Part 2 out of 4
Weeping did seem to say, "I can no more!"
Purgatorio: Canto XI
"Our Father, thou who dwellest in the heavens,
Not circumscribed, but from the greater love
Thou bearest to the first effects on high,
Praised be thy name and thine omnipotence
By every creature, as befitting is
To render thanks to thy sweet effluence.
Come unto us the peace of thy dominion,
For unto it we cannot of ourselves,
If it come not, with all our intellect.
Even as thine own Angels of their will
Make sacrifice to thee, Hosanna singing,
So may all men make sacrifice of theirs.
Give unto us this day our daily manna,
Withouten which in this rough wilderness
Backward goes he who toils most to advance.
And even as we the trespass we have suffered
Pardon in one another, pardon thou
Benignly, and regard not our desert.
Our virtue, which is easily o'ercome,
Put not to proof with the old Adversary,
But thou from him who spurs it so, deliver.
This last petition verily, dear Lord,
Not for ourselves is made, who need it not,
But for their sake who have remained behind us."
Thus for themselves and us good furtherance
Those shades imploring, went beneath a weight
Like unto that of which we sometimes dream,
Unequally in anguish round and round
And weary all, upon that foremost cornice,
Purging away the smoke-stains of the world.
If there good words are always said for us,
What may not here be said and done for them,
By those who have a good root to their will?
Well may we help them wash away the marks
That hence they carried, so that clean and light
They may ascend unto the starry wheels!
"Ah! so may pity and justice you disburden
Soon, that ye may have power to move the wing,
That shall uplift you after your desire,
Show us on which hand tow'rd the stairs the way
Is shortest, and if more than one the passes,
Point us out that which least abruptly falls;
For he who cometh with me, through the burden
Of Adam's flesh wherewith he is invested,
Against his will is chary of his climbing."
The words of theirs which they returned to those
That he whom I was following had spoken,
It was not manifest from whom they came,
But it was said: "To the right hand come with us
Along the bank, and ye shall find a pass
Possible for living person to ascend.
And were I not impeded by the stone,
Which this proud neck of mine doth subjugate,
Whence I am forced to hold my visage down,
Him, who still lives and does not name himself,
Would I regard, to see if I may know him
And make him piteous unto this burden.
A Latian was I, and born of a great Tuscan;
Guglielmo Aldobrandeschi was my father;
I know not if his name were ever with you.
The ancient blood and deeds of gallantry
Of my progenitors so arrogant made me
That, thinking not upon the common mother,
All men I held in scorn to such extent
I died therefor, as know the Sienese,
And every child in Campagnatico.
I am Omberto; and not to me alone
Has pride done harm, but all my kith and kin
Has with it dragged into adversity.
And here must I this burden bear for it
Till God be satisfied, since I did not
Among the living, here among the dead."
Listening I downward bent my countenance;
And one of them, not this one who was speaking,
Twisted himself beneath the weight that cramps him,
And looked at me, and knew me, and called out,
Keeping his eyes laboriously fixed
On me, who all bowed down was going with them.
"O," asked I him, "art thou not Oderisi,
Agobbio's honour, and honour of that art
Which is in Paris called illuminating?"
"Brother," said he, "more laughing are the leaves
Touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese;
All his the honour now, and mine in part.
In sooth I had not been so courteous
While I was living, for the great desire
Of excellence, on which my heart was bent.
Here of such pride is paid the forfeiture;
And yet I should not be here, were it not
That, having power to sin, I turned to God.
O thou vain glory of the human powers,
How little green upon thy summit lingers,
If't be not followed by an age of grossness!
In painting Cimabue thought that he
Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry,
So that the other's fame is growing dim.
So has one Guido from the other taken
The glory of our tongue, and he perchance
Is born, who from the nest shall chase them both.
Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath
Of wind, that comes now this way and now that,
And changes name, because it changes side.
What fame shalt thou have more, if old peel off
From thee thy flesh, than if thou hadst been dead
Before thou left the 'pappo' and the 'dindi,'
Ere pass a thousand years? which is a shorter
Space to the eterne, than twinkling of an eye
Unto the circle that in heaven wheels slowest.
With him, who takes so little of the road
In front of me, all Tuscany resounded;
And now he scarce is lisped of in Siena,
Where he was lord, what time was overthrown
The Florentine delirium, that superb
Was at that day as now 'tis prostitute.
Your reputation is the colour of grass
Which comes and goes, and that discolours it
By which it issues green from out the earth."
And I: "Thy true speech fills my heart with good
Humility, and great tumour thou assuagest;
But who is he, of whom just now thou spakest?"
"That," he replied, "is Provenzan Salvani,
And he is here because he had presumed
To bring Siena all into his hands.
He has gone thus, and goeth without rest
E'er since he died; such money renders back
In payment he who is on earth too daring."
And I: "If every spirit who awaits
The verge of life before that he repent,
Remains below there and ascends not hither,
(Unless good orison shall him bestead,)
Until as much time as he lived be passed,
How was the coming granted him in largess?"
"When he in greatest splendour lived," said he,
"Freely upon the Campo of Siena,
All shame being laid aside, he placed himself;
And there to draw his friend from the duress
Which in the prison-house of Charles he suffered,
He brought himself to tremble in each vein.
I say no more, and know that I speak darkly;
Yet little time shall pass before thy neighbours
Will so demean themselves that thou canst gloss it.
This action has released him from those confines."
Purgatorio: Canto XII
Abreast, like oxen going in a yoke,
I with that heavy-laden soul went on,
As long as the sweet pedagogue permitted;
But when he said, "Leave him, and onward pass,
For here 'tis good that with the sail and oars,
As much as may be, each push on his barque;"
Upright, as walking wills it, I redressed
My person, notwithstanding that my thoughts
Remained within me downcast and abashed.
I had moved on, and followed willingly
The footsteps of my Master, and we both
Already showed how light of foot we were,
When unto me he said: "Cast down thine eyes;
'Twere well for thee, to alleviate the way,
To look upon the bed beneath thy feet."
As, that some memory may exist of them,
Above the buried dead their tombs in earth
Bear sculptured on them what they were before;
Whence often there we weep for them afresh,
From pricking of remembrance, which alone
To the compassionate doth set its spur;
So saw I there, but of a better semblance
In point of artifice, with figures covered
Whate'er as pathway from the mount projects.
I saw that one who was created noble
More than all other creatures, down from heaven
Flaming with lightnings fall upon one side.
I saw Briareus smitten by the dart
Celestial, lying on the other side,
Heavy upon the earth by mortal frost.
I saw Thymbraeus, Pallas saw, and Mars,
Still clad in armour round about their father,
Gaze at the scattered members of the giants.
I saw, at foot of his great labour, Nimrod,
As if bewildered, looking at the people
Who had been proud with him in Sennaar.
O Niobe! with what afflicted eyes
Thee I beheld upon the pathway traced,
Between thy seven and seven children slain!
O Saul! how fallen upon thy proper sword
Didst thou appear there lifeless in Gilboa,
That felt thereafter neither rain nor dew!
