Dante, Inferno Canto 27 (4th part)

‘Just get me old man Colonna,’ he said to me.
‘Do I need to remind you,’ with a wave towards the tapestries
The keys, gold and silver, courtesy of Peter, the power to unlock Heaven,
‘Celestine, that idiot hermit, may not have known how to use them,
Rest very assured, I do.’

Did I have a choice? Not really, there was threat behind him,
At that point, the worse course seemed silence.

So I said: ‘Father, since you cleanse me
of the sin that I must even now commit…’
I paused… the unwilling capo,
‘Promise much, deliver little, would be my advice’.
There’s irony. Me, a soldier, reminding a politician.

‘We can start by offering the Colonnas safety,
That safety, well… it might expire at some point…’
Those mad words, made in me by a mad tyrant’s atmosphere

I lived out my days a Franciscan, in the monastery at Assisi,
And as the veil came down, I thought I heard the saintly Francis himself coming for me,
But also a second pair of feet – one of the dark Cherubim,
To tap Francis on the shoulder and say: ‘No, one of ours, I think.’

‘I’ve had my eye on him for a while now,
You can’t repent a sin and resolve to commit at the same time,
You can’t be pardoned in advance,
Sorry, but no, that would create far too many paradoxes.’

And the Cherub, to me: You didn’t think we did logic, eh?
Was what he said. An icy shiver, as I was dragged before Minos.
Another sinner for the fire, false counsel came the verdict,
Eight coils of the tail, impetus and hurled,
And I went spinning down here,
And so you see me, I am damned,
Rest assured, I regret my actions.

Oldened, he too shuffled off, the weeping flame quit,
twisting and tossing its pointed horn.
Guido da Montefeltro, mixture of piety and sin.

We kept going, over the ridge and onto the arch across the next,
Next? The schismatics, those who took metaphorical knife, slashed with it,
And their punishment.

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