Dante, Inferno Canto 24 (1st part)

The Seventh Bolgia: Thieves. Vanni Fucci. Serpents.

Virgil troubled, which is hardly unusual.
Trouble is, he’s usually right.

In the year’s early part, that adolescent part, precarious part,
When the feeble sun reaches Aquarius and begins to unlock water,
But so slowly – and the days battling to gain against the nights,
So feeble their progress, there’s a doubt of Spring at all,
With fodder beginning to exhaust, yields down again last fall,
Subsidies hardly worth filling out the forms for,
Market prices rock bottom,
If we don’t get something moving, some barley in there soon…
The farmer looks across the fields all white, turns back to the house,
And over coffee, says,
Never known it so bad,
Yanks his seed cap, agribusiness free gift, to furious grump,
I thought the snow was gone from the top field?
Ground’s as solid as a lump of coal,
But a couple of hours later, he’s gone out again and gathered up new hope from somewhere.
On seeing that the world has changed its face
There’s work to be done,
Has fired up the tractor, getting down to sowing, drilling, concreting, spraying,
whatever it is these country types do,

Like the farmer, Virgil can go from winter to spring in a moment,
If the going’s good.
His mood eased as soon as we were on the broken bridge.
And mine too, connected in marriage,
When he gave me that the look of quiet determination
Seen at the foot of the mountain, at the beginning of our journey.

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