O mad Arachne! so I thee beheld
E'en then half spider, sad upon the shreds
Of fabric wrought in evil hour for thee!
O Rehoboam! no more seems to threaten
Thine image there; but full of consternation
A chariot bears it off, when none pursues!
Displayed moreo'er the adamantine pavement
How unto his own mother made Alcmaeon
Costly appear the luckless ornament;
Displayed how his own sons did throw themselves
Upon Sennacherib within the temple,
And how, he being dead, they left him there;
Displayed the ruin and the cruel carnage
That Tomyris wrought, when she to Cyrus said,
"Blood didst thou thirst for, and with blood I glut thee!"
Displayed how routed fled the Assyrians
After that Holofernes had been slain,
And likewise the remainder of that slaughter.
I saw there Troy in ashes and in caverns;
O Ilion! thee, how abject and debased,
Displayed the image that is there discerned!
Whoe'er of pencil master was or stile,
That could portray the shades and traits which there
Would cause each subtile genius to admire?
Dead seemed the dead, the living seemed alive;
Better than I saw not who saw the truth,
All that I trod upon while bowed I went.
Now wax ye proud, and on with looks uplifted,
Ye sons of Eve, and bow not down your faces
So that ye may behold your evil ways!
More of the mount by us was now encompassed,
And far more spent the circuit of the sun,
Than had the mind preoccupied imagined,
When he, who ever watchful in advance
Was going on, began: "Lift up thy head,
'Tis no more time to go thus meditating.
Lo there an Angel who is making haste
To come towards us; lo, returning is
From service of the day the sixth handmaiden.
With reverence thine acts and looks adorn,
So that he may delight to speed us upward;
Think that this day will never dawn again."
I was familiar with his admonition
Ever to lose no time; so on this theme
He could not unto me speak covertly.
Towards us came the being beautiful
Vested in white, and in his countenance
Such as appears the tremulous morning star.
His arms he opened, and opened then his wings;
"Come," said he, "near at hand here are the steps,
And easy from henceforth is the ascent."
At this announcement few are they who come!
O human creatures, born to soar aloft,
Why fall ye thus before a little wind?
He led us on to where the rock was cleft;
There smote upon my forehead with his wings,
Then a safe passage promised unto me.
As on the right hand, to ascend the mount
Where seated is the church that lordeth it
O'er the well-guided, above Rubaconte,
The bold abruptness of the ascent is broken
By stairways that were made there in the age
When still were safe the ledger and the stave,
E'en thus attempered is the bank which falls
Sheer downward from the second circle there;
But on this, side and that the high rock graze.
As we were turning thitherward our persons,
"Beati pauperes spiritu," voices
Sang in such wise that speech could tell it not.
Ah me! how different are these entrances
From the Infernal! for with anthems here
One enters, and below with wild laments.
We now were hunting up the sacred stairs,
And it appeared to me by far more easy
Than on the plain it had appeared before.
Whence I: "My Master, say, what heavy thing
Has been uplifted from me, so that hardly
Aught of fatigue is felt by me in walking?"
He answered: "When the P's which have remained
Still on thy face almost obliterate
Shall wholly, as the first is, be erased,
Thy feet will be so vanquished by good will,
That not alone they shall not feel fatigue,
But urging up will be to them delight."
Then did I even as they do who are going
With something on the head to them unknown,
Unless the signs of others make them doubt,
Wherefore the hand to ascertain is helpful,
And seeks and finds, and doth fulfill the office
Which cannot be accomplished by the sight;
And with the fingers of the right hand spread
I found but six the letters, that had carved
Upon my temples he who bore the keys;
Upon beholding which my Leader smiled.
Purgatorio: Canto XIII
We were upon the summit of the stairs,
Where for the second time is cut away
The mountain, which ascending shriveth all.
There in like manner doth a cornice bind
The hill all round about, as does the first,
Save that its arc more suddenly is curved.
Shade is there none, nor sculpture that appears;
So seems the bank, and so the road seems smooth,
With but the livid colour of the stone.
"If to inquire we wait for people here,"
The Poet said, "I fear that peradventure
Too much delay will our election have."
Then steadfast on the sun his eyes he fixed,
Made his right side the centre of his motion,
And turned the left part of himself about.
"O thou sweet light! with trust in whom I enter
Upon this novel journey, do thou lead us,"
Said he, "as one within here should be led.
Thou warmest the world, thou shinest over it;
If other reason prompt not otherwise,
Thy rays should evermore our leaders be!"
As much as here is counted for a mile,
So much already there had we advanced
In little time, by dint of ready will;
And tow'rds us there were heard to fly, albeit
They were not visible, spirits uttering
Unto Love's table courteous invitations,
The first voice that passed onward in its flight,
"Vinum non habent," said in accents loud,
And went reiterating it behind us.
And ere it wholly grew inaudible
Because of distance, passed another, crying,
"I am Orestes!" and it also stayed not.
"O," said I, "Father, these, what voices are they?"
And even as I asked, behold the third,
Saying: "Love those from whom ye have had evil!"
And the good Master said: "This circle scourges
The sin of envy, and on that account
Are drawn from love the lashes of the scourge.
The bridle of another sound shall be;
I think that thou wilt hear it, as I judge,
Before thou comest to the Pass of Pardon.
But fix thine eyes athwart the air right steadfast,
And people thou wilt see before us sitting,
And each one close against the cliff is seated."
Then wider than at first mine eyes I opened;
I looked before me, and saw shades with mantles
Not from the colour of the stone diverse.
And when we were a little farther onward,
I heard a cry of, "Mary, pray for us!"
A cry of, "Michael, Peter, and all Saints!"
I do not think there walketh still on earth
A man so hard, that he would not be pierced
With pity at what afterward I saw.
For when I had approached so near to them
That manifest to me their acts became,
Drained was I at the eyes by heavy grief.
Covered with sackcloth vile they seemed to me,
And one sustained the other with his shoulder,
And all of them were by the bank sustained.
Thus do the blind, in want of livelihood,
Stand at the doors of churches asking alms,
And one upon another leans his head,
So that in others pity soon may rise,
Not only at the accent of their words,
But at their aspect, which no less implores.
And as unto the blind the sun comes not,
So to the shades, of whom just now I spake,
Heaven's light will not be bounteous of itself;
For all their lids an iron wire transpierces,
And sews them up, as to a sparhawk wild
Is done, because it will not quiet stay.
To me it seemed, in passing, to do outrage,
Seeing the others without being seen;
Wherefore I turned me to my counsel sage.
Well knew he what the mute one wished to say,
And therefore waited not for my demand,
But said: "Speak, and be brief, and to the point."
I had Virgilius upon that side
Of the embankment from which one may fall,
Since by no border 'tis engarlanded;
Upon the other side of me I had
The shades devout, who through the horrible seam
Pressed out the tears so that they bathed their cheeks.
