Part 3 out of 4
The natural thirst, that ne'er is satisfied
Excepting with the water for whose grace
The woman of Samaria besought,
Put me in travail, and haste goaded me
Along the encumbered path behind my Leader
And I was pitying that righteous vengeance;
And lo! in the same manner as Luke writeth
That Christ appeared to two upon the way
From the sepulchral cave already risen,
A shade appeared to us, and came behind us,
Down gazing on the prostrate multitude,
Nor were we ware of it, until it spake,
Saying, "My brothers, may God give you peace!"
We turned us suddenly, and Virgilius rendered
To him the countersign thereto conforming.
Thereon began he: "In the blessed council,
Thee may the court veracious place in peace,
That me doth banish in eternal exile!"
"How," said he, and the while we went with speed,
"If ye are shades whom God deigns not on high,
Who up his stairs so far has guided you?"
And said my Teacher: "If thou note the marks
Which this one bears, and which the Angel traces
Well shalt thou see he with the good must reign.
But because she who spinneth day and night
For him had not yet drawn the distaff off,
Which Clotho lays for each one and compacts,
His soul, which is thy sister and my own,
In coming upwards could not come alone,
By reason that it sees not in our fashion.
Whence I was drawn from out the ample throat
Of Hell to be his guide, and I shall guide him
As far on as my school has power to lead.
But tell us, if thou knowest, why such a shudder
Erewhile the mountain gave, and why together
All seemed to cry, as far as its moist feet?"
In asking he so hit the very eye
Of my desire, that merely with the hope
My thirst became the less unsatisfied.
"Naught is there," he began, "that without order
May the religion of the mountain feel,
Nor aught that may be foreign to its custom.
Free is it here from every permutation;
What from itself heaven in itself receiveth
Can be of this the cause, and naught beside;
Because that neither rain, nor hail, nor snow,
Nor dew, nor hoar-frost any higher falls
Than the short, little stairway of three steps.
Dense clouds do not appear, nor rarefied,
Nor coruscation, nor the daughter of Thaumas,
That often upon earth her region shifts;
No arid vapour any farther rises
Than to the top of the three steps I spake of,
Whereon the Vicar of Peter has his feet.
Lower down perchance it trembles less or more,
But, for the wind that in the earth is hidden
I know not how, up here it never trembled.
It trembles here, whenever any soul
Feels itself pure, so that it soars, or moves
To mount aloft, and such a cry attends it.
Of purity the will alone gives proof,
Which, being wholly free to change its convent,
Takes by surprise the soul, and helps it fly.
First it wills well; but the desire permits not,
Which divine justice with the self-same will
There was to sin, upon the torment sets.
And I, who have been lying in this pain
Five hundred years and more, but just now felt
A free volition for a better seat.
Therefore thou heardst the earthquake, and the pious
Spirits along the mountain rendering praise
Unto the Lord, that soon he speed them upwards."
So said he to him; and since we enjoy
As much in drinking as the thirst is great,
I could not say how much it did me good.
And the wise Leader: "Now I see the net
That snares you here, and how ye are set free,
Why the earth quakes, and wherefore ye rejoice.
Now who thou wast be pleased that I may know;
And why so many centuries thou hast here
Been lying, let me gather from thy words."
"In days when the good Titus, with the aid
Of the supremest King, avenged the wounds
Whence issued forth the blood by Judas sold,
Under the name that most endures and honours,
Was I on earth," that spirit made reply,
"Greatly renowned, but not with faith as yet.
My vocal spirit was so sweet, that Rome
Me, a Thoulousian, drew unto herself,
Where I deserved to deck my brows with myrtle.
Statius the people name me still on earth;
I sang of Thebes, and then of great Achilles;
But on the way fell with my second burden.
The seeds unto my ardour were the sparks
Of that celestial flame which heated me,
Whereby more than a thousand have been fired;
Of the Aeneid speak I, which to me
A mother was, and was my nurse in song;
Without this weighed I not a drachma's weight.
And to have lived upon the earth what time
Virgilius lived, I would accept one sun
More than I must ere issuing from my ban."
These words towards me made Virgilius turn
With looks that in their silence said, "Be silent!"
But yet the power that wills cannot do all things;
For tears and laughter are such pursuivants
Unto the passion from which each springs forth,
In the most truthful least the will they follow.
I only smiled, as one who gives the wink;
Whereat the shade was silent, and it gazed
Into mine eyes, where most expression dwells;
And, "As thou well mayst consummate a labour
So great," it said, "why did thy face just now
Display to me the lightning of a smile?"
