is it willed on high, where Michael wrought
    ⁠Vengeance upon the proud adultery."
    • lines 7-12 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Justice of God, ah! who heaps up so many
    New toils and sufferings as I beheld?
    ⁠And why doth our transgression waste us so?
    • lines 19-21 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Vain thought thou entertainest;
    ⁠The undiscerning life which made them sordid
    ⁠Now makes them unto all discernment dim.
    • lines 52-54 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Ché tutto l'oro ch'è sotto la luna
    e che già fu, di quest'anime stanche
    poterebbe farne posare una.
    • For all the gold that is beneath the moon,
      Or ever has been, of these weary souls
      Could never make a single one repose.
    • lines 64–66 (tr. Longfellow).
  • O creatures imbecile,
    ⁠What ignorance is this which doth beset you?
    • lines 70-71 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Let us descend now unto greater woe;
    ⁠Already sinks each star that was ascending
    ⁠When I set out, and loitering is forbidden.
    • lines 97-99 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Fixed in the mire they say, 'We sullen were
    ⁠In the sweet air, which by the sun is gladdened,
    ⁠Bearing within ourselves the sluggish reek;
    Now we are sullen in this sable mire.'
    ⁠This hymn do they keep gurgling in their throats,
    ⁠For with unbroken words they cannot say it.
    • lines 121-126 (tr. Longfellow)

Canto VIII

  • With weeping and with wailing,
    ⁠Thou spirit maledict, do thou remain;
    ⁠For thee I know, though thou art all defiled.
    • lines 37-39 (tr. Longfellow)
  • And that Lord, who had led me thitherward,
    ⁠Said unto me: "Fear not; because our passage
    ⁠None can take from us, it by Such is given.
    But here await me, and thy weary spirit
    ⁠Comfort and nourish with a better hope;
    ⁠For in this nether world I will not leave thee."
    • lines 103-108 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Sì e no nel capo mi tenzona.
    • No and Yes within my head contend.
    • line 111 (tr. Longfellow).

Canto XI

  • O sol che sani ogne vista turbata,
    tu mi contenti sì quando tu solvi,
    che, non men che saver, dubbiar m'aggrata.
    • O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,
      Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,
      That doubting pleases me no less than knowing!
    • lines 91–93 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Che l'arte vostra quella, quanto puote,
    Segue, come il Maestro fa il discente,
    Sì che vostr'arte a Dio quasi è nipote.
    • That your art follows her so far as it can, as the disciple does the master, so that your art is as it were grandchild of God.
    • lines 103–105 (tr. Charles Eliot Norton).

Canto XII

  • Necessità 'l ci 'nduce, e non diletto.
    • Necessity brings him here, not pleasure.
    • line 87 (tr. Sinclair).

Canto XIII

  • Io son colui, che tenni ambo le chiavi
    Del cor di Federigo, e sì le volsi,
    Serrando e disserrando, sì soavi.
    • I am he who held both the keys of the heart of Frederick, and who turned them, locking and unlocking so softly.
    • lines 58–60 (tr. C. E. Norton).

Canto XV

He listens well who takes notes.
  • Bene ascolta chi la nota.
    • He listens well who takes notes.
    • line 99 (tr. Clive James).

Canto XXIV

  • ...Seggendo in piuma
    in fama non si vien, né sotto coltre,
    sanza la qual chi sua vita consuma
    cotal vestigo in terra di sé lascia
    qual fummo in aere ed in acqua la schiuma.
    • Lying in a featherbed
      will not bring you fame, nor staying beneath the quilt,
      and he who uses up his life without achieving fame
      leaves no more vestige of himself on Earth
      than smoke in the air or foam upon the water.
    • lines 47–51.
  • And therefore raise thee up, o'ercome the anguish
    ⁠With spirit that o'ercometh every battle,
    ⁠If with its heavy body it sink not.
    • lines 52-54 (tr. Longfellow)
    • Variant translation:
      Get up! breathe with the soul,
      for it is brave in every battle,
      and will always win,
      unless the heavy body be its grave.
  • La dimanda onesta
    si de' seguir con l'opera tacendo.
    • A fair request should be followed by the deed in silence.
    • lines 77–78 (tr. Sinclair).

Canto XXV

  • Se tu se’ or, lettore, a creder lento
    ciò ch’io dirò, non sarà maraviglia,
    ché io che ’l vidi, a pena il mi consento.
    • If thou art, Reader, slow now to believe
      What I shall say, it will no marvel be,
      For I who saw it hardly can admit it.
    • lines 46–48 (tr. Longfellow).