To them I turned me, and, "O people, certain,"
Began I, "of beholding the high light,
Which your desire has solely in its care,
So may grace speedily dissolve the scum
Upon your consciences, that limpidly
Through them descend the river of the mind,
Tell me, for dear 'twill be to me and gracious,
If any soul among you here is Latian,
And 'twill perchance be good for him I learn it."
"O brother mine, each one is citizen
Of one true city; but thy meaning is,
Who may have lived in Italy a pilgrim."
By way of answer this I seemed to hear
A little farther on than where I stood,
Whereat I made myself still nearer heard.
Among the rest I saw a shade that waited
In aspect, and should any one ask how,
Its chin it lifted upward like a blind man.
"Spirit," I said, "who stoopest to ascend,
If thou art he who did reply to me,
Make thyself known to me by place or name."
"Sienese was I," it replied, "and with
The others here recleanse my guilty life,
Weeping to Him to lend himself to us.
Sapient I was not, although I Sapia
Was called, and I was at another's harm
More happy far than at my own good fortune.
And that thou mayst not think that I deceive thee,
Hear if I was as foolish as I tell thee.
The arc already of my years descending,
My fellow-citizens near unto Colle
Were joined in battle with their adversaries,
And I was praying God for what he willed.
Routed were they, and turned into the bitter
Passes of flight; and I, the chase beholding,
A joy received unequalled by all others;
So that I lifted upward my bold face
Crying to God, 'Henceforth I fear thee not,'
As did the blackbird at the little sunshine.
Peace I desired with God at the extreme
Of my existence, and as yet would not
My debt have been by penitence discharged,
Had it not been that in remembrance held me
Pier Pettignano in his holy prayers,
Who out of charity was grieved for me.
But who art thou, that into our conditions
Questioning goest, and hast thine eyes unbound
As I believe, and breathing dost discourse?"
"Mine eyes," I said, "will yet be here ta'en from me,
But for short space; for small is the offence
Committed by their being turned with envy.
Far greater is the fear, wherein suspended
My soul is, of the torment underneath,
For even now the load down there weighs on me."
And she to me: "Who led thee, then, among us
Up here, if to return below thou thinkest?"
And I: "He who is with me, and speaks not;
And living am I; therefore ask of me,
Spirit elect, if thou wouldst have me move
O'er yonder yet my mortal feet for thee."
"O, this is such a novel thing to hear,"
She answered, "that great sign it is God loves thee;
Therefore with prayer of thine sometimes assist me.
And I implore, by what thou most desirest,
If e'er thou treadest the soil of Tuscany,
Well with my kindred reinstate my fame.
Them wilt thou see among that people vain
Who hope in Talamone, and will lose there
More hope than in discovering the Diana;
But there still more the admirals will lose."
Purgatorio: Canto XIV
"Who is this one that goes about our mountain,
Or ever Death has given him power of flight,
And opes his eyes and shuts them at his will?"
"I know not who, but know he's not alone;
Ask him thyself, for thou art nearer to him,
And gently, so that he may speak, accost him."
Thus did two spirits, leaning tow'rds each other,
Discourse about me there on the right hand;
Then held supine their faces to address me.
And said the one: "O soul, that, fastened still
Within the body, tow'rds the heaven art going,
For charity console us, and declare
Whence comest and who art thou; for thou mak'st us
As much to marvel at this grace of thine
As must a thing that never yet has been."
And I: "Through midst of Tuscany there wanders
A streamlet that is born in Falterona,
And not a hundred miles of course suffice it;
From thereupon do I this body bring.
To tell you who I am were speech in vain,
Because my name as yet makes no great noise."
"If well thy meaning I can penetrate
With intellect of mine," then answered me
He who first spake, "thou speakest of the Arno."
And said the other to him: "Why concealed
This one the appellation of that river,
Even as a man doth of things horrible?"
And thus the shade that questioned was of this
Himself acquitted: "I know not; but truly
'Tis fit the name of such a valley perish;
For from its fountain-head (where is so pregnant
The Alpine mountain whence is cleft Peloro
That in few places it that mark surpasses)
To where it yields itself in restoration
Of what the heaven doth of the sea dry up,
Whence have the rivers that which goes with them,
Virtue is like an enemy avoided
By all, as is a serpent, through misfortune
Of place, or through bad habit that impels them;
On which account have so transformed their nature
The dwellers in that miserable valley,
It seems that Circe had them in her pasture.
'Mid ugly swine, of acorns worthier
Than other food for human use created,
It first directeth its impoverished way.
Curs findeth it thereafter, coming downward,
More snarling than their puissance demands,
And turns from them disdainfully its muzzle.
It goes on falling, and the more it grows,
The more it finds the dogs becoming wolves,
This maledict and misadventurous ditch.
Descended then through many a hollow gulf,
It finds the foxes so replete with fraud,
They fear no cunning that may master them.
Nor will I cease because another hears me;
And well 'twill be for him, if still he mind him
Of what a truthful spirit to me unravels.
Thy grandson I behold, who doth become
A hunter of those wolves upon the bank
Of the wild stream, and terrifies them all.
He sells their flesh, it being yet alive;
Thereafter slaughters them like ancient beeves;
Many of life, himself of praise, deprives.
Blood-stained he issues from the dismal forest;
He leaves it such, a thousand years from now
In its primeval state 'tis not re-wooded."
As at the announcement of impending ills
The face of him who listens is disturbed,
From whate'er side the peril seize upon him;
So I beheld that other soul, which stood
Turned round to listen, grow disturbed and sad,
When it had gathered to itself the word.
The speech of one and aspect of the other
Had me desirous made to know their names,
And question mixed with prayers I made thereof,
Whereat the spirit which first spake to me
Began again: "Thou wishest I should bring me
To do for thee what thou'lt not do for me;
But since God willeth that in thee shine forth
Such grace of his, I'll not be chary with thee;
Know, then, that I Guido del Duca am.
My blood was so with envy set on fire,
That if I had beheld a man make merry,
Thou wouldst have seen me sprinkled o'er with pallor.
From my own sowing such the straw I reap!
O human race! why dost thou set thy heart
Where interdict of partnership must be?
This is Renier; this is the boast and honour
Of the house of Calboli, where no one since
Has made himself the heir of his desert.
And not alone his blood is made devoid,
'Twixt Po and mount, and sea-shore and the Reno,
Of good required for truth and for diversion;
For all within these boundaries is full
Of venomous roots, so that too tardily
By cultivation now would they diminish.
Where is good Lizio, and Arrigo Manardi,
Pier Traversaro, and Guido di Carpigna,
O Romagnuoli into bastards turned?
When in Bologna will a Fabbro rise?
When in Faenza a Bernardin di Fosco,
The noble scion of ignoble seed?
Be not astonished, Tuscan, if I weep,
When I remember, with Guido da Prata,
Ugolin d' Azzo, who was living with us,
Frederick Tignoso and his company,
The house of Traversara, and th' Anastagi,
And one race and the other is extinct;
The dames and cavaliers, the toils and ease
That filled our souls with love and courtesy,
There where the hearts have so malicious grown!
