Longfellow's Readers

HWL. The Inferno.  Autograph manuscript, 1862-1866.


Longfellow Papers MS Am 1340 (111). Houghton Library.

Longfellow's translation of Canto V, with the beginning of Francesca's speech:  "Sitteth the city, wherein I was born, / Upon the sea-shore where the Po descends / To be at peace with all its followers." The passage illustrates Longfellow's desire to create an English version of Dante that would wherever possible remind his readers of the Italian original without slavishly imitating it. Note his use of the old-fashioned "Sitteth" rather than the more colloquial "Sits," which helps him retain precisely the effect created by the Italian "Siede."