Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Italy
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII.  1876–79.
 
Pisa
Ugolino
Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321)
 
(From Inferno, Canto XXXIII)
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

HIS mouth uplifted from his grim repast
    That sinner, wiping it upon the hair
    Of the same head that he behind had wasted.
Then he began: “Thou wilt that I renew
    The desperate grief, which wrings my heart already        5
    To think of only, ere I speak of it;
But if my words be seed that may bear fruit
    Of infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw,
    Speaking and weeping shalt thou see together.
I know not who thou art, nor by what mode        10
    Thou hast come down here; but a Florentine
    Thou seemest to me truly, when I hear thee.
Thou hast to know I was Count Ugolino,
    And this one was Ruggieri the Archbishop;
    Now I will tell thee why I am such a neighbor.        15
That, by effect of his malicious thoughts,
    Trusting in him I was made prisoner,
    And after put to death, I need not say;
But ne’ertheless what thou canst not have heard,
    That is to say, how cruel was my death,        20
    Hear shalt thou, and shalt know if he has wronged me.
A narrow perforation in the mew,
    Which bears because of me the title of Famine,
    And in which others still must be locked up,
Had shown me through its opening many moons        25
    Already, when I dreamed the evil dream
    Which of the future rent for me the veil.
This one appeared to me as lord and master,
    Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain
    For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see.        30
With sleuth-hounds gaunt, and eager, and well-trained,
    Gualandi with Sismondi and Lanfranchi
    He had sent out before him to the front.
After brief course seemed unto me forespent
    The father and the sons, and with sharp tushes        35
    It seemed to me I saw their flanks ripped open.
When I before the morrow was awake,
    Moaning amid their sleep I heard my sons
    Who with me were, and asking after bread.
Cruel indeed art thou, if yet thou grieve not,        40
    Thinking of what my heart foreboded me,
    And weep’st thou not, what art thou wont to weep at?
They were awake now, and the hour drew nigh
    At which our food used to be brought to us,
    And through his dream was each one apprehensive;        45
And I heard locking up the under door
    Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word
    I gazed into the faces of my sons.
I wept not, I within so turned to stone;
    They wept; and darling little Anselm mine        50
    Said: ‘Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?’
Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made
    All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter,
    Until another sun rose on the world.
As now a little glimmer made its way        55
    Into the dolorous prison, and I saw
    Upon four faces my own very aspect,
Both of my hands in agony I bit;
    And, thinking that I did it from desire
    Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,        60
And said they: ‘Father, much less pain ’t will give us
    If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us
    With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.’
I calmed me then, not to make them more sad.
    That day we all were silent, and the next.        65
    Ah! obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open?
When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo
    Threw himself down outstretched before my feet,
    Saying, ‘My father, why dost thou not help me?’
And there he died; and, as thou seest me,        70
    I saw the three fall, one by one, between
    The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,
Already blind, to groping over each,
    And three days called them after they were dead;
    Then hunger did what sorrow could not do.”        75
When he had said this, with his eyes distorted,
    The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth,
    Which, as a dog’s upon the bone were strong.
Ah! Pisa, thou opprobrium of the people
    Of the fair land there where the doth sound,        80
    Since slow to punish thee thy neighbors are,
Let the Capraia and Gorgona move,
    And make a hedge across the mouth of Arno
    That every person in thee it may drown!
For if Count Ugolino had the fame        85
    Of having in thy castles thee betrayed,
    Thou shouldst not on such cross have put his sons.
Guiltless of any crime, thou modern Thebes!
    Their youth made Uguccione and Brigata,
    And the other two my song doth name above!        90
 
 
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