Dante, Inferno Canto 22 (2nd part)

Other signs became clear as we went,
Frog eyes peeping above the surface, as much as they dare,
A flash and gone when Barbariccia thudded the bank.

Like sticklebacks in the ponds,
Like flies, grabbed at, darting away,

Except for one, dilatory, mosquito stupid,
There’s always one left, who didn’t move fast enough when the time came,
And Graffiacane, closest, hooked him by his matted hair and hauled him in.
Sleeked by the pitch to a wriggling otter,
Dumped to the bank,

By now I knew the names of all those demons –
I’d paid attention when the fiends were chosen,
I’d watched as they stepped forward one by one.
They formed a circle round him, their catch,
Ten cats on a mouse,
Fun with sinners.

—Rubicante, dig your talons right into him!
Scalp him and flay him, go on!

Hopping fervour in hullabaloo
Ripping away pieces,
And the voyeur I had to be – still cataloguing, I:

—I think we should find out,
If there’s an opportunity to save… the victim… you know…

While he lay groaning, waiting the next assault
My guide bent down, who are you, where are you from, et cetera,

—Navarrese… The kingdom of Navarre…
My mother, who had me by a profligate, a wastrel,
Who ran though his whole inheritance,
Then ran through himself.
She placed me in the service of a lord.

He can’t seem to bring himself to supply a name, any names,

—From there, I rose to the personal service of good King Thibault,
There I started taking the bribes, I confess it,
I understand my punishment, yes,
I know why I’m here,

With boar tusks, perfect for the purpose, Ciriatto gored him in the side
How does that feel?
Stand clear, here comes the trident again,
Oh yes, that’s got to hurt,
The mouse ringed by the cat circus.

Barbariccia, arms across the eager, cautioned them hold:

—Wait, I’m in charge here,
Wait I say, he’s my prisoner.

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