Along the sides and on its floor, the garish rock punched with portholes,
Accurately, or basins, pockets, niches,
(Baptismal basins, very like those in San Giovanni, I remember,
A few years ago, someone, no names, got drunk,
And may have decided to have a paddle in one of them, his decision,
I had to break it, otherwise he would have drowned.
So that’s how it happened – if you were wondering –
Just to set the faulty human record straight.)
A sinner dropped into each hole, head first, and only the feet and ankles visible,
Both soles of every sinner were on fire;
They wriggled well enough, they kicked a jig,
How they danced, and they shoot horses,
Couldn’t have been tied with anything less with steel,
To keep them in place.
—That one – there – the flame’s largest, he’s got to be the most punished,
Let’s go and find him.
And we went down to the next valley – this, the Simoniacs.
Virgil, steadying me as we went down into the fourth embankment,
We turned to the left.
Hallo there, how y’ doing in there?
A muffled screech. Just a yes or no, would be good to start with, if you can.
Confess how you got it wrong, could you…?
And do you know any better now?
No long elaborate confessions, no need to delay the execution…
—Is that you already, Boniface?
Crept in as a small fuzzy voice, echoed,
—Because if it is, history’s been lying to me, by several years.
Is the Divine Plan of Events lying? Let’s ask the audience…
—Or are you bored with the trappings?
Are you so swiftly sated with those profits
For which you did not fear to take by guile
When you curried favour with Naples
And wrecked, outraged, the virtuous Church.