Canto XXVI

  • Né dolcezza di figlio, né la pieta
    del vecchio padre, né 'l debito amore
    lo qual dovea Penelopé far lieta,
    vincer potero dentro a me l'ardore
    ch'i' ebbi a divenir del mondo esperto,
    e de li vizi umani e del valore.
    • Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence
      For my old father, nor the due affection
      ⁠Which joyous should have made Penelope,
      Could overcome within me the desire
      ⁠I had to be experienced of the world,
      ⁠And of the vice and virtue of mankind.
    • lines 94-99 (tr. Longfellow)
You were not born to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
  • Considerate la vostra semenza:
    fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
    ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.
    • Consider your origin;
      you were not born to live like brutes,
      but to follow virtue and knowledge.
    • lines 118–120.
    • Variant translations:
      • Consider well the seed that gave you birth:
        You were not made to live as brutes,
        But to follow virtue and knowledge.
      • Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang;
        ⁠Ye were not made to live like unto brutes,
        ⁠But for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.


  • S'i' credesse che mia risposta fosse
    a persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
    questa fiamma staria sanza più scosse;
    ma però che già mai di questo fondo
    non tornò vivo alcun, s'i' odo il vero,
    sanza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.
    • If I thought my answer were to one
      who would ever return to the world,
      this flame should stay without another movement; but since none
      ever returned alive from this depth, if what I hear is true,
      I answer thee without fear of infamy.
    • lines 61–66 (tr. Sinclair).


  • And one his limb transpierced, and one lopped off,
    ⁠Should show, it would be nothing to compare
    ⁠With the disgusting mode of the ninth Bolgia.
    A cask by losing centre-piece or cant
    ⁠Was never shattered so, as I saw one
    ⁠Rent from the chin to where one breaketh wind.
    Between his legs were hanging down his entrails;
    ⁠His heart was visible, and the dismal sack
    ⁠That maketh excrement of what is eaten.

    While I was all absorbed in seeing him,
    ⁠He looked at me, and opened with his hands
    ⁠His bosom, saying: "See now how I rend me;
    How mutilated, see, is Mahomet;
    ⁠In front of me doth Ali weeping go,
    ⁠Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin;
    And all the others whom thou here beholdest,
    ⁠Disseminators of scandal and of schism
    ⁠While living were, and therefore are cleft thus.
    • lines 19-36 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Capo ha cosa fatta.
    • A thing done has an end!
    • line 107 (tr. Longfellow).


  • Io non piangëa, sì dentro impetrai.
    • I wept not, I within so turned to stone.
    • line 49 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Lo pianto stesso lì pianger non lascia,
    e 'l duol che truova in su li occhi rintoppo,
    si volge in entro a far crescer l'ambascia.
    • Weeping itself there does not let them weep,
      And grief that finds a barrier in the eyes
      Turns itself inward to increase the anguish.
    • lines 94–96 (tr. Longfellow).
Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.
  • Cortesia fu lui esser villano.
    • To be rude to him was courtesy.
    • line 150 (tr. Longfellow).


