And this, I learned, was the never ending flight
of those who sinned in the flesh, the carnal and lusty
who betrayed reason to their appetite.
As the wings of wintering starlings bear them on
in their great wheeling flights, just so the blast
wherries these evil souls through time foregone.
Here, there, up, down, they whirl, and whirling, strain
with never a hope of hope to comfort them,
not of release, but even of less pain.
[Intesi ch’a così fatto tormento
enno dannati i peccator carnali,
che la ragion sommettono al talento.
E come li stornei ne portan l’ali
nel freddo tempo, a schiera larga e piena,
così quel fiato li spiriti mali
di qua, di là, di giù, di sù li mena;
nulla speranza li conforta mai,
non che di posa, ma di minor pena.]
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 5, l. 37ff (5.37-45) (1320) [tr. Ciardi (1954)]
(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:
Those who such torments suffered, I learnt,
Were condemn'd to them for their carnal Sins,
Their reason by their Passion being subdued.
And as the Birds, who at the first approach
Of cold, take wing, and gather in thick clouds,
So does the Storm these wretched Spirits drive,
From 'bove, below, and ev'ry side around.
They have no hope of ever being releas'd:
And e'en of lighter punishments despair.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 32ff]
These were the hapless slaves of lawless love,
Soft pleasure's vot'ries in the world above,
Who the still voice of reason held in scorn;
And as a flight of starlings wing their way,
Riding the wintry blast in long array,
The phantoms fleet, in airy tumult borne.
Aloft we saw the moody revel ride,
Then, in long eddies, like the swallowing tide,
With its full freight the hurricane descends:
Around the sinner sweep, above, below,
Nor respite of their cares rest they, nor refuge know
From the resistless storm that never ends.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 8-9]
I understood that to this torment sad
The carnal sinners are condemn'd, in whom
Reason by lust is sway'd. As in large troops
And multitudinous, when winter reigns,
The starlings on their wings are borne abroad;
So bears the tyrannous gust those evil souls.
On this side and on that, above, below,
It drives them: hope of rest to solace them
Is none, nor e'en of milder pang.
[tr. Cary (1814)]
Then understood I of that woe's intent,
How framed with sinners in the flesh to deal
Who to their passion have their reason bent.
And like as starlings in their aery wheel
Some winter's day float wide upon the wing.
So doth those guilty souls the whirlwind's reel
Now up, now down, now this, now that way fling;
Nor aught to comfort them may soothing hope.
If not of rest, of milder sufferance bring.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]
I learnt that to such torment [are] doomed the carnal sinners, who subject reason to lust.
And as their wings bear along the starlings, at the cold season, in large and crowded troop: so that blast, the evil spirits;
hither, thither, down, up, it leads them. No hope ever comforts them, not of rest, but even of less pain.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]
Of torment such as this, I understood,
Were carnal sinners made to drink their fill,
Their reason who subject unto their will.
And as the starlings spread their wings aloft
In the cold time, in long and crowded flock,
Such are the evil spirits to the shock:
From here to there, from low to high, it leads;
Nor hope nor comfort in their breast remain,
Not of a pause, but even of lesser pain.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]
Then I perceiv'd this torment was to those
Whose condemnation was for carnal sins,
Who made their reason subject to their lusts.
As starlings in their wingèd strength are borne
In winter season, flocking wide and deep;
So are the wicked spirits by this blast
Upwards and downwards, hither, thither swept,
Having to comfort them of no hope of rest
From their great woe, nor e'en of lesser pain.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]
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.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]
I was aware that to a torment thus fashioned are condemned the carnal sinners who made their reason subject to their inclination. And as their wings bear away the starlings in the cold season, in a broad and thick flock, so did that blast the evil spirits. On this side, on that, up and down it sways them; no hope ever comforts them, I say not of rest, but of a lesser penalty.
[tr. Butler (1885)]
Then did I understand that this was pain
Reserved for those who sin in carnal things,
And over reason their desires maintain.
And, like the summer starlings, stretch their wings
In the cold time, in large and ample train,
So that wild wind those evil spirits swings
Hither and thither, up and down again;
No hope can comfort them of far repose
For evermore, nor even of lesser pain.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]
I understood that to such torment are condemned the carnal sinners who subject reason to appetite. And as their wings bear along the starlings in the cold season in a troop large and full, so that blast the evil spirits; hither, thither, down, up it carries them; no hope ever comforts them, not of repose, but even of less pain.
[tr. Norton (1892)]
I came to know that to tortures of such a kind were doomed sinners in the flesh, who make their better judg- ment the thrall of lust. And as in winter time starlings are borne on their wings, in large and crowded flock; even so beareth this blast these sinful spirits. Hither and thither, high and low, it whirleth them, nor ever cometh hope of any rest to cheer them, nor even of lesser punishment.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]
I understood that unto such like torment
Are damned eternally the carnal sinners.
Who make their reason subject to their passions.
