Quotations by Dante Alighieri

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
(Attributed)


As paraphrased by John F. Kennedy (24 Jun 1963), most likely (though then not quite accurately) from Inferno canto 3, lines 35-42):
by those disbodied wretches who were loth when living, to be either blamed or praised.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Oct-11
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Upon the journey of my life midway,
I found myself within a darkling wood,
Where from the straight path I had gone astray.

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

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 1, l. 1ff (1.1-3) (1320) [tr. Minchin (1885)]
    (Source)


Opening words of the work. (Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

When in my middle State of Life I found
Myself entangl'd in a wood obscure,
Having the right path miss'd ...
[tr. Rogers (1782)]

When life had labour'd up her midmost stage,
And, weary with her mortal pilgrimage,
Stood in suspense upon the point of Prime;
Far in a pathless grove I chanc'd to stray ...
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 1]

In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Midway the journey of our life along,
I found me in a gloomy woodland dell,
The right road all confounded with the wrong.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

In the middle of the journey of our life I [came to] myself in a dark wood [where] the straight way was lost.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Halfway through our mortal life I found
In a dark forest's wild and rugged ground,
Where the right way was lost in shaggy wood,
A rude and savage woodland solitude.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

In our life's journey at its midway stage
I found myself within a wood obscure,
Where the right path which guided me was lost.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straight-forward pathway had been lost.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Halfway upon the road of our life, I came to myself amid a dark wood where the straight path was confused.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Midway upon the road of our life I found myself within a dark wood, for the right way had been missed.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Midway on the journey of our life I found myself within a darksome wood, for the right way was lost.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

Midway upon the road of our life's journey
I found myself within a dark wood faring;
For the straight way was lost by misadventure.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Midway life's journey I was made aware
That I had strayed into a dark forest,
And the right path appeared not anywhere.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

Midway this way of life we're bound upon,
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Midway in our life's journey, I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Midway in the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in some dark woods,
for I had wandered off from the straight path.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

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 (1980)]

Half way along the road we have to go,
I found myself obscured in a great forest,
Bewildered, and I knew I had lost the way.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

At one point midway on our path in life,
I came around and found myself now searching
through a dark wood, the right way blurred and lost.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Halfway along the road of this our life
I woke to find myself in a wood so dark
That straight and honest ways were gone, and light
Was lost.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

At the mid-point of the path through life, I found
Myself lost in a wood so dark, the way
Ahead was blotted out.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
Added on 9-Sep-22 | Last updated 9-Sep-22
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The savage brute that makes thee cry for dread
     Lets no man pass this road of hers, but still
     Trammels him, till at last she lays him dead.
Vicious her nature is, and framed for ill;
     When crammed she craves more fiercely than before;
     Her raging greed can never gorge its fill.

[Chè questa bestia, per la qual tu gride,
     Non lascia altrui passar per la sua via,
     Ma tanto lo impedisce, che l’ uccide:
E ha natura sì malvagia e ria,
     Che mai non empie la bramosa voglia,
     E dopo il pasto ha più fame che pria.]

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 1, l. 94ff (1.94-99) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
    (Source)


The she-wolf (lupa) of incontinence/wantonness, though some associate her with wrath, or with avarice. (Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

This raging Beast, which here you so much dread
Permits not any to pass on their way,
And never leaves them 'till their death she gains:
Her nature so perversely is dispos'd
That she never satisfies her greedy will;
But with each meal her hunger is increas'd.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 84ff]

Monster so fell, Numidia never bore,
As she, who riots there in human gore,
By inextinguishable famine stung.
The Fiend her hunger tries to sate in vain.
Still grows her appetite with growing pain.
And ceaseless rapine feeds the rising blaze.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 17-18]

          This beast,
At whom thou criest, her way will suffer none
To pass, and no less hindrance makes than death:
So bad and so accursed in her kind,
That never sated is her ravenous will,
Still after food more craving than before.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