Now am I caught on this side and on that;
One keeps me silent, one to speak conjures me,
Wherefore I sigh, and I am understood.
"Speak," said my Master, "and be not afraid
Of speaking, but speak out, and say to him
What he demands with such solicitude."
Whence I: "Thou peradventure marvellest,
O antique spirit, at the smile I gave;
But I will have more wonder seize upon thee.
This one, who guides on high these eyes of mine,
Is that Virgilius, from whom thou didst learn
To sing aloud of men and of the Gods.
If other cause thou to my smile imputedst,
Abandon it as false, and trust it was
Those words which thou hast spoken concerning him."
Already he was stooping to embrace
My Teacher's feet; but he said to him: "Brother,
Do not; for shade thou art, and shade beholdest."
And he uprising: "Now canst thou the sum
Of love which warms me to thee comprehend,
When this our vanity I disremember,
Treating a shadow as substantial thing."
Purgatorio: Canto XXII
Already was the Angel left behind us,
The Angel who to the sixth round had turned us,
Having erased one mark from off my face;
And those who have in justice their desire
Had said to us, "Beati," in their voices,
With "sitio," and without more ended it.
And I, more light than through the other passes,
Went onward so, that without any labour
I followed upward the swift-footed spirits;
When thus Virgilius began: "The love
Kindled by virtue aye another kindles,
Provided outwardly its flame appear.
Hence from the hour that Juvenal descended
Among us into the infernal Limbo,
Who made apparent to me thy affection,
My kindliness towards thee was as great
As ever bound one to an unseen person,
So that these stairs will now seem short to me.
But tell me, and forgive me as a friend,
If too great confidence let loose the rein,
And as a friend now hold discourse with me;
How was it possible within thy breast
For avarice to find place, 'mid so much wisdom
As thou wast filled with by thy diligence?"
These words excited Statius at first
Somewhat to laughter; afterward he answered:
"Each word of thine is love's dear sign to me.
Verily oftentimes do things appear
Which give fallacious matter to our doubts,
Instead of the true causes which are hidden!
Thy question shows me thy belief to be
That I was niggard in the other life,
It may be from the circle where I was;
Therefore know thou, that avarice was removed
Too far from me; and this extravagance
Thousands of lunar periods have punished.
And were it not that I my thoughts uplifted,
When I the passage heard where thou exclaimest,
As if indignant, unto human nature,
'To what impellest thou not, O cursed hunger
Of gold, the appetite of mortal men?'
Revolving I should feel the dismal joustings.
Then I perceived the hands could spread too wide
Their wings in spending, and repented me
As well of that as of my other sins;
How many with shorn hair shall rise again
Because of ignorance, which from this sin
Cuts off repentance living and in death!
And know that the transgression which rebuts
By direct opposition any sin
Together with it here its verdure dries.
Therefore if I have been among that folk
Which mourns its avarice, to purify me,
For its opposite has this befallen me."
"Now when thou sangest the relentless weapons
Of the twofold affliction of Jocasta,"
The singer of the Songs Bucolic said,
"From that which Clio there with thee preludes,
It does not seem that yet had made thee faithful
That faith without which no good works suffice.
If this be so, what candles or what sun
Scattered thy darkness so that thou didst trim
Thy sails behind the Fisherman thereafter?"
And he to him: "Thou first directedst me
Towards Parnassus, in its grots to drink,
And first concerning God didst me enlighten.
Thou didst as he who walketh in the night,
Who bears his light behind, which helps him not,
But wary makes the persons after him,
When thou didst say: 'The age renews itself,
Justice returns, and man's primeval time,
And a new progeny descends from heaven.'
Through thee I Poet was, through thee a Christian;
But that thou better see what I design,
To colour it will I extend my hand.
Already was the world in every part
Pregnant with the true creed, disseminated
By messengers of the eternal kingdom;
And thy assertion, spoken of above,
With the new preachers was in unison;
Whence I to visit them the custom took.
Then they became so holy in my sight,
That, when Domitian persecuted them,
Not without tears of mine were their laments;
And all the while that I on earth remained,
Them I befriended, and their upright customs
Made me disparage all the other sects.
And ere I led the Greeks unto the rivers
Of Thebes, in poetry, I was baptized,
But out of fear was covertly a Christian,
For a long time professing paganism;
And this lukewarmness caused me the fourth circle
To circuit round more than four centuries.