  • "Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni
    verso di noi; però dinanzi mira,"
    disse 'l maestro mio, "se tu 'l discerni."
    • "'Vexilla Regis prodeunt Inferni'
      Towards us; therefore look in front of thee,"
      My Master said, "if thou discernest him."
    • lines 1–3 (tr. Longfellow).
  • E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.
    • Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.
    • line 139 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Per correr miglior acque alza le vele
    omai la navicella del mio ingegno,
    che lascia dietro a sé mar sì crudele.
    • To run over better waters the little vessel of my genius now hoists her sails, as she leaves behind her a sea so cruel.
    • Canto I, lines 1–3 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • I' mi volsi a man destra, e puosi mente
    a l'altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle
    viste mai fuor ch'a la prima gente.
    • To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind
      Upon the other pole, and saw four stars
      Ne'er seen before save by the primal people.
    • Canto I, lines 22–24 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Libertà va cercando, ch'è sì cara,
    come sa chi per lei vita rifiuta.
    • He goes seeking liberty, which is so dear, as he knows who gives his life for it.
    • Canto I, lines 71–72 (tr. Sinclair).
  • O dignitosa coscïenza, e netta,
    come t'è picciol fallo amaro morso!
    • O conscience, upright and stainless, how bitter a sting to thee is little fault!
    • Canto III, lines 8–9 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Ché perder tempo a chi più sa più spiace.
    • For to lose time irks him most who most knows.
    • Canto III, line 78 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Come le pecorelle escon del chiuso
    a una, a due, a tre, e l'altre stanno
    timidette atterrando l'occhio e 'l muso;
    e ciò che fa la prima, e l'altre fanno,
    addossandosi a lei, s'ella s'arresta,
    semplici e quete, e lo 'mperché non sanno.
    • As sheep come issuing forth from out the fold
      By ones and twos and threes, and the others stand
      Timidly, holding down their eyes and nostrils,
      And what the foremost does the others do,
      Huddling themselves against her, if she stop,
      Simple and quiet and the wherefore know not.
    • Canto III, lines 79–84 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Vassene 'l tempo e l'uom non se n'avvede.
    • Time moves and yet we do not notice it.
    • Canto IV, line 9 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Se orazïone in prima non m'aita
    che surga sù di cuor che in grazia viva;
    l'altra che val, che 'n ciel non è udita?
    • Unless, before then, the prayer assist me which rises from a heart that lives in grace: what avails the other, which is not heard in heaven?
    • Canto IV, lines 133–135 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Che sempre l'omo in cui pensier rampolla
    sovra pensier, da sé dilunga il segno,
    perché la foga l'un de l'altro insolla.
    • For always the man in whom thought springs up over thought sets his mark farther off, for the one thought saps the force of the other.
    • Canto V, lines 16–18 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Ché cima di giudicio non s'avvalla
    perché foco d'amor compia in un punto
    ciò che de' sodisfar chi qui s'astalla.
    • For top of judgment doth not vail itself,
      Because the fire of love fulfils at once
      What he must satisfy who here installs him.
    • Canto VI, lines 37–39 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Veramente a così alto sospetto
    non ti fermar, se quella nol ti dice
    che lume fia tra 'l vero e lo 'ntelletto.
    Non so se 'ntendi; io dico di Beatrice.
    • Do not rest in so profound a doubt except she tell it thee, who shall be a light between truth and intellect. I know not if thou understand: I speak of Beatrice.
    • Canto VI, lines 43–46 (tr. Carlyle-Wicksteed).
  • Era già l'ora che volge il disio
    ai navicanti e 'ntenerisce il core
    lo dì ch'han detto ai dolci amici addio;
    e che lo novo peregrin d'amore
    punge, se ode squilla di lontano
    che paia il giorno pianger che si more.
    • It was now the hour that turns back the longing of seafarers and melts their heart the day they have bidden dear friends farewell and pierces the new traveller with love if he hears in the distance the bell that seems to mourn the dying day.
    • Canto VIII, lines 1–6 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Quanto in femmina fuoco d'amor dura,
    Se l'occhio o 'l tatto spesso nol raccende.
    • How long in woman lasts the fire of love,
      If eye or touch do not relight it often.
    • Canto VIII, lines 77–78 (tr. Longfellow).
  • O superbi Cristian, miseri lassi!
    Che, della vista della mente infermi,
    Fidanza avete ne' ritrosi passi;
    Non v' accorgete voi, che noi siam vermi
    Nati a formar l' angelica farfalla,
    Che vola alla giustizia senza schermi?
    Di che l' animo vostro in alto galla,
    Poi siete quasi entomata in difetto,
    Sì come verme, in cui formazion falla?
    • O Christians, arrogant, exhausted, wretched,
      Whose intellects are sick and cannot see,
      Who place your confidence in backward steps,
      Do you not know that we are worms and born
      To form the angelic butterfly that soars,
      Without defenses, to confront His judgment?

