TALKING DANTE EPISODE 21 – This is the second part of the first section. Dante tries to climb a hill, but meets three wild beasts, which effectively block his way.
Rest (riposarsi, fermarsi) is a verb that means relax or stop doing something so that you can try to recover strength (recuperare le forze).
Weary (sfinito, esausto) is an adjective that means very, very tired. Being weary means because I was weary. In English the –ing form of the verb can very often indicate reason: ‘Wanting to speak to him, I made an appointment’ could mean Because I wanted to speak to him … In the same way, being weak means because I was weak …
In this case when is a preposition. In English, if a verb directly follows (segue) a preposition the verb takes the –ing form. Coil (here andare a spirale) is a verb that means move in concentric loops (anelli) or in a spiral direction. Dante says that as he climbed the hill ‘’l piè fermo (his left foot) sempre era ’l più basso’. There has been a lot of discussion about what that means, but it’s quite simple really: if he had turned (se avesse girato a) left at the bottom of the hill and climbed (e se si fosse arrampicato) in a spiral direction, his left foot would have been (sarebbe stato) lower (più basso) than his right foot!
Steer (girare, sterzare) is a verb that means guide a vessel or a vehicle (in this case himself) in a specified direction (in this case to the left). The steering wheel (volante) of a car is the instrument you use to guide the car in the direction you want it to go (left, right or straight on).
Abruptly (all’improvviso, bruscamente) is an adverb that means very suddenly.
Like a shot (come un razzo, senza esitazione) is an expression that means very quickly or without hesitation. Another similar expression that you can find in English is like a bat out of hell (literally, come un pipistrello dall’inferno – very quickly).
So to speak (per così dire) is an expression you use to draw attention (attirare l’attenzione) to the fact that you are describing or referring to something in a way that may be (potrebbe essere) amusing (divertente) or unusual (insolito) rather than (anziché) strictly accurate (strettamente preciso). Other similar expressions are in a manner of speaking, as it were or that is to say.