“Counsel he asked of me, and I was silent,…
And then he said: ‘Be not thy heart afraid;
Henceforth I thee absolve, and thou instruct me
How to raze Palestrina to the ground.
Heaven have I power to lock and to unlock….’
And said I: ‘Father, since thou washest me
Of that sin into which I now must fall,
The promise long with the fulfillment short
Will make thee triumph in thy lofty seat.’”
While I was all absorbed in seeing him,
He looked at me, and opened with his hands
His bosom, saying: “See now how I rend me;…
And all the others whom thou here beholdest,
Sowers of scandal and of schism have been
While living, and are therefore cleft asunder.”
But I remained to look upon the crowd;
And saw a thing which I should be afraid,
Without some further proof, even to recount,
If it were not that conscience reassures me, . . .
I truly saw, and still I seem to see it,
A trunk without a head walk in like manner
As walked the others of the mournful herd.
And by the hair it held the head dissevered,
Hung from the hand in fashion of a lantern…
[E]very one was plying fast the bite
Of nails upon himself, for the great rage
Of itching which no other succor had.
And the nails downward with them dragged the scab,
In fashion as a knife the scales of bream,
Or any other fish that has them largest.
“I of Arezzo was,” one made reply;
“And albert of Siena had me burned.
But what I died for does not bring me here….
But unto the last Bolgia of the ten,
For alchemy, which in the world I practiced,
Minos, who cannot err, has me condemned.”