      Why does your mind presume to flight when you
      Are still like the imperfect grub, the worm
      Before it has attained its final form?
    • Canto X, lines 121–129 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Dà oggi a noi la cotidiana manna,
    sanza la qual per questo aspro diserto
    a retro va chi più di gir s'affanna.
    • Give us this day the daily manna, without which, in this rough desert, he backward goes, who toils most to go on.
    • Canto XI, lines 13–15 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Non è il mondan romore altro ch'un fiato
    di vento, ch'or vien quinci e or vien quindi,
    e muta nome perché muta lato.
    • Worldly renown is naught but a breath of wind, which now comes this way and now comes that, and changes name because it changes quarter.
    • Canto XI, lines 100–102 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • O gente umana, per volar sù nata,
    perché a poco vento così cadi?
    • O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?
    • Canto XII, lines 95–96 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Le donne e ' cavalier, li affanni e li agi
    che ne 'nvogliava amore e cortesia
    là dove i cuor son fatti sì malvagi.
    • The dames and cavaliers, the toils and ease
      That filled our souls with love and courtesy,
      There where the hearts have so malicious grown!
    • Canto XIV, lines 109–111 (tr. Longfellow).
  • A maggior forza e a miglior natura
    liberi soggiacete; e quella cria
    la mente in voi, che 'l ciel no ha in sua cura.
    Però, se 'l mondo presente disvia,
    in voi è la cagione, in voi si cheggia.
    • To a greater power and to a better nature you, free, are subject, and that creates the mind in you which the heavens have not in their charge. Therefore if the present world goes astray, in you is the cause, in you let it be sought.
    • Canto XVI, lines 79–83 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Ogn'erba si conosce per lo seme.
    • By its seed each herb is recognized.
    • Canto XVI, line 114 (tr. Longfellow).
    • Compare: "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:16 KJV.
  • Ciascun confusamente un bene apprende
    nel qual si queti l'animo, e disira;
    per che di giugner lui ciascun contende.
    • Each one confusedly a good conceives
      Wherein the mind may rest, and longeth for it;
      Therefore to overtake it each one strives.
    • Canto XVII, lines 127–129 (tr. Longfellow).
I recognize the signals of the ancient flame.
  • Contra miglior voler voler mal pugna; ...
    • Against a better will the will fights ill, ...
    • Canto XX, line 1 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Con povertà volesti anzi virtute
    che gran ricchezza posseder con vizio.
    • Virtue with poverty didst thou prefer
      To the possession of great wealth with vice.
    • Canto XX, lines 26–27 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Amore,
    acceso di virtù, sempre altro accese,
    pur che la fiamma sua paresse fore.
    • Love kindled by virtue always kindles another, provided that its flame appear outwardly.
    • Canto XXII, lines 10–12.
  • Vedi l'erbette, i fiori e li arbuscelli
    che qui la terra sol da sé produce.
    • Behold the grass, the flowerets, and the shrubs
      Which of itself alone this land produces.
    • Canto XXVII, lines 134–135 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Men che dramma
    di sangue m'è rimaso, che non tremi;
    conosco i segni de l'antica fiamma.
    • Less than a drop of blood remains in me that does not tremble; I recognize the signals of the ancient flame.
    • Canto XXX, lines 46–48.
    • Compare: Agnosco veteris vestigia flammae ("I feel once more the scars of the old flame", tr. C. Day Lewis), Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, line 23.
  • Voi vigilate ne l'etterno die.
    • Ye keep your watch in the eternal day.
    • Canto XXX, line 103 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Ma tanto più maligno e più silvestro
    si fa 'l terren col mal seme e non cólto,
    quant'elli ha più di buon vigor terrestro.
    • But so much the more malign and wild does the ground become with bad seed and untilled, as it has the more of good earthly vigor.
    • Canto XXX, lines 118–120 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Puro e disposto a salire a le stelle.
    • Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars.
    • Canto XXXIII, line 145 (tr. C. E. Norton).
You dull your own perceptions
with false imaginings and do not grasp
what would be clear but for your preconceptions.
  • La gloria di colui che tutto move
    per l'universo penetra, e risplende
    in una parte piú e meno altrove.
    • The glory of Him who moves everything penetrates through the universe, and is resplendent in one part more and in another less.
    • Canto I, lines 1–3 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.
    • A great flame follows a little spark.
    • Canto I, line 34 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Tu stesso ti fai grosso
    col falso imaginar, sì che non vedi
    ciò che vedresti se l'avessi scosso.
    • You dull your own perceptions
      with false imaginings and do not grasp
      what would be clear but for your preconceptions.
    • Canto I, lines 88–90 (tr. Ciardi).
  • E 'n la sua volontade è nostra pace:
    ell'è quel mare al qual tutto si move
    ciò ch'ella crïa o che natura face.
    • And his will is our peace; this is the sea
      To which is moving onward whatsoever
      It doth create, and all that nature makes.
    • Canto III, lines 85–87 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Lo maggior don che Dio per sua larghezza
    fesse creando, e a la sua bontate
    più conformato, e quel ch'e' più apprezza,
    fu de la volontà la libertate;