For the fell beast who late, thy steps waylaying,
     Caused thee to shriek, lets none a passage find
     Across her walk, but hindereth e'en to slaying.
Baleful she is, and of so curst a kind.
     Her ravenous maw no glut can satisfy.
     But eats and leaves a hungrier greed behind.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Because this beast, for which thou criest, lets not men pass her way; but so entangles that she slays them;
and has a nature so perverse and vicious, that she never satiates her craving appetite; and after feeding, she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

The beast for which you utter such a cry
Suffers none else to pass her way, and will
Obstruct so far their passage as to kill:
Of nature so malignant to the core,
Insatiate hungers, ever longs for more;
And after eating hungrier than before.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

For lo! this creature, cause of thy great cry,
     Lets none pass her, but so bars the way,
     And with such deadly malice, that she slays.
So evil is her nature and so foul,
     Her lustful appetite is never quench'd
     And after eating she still craves the more.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Because this beast, at which thou criest out,
     Suffers not any one to pass her way,
     But so doth harass him, that she destroys him;
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 (1867)]

Because this beast, for the which thou criest out, lets not any pass by her way, but hinders him in such wise that she slays him. And she has a nature so evil and guilty that she never fulfils her greedy will, and after her repast has more hunger than before.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

That beast, at which thou criest, by this way
     Permits not one to pass, for evermore,
     But bars the passage so, that she will slay.
Of wickedness her nature has such store
     That her keen craving ne'er is satisfied,
     But after food she's hungrier than before.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

For this beast, because of which thou criest out, lets not any one pass along her way, but so hinders him that she kills him! and she has a nature so malign and evil that she never sates her greedy will, and after food is hungrier than before.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Because this beast, by reason of which thou criest aloud, suffereth none to come her way, but hindereth so rudely, that she slayeth them. So baneful and accursed is her nature, that she can never glut her ravening greed ; and after feeding she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

For this same beast, for cause whereof thou criest.
     To pass along her way allows no stranger,
     But hindereth him so far that she doth slay him.
Nature hath she so wicked and malicious
     That never doth she sate her ravenous craving,
     And after food is hungrier than before it.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

For this beast on account of which thou criest lets no man pass her way, but hinders them till she takes their life, and she has a nature so vicious and malignant that her greedy appetite is never satisfied and after good she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Because this beast, at which thou criest still,
     Suffereth none to go upon her path,
     But hindereth and entangleth till she kill,
And hath a nature so perverse in wrath,
     Her craving maw never is satiated
     But after food the fiercer hunger hath.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

     For that mad beast that fleers
before you there, suffers no man to pass.
     She tracks down all, kills all, and knows no glut,
     but, feeding, she grows hungrier than she was.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 90ff]

For this beast, the cause of your complaint, lets no man pass her way, but so besets him that she slays him; and she has a nature so vicious and malign that she never sates her greedy appetite and after feeding is hungrier than before.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

This beast, the one you cry about in fear,
     allows no soul to succeed along her path,
     she blocks his way and puts an end to him.
She is by nature so perverse and vicious,
     her craving belly is never satisfied,
     still hungering for food the more she eats.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

     The beast that is the cause of your outcry
allows no man to pass along her track,
but blocks him even to the point of death;
     her nature is so squalid, so malicious
that she can never sate her greedy will;
when she has fed, she's hungrier than ever.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

For that beast, which has made you so call out,
Does not allow others to pass her way,
But holds them up, and in the end destroys them;
And is by nature so wayward and perverted
That she never satisfies her wilful desires,
But, after a meal, is hungrier than before.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

          This beast,
The cause of your complaint, lets no one pass
Her way -- but harries all to death. Her nature
Is so malign and vicious she cannot appease
Her voracity, for feeding makes her hungrier.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 72ff]

For this beast at which you cry out lets no one pass by her way, but so much impedes him that she kills him;
and she has a nature so evil and cruel that her greedy desire is never satisfied, and after feeding she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