Thou, therefore, who hast raised the covering
That hid from me whatever good I speak of,
While in ascending we have time to spare,
Tell me, in what place is our friend Terentius,
Caecilius, Plautus, Varro, if thou knowest;
Tell me if they are damned, and in what alley."
"These, Persius and myself, and others many,"
Replied my Leader, "with that Grecian are
Whom more than all the rest the Muses suckled,
In the first circle of the prison blind;
Ofttimes we of the mountain hold discourse
Which has our nurses ever with itself.
Euripides is with us, Antiphon,
Simonides, Agatho, and many other
Greeks who of old their brows with laurel decked.
There some of thine own people may be seen,
Antigone, Deiphile and Argia,
And there Ismene mournful as of old.
There she is seen who pointed out Langia;
There is Tiresias' daughter, and there Thetis,
And there Deidamia with her sisters."
Silent already were the poets both,
Attent once more in looking round about,
From the ascent and from the walls released;
And four handmaidens of the day already
Were left behind, and at the pole the fifth
Was pointing upward still its burning horn,
What time my Guide: "I think that tow'rds the edge
Our dexter shoulders it behoves us turn,
Circling the mount as we are wont to do."
Thus in that region custom was our ensign;
And we resumed our way with less suspicion
For the assenting of that worthy soul
They in advance went on, and I alone
Behind them, and I listened to their speech,
Which gave me lessons in the art of song.
But soon their sweet discourses interrupted
A tree which midway in the road we found,
With apples sweet and grateful to the smell.
And even as a fir-tree tapers upward
From bough to bough, so downwardly did that;
I think in order that no one might climb it.
On that side where our pathway was enclosed
Fell from the lofty rock a limpid water,
And spread itself abroad upon the leaves.
The Poets twain unto the tree drew near,
And from among the foliage a voice
Cried: "Of this food ye shall have scarcity."
Then said: "More thoughtful Mary was of making
The marriage feast complete and honourable,
Than of her mouth which now for you responds;
And for their drink the ancient Roman women
With water were content; and Daniel
Disparaged food, and understanding won.
The primal age was beautiful as gold;
Acorns it made with hunger savorous,
And nectar every rivulet with thirst.
Honey and locusts were the aliments
That fed the Baptist in the wilderness;
Whence he is glorious, and so magnified
As by the Evangel is revealed to you."
Purgatorio: Canto XXIII
The while among the verdant leaves mine eyes
I riveted, as he is wont to do
Who wastes his life pursuing little birds,
My more than Father said unto me: "Son,
Come now; because the time that is ordained us
More usefully should be apportioned out."
I turned my face and no less soon my steps
Unto the Sages, who were speaking so
They made the going of no cost to me;
And lo! were heard a song and a lament,
"Labia mea, Domine," in fashion
Such that delight and dolence it brought forth.
"O my sweet Father, what is this I hear?"
Began I; and he answered: "Shades that go
Perhaps the knot unloosing of their debt."
In the same way that thoughtful pilgrims do,
Who, unknown people on the road o'ertaking,
Turn themselves round to them, and do not stop,
Even thus, behind us with a swifter motion
Coming and passing onward, gazed upon us
A crowd of spirits silent and devout.
Each in his eyes was dark and cavernous,
Pallid in face, and so emaciate
That from the bones the skin did shape itself.
I do not think that so to merest rind
Could Erisichthon have been withered up
By famine, when most fear he had of it.
Thinking within myself I said: "Behold,
This is the folk who lost Jerusalem,
When Mary made a prey of her own son."
Their sockets were like rings without the gems;
Whoever in the face of men reads 'omo'
Might well in these have recognised the 'm.'
Who would believe the odour of an apple,
Begetting longing, could consume them so,
And that of water, without knowing how?
I still was wondering what so famished them,
For the occasion not yet manifest
Of their emaciation and sad squalor;
And lo! from out the hollow of his head
His eyes a shade turned on me, and looked keenly;
Then cried aloud: "What grace to me is this?"
Never should I have known him by his look;
But in his voice was evident to me
That which his aspect had suppressed within it.
This spark within me wholly re-enkindled
My recognition of his altered face,
And I recalled the features of Forese.
"Ah, do not look at this dry leprosy,"
Entreated he, "which doth my skin discolour,
Nor at default of flesh that I may have;
But tell me truth of thee, and who are those
Two souls, that yonder make for thee an escort;
Do not delay in speaking unto me."
