from INFERNO - Canto 26 from THE INFERNO - Canto 26
Dante Alighieri tr. Leonard Cottrell
Io e ’ compagni eravam vecchi e tardi
quando venimmo a quella foce stretta
dov’Ercule segnò li suoi riguardi,
acciò che l’uom più oltre non si metta:
da la man destra mi lasciai Sibilia,
da l’altra già m’avea lasciata Setta.
"O frati", dissi "che per cento milia
perigli siete giunti a l’occidente,
a questa tanto picciola vigilia
d’i nostri sensi ch’è del rimanente,
non vogliate negar l’esperienza,
di retro al sol, del mondo sanza gente.
Considerate la vostra semenza:
fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza".
Though I and comrades now were old and slow
we hauled till nightfall for the narrow sound
where Hercules had shown what not to do
by putting bounds for men to stay behind.
At dawn the starboard lookout made Seville,
and Setta marked the straights on t'other hand.
"Brothers," I shouted, "who have had the will
to come through danger, and have reached the west!
our time awake is brief from now until
the senses die, and so I say we test
the sun's own motion and do not forego
the worlds beyond, unknown and peopleless.
Think of the roots from which you sprang, and show
that you are human, not unconscious brutes
but made to follow virtue, and to know."

For more of this translator's work see: http://planck.com/rhymedtranslations/versetrans.htm

Trans. Copyright © Leonard Cottrell 2001


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