Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DIVINA COMMEDIA: INFERNO. UGOLINO, by DANTE ALIGHIERI

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

DIVINA COMMEDIA: INFERNO. UGOLINO, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Now had the loophole of that dungeon, still
Last Line: Famine of grief can get the mastery.
Alternate Author Name(s): Dante; Alighieri, Dante

NOW had the loophole of that dungeon, still
Which bears the name of Famine's Tower from me,
And where 't is fit that many another will

Be doomed to linger in captivity,
Shown through its narrow opening in my cell
Moon after moon slow waning, when a sleep,

That of the future burst the veil, in dream
Visited me. It was a slumber deep
And evil; for I saw, or I did seem

To see that tyrant Lord his revels keep,
The leader of the cruel hunt to them,
Chasing the wolf and wolf-cubs up the steep

Ascent, that from the Pisan is the screen
Of Lucca; with him Gualandi came,
Sismondi, and Lanfranchi, bloodhounds lean,

Trained to the sport and eager for the game,
Wide ranging in his front; but soon were seen,
Though by so short a course, with spirits tame,

The father and his whelps to flag at once,
And then the sharp fangs gored their bosoms deep.
Ere morn I roused myself, and heard my sons,

For they were with me, moaning in their sleep,
And begging bread. Ah for those darling ones!
Right cruel art thou, if thou dost not weep

In thinking of my soul's sad augury;
And if thou weepest not now, weep never more!
They were already waked, as wont drew nigh

The allotted hour for food, and in that hour
Each drew a presage from his dream. When I
Heard locked beneath me of that horrible tower

The outlet; then into their eyes alone
I looked to read myself, without a sign
Or word. I wept not -- turned within to stone.

They wept aloud, and little Anselm mine,
Said, -- 't was my youngest, dearest little one, --
'What ails thee, father! why look so at thine?'

In all that day, and all the following night,
I wept not, nor replied; but when to shine
Upon the world, not us, came forth the light

Of the new sun, and thwart my prison thrown
Gleamed through its narrow chink, a doleful sight,
Three faces, each the reflex of my own,

Were imaged by its faint and ghastly ray,
Then I, of either hand unto the bone,
Gnawed, in my agony; and thinking they

'T was done from hunger pangs, in their excess,
All of a sudden raise themselves, and say,
'Father! our woes, so great, were yet the less

Would you but eat of us, -- 't was you who clad
Our bodies in these weeds of wretchedness,
Despoil them.' Not to make their hearts more sad,

I hushed myself. That day is at its close, --
Another -- still we were all mute. Oh, had
The obdurate earth opened to end our woes!

The fourth day dawned, and when the new sun shone,
Outstretched himself before me as it rose
My Gaddo, saying, 'Help, father! has thou none

'For thine own child -- is there no help from thee?'
He died -- there at my feet -- and one by one,
I saw them fall, plainly as you see me.

Between the fifth and sixth day, ere't was dawn,
I found myself blind-groping o'er the three.
Three days I called them after they were gone.

Famine of grief can get the mastery.

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