O Brettinoro! why dost thou not flee,
Seeing that all thy family is gone,
And many people, not to be corrupted?
Bagnacaval does well in not begetting
And ill does Castrocaro, and Conio worse,
In taking trouble to beget such Counts.
Will do well the Pagani, when their Devil
Shall have departed; but not therefore pure
Will testimony of them e'er remain.
O Ugolin de' Fantoli, secure
Thy name is, since no longer is awaited
One who, degenerating, can obscure it!
But go now, Tuscan, for it now delights me
To weep far better than it does to speak,
So much has our discourse my mind distressed."
We were aware that those beloved souls
Heard us depart; therefore, by keeping silent,
They made us of our pathway confident.
When we became alone by going onward,
Thunder, when it doth cleave the air, appeared
A voice, that counter to us came, exclaiming:
"Shall slay me whosoever findeth me!"
And fled as the reverberation dies
If suddenly the cloud asunder bursts.
As soon as hearing had a truce from this,
Behold another, with so great a crash,
That it resembled thunderings following fast:
"I am Aglaurus, who became a stone!"
And then, to press myself close to the Poet,
I backward, and not forward, took a step.
Already on all sides the air was quiet;
And said he to me: "That was the hard curb
That ought to hold a man within his bounds;
But you take in the bait so that the hook
Of the old Adversary draws you to him,
And hence availeth little curb or call.
The heavens are calling you, and wheel around you,
Displaying to you their eternal beauties,
And still your eye is looking on the ground;
Whence He, who all discerns, chastises you."
Purgatorio: Canto XV
As much as 'twixt the close of the third hour
And dawn of day appeareth of that sphere
Which aye in fashion of a child is playing,
So much it now appeared, towards the night,
Was of his course remaining to the sun;
There it was evening, and 'twas midnight here;
And the rays smote the middle of our faces,
Because by us the mount was so encircled,
That straight towards the west we now were going
When I perceived my forehead overpowered
Beneath the splendour far more than at first,
And stupor were to me the things unknown,
Whereat towards the summit of my brow
I raised my hands, and made myself the visor
Which the excessive glare diminishes.
As when from off the water, or a mirror,
The sunbeam leaps unto the opposite side,
Ascending upward in the selfsame measure
That it descends, and deviates as far
From falling of a stone in line direct,
(As demonstrate experiment and art,)
So it appeared to me that by a light
Refracted there before me I was smitten;
On which account my sight was swift to flee.
"What is that, Father sweet, from which I cannot
So fully screen my sight that it avail me,"
Said I, "and seems towards us to be moving?"
"Marvel thou not, if dazzle thee as yet
The family of heaven," he answered me;
"An angel 'tis, who comes to invite us upward.
Soon will it be, that to behold these things
Shall not be grievous, but delightful to thee
As much as nature fashioned thee to feel."
When we had reached the Angel benedight,
With joyful voice he said: "Here enter in
To stairway far less steep than are the others."
We mounting were, already thence departed,
And "Beati misericordes" was
Behind us sung, "Rejoice, thou that o'ercomest!"
My Master and myself, we two alone
Were going upward, and I thought, in going,
Some profit to acquire from words of his;
And I to him directed me, thus asking:
"What did the spirit of Romagna mean,
Mentioning interdict and partnership?"
Whence he to me: "Of his own greatest failing
He knows the harm; and therefore wonder not
If he reprove us, that we less may rue it.
Because are thither pointed your desires
Where by companionship each share is lessened,
Envy doth ply the bellows to your sighs.
But if the love of the supernal sphere
Should upwardly direct your aspiration,
There would not be that fear within your breast;
For there, as much the more as one says 'Our,'
So much the more of good each one possesses,
And more of charity in that cloister burns."
"I am more hungering to be satisfied,"
I said, "than if I had before been silent,
And more of doubt within my mind I gather.
How can it be, that boon distributed
The more possessors can more wealthy make
Therein, than if by few it be possessed?"
And he to me: "Because thou fixest still
Thy mind entirely upon earthly things,
Thou pluckest darkness from the very light.
That goodness infinite and ineffable
Which is above there, runneth unto love,
As to a lucid body comes the sunbeam.
So much it gives itself as it finds ardour,
So that as far as charity extends,
O'er it increases the eternal valour.
And the more people thitherward aspire,
More are there to love well, and more they love there,
And, as a mirror, one reflects the other.
And if my reasoning appease thee not,
Thou shalt see Beatrice; and she will fully
Take from thee this and every other longing.
Endeavour, then, that soon may be extinct,
As are the two already, the five wounds
That close themselves again by being painful."
Even as I wished to say, "Thou dost appease me,"
I saw that I had reached another circle,
So that my eager eyes made me keep silence.
There it appeared to me that in a vision
Ecstatic on a sudden I was rapt,
And in a temple many persons saw;
And at the door a woman, with the sweet
Behaviour of a mother, saying: "Son,
Why in this manner hast thou dealt with us?
Lo, sorrowing, thy father and myself
Were seeking for thee;"--and as here she ceased,
That which appeared at first had disappeared.
Then I beheld another with those waters
Adown her cheeks which grief distils whenever
From great disdain of others it is born,
And saying: "If of that city thou art lord,
For whose name was such strife among the gods,
And whence doth every science scintillate,
Avenge thyself on those audacious arms
That clasped our daughter, O Pisistratus;"
And the lord seemed to me benign and mild
To answer her with aspect temperate:
"What shall we do to those who wish us ill,
If he who loves us be by us condemned?"
Then saw I people hot in fire of wrath,
With stones a young man slaying, clamorously
Still crying to each other, "Kill him! kill him!"
And him I saw bow down, because of death
That weighed already on him, to the earth,
But of his eyes made ever gates to heaven,
Imploring the high Lord, in so great strife,
That he would pardon those his persecutors,
With such an aspect as unlocks compassion.
Soon as my soul had outwardly returned
To things external to it which are true,
Did I my not false errors recognize.
My Leader, who could see me bear myself
Like to a man that rouses him from sleep,
Exclaimed: "What ails thee, that thou canst not stand?
But hast been coming more than half a league
Veiling thine eyes, and with thy legs entangled,
In guise of one whom wine or sleep subdues?"
"O my sweet Father, if thou listen to me,
I'll tell thee," said I, "what appeared to me,
When thus from me my legs were ta'en away."
And he: "If thou shouldst have a hundred masks
Upon thy face, from me would not be shut
Thy cogitations, howsoever small.
What thou hast seen was that thou mayst not fail
To ope thy heart unto the waters of peace,
Which from the eternal fountain are diffused.
I did not ask, 'What ails thee?' as he does
Who only looketh with the eyes that see not
When of the soul bereft the body lies,
But asked it to give vigour to thy feet;
Thus must we needs urge on the sluggards, slow
To use their wakefulness when it returns."
We passed along, athwart the twilight peering
Forward as far as ever eye could stretch
Against the sunbeams serotine and lucent;
And lo! by slow degrees a smoke approached
In our direction, sombre as the night,
Nor was there place to hide one's self therefrom.