This creature, that distresses you, allows no man to cross her path, but obstructs him, to destroy him, and she has so vicious and perverse a nature, that she never sates her greedy appetite, and after food is hungrier than before.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

     That beast -- you cry out at the very sight --
lets no one through who passes on her way.
She blocks their progress; and there they all die.
     She is by her nature cruel, so vicious
she can never sate her voracious will,
but, feasting well, is hungrier than before.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

For the beast that moves you to cry out
lets no man pass her way,
but so besets him that she slays him.
Her nature is so vicious and malign
her greedy appetite is never sated --
after she feeds she is hungrier than ever.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Because this beast you complain of never lets
Anyone pass her along this road, harassing
And hindering them until she sees them dead,
Her nature being so malign and savage
That she is never able to finish her feasting,
Hungrier after she eats than before.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

You're bound to lose:
Bound by the spell of this beast pledged to keep
you crying, you or anyone else who tries
To get by. In a bad mood it can kill,
And it's never in a good mood. See those eyes?
So great a hunger nothing can fulfil.
It eats, it wants more, like the many men
Infected by its bite.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
Added on 16-Sep-22 | Last updated 16-Sep-22
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

But, as for thee, I think and deem it well
     Thou take me for thy guide, and pass with me
     Through an eternal place and terrible
Where thou shalt hear despairing cries, and see
     Long-departed souls that in their torments dire
     Howl for the second death perpetually.

[Ond’ io per lo tuo me’ penso e discerno
     che tu mi segui, e io sarò tua guida,
     e trarrotti di qui per loco etterno;
ove udirai le disperate strida,
     vedrai li antichi spiriti dolenti,
     ch’a la seconda morte ciascun grida.]

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 1, l. 112ff (1.112-117) (1320) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
    (Source)


Virgil, offering Dante a tour of Hell. There is some debate, reflected in the various translations, as to whether the "second death" is the death of the soul upon damnation, the endless punishments of the damned, a prayed-for total annihilation to end their torment, or the destruction of Hell after the Last Judgment. See Rev. 2:11, 20:14, 21:8.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

     Wherefore I think, and judge it best that you
Should follow me, and I will be your Guide
From hence to places of eternal woe,
Where you shall hear the wailings of despair,
And see the Ghosts of former times lament,
Who eagerly request a second death.
[tr. Rogers (1782)]

But Heav'n in love to thee hath sent me here
A kind and faithful guide -- dismiss thy fear,
     Thro' other worlds to lead thy steps along.
     Thine ears must meet the yell of stern despair,
Where Heav'n's avending hand forgets to spare,
     And tribes forlorn a second death implore.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 20-21]

I for thy profit pond'ring now devise,
That thou mayst follow me, and I thy guide
Will lead thee hence through an eternal space,
Where thou shalt hear despairing shrieks, and see
Spirits of old tormented, who invoke
A second death.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Now for thy weal I counsel and perpend
     Thou follow hence where I shall lead thee on
     Through realm eternal, whither if thou wend.
Thine ear shall hear the shrieks of hope foregone,
     Thine eye shall see the souls of eld in woe,
     That ever call the second death upon.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

     Wherefore I think and discern this for thy best, that thou follow me; and I will be thy guide, and lead thee hence through an eternal place,
     where thou shalt hear the hopeless shrieks, shalt see the ancient spirits in pain, so that each calls for a second death.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Thou wilt follow me and I will be thy guide --
'Tis for thy sake, I think I can discern.
From hence I'll lead thee through the place alone,
Where thou shalt hear the desperate shrieks, and see
The Antique Spirits in their misery --
Upon the second death they all will cry.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