"That face of thine, which dead I once bewept,
Gives me for weeping now no lesser grief,"
I answered him, "beholding it so changed!
But tell me, for God's sake, what thus denudes you?
Make me not speak while I am marvelling,
For ill speaks he who's full of other longings."
And he to me: "From the eternal council
Falls power into the water and the tree
Behind us left, whereby I grow so thin.
All of this people who lamenting sing,
For following beyond measure appetite
In hunger and thirst are here re-sanctified.
Desire to eat and drink enkindles in us
The scent that issues from the apple-tree,
And from the spray that sprinkles o'er the verdure;
And not a single time alone, this ground
Encompassing, is refreshed our pain,--
I say our pain, and ought to say our solace,--
For the same wish doth lead us to the tree
Which led the Christ rejoicing to say 'Eli,'
When with his veins he liberated us."
And I to him: "Forese, from that day
When for a better life thou changedst worlds,
Up to this time five years have not rolled round.
If sooner were the power exhausted in thee
Of sinning more, than thee the hour surprised
Of that good sorrow which to God reweds us,
How hast thou come up hitherward already?
I thought to find thee down there underneath,
Where time for time doth restitution make."
And he to me: "Thus speedily has led me
To drink of the sweet wormwood of these torments,
My Nella with her overflowing tears;
She with her prayers devout and with her sighs
Has drawn me from the coast where one where one awaits,
And from the other circles set me free.
So much more dear and pleasing is to God
My little widow, whom so much I loved,
As in good works she is the more alone;
For the Barbagia of Sardinia
By far more modest in its women is
Than the Barbagia I have left her in.
O brother sweet, what wilt thou have me say?
A future time is in my sight already,
To which this hour will not be very old,
When from the pulpit shall be interdicted
To the unblushing womankind of Florence
To go about displaying breast and paps.
What savages were e'er, what Saracens,
Who stood in need, to make them covered go,
Of spiritual or other discipline?
But if the shameless women were assured
Of what swift Heaven prepares for them, already
Wide open would they have their mouths to howl;
For if my foresight here deceive me not,
They shall be sad ere he has bearded cheeks
Who now is hushed to sleep with lullaby.
O brother, now no longer hide thee from me;
See that not only I, but all these people
Are gazing there, where thou dost veil the sun."
Whence I to him: "If thou bring back to mind
What thou with me hast been and I with thee,
The present memory will be grievous still.
Out of that life he turned me back who goes
In front of me, two days agone when round
The sister of him yonder showed herself,"
And to the sun I pointed. "Through the deep
Night of the truly dead has this one led me,
With this true flesh, that follows after him.
Thence his encouragements have led me up,
Ascending and still circling round the mount
That you doth straighten, whom the world made crooked.
He says that he will bear me company,
Till I shall be where Beatrice will be;
There it behoves me to remain without him.
This is Virgilius, who thus says to me,"
And him I pointed at; "the other is
That shade for whom just now shook every slope
Your realm, that from itself discharges him."
Purgatorio: Canto XXIV
Nor speech the going, nor the going that
Slackened; but talking we went bravely on,
Even as a vessel urged by a good wind.
And shadows, that appeared things doubly dead,
From out the sepulchres of their eyes betrayed
Wonder at me, aware that I was living.
And I, continuing my colloquy,
Said: "Peradventure he goes up more slowly
Than he would do, for other people's sake.
But tell me, if thou knowest, where is Piccarda;
Tell me if any one of note I see
Among this folk that gazes at me so."
"My sister, who, 'twixt beautiful and good,
I know not which was more, triumphs rejoicing
Already in her crown on high Olympus."
So said he first, and then: "'Tis not forbidden
To name each other here, so milked away
Is our resemblance by our dieting.
This," pointing with his finger, "is Buonagiunta,
Buonagiunta, of Lucca; and that face
Beyond him there, more peaked than the others,
Has held the holy Church within his arms;
From Tours was he, and purges by his fasting
Bolsena's eels and the Vernaccia wine."
He named me many others one by one;
And all contented seemed at being named,
So that for this I saw not one dark look.
I saw for hunger bite the empty air
Ubaldin dalla Pila, and Boniface,
Who with his crook had pastured many people.
I saw Messer Marchese, who had leisure
Once at Forli for drinking with less dryness,
And he was one who ne'er felt satisfied.
But as he does who scans, and then doth prize
One more than others, did I him of Lucca,
Who seemed to take most cognizance of me.