This of our eyes and the pure air bereft us.
Purgatorio: Canto XVI
Darkness of hell, and of a night deprived
Of every planet under a poor sky,
As much as may be tenebrous with cloud,
Ne'er made unto my sight so thick a veil,
As did that smoke which there enveloped us,
Nor to the feeling of so rough a texture;
For not an eye it suffered to stay open;
Whereat mine escort, faithful and sagacious,
Drew near to me and offered me his shoulder.
E'en as a blind man goes behind his guide,
Lest he should wander, or should strike against
Aught that may harm or peradventure kill him,
So went I through the bitter and foul air,
Listening unto my Leader, who said only,
"Look that from me thou be not separated."
Voices I heard, and every one appeared
To supplicate for peace and misericord
The Lamb of God who takes away our sins.
Still "Agnus Dei" their exordium was;
One word there was in all, and metre one,
So that all harmony appeared among them.
"Master," I said, "are spirits those I hear?"
And he to me: "Thou apprehendest truly,
And they the knot of anger go unloosing."
"Now who art thou, that cleavest through our smoke
And art discoursing of us even as though
Thou didst by calends still divide the time?"
After this manner by a voice was spoken;
Whereon my Master said: "Do thou reply,
And ask if on this side the way go upward."
And I: "O creature that dost cleanse thyself
To return beautiful to Him who made thee,
Thou shalt hear marvels if thou follow me."
"Thee will I follow far as is allowed me,"
He answered; "and if smoke prevent our seeing,
Hearing shall keep us joined instead thereof."
Thereon began I: "With that swathing band
Which death unwindeth am I going upward,
And hither came I through the infernal anguish.
And if God in his grace has me infolded,
So that he wills that I behold his court
By method wholly out of modern usage,
Conceal not from me who ere death thou wast,
But tell it me, and tell me if I go
Right for the pass, and be thy words our escort."
"Lombard was I, and I was Marco called;
The world I knew, and loved that excellence,
At which has each one now unbent his bow.
For mounting upward, thou art going right."
Thus he made answer, and subjoined: "I pray thee
To pray for me when thou shalt be above."
And I to him: "My faith I pledge to thee
To do what thou dost ask me; but am bursting
Inly with doubt, unless I rid me of it.
First it was simple, and is now made double
By thy opinion, which makes certain to me,
Here and elsewhere, that which I couple with it.
The world forsooth is utterly deserted
By every virtue, as thou tellest me,
And with iniquity is big and covered;
But I beseech thee point me out the cause,
That I may see it, and to others show it;
For one in the heavens, and here below one puts it."
A sigh profound, that grief forced into Ai!
He first sent forth, and then began he: "Brother,
The world is blind, and sooth thou comest from it!
Ye who are living every cause refer
Still upward to the heavens, as if all things
They of necessity moved with themselves.
If this were so, in you would be destroyed
Free will, nor any justice would there be
In having joy for good, or grief for evil.
The heavens your movements do initiate,
I say not all; but granting that I say it,
Light has been given you for good and evil,
And free volition; which, if some fatigue
In the first battles with the heavens it suffers,
Afterwards conquers all, if well 'tis nurtured.
To greater force and to a better nature,
Though free, ye subject are, and that creates
The mind in you the heavens have not in charge.
Hence, if the present world doth go astray,
In you the cause is, be it sought in you;
And I therein will now be thy true spy.
Forth from the hand of Him, who fondles it
Before it is, like to a little girl
Weeping and laughing in her childish sport,
Issues the simple soul, that nothing knows,
Save that, proceeding from a joyous Maker,
Gladly it turns to that which gives it pleasure.
Of trivial good at first it tastes the savour;
Is cheated by it, and runs after it,
If guide or rein turn not aside its love.
Hence it behoved laws for a rein to place,
Behoved a king to have, who at the least
Of the true city should discern the tower.
The laws exist, but who sets hand to them?
No one; because the shepherd who precedes
Can ruminate, but cleaveth not the hoof;
Wherefore the people that perceives its guide
Strike only at the good for which it hankers,
Feeds upon that, and farther seeketh not.
Clearly canst thou perceive that evil guidance
The cause is that has made the world depraved,
And not that nature is corrupt in you.
Rome, that reformed the world, accustomed was
Two suns to have, which one road and the other,
Of God and of the world, made manifest.
One has the other quenched, and to the crosier
The sword is joined, and ill beseemeth it
That by main force one with the other go,
Because, being joined, one feareth not the other;
If thou believe not, think upon the grain,
For by its seed each herb is recognized.
In the land laved by Po and Adige,
Valour and courtesy used to be found,
Before that Frederick had his controversy;
Now in security can pass that way
Whoever will abstain, through sense of shame,
From speaking with the good, or drawing near them.
True, three old men are left, in whom upbraids
The ancient age the new, and late they deem it
That God restore them to the better life:
Currado da Palazzo, and good Gherardo,
And Guido da Castel, who better named is,
In fashion of the French, the simple Lombard:
Say thou henceforward that the Church of Rome,
Confounding in itself two governments,
Falls in the mire, and soils itself and burden."
"O Marco mine," I said, "thou reasonest well;
And now discern I why the sons of Levi
Have been excluded from the heritage.
But what Gherardo is it, who, as sample
Of a lost race, thou sayest has remained
In reprobation of the barbarous age?"
"Either thy speech deceives me, or it tempts me,"
He answered me; "for speaking Tuscan to me,
It seems of good Gherardo naught thou knowest.
By other surname do I know him not,
Unless I take it from his daughter Gaia.
May God be with you, for I come no farther.
Behold the dawn, that through the smoke rays out,
Already whitening; and I must depart--
Yonder the Angel is--ere he appear."
Thus did he speak, and would no farther hear me.
Purgatorio: Canto XVII
Remember, Reader, if e'er in the Alps
A mist o'ertook thee, through which thou couldst see
Not otherwise than through its membrane mole,
How, when the vapours humid and condensed
Begin to dissipate themselves, the sphere
Of the sun feebly enters in among them,
And thy imagination will be swift
In coming to perceive how I re-saw
The sun at first, that was already setting.
Thus, to the faithful footsteps of my Master
Mating mine own, I issued from that cloud
To rays already dead on the low shores.
O thou, Imagination, that dost steal us
So from without sometimes, that man perceives not,
Although around may sound a thousand trumpets,
Who moveth thee, if sense impel thee not?
Moves thee a light, which in the heaven takes form,
By self, or by a will that downward guides it.
Of her impiety, who changed her form
Into the bird that most delights in singing,
In my imagining appeared the trace;
And hereupon my mind was so withdrawn
Within itself, that from without there came
Nothing that then might be received by it.
Then reigned within my lofty fantasy
One crucified, disdainful and ferocious
In countenance, and even thus was dying.
Around him were the great Ahasuerus,
Esther his wife, and the just Mordecai,
Who was in word and action so entire.
