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 Canto V
      Coming into the second circle of Hell, Dante at the entrance beholds
 Minos the Infernal Judge, by whom he is admonished to beware how he enters
 those regions. Here he witnesses the punishment of carnal sinners, who are
 tossed about ceaselessly in the dark air by the most furious winds. Amont
 these, he meets with Francesca of Rimini, through pity at whose sad tale he
 falls fainting to the ground.
 From the first circle I descended thus
 Down to the second, which, a lesser space
 Embracing, so much more of grief contains,
 Provoking bitter moans. There Minos stands,
 Grinning with ghastly feature: he, of all
 Who enter, strict examining the crimes,
 Gives sentence, and dismisses them beneath,
 According as he foldeth him around:
 For when before him comes the ill - fated soul,
 It all confesses; and that judge severe
 Of sins, considering what place in Hell
 Suits the transgression, with his tail so oft
 Himself encircles, as degrees beneath
 He dooms it to descend. Before him stand
 Always a numerous throng; and in his turn
 Each one to judgment passing, speaks, and hears
 His fate, thence downward to his dwelling hurl'd.
 "O thou! who to this residence of woe
 Approachest!" when he saw me coming, cried
 Minos, relinquishing his dread employ,
 "Look how thou enter here; beware in whom
 Thou place thy trust; let not the entrance broad
 Deceive thee to thy harm." To him my guide:
 "Wherefore exclaimest? Hinder not his way
 By destiny appointed; so 'tis will'd,
 Where will and power are one. Ask thou no more."
 Now 'gin the rueful wailings to be heard.
 Now am I come where many a plaining voice
 Smites on mine ear. Into a place I came
 Where light was silent all. Bellowing there groan'd
 A noise, as of a sea in tempest torn
 By warring winds. The stormy blast of Hell
 With restless fury drives the spirits on,
 Whirl'd round and dash'd amain with sore annoy.
 When they arrive before the ruinous sweep,
 There shrieks are heard, there lamentations, moans,
 And blasphemies 'gainst the good Power in Heaven.
 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. As cranes,
 Chanting their dolorous notes, traverse the sky,
 Stretch'd out in long array; so I beheld
 Spirits, who came loud wailing, hurried on
 By their dire doom. Then I: "Instructor! who
 Are these, by the black air so scourged?" "The first
 'Mong those, of whom thou question'st," he replied,
 "O'er many tongues was empress. She in vice
 Of luxury was so shameless, that she made
 Liking be lawful by promulged decree,
 To clear the blame she had herself incurr'd.
 This is Semiramis, of whom 'tis writ,
 That she succeeded Ninus her espoused;
 And held the land, which now the Soldan rules.
 The next in amorous fury slew herself,
 And to Sichaeus' ashes broke her faith:
 Then follows Cleopatra, lustful queen."
 There mark'd I Helen, for whose sake so long
 The time was fraught with evil; there the great
 Achilles, who with love fought to the end.
 Paris I saw, and Tristan; and beside,
 A thousand more he show'd me, and by name
 Pointed them out, whom love bereaved of life.
 When I had heard my sage instructor name
 Those dames and knights of antique days, o'erpower'd
 By pity, well - nigh in amaze my mind
 Was lost; and I began: "Bard! willingly
 I would address those two together coming,
 Which seem so light before the wind." He thus:
 "Note thou, when nearer they to us approach.
 Then by that love which carries them along,
 Entreat; and they will come." Soon as the wind
 Sway'd them towards us, I thus framed my speech:
 "O wearied spirits! come, and hold discourse
 With us, if by none else restrain'd. As doves
 By fond desire invited, on wide wings
 And firm, to their sweet nest returning home,
 Cleave the air, wafted by their will along;
 Thus issued, from that troop where Dido ranks,
 They, through the ill air speeding: with such force
 My cry prevail'd, by strong affection urged.
 "O gracious creature and benign! who go'st
 Visiting, through this element obscure,
 Us, who the world with bloody stain imbrued;
 If, for a friend, the King of all, we own'd,
 Our prayer to him should for thy peace arise,
 Since thou hast pity on our evil plight.
 Of whatsoe'er to hear or to discourse
 It pleases thee, that will we hear, of that
 Freely with thee discourse, while e'er the wind,
 As now, is mute. The land,[1] that gave me birth,
 Is situate on the coast, where Po descends
 To rest in ocean with his sequent streams.
 [1: "The land." Ravenna.]
 "Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt,
 Entangled him by that fair form, from me
 Ta'en in such cruel sort, as grieves me still:
 Love, that denial takes from none beloved,
 Caught me with pleasing him so passing well,
 That, as thou seest, he yet deserts me not.
 Love brought us to one death: Caina[2] waits
 The soul, who spilt our life." Such were their words;
 At hearing which, downward I bent my looks,
 And held them there so long, that the bard cried:
 "What art thou pondering?" I in answer thus:
 "Alas! by what sweet thoughts, what fond desire
 Must they at length to that ill pass have reach'd!"
 Then turning, I to them my speech address'd,
 [2: "Caina." The place to which murderers are doomed.]
 And thus began: "Francesca![3] your sad fate
 Even to tears my grief and pity moves.
 But tell me; in the time of your sweet sighs,
 By what, and how Love granted, that ye knew
 Your yet uncertain wishes?" She replied:
 "No greater grief than to remember days
 Of joy, when misery is at hand. That kens
 Thy learn'd instructor. Yet so eagerly
 If thou art bent to know the primal root,
 From whence our love gat being, I will do
 As one, who weeps and tells his tale. One day,
 For our delight we read of Lancelot,[4]
 How him love thrall'd. Alone we were, and no
 Suspicion near us. Oft - times by that reading
 Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue
 Fled from our alter'd cheek. But at one point
 Alone we fell. When of that smile we read,
 The wished smile so raptorously kiss'd
 By one so deep in love, then he, who ne'er
 From me shall separate, at once my lips
 All trembling kiss'd. The book and writer both
 Were love's purveyors. In its leaves that day
 We read no more." While thus one spirit spake,
 The other wail'd so sorely, that heart - struck
 I, through compassion fainting, seem'd not far
 From death, and like a corse fell to the ground.
 [3: "Francesca." Francesca, the daughter of Guido da Polenta, Lord of
 Ravenna, was given by her father in marriage to Gianciotto, son of Malatesta,
 Lord of Rimini, a man of extraordinary courage, but deformed in his person.
 His brother Paolo, who unhappily possessed those graces which the husband of
 Francesca wanted, engaged her affections; and being taken in adultery, they
 were both put to death by the enraged Gianciotto.]
 [4: "Lancelot." One of the Knights of the Round Table, and the lover
 of Ginevra, or Guinever, celebrated in romance. The incident alluded to seems
 to have made a strong impression on the imagination of Dante, who introduces
 it again, in the Paradise, Canto xvi.]