He murmured, and I know not what Gentucca
From that place heard I, where he felt the wound
Of justice, that doth macerate them so.
"O soul," I said, "that seemest so desirous
To speak with me, do so that I may hear thee,
And with thy speech appease thyself and me."
"A maid is born, and wears not yet the veil,"
Began he, "who to thee shall pleasant make
My city, howsoever men may blame it.
Thou shalt go on thy way with this prevision;
If by my murmuring thou hast been deceived,
True things hereafter will declare it to thee.
But say if him I here behold, who forth
Evoked the new-invented rhymes, beginning,
'Ladies, that have intelligence of love?'"
And I to him: "One am I, who, whenever
Love doth inspire me, note, and in that measure
Which he within me dictates, singing go."
"O brother, now I see," he said, "the knot
Which me, the Notary, and Guittone held
Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.
I do perceive full clearly how your pens
Go closely following after him who dictates,
Which with our own forsooth came not to pass;
And he who sets himself to go beyond,
No difference sees from one style to another;"
And as if satisfied, he held his peace.
Even as the birds, that winter tow'rds the Nile,
Sometimes into a phalanx form themselves,
Then fly in greater haste, and go in file;
In such wise all the people who were there,
Turning their faces, hurried on their steps,
Both by their leanness and their wishes light.
And as a man, who weary is with trotting,
Lets his companions onward go, and walks,
Until he vents the panting of his chest;
So did Forese let the holy flock
Pass by, and came with me behind it, saying,
"When will it be that I again shall see thee?"
"How long," I answered, "I may live, I know not;
Yet my return will not so speedy be,
But I shall sooner in desire arrive;
Because the place where I was set to live
From day to day of good is more depleted,
And unto dismal ruin seems ordained."
"Now go," he said, "for him most guilty of it
At a beast's tail behold I dragged along
Towards the valley where is no repentance.
Faster at every step the beast is going,
Increasing evermore until it smites him,
And leaves the body vilely mutilated.
Not long those wheels shall turn," and he uplifted
His eyes to heaven, "ere shall be clear to thee
That which my speech no farther can declare.
Now stay behind; because the time so precious
Is in this kingdom, that I lose too much
By coming onward thus abreast with thee."
As sometimes issues forth upon a gallop
A cavalier from out a troop that ride,
And seeks the honour of the first encounter,
So he with greater strides departed from us;
And on the road remained I with those two,
Who were such mighty marshals of the world.
And when before us he had gone so far
Mine eyes became to him such pursuivants
As was my understanding to his words,
Appeared to me with laden and living boughs
Another apple-tree, and not far distant,
From having but just then turned thitherward.
People I saw beneath it lift their hands,
And cry I know not what towards the leaves,
Like little children eager and deluded,
Who pray, and he they pray to doth not answer,
But, to make very keen their appetite,
Holds their desire aloft, and hides it not.
Then they departed as if undeceived;
And now we came unto the mighty tree
Which prayers and tears so manifold refuses.
"Pass farther onward without drawing near;
The tree of which Eve ate is higher up,
And out of that one has this tree been raised."
Thus said I know not who among the branches;
Whereat Virgilius, Statius, and myself
Went crowding forward on the side that rises.
"Be mindful," said he, "of the accursed ones
Formed of the cloud-rack, who inebriate
Combated Theseus with their double breasts;
And of the Jews who showed them soft in drinking,
Whence Gideon would not have them for companions
When he tow'rds Midian the hills descended."
Thus, closely pressed to one of the two borders,
On passed we, hearing sins of gluttony,
Followed forsooth by miserable gains;
Then set at large upon the lonely road,
A thousand steps and more we onward went,
In contemplation, each without a word.
"What go ye thinking thus, ye three alone?"
Said suddenly a voice, whereat I started
As terrified and timid beasts are wont.
I raised my head to see who this might be,
And never in a furnace was there seen
Metals or glass so lucent and so red
As one I saw who said: "If it may please you
To mount aloft, here it behoves you turn;
This way goes he who goeth after peace."
His aspect had bereft me of my sight,
So that I turned me back unto my Teachers,
Like one who goeth as his hearing guides him.
And as, the harbinger of early dawn,
The air of May doth move and breathe out fragrance,
Impregnate all with herbage and with flowers,
So did I feel a breeze strike in the midst
My front, and felt the moving of the plumes
That breathed around an odour of ambrosia;
And heard it said: "Blessed are they whom grace
So much illumines, that the love of taste
Excites not in their breasts too great desire,
Hungering at all times so far as is just."
