Here lamentation, groans, and wailings deep
Reverberated through the starless air,
So that it made me at the beginning weep.
Uncouth tongues, horrible chatterings of despair,
Shrill and faint cries, words of grief, tones of 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.

[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.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 3, l. 22ff (3.22-30) (1309) [tr. Binyon (1943)]

Not even in Hell itself, but its antechamber, these are the sounds of those eternally rejected by both Heaven and Hell for standing neutral and not committing to either side. (Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

There Sighs, and Cries, and horrid Howlings mix'd
With Shrieks, re-echo'd through the starless air,
Which frequent tears of pity from me drew.
Variety of tongues, reproaching Taunts,
Words grief expressing, Accents full of ire,
Voices both loud and hoarse, and clapping Hands
Rais'd in that dusky air a tumult wild,
Like to the sand when by a whirlwind toss'd.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 20ff]

Thence, Oh! what wailings from the abject throng
Around the starless sky incessant rung;
The short, shrill shriek, and long resounding groan,
The thick sob, panting thro' the cheerless air,
The lamentagle strain of sad despair,
And blasphemy, with fierce relentless tone.

Volleying around, the full, infernal choir,
Barbarian tongues, and plaints, and words of ire,
(With oft' between the harsh inflicted blow)
In loud discordance from the tribes forlorn
Tumultuous rose, as in a whirlwind borne,
With execrations mix'd, and murmurs low.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 6-7]

Here sighs with lamentations and loud moans
Resounded through the air pierc'd by no star,
That e'en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swell'd the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that for ever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain'd,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Sighs there, and moaning sobs, and shriller cries
Rebounded echoing through the starless air.
And early forced the tear-gush from mine eyes:
Tongues of all strain, dread language of despair.
Words born of anguish, accents choked with ire,
And voices loud and hoarse were mingling there
With sound of hands, to swell one uproar dire
That aye went eddying round that timeless gloom.
As the sand eddieth in the whirlwind's gyre.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Here sighs, plaints, and deep wailings sounded through the starless air: it made me weep at first.
Strange tongues, horrible outcries, words of pain, tones of anger, voices deep and hoarse, and the sounds of hands amongst them,
made a tumult, which turns itself unceasing in that air for ever dyed, as sand when [it eddies in a whirlwind].
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

And then the sighs, complaints, and loud, loud groans
Resounding through the air without a star,
Began to wring my heart with many a tear.
Diverse the tongues and language horrible,
The words of sorrow and accents of ire --
High and weak voices -- sound of smiting there
A tumult made, that seemed t' encompass all
Within that air, which colourless expands
For aye, as when the whirlwinds raise the sands.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Here sighs and moans and wailings terrible
Resounded through the dim and starless air;
Ev'n at the first my tears might not be stay'd.
Tongues divedrse, foul and horrible discourse,
Utterings of grief and accents of deep rage,
Words loud and hoarse, the sound of raging hands
Fierce tumult made, which sweeps with ceaseless roll
In the deep darkness of that timeless air,
As the sand rushes where the whirlwind blow.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
Resounded through the air without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.
Languages diverse, horrible dialects, ⁠
Accents of anger, words of agony,
And voices high and hoarse, with sound of hands,
Made up a tumult that goes whirling on
Forever in that air forever black,
Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breathes.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

There sighs, lamentations, and loud wailings were resounding through the starless air; wherefore I at the beginning wept for them. Divers languages, horrible speech, words of woe, accents of rage, voices loud and faint, and sounds of hands with them, made a tumult, which ever in that air eternally tinted circles as the sand when it is blowing up for a whirlwind.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

There sighings, and complaints, and wailings deep,
Resounded ever in the starless air,
so that at first I could not help but weep.
Different tongues, speech horrible to hear,
Accents of anger and the words of pain,
Voices both high and low, hand-clappings there,
Made up a tumult which aye whirls amain
Through the thick air, eternally obscure,
Like sand storm-driven o'er the desert plane.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Here sighs, laments, and deep wailings were resounding though the starless air; wherefore at first I wept thereat. Strange tongues, horrible cries, words of woe, accents of anger, voices high and hoarse, and sounds of hands with them, were making a tumult which whirls forever in that air dark without change, like the sand when the whirlwind breathes.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries resounded through the starless air, wherefore at the first I wept to hear them. Tongues of many nations, utterings of horror, words of tribulation, tones of anger, voices loud and hoarse, and amongst them the sounds of hands, made an uproar that circleth unceasingly in that ever darksome air, even as the sand when the hurricane bloweth.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

Here sighs and lamentations and shrill wailings
Resounded through the air by stars unlighted;
Wherefore I wept thereat, e'en at the outset.
Horrible jargons, tongues of divers peoples,
Accents of anger, words of bitter sorrow,
Shrill and faint voices, sounds of hands among them,
Made a tumultuous uproar, that for ever
Eddies athwart that air's eternal blackness,
As sand when there is blast of coming whirlwind.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