To thee then better counsel I commend,
     Follow thou me and I will be thy guide,
     And lead thee hence through the Eternal Realms'
Where thou shalt hear the wail of wild despair,
     And of old times the sorrowful spirits see
     Calling in anguish for the second death.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Therefore I think and judge it for thy best
     ⁠Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide,
     ⁠And lead thee hence through the eternal place,
Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations,
     ⁠Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate,
     ⁠Who cry out each one for the second death.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Wherefore I for thy bettering think and decide that thou follow me; and I will be thy guide, and will draw thee from here through an eternal place, where thou shalt hear the shrieks of despair, shalt see the ancient spirits in woe, who each cry upon the second death.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Now for thy profit in my thoughts I trace
How thou mayst follow, I will guide thee fair,
From here I'll lead thee through eternal space,
Where thou shalt hear the shriekings of despair,
Shalt see the ancient spirits grief-possest,
Who each the second death invokes with prayer.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Wherefore I think and deem it for thy best that thou follow me, and I will be thy guide, and will lead thee hence through the eternal place where thou shalt hear the despairing shrieks, shalt see the ancient spirits woeful who each proclaim the second death.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Wherefore in thy behoof I think and deem it well, that thou shouldst follow me ; and I will be thy guide, and lead thee out from this place through the eternal realms, where thou shalt hear shriekings of despair, shalt see the ancient spirits in their sorrowing, so that each crieth aloud for second death.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

And therefore, for thy good, I thus determine.
     That thou do follow me, and I will guide thee,
     And hence will take thee through a place eternal,
Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations,
     Shalt see the ancient spirits in their dolour.
     Where for the second death each one makes outcry.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Therefore, considering what is best for thee, I judge that thou shouldst follow me, and I shall be thy guide and lead thee hence through an eternal place where thou shalt hear the despairing shrieks of the ancient spirits in pain who each bewail the second death.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Wherefore I judge this fittest for thy case
     That I should lead thee, and thou follow in faith,
     To journey hence through an eternal place,
Where thou shalt hear cries of despairing breath,
     Shalt look on the ancient spirits in their pain,
     Such that each calls out for a second death.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

     Therefore, for your own good, I think it well
you follow me and I will be your guide
     and lead you forth through an eternal place.
     There you shall see the ancient spirits tried
in endless pain, and hear their lamentation
     as each bemoans the second death of souls.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 105ff]

Therefore I think and deem it best that you should follow me, and I will be your guide and lead you hence through an eternal place, where you shall hear the despairing shrieks and see the ancient tormented spirits who all bewail the second death.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

And so, I think it best you follow me
     for your own good, and I shall be your guide
     and lead you out through an eternal place
where you will hear desperate cries, and see
     tormented shades, some old as Hell itself,
     and know what second death is, from their screams.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

Therefore, I think and judge it best for you
     to follow me, and I shall guide you, taking
     you from this place through an eternal place,
where you shall hear the howls of desperation
     and see the ancient spirits in their pain,
     as each of them laments his second death
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

The course I think would be the best for you,
     Is to follow me, and I will act as your guide
     And show a way out of here, by a place in eternity.
Where you will hear the shrieks of men without hope,
     And will see the ancient spirits in such pain
     That every one of them calls out for a second death.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Therefore I judge it best that you should choose
     To follow me, and I will be your guide
     Away from here and through an eternal space:
To hear the cries of despair, and to behold
     Ancient tormented spirts as they lament
     In chorus the second death they must abide.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

     Thus for your good I think and judge that you shall follow me, and I shall be your guide, and I will lead you from here through an eternal place,
     where you will hear the desperate shrieks, you will see the ancient suffering spirits, who all cry out at the second death.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

It is best, as I think and understand, for you to follow me, and I will be your guide, and lead you from here through an eternal space where you will hear the desperate shouts, will see the ancient spirits in pain, so that each one cries out for a second death.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

     Therefore, considering what's best for you,
I judge that you should follow, I should guide,
and hence through an eternal space lead on.
     There you shall hear shrill cries of desperation,
And see those spirits, mourning ancient pain,
who all cry out for death to come once more.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Therefore, for your sake, I think it wise
     you follow me: I will be your guide,
     leading you, form here, through an eternal place
where you shall hear despairing cries
     and see those ancient souls in pain
     as they bewail their second death.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