Purgatorio: Canto XXV
Now was it the ascent no hindrance brooked,
Because the sun had his meridian circle
To Taurus left, and night to Scorpio;
Wherefore as doth a man who tarries not,
But goes his way, whate'er to him appear,
If of necessity the sting transfix him,
In this wise did we enter through the gap,
Taking the stairway, one before the other,
Which by its narrowness divides the climbers.
And as the little stork that lifts its wing
With a desire to fly, and does not venture
To leave the nest, and lets it downward droop,
Even such was I, with the desire of asking
Kindled and quenched, unto the motion coming
He makes who doth address himself to speak.
Not for our pace, though rapid it might be,
My father sweet forbore, but said: "Let fly
The bow of speech thou to the barb hast drawn."
With confidence I opened then my mouth,
And I began: "How can one meagre grow
There where the need of nutriment applies not?"
"If thou wouldst call to mind how Meleager
Was wasted by the wasting of a brand,
This would not," said he, "be to thee so sour;
And wouldst thou think how at each tremulous motion
Trembles within a mirror your own image;
That which seems hard would mellow seem to thee.
But that thou mayst content thee in thy wish
Lo Statius here; and him I call and pray
He now will be the healer of thy wounds."
"If I unfold to him the eternal vengeance,"
Responded Statius, "where thou present art,
Be my excuse that I can naught deny thee."
Then he began: "Son, if these words of mine
Thy mind doth contemplate and doth receive,
They'll be thy light unto the How thou sayest.
The perfect blood, which never is drunk up
Into the thirsty veins, and which remaineth
Like food that from the table thou removest,
Takes in the heart for all the human members
Virtue informative, as being that
Which to be changed to them goes through the veins
Again digest, descends it where 'tis better
Silent to be than say; and then drops thence
Upon another's blood in natural vase.
There one together with the other mingles,
One to be passive meant, the other active
By reason of the perfect place it springs from;
And being conjoined, begins to operate,
Coagulating first, then vivifying
What for its matter it had made consistent.
The active virtue, being made a soul
As of a plant, (in so far different,
This on the way is, that arrived already,)
Then works so much, that now it moves and feels
Like a sea-fungus, and then undertakes
To organize the powers whose seed it is.
Now, Son, dilates and now distends itself
The virtue from the generator's heart,
Where nature is intent on all the members.
But how from animal it man becomes
Thou dost not see as yet; this is a point
Which made a wiser man than thou once err
So far, that in his doctrine separate
He made the soul from possible intellect,
For he no organ saw by this assumed.
Open thy breast unto the truth that's coming,
And know that, just as soon as in the foetus
The articulation of the brain is perfect,
The primal Motor turns to it well pleased
At so great art of nature, and inspires
A spirit new with virtue all replete,
Which what it finds there active doth attract
Into its substance, and becomes one soul,
Which lives, and feels, and on itself revolves.
And that thou less may wonder at my word,
Behold the sun's heat, which becometh wine,
Joined to the juice that from the vine distils.
Whenever Lachesis has no more thread,
It separates from the flesh, and virtually
Bears with itself the human and divine;
The other faculties are voiceless all;
The memory, the intelligence, and the will
In action far more vigorous than before.
Without a pause it falleth of itself
In marvellous way on one shore or the other;
There of its roads it first is cognizant.
Soon as the place there circumscribeth it,
The virtue informative rays round about,
As, and as much as, in the living members.
And even as the air, when full of rain,
By alien rays that are therein reflected,
With divers colours shows itself adorned,
So there the neighbouring air doth shape itself
Into that form which doth impress upon it
Virtually the soul that has stood still.
And then in manner of the little flame,
Which followeth the fire where'er it shifts,
After the spirit followeth its new form.
Since afterwards it takes from this its semblance,
It is called shade; and thence it organizes
Thereafter every sense, even to the sight.
Thence is it that we speak, and thence we laugh;
Thence is it that we form the tears and sighs,
That on the mountain thou mayhap hast heard.
According as impress us our desires
And other affections, so the shade is shaped,
And this is cause of what thou wonderest at."
And now unto the last of all the circles
Had we arrived, and to the right hand turned,
And were attentive to another care.
There the embankment shoots forth flames of fire,
And upward doth the cornice breathe a blast
That drives them back, and from itself sequesters.
