What is the 7th Shelf?

The 7th Shelf is the Wood of the Suicides in Dante’s Inferno.

The Poet began again: “That this man may
with all his heart do for you what your words
entreat him to, imprisoned spirit, I pray,

tell us how the soul is bound and bent
into these knots, and whether any ever
frees itself from such imprisonment.”

At that the trunk blew powerfully, and then
the wind became a voice that spoke these words:
”Briefly is the answer given: when

out of the flesh from which it tore itself,
the violent spirit comes to punishment,
Minos assigns it to the seventh shelf.

It falls into the wood, and landing there,
wherever fortune flings it, it strikes root,
and there it sprouts, lusty as any tare,

Shoots up a sapling, and becomes a tree.
The Harpies, feeding on its leaves then, give it
pain and pain’s outlet simultaneously.

Like the rest, we shall go for our husks on Judgment Day,
but not that we may wear them, for it is not just
that a man be given what he throws away.

Here shall we drag them and in this mournful glade
our bodies will dangle to the end of time,
each on the thorns of its tormented shade.”

The Inferno - Dante Alighieri, translated by John Ciardi