L’Inferno di Dante

Canto I

1–30

Translation Jordana del Feld

At the midway point

In the path of our lives,

I discovered myself inside an undiscovered forest

And the easy way had escaped me.

My thoughts created

A fearsome, black, and wild wood

That hurt me so deeply

My manifold words struggled in silence.

So much darkness and bitterness happened within me

That my story is more dead than alive,

But for the grace of the spark of life that guided me through it

I will share it with you.

You and I might laugh at me in retrospect,

Although at the time I could not laugh

For back then I was so unconscious,

I abandoned the true way.

But when I came to the kissing point,

Where a hill began

And where that valley

That had made my heart sore afraid ended,

I cast my gaze heavenward,

And to my eyes, it seemed that the naked shoulders of the hill

Were clothed in the brilliant rays of that heavenly body

That guides everyone back to the straight path.

And finally with unspeakable mercy,

I felt dawn come to the long dark night in my soul

And waves of fear

In the lake of my heart becalmed.

And like those who with suffocated stamina

Struggle undrowned out of the lake of their hearts

Staggering onto the shore

By the waves of peril

That was how my own fugitive soul paused

To dare to turn and look

With new eyes

On the one who never left one man alive.

The waves subsided and I lay quiet on the shore for a bit

And then I stood anew and claimed my way again

On that deserted beach

And ensured that every step was a sure one.

Originale

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

mi ritrovai per una selva oscura

ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura

esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte

che nel pensier rinova la paura!

Tant’è amara che poco è più morte;

ma per trattar del ben ch’i’ vi trovai,

dirò de l’altre cose ch’i’ v’ho scorte.

Io non so ben ridir com’i’ v’intrai,

tant’era pien di sonno a quel punto

che la verace via abbandonai.

Ma poi ch’i’ fui al piè d’un colle giunto,

là dove terminava quella valle

che m’avea di paura il cor compunto,

Guardai in alto, e vidi le sue spalle

vestite già de’ raggi del pianeta

che mena dritto altrui per ogne calle.

Allor fu la paura un poco queta

che nel lago del cor m’era durata

la notte ch’i’ passai con tanta pieta.

E come quei che con lena affannata

uscito fuor del pelago a la riva

si volge a l’acqua perigliosa e guata,

Così l’animo mio, ch’ancor fuggiva,

si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo

che non lasciò già mai persona viva.

Poi ch’èi posato un poco il corpo lasso,

ripresi via per la piaggia diserta,

sì che ‘l piè fermo sempre era ‘l più basso.

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