Cerberus

Cerberus by Sam Flegal

In the third circle am I of the rain

Eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy;

Its law and quality are never new.

Huge hail, and water sombre-hued, and snow,

Athwart the tenebrous air pour down amain;

Noisome the earth is, that receiveth this.

Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth,

With his three gullets like a dog is barking

Over the people that are there submerged.

Red eyes he has, and unctuous beard and black,

And belly large, and armed with claws his hands;

He rends the spirits, flays, and quarters them.

Howl the rain maketh them like unto dogs;

One side they make a shelter for the other;

Oft turn themselves the wretched reprobates.

When Cerberus perceived us, the great worm!

His mouths he opened, and displayed his tusks;

Not a limb had he that was motionless.

And my Conductor, with his spans extended,

Took of the earth, and with his fists well filled,

He threw it into those rapacious gullets.

Such as that dog is, who by barking craves,

And quiet grows soon as his food he gnaws,

For to devour it he but thinks and struggles,

The like became those muzzles filth-begrimed

Of Cerberus the demon, who so thunders

Over the souls that they would fain be deaf

-from Dante’s Inferno

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