And even as this image burst asunder
Of its own self, in fashion of a bubble
In which the water it was made of fails,
There rose up in my vision a young maiden
Bitterly weeping, and she said: "O queen,
Why hast thou wished in anger to be naught?
Thou'st slain thyself, Lavinia not to lose;
Now hast thou lost me; I am she who mourns,
Mother, at thine ere at another's ruin."
As sleep is broken, when upon a sudden
New light strikes in upon the eyelids closed,
And broken quivers ere it dieth wholly,
So this imagining of mine fell down
As soon as the effulgence smote my face,
Greater by far than what is in our wont.
I turned me round to see where I might be,
When said a voice, "Here is the passage up;"
Which from all other purposes removed me,
And made my wish so full of eagerness
To look and see who was it that was speaking,
It never rests till meeting face to face;
But as before the sun, which quells the sight,
And in its own excess its figure veils,
Even so my power was insufficient here.
"This is a spirit divine, who in the way
Of going up directs us without asking,
And who with his own light himself conceals.
He does with us as man doth with himself;
For he who sees the need, and waits the asking,
Malignly leans already tow'rds denial.
Accord we now our feet to such inviting,
Let us make haste to mount ere it grow dark;
For then we could not till the day return."
Thus my Conductor said; and I and he
Together turned our footsteps to a stairway;
And I, as soon as the first step I reached,
Near me perceived a motion as of wings,
And fanning in the face, and saying, "'Beati
Pacifici,' who are without ill anger."
Already over us were so uplifted
The latest sunbeams, which the night pursues,
That upon many sides the stars appeared.
"O manhood mine, why dost thou vanish so?"
I said within myself; for I perceived
The vigour of my legs was put in truce.
We at the point were where no more ascends
The stairway upward, and were motionless,
Even as a ship, which at the shore arrives;
And I gave heed a little, if I might hear
Aught whatsoever in the circle new;
Then to my Master turned me round and said:
"Say, my sweet Father, what delinquency
Is purged here in the circle where we are?
Although our feet may pause, pause not thy speech."
And he to me: "The love of good, remiss
In what it should have done, is here restored;
Here plied again the ill-belated oar;
But still more openly to understand,
Turn unto me thy mind, and thou shalt gather
Some profitable fruit from our delay.
Neither Creator nor a creature ever,
Son," he began, "was destitute of love
Natural or spiritual; and thou knowest it.
The natural was ever without error;
But err the other may by evil object,
Or by too much, or by too little vigour.
While in the first it well directed is,
And in the second moderates itself,
It cannot be the cause of sinful pleasure;
But when to ill it turns, and, with more care
Or lesser than it ought, runs after good,
'Gainst the Creator works his own creation.
Hence thou mayst comprehend that love must be
The seed within yourselves of every virtue,
And every act that merits punishment.
Now inasmuch as never from the welfare
Of its own subject can love turn its sight,
From their own hatred all things are secure;
And since we cannot think of any being
Standing alone, nor from the First divided,
Of hating Him is all desire cut off.
Hence if, discriminating, I judge well,
The evil that one loves is of one's neighbour,
And this is born in three modes in your clay.
There are, who, by abasement of their neighbour,
Hope to excel, and therefore only long
That from his greatness he may be cast down;
There are, who power, grace, honour, and renown
Fear they may lose because another rises,
Thence are so sad that the reverse they love;
And there are those whom injury seems to chafe,
So that it makes them greedy for revenge,
And such must needs shape out another's harm.
This threefold love is wept for down below;
Now of the other will I have thee hear,
That runneth after good with measure faulty.
Each one confusedly a good conceives
Wherein the mind may rest, and longeth for it;
Therefore to overtake it each one strives.
If languid love to look on this attract you,
Or in attaining unto it, this cornice,
After just penitence, torments you for it.
There's other good that does not make man happy;
'Tis not felicity, 'tis not the good
Essence, of every good the fruit and root.
The love that yields itself too much to this
Above us is lamented in three circles;
But how tripartite it may be described,
I say not, that thou seek it for thyself."
Purgatorio: Canto XVIII
An end had put unto his reasoning
The lofty Teacher, and attent was looking
Into my face, if I appeared content;
And I, whom a new thirst still goaded on,
Without was mute, and said within: "Perchance
The too much questioning I make annoys him."
But that true Father, who had comprehended
The timid wish, that opened not itself,
By speaking gave me hardihood to speak.
Whence I: "My sight is, Master, vivified
So in thy light, that clearly I discern
Whate'er thy speech importeth or describes.
Therefore I thee entreat, sweet Father dear,
To teach me love, to which thou dost refer
Every good action and its contrary."
"Direct," he said, "towards me the keen eyes
Of intellect, and clear will be to thee
The error of the blind, who would be leaders.
The soul, which is created apt to love,
Is mobile unto everything that pleases,
Soon as by pleasure she is waked to action.
Your apprehension from some real thing
An image draws, and in yourselves displays it
So that it makes the soul turn unto it.
And if, when turned, towards it she incline,
Love is that inclination; it is nature,
Which is by pleasure bound in you anew
Then even as the fire doth upward move
By its own form, which to ascend is born,
Where longest in its matter it endures,
So comes the captive soul into desire,
Which is a motion spiritual, and ne'er rests
Until she doth enjoy the thing beloved.
Now may apparent be to thee how hidden
The truth is from those people, who aver
All love is in itself a laudable thing;
Because its matter may perchance appear
Aye to be good; but yet not each impression
Is good, albeit good may be the wax."
"Thy words, and my sequacious intellect,"
I answered him, "have love revealed to me;
But that has made me more impregned with doubt;
For if love from without be offered us,
And with another foot the soul go not,
If right or wrong she go, 'tis not her merit."
And he to me: "What reason seeth here,
Myself can tell thee; beyond that await
For Beatrice, since 'tis a work of faith.
Every substantial form, that segregate
From matter is, and with it is united,
Specific power has in itself collected,
Which without act is not perceptible,
Nor shows itself except by its effect,
As life does in a plant by the green leaves.
But still, whence cometh the intelligence
Of the first notions, man is ignorant,
And the affection for the first allurements,
Which are in you as instinct in the bee
To make its honey; and this first desire
Merit of praise or blame containeth not.
Now, that to this all others may be gathered,
Innate within you is the power that counsels,
And it should keep the threshold of assent.
This is the principle, from which is taken
Occasion of desert in you, according
As good and guilty loves it takes and winnows.
Those who, in reasoning, to the bottom went,
Were of this innate liberty aware,
Therefore bequeathed they Ethics to the world.
Supposing, then, that from necessity
Springs every love that is within you kindled,
Within yourselves the power is to restrain it.
The noble virtue Beatrice understands
By the free will; and therefore see that thou
Bear it in mind, if she should speak of it."