    di che le creature intelligenti,
    e tutte e sole, fuore e son dotate.
    • The greatest gift which God in His bounty bestowed in creating, and the most conformed to His own goodness and that which He most prizes, was the freedom of the will, with which the creatures that have intelligence, they all and they alone, were and are endowed.
    • Canto V, lines 19–24 (tr. Singleton).
  • Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
    lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
    lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale.
    • Thou shalt prove how salt is the taste of another man's bread and how hard is the way up and down another man's stairs.
    • Canto XVII, lines 58–60 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Però ne la giustizia sempiterna
    la vista che riceve il vostro mondo,
    com' occhio per lo mare, entro s'interna;
    che, ben che da la proda veggia il fondo,
    in pelago nol vede; e nondimeno
    èli, ma cela lui l'esser profondo.
    • Therefore the sight that is granted to your world penetrates within the Eternal Justice as the eye into the sea; for though from the shore it sees the bottom, in the open sea it does not, and yet the bottom is there but the depth conceals it.
    • Canto XIX, lines 58–63 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Or tu chi se', che vuo' sedere a scranna,
    per giudicar di lungi mille miglia
    con la veduta corta d'una spanna?
    • Now who art thou, that on the bench wouldst sit
      In judgment at a thousand miles away,
      With the short vision of a single span?
    • Canto XIX, lines 79–81 (tr. Longfellow).
  • L'esperîenza
    di questa dolce vita.
    • The experience of this sweet life.
    • Canto XX, lines 47–48 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Quale allodetta che 'n aere si spazia
    prima cantando, e poi tace contenta
    de l'ultima dolcezza che la sazia,
    tal mi sembiò l'imago de la 'mprenta
    de l'etterno piacere.
    • Like the lark that soars in the air, first singing, then silent, content with the last sweetness that satiates it, such seemed to me that image, the imprint of the Eternal Pleasure.
    • Canto XX, lines 73–77 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Ed ènne dolce così fatto scemo,
    perché il ben nostro in questo ben s'affina,
    che quel che vole Iddio, e noi volemo.
    • And sweet to us is such a deprivation,
      Because our good in this good is made perfect,
      That whatsoe'er God wills, we also will.
    • Canto XX, lines 136–138 (tr. Longfellow).
  • La spada di qua sù non taglia in fretta
    né tardo, ma' ch'al parer di colui
    che disïando o temendo l'aspetta.
    • The sword above here smiteth not in haste
      Nor tardily, howe'er it seem to him
      Who fearing or desiring waits for it.
    • Canto XXII, lines 16–18 (tr. Longfellow).
  • La notte che le cose ci nasconde.
    • The night that hides things from us.
    • Canto XXIII, line 3 (tr. Sinclair).
  • L'uso d'i mortali è come fronda
    in ramo, che sen va e altra vene.
    • The use of men is like a leaf
      On bough, which goeth and another cometh.
    • Canto XXVI, lines 137–138 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Di quel color che per lo sole avverso
    nube dipigne da sera e da mane,
    vid' îo allora tutto 'l ciel cosperso.
    • With the colour that paints the morning and evening clouds that face the sun I saw then the whole heaven suffused.
    • Canto XXVII, lines 28–30 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Da quel punto
    depende il cielo e tutta la natura.
    • From that point
      Dependent is the heaven and nature all.
    • Canto XXVIII, lines 41–42 (tr. Longfellow).
I saw within Its depth how It conceives
all things in a single volume bound by Love,
of which the universe is the scattered leaves.
  • La tua benignità non pur soccorre
    a chi domanda, ma molte fïate
    liberamente al dimandar precorre.
    • Not only thy benignity gives succour
      To him who asketh it, but oftentimes
      Forerunneth of its own accord the asking.
    • Canto XXXIII, lines 16–18 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Nel suo profondo vidi che s'interna,
    legato con amore in un volume,
    ciò che per l'universo si squaderna.
    • I saw within Its depth how It conceives
      all things in a single volume bound by Love,
      of which the universe is the scattered leaves.
    • Canto XXXIII, lines 85–87 (tr. Ciardi).
  • Qual è 'l geomètra che tutto s'affige
    per misurar lo cerchio, e non ritrova,
    pensando, quel principio ond' elli indige,

    tal era io a quella vista nova:
    veder voleva come si convenne
    l'imago al cerchio e come vi s'indova;

    ma non eran da ciò le proprie penne:
    se non che la mia mente fu percossa
    da un fulgore in che sua voglia venne.

    A l'alta fantasia qui mancò possa;
    ma già volgeva il mio disio e 'l velle,
    sì come rota ch'igualmente è mossa,

    l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.

    • As the geometrician, who endeavours
      To square the circle, and discovers not,
      By taking thought, the principle he wants,

      Even such was I at that new apparition;
      I wished to see how the image to the circle
      Conformed itself, and how it there finds place;

      But my own wings were not enough for this,
      Had it not been that then my mind there smote
      A flash of lightning, wherein came its wish.

      Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy:
      But now was turning my desire and will,
      Even as a wheel that equally is moved,

      The Love which moves the sun and the other stars.

    • Canto XXXIII, closing lines, as translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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