There sighs, lamentations and loud wailings resounded through the starless air, so that at first it made me weep; strange tongues, horrible language, words of pain, tones of anger, voices loud and hoarse, and with these the sound of hands, madea tumult which is whirling always through that air forever dark, as sand eddies in a whirlwind.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Here sighing, and here crying, and loud railing
Smote on the starles air, with lamentation,
So that at first I wept to hear such wailing.
Tongues mixed and mingled, horrible execration,
Shrill shrieks, hoarse groans, fierce yells and hideous blether
And clapping of hands thereto, without cessation
Made tumult through the timeless night, that hither
And thither drives in dizzying circles sped,
As whirlwind whips the spinning sands together.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Here sighs and cries and wails coiled and recoiled
on the starless air, spilling my soul to tears.
A confusion of tongues and monstrous accents toiled
in pain and anger. Voices hoarse and shrill
and sounds of blows, all intermingled, raised
tumult and pandemonium that still
whirls on the air forever dirty with it
as if a whirlwind sucked at sand.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), ll. 22-29]

Here sighs, laments, and loud wailings were resounding through the starless air, so that at first they made me weep. Strange tongues, horrible outcries, utterances of woe, accents of anger, voices shrill and faint, and the beating of hands among them, were making a tumult that swirls unceasingly in that dark and timeless air, like sand when a whirlwind blows.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Here sighs and cries and shrieks of lamentation
echoed through the starless air of Hell;
at first these sounds resounding made me weep:
tongues confused, a language strained in anguish
with cadences of anger, shrill outcries
and raucous groans in time to slapping hands,
raising a whirling storm that turns itself
forever through that air of endless black,
like grains of sand swirling when a whirlwind blows.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

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.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

Here there were sighings and complaints and howlings,
Resounding in the air under no stars;
So that at first I found myself in tears.
A jumble of languages, deformities of speech,
Words which were pain, with intonations of anger,
Voices which were deep and hoarse, hands clapped together,
Made altogether a tumult, round and round,
Unceasingly in that air in which all was colorless,
Just as it might be in a perpetual sandstorm.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

The sighs, groans, and laments at first were so loud,
Resounding through starless air, I began to weep;
Strange languages, horrible screams, words imbued
With rage or despair, cries as of troubled sleep
Or of a tortured shrillness -- they rose in a coil
Of tumult, along with noises like the slap
Of beating hands, all fused in a ceaseless flail
That churms and frenzies that dark and timeless air
Like sand in a whirlwind.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

There sighs, weeping, loud wailing resounded through the starless air, for which at the outset I shed tears.
Strange languages, horrible tongues, words of pain, accents of anger, voices loud and hoarse, and sounds of blows with them,
made a tumult that turns forever in that air darkened without time, like the sand when a whirlwind blows.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

Here sighs, complaints, and deep groans, sounded through the starless air, so that it made me weep at first. Many tongues, a terrible crying, words of sadness, accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse, with sounds of hands amongst them, making a turbulence that turns forever, in that air, stained, eternally, like sand spiraling in a whirlwind.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Resounding through the starless firmament,
such a commotion of groans and wails of woe,
I wept myself from sheer bewilderment;
outlandish tongues, and accents doloroso,
howls, shrieks, grunts, gasps, bawls,
a never-ending, terrible crescendo,
rising to vast compulsory applause,
revolving like sand or locusts in a storm,
turning the air black as funereal gauze.
[tr. Carson (2002)]

Sighing, sobbing, moans and plaintive wailing
all echoed here through air where no star shone,
and I, as this began, began to weep.
Discordant tongues, harsh accents of horror,
tormented words, the twang of rage, strident
voices, the sound, as well, of smacking hands,
together these all stirred a storm that swirled
for ever in the darkened air where no time was
as sand swept up in breathing spires of wind.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Now sighs, loud wailing, lamentation
resounded through the starless air,
so that I too began to weep.
Unfamiliar tongues, horrendous accents,
words of suffering, cries of rage, voices
loud and faint, the sound of slapping hands --
all these made a tumult, always whirling
in that black and timeless air,
as sand is swirled in a whirlwind.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

To that unknown place, where shrieks and desperate sighs,
Weeping, and fervent moaning filled the starless
Air; I couild not keep myself from crying.
All sorts of tongues, a flood of horrible words,
Much aching speech, with bursts of furious rage,
Some loud, some weak, and hands that flapped like birds,
Blew in a swirling roar, forever created
Anew, whirling around in that timeless air,
Dark as pellets of sand in a hurricane.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Where sighs and moans and screams of ruined men,
Filling the air beneath the starless sky,
Resounding everywhere, ane everywhere
Was there inside me. I began to cry,
Stunned by the sound of an unseen nightmare.
Inhuman outcries in all human tongues,
Bad language, bursts of anger, yelps of pain,
Shrill scrambled messages from aching lungs,
And clapped hands, self-applause of the insane:
All this was whipped by its own energy
Into a timeless tumult without form --
Dark as a whirlpool in a dead black sea
Or a whirlwind sucking sand into a storm.
[tr. James (2013), l. 28ff]

Added on 28-Oct-22 | Last updated 8-Sep-23
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