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Inferno, canto III, lines 1-9





I AM THE WAY INTO THE CITY OF WOE.
I AM THE WAY TO A FORSAKEN PEOPLE.
I AM THE WAY INTO ETERNAL SORROW.

SACRED JUSTICE MOVED MY ARCHITECT.
I WAS RAISED HERE BY DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE,
PRIMORDIAL LOVE AND ULTIMATE INTELLECT.

ONLY THOSE ELEMENTS TIME CANNOT WEAR
WERE MADE BEFORE ME, AND BEYOND TIME I STAND.
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE.



From Dante's Inferno, translated by John Ciardi, 1954.



And another version of the same passage...





T hrough me the way is to the city dolent;
Through me the way is to eternal dole;
Through me the way among the people lost.

Justice incited my sublime Creator;
Created me divine Omnipotence,
The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

Before me there were no created things,
Only eterne, and I eternal last.
All hope abandon, ye who enter in!



From Dante's Inferno, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1877.



These selections illustrate how two poets, seperated by a century, approach the translation of the same passage. I suspect that Longfellow's translation took fewer liberties, and I like it's old world feel.

The last line has been appropriated (and often misquoted) as one of the great cliches.