Hence we must needs go on the open side,
And one by one; and I did fear the fire
On this side, and on that the falling down.
My Leader said: "Along this place one ought
To keep upon the eyes a tightened rein,
Seeing that one so easily might err."
"Summae Deus clementiae," in the bosom
Of the great burning chanted then I heard,
Which made me no less eager to turn round;
And spirits saw I walking through the flame;
Wherefore I looked, to my own steps and theirs
Apportioning my sight from time to time.
After the close which to that hymn is made,
Aloud they shouted, "Virum non cognosco;"
Then recommenced the hymn with voices low.
This also ended, cried they: "To the wood
Diana ran, and drove forth Helice
Therefrom, who had of Venus felt the poison."
Then to their song returned they; then the wives
They shouted, and the husbands who were chaste.
As virtue and the marriage vow imposes.
And I believe that them this mode suffices,
For all the time the fire is burning them;
With such care is it needful, and such food,
That the last wound of all should be closed up.
Purgatorio: Canto XXVI
While on the brink thus one before the other
We went upon our way, oft the good Master
Said: "Take thou heed! suffice it that I warn thee."
On the right shoulder smote me now the sun,
That, raying out, already the whole west
Changed from its azure aspect into white.
And with my shadow did I make the flame
Appear more red; and even to such a sign
Shades saw I many, as they went, give heed.
This was the cause that gave them a beginning
To speak of me; and to themselves began they
To say: "That seems not a factitious body!"
Then towards me, as far as they could come,
Came certain of them, always with regard
Not to step forth where they would not be burned.
"O thou who goest, not from being slower
But reverent perhaps, behind the others,
Answer me, who in thirst and fire am burning.
Nor to me only is thine answer needful;
For all of these have greater thirst for it
Than for cold water Ethiop or Indian.
Tell us how is it that thou makest thyself
A wall unto the sun, as if thou hadst not
Entered as yet into the net of death."
Thus one of them addressed me, and I straight
Should have revealed myself, were I not bent
On other novelty that then appeared.
For through the middle of the burning road
There came a people face to face with these,
Which held me in suspense with gazing at them.
There see I hastening upon either side
Each of the shades, and kissing one another
Without a pause, content with brief salute.
Thus in the middle of their brown battalions
Muzzle to muzzle one ant meets another
Perchance to spy their journey or their fortune.
No sooner is the friendly greeting ended,
Or ever the first footstep passes onward,
Each one endeavours to outcry the other;
The new-come people: "Sodom and Gomorrah!"
The rest: "Into the cow Pasiphae enters,
So that the bull unto her lust may run!"
Then as the cranes, that to Riphaean mountains
Might fly in part, and part towards the sands,
These of the frost, those of the sun avoidant,
One folk is going, and the other coming,
And weeping they return to their first songs,
And to the cry that most befitteth them;
And close to me approached, even as before,
The very same who had entreated me,
Attent to listen in their countenance.
I, who their inclination twice had seen,
Began: "O souls secure in the possession,
Whene'er it may be, of a state of peace,
Neither unripe nor ripened have remained
My members upon earth, but here are with me
With their own blood and their articulations.
I go up here to be no longer blind;
A Lady is above, who wins this grace,
Whereby the mortal through your world I bring.
But as your greatest longing satisfied
May soon become, so that the Heaven may house you
Which full of love is, and most amply spreads,
Tell me, that I again in books may write it,
Who are you, and what is that multitude
Which goes upon its way behind your backs?"
Not otherwise with wonder is bewildered
The mountaineer, and staring round is dumb,
When rough and rustic to the town he goes,
Than every shade became in its appearance;
But when they of their stupor were disburdened,
Which in high hearts is quickly quieted,
"Blessed be thou, who of our border-lands,"
He recommenced who first had questioned us,
"Experience freightest for a better life.
The folk that comes not with us have offended
In that for which once Caesar, triumphing,
Heard himself called in contumely, 'Queen.'
Therefore they separate, exclaiming, 'Sodom!'
Themselves reproving, even as thou hast heard,
And add unto their burning by their shame.
Our own transgression was hermaphrodite;
But because we observed not human law,
Following like unto beasts our appetite,
In our opprobrium by us is read,
When we part company, the name of her
Who bestialized herself in bestial wood.
Now knowest thou our acts, and what our crime was;
Wouldst thou perchance by name know who we are,
There is not time to tell, nor could I do it.