The moon, belated almost unto midnight,
Now made the stars appear to us more rare,
Formed like a bucket, that is all ablaze,
And counter to the heavens ran through those paths
Which the sun sets aflame, when he of Rome
Sees it 'twixt Sardes and Corsicans go down;
And that patrician shade, for whom is named
Pietola more than any Mantuan town,
Had laid aside the burden of my lading;
Whence I, who reason manifest and plain
In answer to my questions had received,
Stood like a man in drowsy reverie.
But taken from me was this drowsiness
Suddenly by a people, that behind
Our backs already had come round to us.
And as, of old, Ismenus and Asopus
Beside them saw at night the rush and throng,
If but the Thebans were in need of Bacchus,
So they along that circle curve their step,
From what I saw of those approaching us,
Who by good-will and righteous love are ridden.
Full soon they were upon us, because running
Moved onward all that mighty multitude,
And two in the advance cried out, lamenting,
"Mary in haste unto the mountain ran,
And Caesar, that he might subdue Ilerda,
Thrust at Marseilles, and then ran into Spain."
"Quick! quick! so that the time may not be lost
By little love!" forthwith the others cried,
"For ardour in well-doing freshens grace!"
"O folk, in whom an eager fervour now
Supplies perhaps delay and negligence,
Put by you in well-doing, through lukewarmness,
This one who lives, and truly I lie not,
Would fain go up, if but the sun relight us;
So tell us where the passage nearest is."
These were the words of him who was my Guide;
And some one of those spirits said: "Come on
Behind us, and the opening shalt thou find;
So full of longing are we to move onward,
That stay we cannot; therefore pardon us,
If thou for churlishness our justice take.
I was San Zeno's Abbot at Verona,
Under the empire of good Barbarossa,
Of whom still sorrowing Milan holds discourse;
And he has one foot in the grave already,
Who shall erelong lament that monastery,
And sorry be of having there had power,
Because his son, in his whole body sick,
And worse in mind, and who was evil-born,
He put into the place of its true pastor."
If more he said, or silent was, I know not,
He had already passed so far beyond us;
But this I heard, and to retain it pleased me.
And he who was in every need my succour
Said: "Turn thee hitherward; see two of them
Come fastening upon slothfulness their teeth."
In rear of all they shouted: "Sooner were
The people dead to whom the sea was opened,
Than their inheritors the Jordan saw;
And those who the fatigue did not endure
Unto the issue, with Anchises' son,
Themselves to life withouten glory offered."
Then when from us so separated were
Those shades, that they no longer could be seen,
Within me a new thought did entrance find,
Whence others many and diverse were born;
And so I lapsed from one into another,
That in a reverie mine eyes I closed,
And meditation into dream transmuted.
Purgatorio: Canto XIX
It was the hour when the diurnal heat
No more can warm the coldness of the moon,
Vanquished by earth, or peradventure Saturn,
When geomancers their Fortuna Major
See in the orient before the dawn
Rise by a path that long remains not dim,
There came to me in dreams a stammering woman,
Squint in her eyes, and in her feet distorted,
With hands dissevered and of sallow hue.
I looked at her; and as the sun restores
The frigid members which the night benumbs,
Even thus my gaze did render voluble
Her tongue, and made her all erect thereafter
In little while, and the lost countenance
As love desires it so in her did colour.
When in this wise she had her speech unloosed,
She 'gan to sing so, that with difficulty
Could I have turned my thoughts away from her.
"I am," she sang, "I am the Siren sweet
Who mariners amid the main unman,
So full am I of pleasantness to hear.
I drew Ulysses from his wandering way
Unto my song, and he who dwells with me
Seldom departs so wholly I content him."
Her mouth was not yet closed again, before
Appeared a Lady saintly and alert
Close at my side to put her to confusion.
"Virgilius, O Virgilius! who is this?"
Sternly she said; and he was drawing near
With eyes still fixed upon that modest one.
She seized the other and in front laid open,
Rending her garments, and her belly showed me;
This waked me with the stench that issued from it.
I turned mine eyes, and good Virgilius said:
"At least thrice have I called thee; rise and come;
Find we the opening by which thou mayst enter."
I rose; and full already of high day
Were all the circles of the Sacred Mountain,
And with the new sun at our back we went.
Following behind him, I my forehead bore
Like unto one who has it laden with thought,
Who makes himself the half arch of a bridge,
When I heard say, "Come, here the passage is,"
Spoken in a manner gentle and benign,
Such as we hear not in this mortal region.
With open wings, which of a swan appeared,
Upward he turned us who thus spake to us,
Between the two walls of the solid granite.
He moved his pinions afterwards and fanned us,
Affirming those 'qui lugent' to be blessed,
For they shall have their souls with comfort filled.
"What aileth thee, that aye to earth thou gazest?"
To me my Guide began to say, we both
Somewhat beyond the Angel having mounted.
And I: "With such misgiving makes me go
A vision new, which bends me to itself,
So that I cannot from the thought withdraw me."
"Didst thou behold," he said, "that old enchantress,
Who sole above us henceforth is lamented?
Didst thou behold how man is freed from her?
Suffice it thee, and smite earth with thy heels,
Thine eyes lift upward to the lure, that whirls
The Eternal King with revolutions vast."
Even as the hawk, that first his feet surveys,
Then turns him to the call and stretches forward,
Through the desire of food that draws him thither,
Such I became, and such, as far as cleaves
The rock to give a way to him who mounts,
Went on to where the circling doth begin.
On the fifth circle when I had come forth,
People I saw upon it who were weeping,
Stretched prone upon the ground, all downward turned.
"Adhaesit pavimento anima mea,"
I heard them say with sighings so profound,
That hardly could the words be understood.
"O ye elect of God, whose sufferings
Justice and Hope both render less severe,
Direct ye us towards the high ascents."
"If ye are come secure from this prostration,
And wish to find the way most speedily,
Let your right hands be evermore outside."
Thus did the Poet ask, and thus was answered
By them somewhat in front of us; whence I
In what was spoken divined the rest concealed,
And unto my Lord's eyes mine eyes I turned;
Whence he assented with a cheerful sign
To what the sight of my desire implored.
When of myself I could dispose at will,
Above that creature did I draw myself,
Whose words before had caused me to take note,
Saying: "O Spirit, in whom weeping ripens
That without which to God we cannot turn,
Suspend awhile for me thy greater care.
Who wast thou, and why are your backs turned upwards,
Tell me, and if thou wouldst that I procure thee
Anything there whence living I departed."
And he to me: "Wherefore our backs the heaven
Turns to itself, know shalt thou; but beforehand
'Scias quod ego fui successor Petri.'
Between Siestri and Chiaveri descends
A river beautiful, and of its name
The title of my blood its summit makes.
A month and little more essayed I how
Weighs the great cloak on him from mire who keeps it,
For all the other burdens seem a feather.
Tardy, ah woe is me! was my conversion;
But when the Roman Shepherd I was made,
Then I discovered life to be a lie.
I saw that there the heart was not at rest,
Nor farther in that life could one ascend;
Whereby the love of this was kindled in me.
Until that time a wretched soul and parted
From God was I, and wholly avaricious;
Now, as thou seest, I here am punished for it.