And this is why I think you must allow
     Yourself to follow me, and I must guide
     And lead you across an eternal land, where crowds
Of desperate souls will constantly shriek and cry,
     And you will see the souls of the ancient dead
     In pain, wanting another chance to die.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

But by now I've pondered well
The path adapted best to serve your cause,
So let me be your guide. I'll take you through
The timeless breaker's yard where you will hear
The death cries of the damned who die anew
Every day, though dead already in the year --
No dated stones remain to give a clue --
The earliest sinners died, when time began.
[tr. James (2013), l. 146ff]

 
Added on 23-Sep-22 | Last updated 23-Sep-22
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

As one who wills, and then unwills his will,
     Changing his mind with every changing whim,
     Till all his best intentions come to nil,
So I stood havering in that moorland dim,
     While through fond rifts of fancy oozed away
     The first quick zest that filled me to the brim.

[E qual è quei che disvuol ciò che volle
     e per novi pensier cangia proposta,
     sì che dal cominciar tutto si tolle,
tal mi fec’ïo ’n quella oscura costa,
     perché, pensando, consumai la ’mpresa
     che fu nel cominciar cotanto tosta.]

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 2, l. 37ff (2.37-42) (1320) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
    (Source)


(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

As he who what he first resolv'd rejects,
And by some fresher reasons is induc'd
Wholly to lay aside his first intent;
So I, now in the mountain's shade arriv'd,
Refus'd th' attempt which I at first desir'd.
[tr. Rogers (1782), ll. 34-38]

Like one, who, some imagin'd peril near,
Feels his warm wishes chill'd by wint'ry fear,
     And resolution sicken at the view,
Thus I perceiv'd my sinking spirits fail,
Thus trembling, I survey'd the gloomy vale,
     As near the moment of decision drew.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 8]

          As one, who unresolves
What he hath late resolv'd, and with new thoughts
Changes his purpose, from his first intent
Remov'd; e'en such was I on that dun coast,
Wasting in thought my enterprise, at first
So eagerly embrac'd.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

As one that what he wished unwisheth now,
     And, changing purpose in a newer drift.
     Doth his first motion wholly disallow;
So wrought I then beneath that gloomy cliff,
     Who, meditating, quenched the venturous hope
     That in her first beginning rose so swift.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

     And as one who unwills what he willed, and with new thoughts changes his purpose, so that he wholly quits the thing he commenced,
     such I made myself on that dim coast: for with thinking I wasted the enterprise, that had been so quick in its commencement.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Like one unwilling for the thing he wills,
Whose second thoughts have made his purpose pale,
And everything upon the threshold fail;
So did I with myself obscure that coast
With thinking much -- the enterprise gave o'er
With vehemence I had embraced before.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

And as with him unwishing what he wish'd,
     Who changes purpose as new thoughts arise,
     So that his first intentions pass away;
It was with me when on that coast obscure;
     For as thought grew, the enterprise was lost,
     Which at the first so quickly I desir'd.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

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.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

And as is he who ceases to will that he willed, and by reason of new thoughts changes purpose, so that he withdraws himself wholly from his beginning, so became I on that dark hillside; so that in my thought I made an end of the enterprise which in its commencement had been so hasty.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Like unto one who wills not that he would,
     And shifts his purpose with thought's changing tide,
     So that he dare not make commencement good,
Thus acted I on that hill's darkened side;
     In idle thought I wasted the emprise.
     To which so swiftly I first had hied.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

And as is he who unwills what he willed, and because of new thoughts changes his design, so that he quite withdraws from beginning, such I became on that dark hillside: wherefore in my thought I abandoned the enterprise which had been so hasty in the beginning.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

And as one who wisheth not that which he wished, and for new fancies changeth his resolve, so that he turns him wholly from his undertaking; even in such state was I on that dark slope; for, while I pondered, I brought to naught the enterprise, that was at first so readily embraced.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