And as their pinions bear along the starlings,
In the chill time, in wide and full battahon,
In such wise doth that blast the wicked spirits:
Hither and thither, up and down, it bears them;
Nor any hope encourages them ever.
Not to say hope of rest, but of less torment.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]
I learned that to such torment are condemned the carnal sinners who subject reason to desire. As in the cold season their wings bear the starlings along in a broad, dense flock, so does that blast the wicked spirits. Hither, thither, downward, upward, it drives them; no hope ever comforts them, not to say of rest, but of less pain.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]
I learnt that in such restless violence blown
This punishment the carnal sinners share
Whose reason by desire was over thrown.
And as their beating wings the starlings bear
At the cold season, in broad, flocking flight,
So those corrupted spirits were rapt in air
To and fro, down, up, driven in helpless plight
Comforted by no hope ever to lie
At rest, nor even to bear a pain more light.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]
Into this torment carnal sinners are thrust,
So I was told -- the sinners who make their reason
Bond thrall under the yoke of their lust.
Like as the starlings wheel in the wintry season
In wide and clustering flocks wing-borne, wind-borne,
Even so they go, the souls who did this treason,
Hither and thither, and up and down, outworn,
Hopeless of any rest -- rest, did I say?
Of the least minishing of their pangs forlorn.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]
I learned that to such torment are condemned the carnal sinners, who subject reason to desire.
And as their wings bear the starlings along in the cold season, in wide, dense flocks, so does that blast the sinful spirits; hither, thither, downward, upward, it drives them. No hope of less pain, not to say of rest, ever comforts them.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]
I learned that to this place of punishment
all those who sin in lust have been condemned,
those who make reason slave to appetite;
and as the wings of starlings in the winter
bear them along in wide-spread crowded flocks,
so does that wind propel the evil spirits:
here, then there, and up and down, it sweeps them
forever, without hope to comfort them
(hope, not of taking rest, but of suffering less).
[tr. Musa (1971)]
I learned that those who undergo this torment
are damned because they sinned within the flesh,
subjecting reason to the rule of lust.
And as, in the cold season, starlings' wings
bear them along in broad and crowded ranks,
so does that blast bear on the guilty spirits:
now here, now there, now down, now up, it drives them.
There is no hope that ever comforts them --
no hope for rest and none for lesser pain.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]
I understood it is to this torment
That are condemned those who sin in the flesh,
And let their reason give way to their wishes.
And, as starlings are carried on their wings
In the cold weather, in a vast wavering troop,
So that breath carries the unfortunate spirits:
It drives them here and there, now down, now up;
There is no hope ever to comfort them;
They cannot stop, or ever suffer less pain.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]
They suffer here who sinned in carnal things --
Their reason mastered by desire, suborned.
As winter starlings ride on their wings
Form crowded flocks, so spirits dip and veer
Foundering in the wind's rough buffetings,
Upward or downward, driven here and there
With never ease from pain nor hope of rest.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 34ff]
I understood that to this torment were damned the carnal sinners, who subject their reason to their lust.
nd as their wings carry off the starlings in the cold season, in large, full flocks, so does that breath carry the evil spirits
here, there, down, up; no hope ever comforts them, not of lessened suffering, much less of rest.
[tr. Durling (1996)]
I learnt that the carnal sinners are condemned to these torments, they who subject their reason to their lust.
And, as their wings carry the starlings, in a vast, crowded flock, in the cold season, so that wind carries the wicked spirits, and leads them here and there, and up and down. No hope of rest, or even lesser torment, comforts them.
[tr. Kline (2002)]
Caught in this torment, as I understood,
were those who -- here condemned for carnal sin --
made reason bow to their instinctual bent.
As starlings on the wing in winter chills
are borne along in wide and teeming flocks,
so on these breathing gusts the evil souls.
This way and that and up and down they're borne.
Here is no hope of any comfort ever,
neither of respite nor of lesser pain.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]
I understood that to such torment
the carnal sinners are condemned,
they who make reason subject to desire.
As, in cold weather, the wings of starlings
bear them up in wide, dense flocks,
so does that blast propel the wicked spirits.
Here and there, down and up, it drives them.
Never are they comforted by hope
of rest or even lesser punishment.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]
I learned that sinners blown, tormented in bursting
Gales, are those condemned by acts of lust,
Which melt our reason down in desire and thirst.
Just as their wings, stretched wide, hold starlings up
In great, wide flocks fleeing freezing weather,
So those windstorms force the wicked souls
This way, that way, down and up together.
No hope can ever ease their pain, giver comfort;
They never rest, never suffer less.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]
I understood this was the punishment
For carnal sinners, who let appetite
Rule reason, and who, once drawn, are now sent --
Like winter starlings by their wings in flight --
Across the bleak sky in a broad, thick flock:
Here, there, now up, now down, the winds dictate
Their track. Small hope of pausing to take stock
Of whether anguish might not soon abate
At least a little, and no hope at all
[tr. James (2013), l. 47ff]
Added on 16-Dec-22 | Last updated 29-Jul-23
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