Dante (trans. H. F. Cary)

Canto xxvi. 90-149

[Virgil has taken Dante to a section of Hell where the damned are surrounded by flames.  He questions one of them, who turns out to be Ulysses.]

     When there the flame had come, where time and place
Seem'd fitting to my guide, he thus began:
"O ye, who dwell two spirits in one fire!
If living I of you did merit aught,
Whate'er the measure were of that desert,
When in the world my lofty strain I pour'd,
Move ye not on, till one of you unfold
In what clime death o'ertook him self-destroy'd."

     Of the old flame forthwith the greater horn
Began to roll, murmuring, as a fire                                100
That labours with the wind, then to and fro
Wagging the top, as a tongue uttering sounds,
Threw out its voice, and spake:  "When I escap'd
From Circe, who beyond a circling year
Had held me near Caieta, by her charms,
Ere thus Aeneas yet had nam'd the shore,
Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence
Of my old father, nor return of love,
That should have crown'd Penelope with joy,
Could overcome in me the zeal I had                                110
T' explore the world, and search the ways of life,
Man's evil and his virtue.  Forth I sail'd
Into the deep illimitable main,
With but one bark, and the small faithful band
That yet cleav'd to me.  As Iberia far,
Far as Morocco either shore I saw,
And the Sardinian and each isle beside
Which round that ocean bathes.  Tardy with age
Were I and my companions, when we came
To the strait pass, where Hercules ordain'd                        120
The bound'ries not to be o'erstepp'd by man.
The walls of Seville to my right I left,
On the' other hand already Ceuta past.
"O brothers!"  I began, "who to the west
Through perils without number now have reach'd,
To this the short remaining watch, that yet
Our senses have to wake, refuse not proof
Of the unpeopled world, following the track
Of Phoebus. Call to mind from whence we sprang:
Ye were not form'd to live the life of brutes                            130
But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.
With these few words I sharpen'd for the voyage
The mind of my associates, that I then
Could scarcely have withheld them.  To the dawn
Our poop we turn'd, and for the witless flight
Made our oars wings, still gaining on the left.
Each star of the' other pole night now beheld,
And ours so low, that from the ocean-floor
It rose not.  Five times re-illum'd, as oft
Vanish'd the light from underneath the moon                        140
Since the deep way we enter'd, when from far
Appear'd a mountain dim, loftiest methought
Of all I e'er beheld.  Joy seiz'd us straight,
But soon to mourning changed.  From the new land
A whirlwind sprung, and at her foremost side
Did strike the vessel.  Thrice it whirl'd her round
With all the waves, the fourth time lifted up
The poop, and sank the prow: so fate decreed:
And over us the booming billow clos'd."                                149