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
"If I but thought that my response were made
to one perhaps returning to the world,
this tongue of flame would cease to flicker.
But since, up from these depths, no one has yet
returned alive, if what I hear is true,
I answer without fear of being shamed."
The epigraph within the poem is an excerpt from Dante Alighieri's Inferno. The fact that Eliot neglected to translate the excerpt leads one to assume his obsession with Dante's work. In fact, bits and pieces of Dante's work are found throughout Eliot's poems. Eliot's choice of including this piece within his poem can lead one to conclude that the relation between the two pieces of work may share a common theme or moral. It signifies to the reader to be aware of the potential similarities between the characters within these poems.