As I inclined my head still more, I saw
that each, amazingly, appeared contorted
between the chin and where the chest begins;
they had their faces twisted towards their haunches
and found it necessary to walk backward,
because they could not see ahead of them. (Inf. XX, 10-15)
…so, not by fire but by the art of God,
below there boiled a thick and tarry mass
that covered all the banks with clamminess.
I saw it, but I could not see within it;
no thing was visible but boiling bubbles,
the swelling of the pitch; and then it settled…
And then in back of us I saw a black
demon as he came racing up the crags.
Ah, he was surely barbarous to see!
And how relentless seemed to me his acts!
His wings were open and his feet were lithe;
he had slung a sinner, upward from the thighs;
in front, the demon gripped him by the ankles…
He threw the sinner down, then wheeled along
the stony cliff: no mastiff’s ever been
unleashed with so much haste to chase a thief.
The sinner plunged, then surfaced, black with pitch;
but now the demons, from beneath the bridge,
shouted: "The Sacred Face has no place here;
here we swim differently than in the Serchio;
if you don’t want to feel our grappling hooks,
don’t try to lift yourself above that ditch." (Inf. XXI, 16-51)
Below that point we found a painted people,
who moved about with lagging steps, in circles,
weeping, with features tired and defeated.
And they were dressed in cloaks with cowls so low
they fell before their eyes, of that same cut
that’s used to make the clothes for Cluny’s monks
Outside, these cloaks were gilded and they dazzled;
but inside they were all of lead, so heavy
that Frederick’s capes were straw compared to them.
A tiring mantle for eternity! (Inf. XXIII, 58-67)