My guide led me gravely
down dark smoky byways,

The fire-lit chambers
and sulphurous highways
That wound through the plateaus
where fallen souls dwell;

The echoing agonized
precincts of Hell.

And just when I thought
it was all I could bear
And yearned for one breath
of unsullied air,
I noticed one region
apart from the rest
Where the torments just glimpsed
put my soul to the test.

“Pray tell me,” I begged him,
“Who could be so cursed?
For of all of the damned
these are surely the worst!”

He followed my glance,
then blanched, turned away,
For a time as I followed
no further would say.

Then:  “Those monsters,” he muttered,
avoiding my looks,
“Wrote in the margins of library books.”