And as one is who what he wished unwishes,
     And for new thoughts exchanges his set purpose,
     So that he quite departs from his beginnings,
Such I became upon that gloomy hillside;
     Because in thought the enterprise I wasted
     Which had at the beginning been so eager.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

And as one who unwills what he willed and with new thoughts changes his purpose so that he quite withdraws from what he has begun, such I became on that dark slope; for by thinking of it I brought to naught the enterprise that was so hasty in its beginning.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

And like one who unwills what he willed first
     And new thoughts change the intention that he had,
     So that his resolution is reversed,
So on that dim slope did my purpose fade
     For I with thinking had dulled down the zest
     That at the outset sprang so prompt and glad.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

As one who unwills what he wills, will stay
     strong purposes with feeble second thoughts
     until he spells all his first zeal away --
so I hung back and balked on that dim coast
     till thinking had worn out my enterprise,
     so stout at starting and so early lost.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

And like one who unwills what he has willed and with new thoughts changes his resolve, so that he quite gives up the thing he had begun, such did I become on that dark slope, for by thinking on it I rendered null the undertaking that had been so suddenly embarked upon.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

As one who unwills what he willed, will change
     his purposes with some new second thought,
     completely quitting what he first had started,
so I did, standing there on that dark slope,
     thinking, ending the beginning of that venture
     I was so quick to take up at the start.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

     And just as he who unwills what he wills
and shifts what he intends to seek new ends
so that he's drawn from what he had begun,
     so was I in the midst of that dark land,
because, with all my thinking, I annulled
the task I had so quickly undertaken.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

And just like somebody who shilly-shallies,
And thinks again about what he has decided,
So that he gives up everything he has started,
I found I was on that obscure hillside:
By thinking about it I spoiled the undertaking
I had been so quick to enter in the first place.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

And then, like one who unchooses his own choice
     And thinking again undoes what he has started,
     So I became: a nullifying unease
Overcame my soul on that dark slope and voided
     The undertaking I had so quickly embraced.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), ll. 31-35]

     And like one who unwills what he just now willed and with new thoughts changes his intent, so that he draws back entirely from beginning:
     so did I become on that dark slope, for, thinking, I gave up the undertaking that I had been so quick to begin.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

And I rendered myself, on that dark shore, like one who un-wishes what he wished, and changes his purpose, in new thinking, so that he leaves off what he began, completely, since in thought I consumed action, that had been so ready to begin.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

     And so -- as though unwanting every want,
so altering all at every altering thought
now drawing back from everything begun --
     I stood there on the darkened slope, fretting
away from thought to thought the bold intent
that seemed so very urgent at the outset.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

     And as one who unwills what he has willed,
changing his intent on second thought
so that he quite gives over what he has begun,
     such a man was I on that dark slope.
With too much thinking I had undone
the enterprise so quick in its inception.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Like someone half regretting what once seemed knowledge,
     intention shifted around by fresh ideas,
     Starting to throw all old ones overboard,
I stood on that dark slope, pulled by feelings
     So murky they dissipated whatever I'd thought
     I knew, surrendering what once seemed real.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Just so, obeying the unwritten rule
That one who would unsieh that which he wished,
Having thought twice about what he first sought,
Must put fish back into the pool he fished,
So they, set free, may once again be caught,
Just so did I in that now shadowy fold --
Because, by thinking, I'd consumed the thought
I started with, that I had thought so bold.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
Added on 30-Sep-22 | Last updated 30-Sep-22
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But see how many now cry out “Christ! Christ?”
Who shall be farther from him at the Judgment
Than many who, on earth, did not know Christ.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy, “Paradise,” 19.106 (1321) [tr. J. Ciardi (1954)]
 
Added on 16-Jun-09 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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A great flame follows a little spark.

[Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.]

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy, “Paradiso,” Canto 1, l. 34 (1321)
 
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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Where the way is hardest, there go thou:
Follow your own path, and let people talk.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy, “Purgatory” (5.13) (1321)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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