What avarice does is here made manifest
In the purgation of these souls converted,
And no more bitter pain the Mountain has.
Even as our eye did not uplift itself
Aloft, being fastened upon earthly things,
So justice here has merged it in the earth.
As avarice had extinguished our affection
For every good, whereby was action lost,
So justice here doth hold us in restraint,
Bound and imprisoned by the feet and hands;
And so long as it pleases the just Lord
Shall we remain immovable and prostrate."
I on my knees had fallen, and wished to speak;
But even as I began, and he was 'ware,
Only by listening, of my reverence,
"What cause," he said, "has downward bent thee thus?"
And I to him: "For your own dignity,
Standing, my conscience stung me with remorse."
"Straighten thy legs, and upward raise thee, brother,"
He answered: "Err not, fellow-servant am I
With thee and with the others to one power.
If e'er that holy, evangelic sound,
Which sayeth 'neque nubent,' thou hast heard,
Well canst thou see why in this wise I speak.
Now go; no longer will I have thee linger,
Because thy stay doth incommode my weeping,
With which I ripen that which thou hast said.
On earth I have a grandchild named Alagia,
Good in herself, unless indeed our house
Malevolent may make her by example,
And she alone remains to me on earth."
Purgatorio: Canto XX
Ill strives the will against a better will;
Therefore, to pleasure him, against my pleasure
I drew the sponge not saturate from the water.
Onward I moved, and onward moved my Leader,
Through vacant places, skirting still the rock,
As on a wall close to the battlements;
For they that through their eyes pour drop by drop
The malady which all the world pervades,
On the other side too near the verge approach.
Accursed mayst thou be, thou old she-wolf,
That more than all the other beasts hast prey,
Because of hunger infinitely hollow!
O heaven, in whose gyrations some appear
To think conditions here below are changed,
When will he come through whom she shall depart?
Onward we went with footsteps slow and scarce,
And I attentive to the shades I heard
Piteously weeping and bemoaning them;
And I by peradventure heard "Sweet Mary!"
Uttered in front of us amid the weeping
Even as a woman does who is in child-birth;
And in continuance: "How poor thou wast
Is manifested by that hostelry
Where thou didst lay thy sacred burden down."
Thereafterward I heard: "O good Fabricius,
Virtue with poverty didst thou prefer
To the possession of great wealth with vice."
So pleasurable were these words to me
That I drew farther onward to have knowledge
Touching that spirit whence they seemed to come.
He furthermore was speaking of the largess
Which Nicholas unto the maidens gave,
In order to conduct their youth to honour.
"O soul that dost so excellently speak,
Tell me who wast thou," said I, "and why only
Thou dost renew these praises well deserved?
Not without recompense shall be thy word,
If I return to finish the short journey
Of that life which is flying to its end."
And he: "I'll tell thee, not for any comfort
I may expect from earth, but that so much
Grace shines in thee or ever thou art dead.
I was the root of that malignant plant
Which overshadows all the Christian world,
So that good fruit is seldom gathered from it;
But if Douay and Ghent, and Lille and Bruges
Had Power, soon vengeance would be taken on it;
And this I pray of Him who judges all.
Hugh Capet was I called upon the earth;
From me were born the Louises and Philips,
By whom in later days has France been governed.
I was the son of a Parisian butcher,
What time the ancient kings had perished all,
Excepting one, contrite in cloth of gray.
I found me grasping in my hands the rein
Of the realm's government, and so great power
Of new acquest, and so with friends abounding,
That to the widowed diadem promoted
The head of mine own offspring was, from whom
The consecrated bones of these began.
So long as the great dowry of Provence
Out of my blood took not the sense of shame,
'Twas little worth, but still it did no harm.
Then it began with falsehood and with force
Its rapine; and thereafter, for amends,
Took Ponthieu, Normandy, and Gascony.
Charles came to Italy, and for amends
A victim made of Conradin, and then
Thrust Thomas back to heaven, for amends.
A time I see, not very distant now,
Which draweth forth another Charles from France,
The better to make known both him and his.
Unarmed he goes, and only with the lance
That Judas jousted with; and that he thrusts
So that he makes the paunch of Florence burst.
He thence not land, but sin and infamy,
Shall gain, so much more grievous to himself
As the more light such damage he accounts.
The other, now gone forth, ta'en in his ship,
See I his daughter sell, and chaffer for her
As corsairs do with other female slaves.
What more, O Avarice, canst thou do to us,
Since thou my blood so to thyself hast drawn,
It careth not for its own proper flesh?
That less may seem the future ill and past,
I see the flower-de-luce Alagna enter,
And Christ in his own Vicar captive made.
I see him yet another time derided;
I see renewed the vinegar and gall,
And between living thieves I see him slain.
I see the modern Pilate so relentless,
This does not sate him, but without decretal
He to the temple bears his sordid sails!
When, O my Lord! shall I be joyful made
By looking on the vengeance which, concealed,
Makes sweet thine anger in thy secrecy?
What I was saying of that only bride
Of the Holy Ghost, and which occasioned thee
To turn towards me for some commentary,
So long has been ordained to all our prayers
As the day lasts; but when the night comes on,
Contrary sound we take instead thereof.
At that time we repeat Pygmalion,
Of whom a traitor, thief, and parricide
Made his insatiable desire of gold;
And the misery of avaricious Midas,
That followed his inordinate demand,
At which forevermore one needs but laugh.
The foolish Achan each one then records,
And how he stole the spoils; so that the wrath
Of Joshua still appears to sting him here.
Then we accuse Sapphira with her husband,
We laud the hoof-beats Heliodorus had,
And the whole mount in infamy encircles
Polymnestor who murdered Polydorus.
Here finally is cried: 'O Crassus, tell us,
For thou dost know, what is the taste of gold?'
Sometimes we speak, one loud, another low,
According to desire of speech, that spurs us
To greater now and now to lesser pace.
But in the good that here by day is talked of,
Erewhile alone I was not; yet near by
No other person lifted up his voice."
From him already we departed were,
And made endeavour to o'ercome the road
As much as was permitted to our power,
When I perceived, like something that is falling,
The mountain tremble, whence a chill seized on me,
As seizes him who to his death is going.
Certes so violently shook not Delos,
Before Latona made her nest therein
To give birth to the two eyes of the heaven.
Then upon all sides there began a cry,
Such that the Master drew himself towards me,
Saying, "Fear not, while I am guiding thee."
"Gloria in excelsis Deo," all
Were saying, from what near I comprehended,
Where it was possible to hear the cry.
We paused immovable and in suspense,
Even as the shepherds who first heard that song,
Until the trembling ceased, and it was finished.
Then we resumed again our holy path,
Watching the shades that lay upon the ground,
Already turned to their accustomed plaint.
No ignorance ever with so great a strife
Had rendered me importunate to know,
If erreth not in this my memory,
As meditating then I seemed to have;
Nor out of haste to question did I dare,
Nor of myself I there could aught perceive;
So I went onward timorous and thoughtful.
Purgatorio: Canto XXI