Dante’s Inferno Canto I Translated by Seamus Heaney

In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself astray in a dark wood
where the straight road had been lost sight of.

How hard it is to say what it was like
in the thick of thickets, in a wood so dense
and gnarled the very thought of it renews my panic.

It is bitter almost as death itself is bitter.
But to rehearse the good it also brought me
I will speak about the other things I saw there

How I got into it I cannot clearly say
for I was moving like a sleepwalker
the moment I stepped out of the right way,

But when I came to the bottom of a hill
standing off at the far end of that valley
where a great terror had disheartened me

I looked up, and saw how its shoulders glowed
already in the rays of the planet
which leads and keeps men straight on every road.

Then I sensed a quiet influence settling
into those depths in me that had been rocked
and pitifully troubled all night long

And as a survivor gasping on the sand
turns his head back to study in a daze
the dangerous combers, so my mind

Turned back, although it was reeling forward,
back to inspect a pass that had proved fatal
heretofore to everyone who entered.

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