The poem begins with a quotation from Dante's Inferno (XXVII, 61-66), which reads:
S`io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,

Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.


Which translates as:

If I believed that my answer would be
To someone who would ever return to earth,

This flame would move no more,

But because no one from this gulf
Has ever returned alive,
if what I hear is true,

I can reply with no fear of infamy.

(from Wikipedia article on this poem)

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