Thy wish to know me shall in sooth be granted;
I'm Guido Guinicelli, and now purge me,
Having repented ere the hour extreme."
The same that in the sadness of Lycurgus
Two sons became, their mother re-beholding,
Such I became, but rise not to such height,
The moment I heard name himself the father
Of me and of my betters, who had ever
Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of love;
And without speech and hearing thoughtfully
For a long time I went, beholding him,
Nor for the fire did I approach him nearer.
When I was fed with looking, utterly
Myself I offered ready for his service,
With affirmation that compels belief.
And he to me: "Thou leavest footprints such
In me, from what I hear, and so distinct,
Lethe cannot efface them, nor make dim.
But if thy words just now the truth have sworn,
Tell me what is the cause why thou displayest
In word and look that dear thou holdest me?"
And I to him: "Those dulcet lays of yours
Which, long as shall endure our modern fashion,
Shall make for ever dear their very ink!"
"O brother," said he, "he whom I point out,"
And here he pointed at a spirit in front,
"Was of the mother tongue a better smith.
Verses of love and proses of romance,
He mastered all; and let the idiots talk,
Who think the Lemosin surpasses him.
To clamour more than truth they turn their faces,
And in this way establish their opinion,
Ere art or reason has by them been heard.
Thus many ancients with Guittone did,
From cry to cry still giving him applause,
Until the truth has conquered with most persons.
Now, if thou hast such ample privilege
'Tis granted thee to go unto the cloister
Wherein is Christ the abbot of the college,
To him repeat for me a Paternoster,
So far as needful to us of this world,
Where power of sinning is no longer ours."
Then, to give place perchance to one behind,
Whom he had near, he vanished in the fire
As fish in water going to the bottom.
I moved a little tow'rds him pointed out,
And said that to his name my own desire
An honourable place was making ready.
He of his own free will began to say:
'Tan m' abellis vostre cortes deman,
Que jeu nom' puesc ni vueill a vos cobrire;
Jeu sui Arnaut, que plor e vai chantan;
Consiros vei la passada folor,
E vei jauzen lo jorn qu' esper denan.
Ara vus prec per aquella valor,
Que vus condus al som de la scalina,
Sovenga vus a temprar ma dolor.'*
Then hid him in the fire that purifies them.
* So pleases me your courteous demand,
I cannot and I will not hide me from you.
I am Arnaut, who weep and singing go;
Contrite I see the folly of the past,
And joyous see the hoped-for day before me.
Therefore do I implore you, by that power
Which guides you to the summit of the stairs,
Be mindful to assuage my suffering!
Purgatorio: Canto XXVII
As when he vibrates forth his earliest rays,
In regions where his Maker shed his blood,
(The Ebro falling under lofty Libra,
And waters in the Ganges burnt with noon,)
So stood the Sun; hence was the day departing,
When the glad Angel of God appeared to us.
Outside the flame he stood upon the verge,
And chanted forth, "Beati mundo corde,"
In voice by far more living than our own.
Then: "No one farther goes, souls sanctified,
If first the fire bite not; within it enter,
And be not deaf unto the song beyond."
When we were close beside him thus he said;
Wherefore e'en such became I, when I heard him,
As he is who is put into the grave.
Upon my clasped hands I straightened me,
Scanning the fire, and vividly recalling
The human bodies I had once seen burned.
Towards me turned themselves my good Conductors,
And unto me Virgilius said: "My son,
Here may indeed be torment, but not death.
Remember thee, remember! and if I
On Geryon have safely guided thee,
What shall I do now I am nearer God?
Believe for certain, shouldst thou stand a full
Millennium in the bosom of this flame,
It could not make thee bald a single hair.
And if perchance thou think that I deceive thee,
Draw near to it, and put it to the proof
With thine own hands upon thy garment's hem.
Now lay aside, now lay aside all fear,
Turn hitherward, and onward come securely;"
And I still motionless, and 'gainst my conscience!
Seeing me stand still motionless and stubborn,
Somewhat disturbed he said: "Now look thou, Son,
'Twixt Beatrice and thee there is this wall."
As at the name of Thisbe oped his lids
The dying Pyramus, and gazed upon her,
What time the mulberry became vermilion,
Even thus, my obduracy being softened,
I turned to my wise Guide, hearing the name
That in my memory evermore is welling.
Whereat he wagged his head, and said: "How now?
Shall we stay on this side?" then smiled as one
Does at a child who's vanquished by an apple.
Then into the fire in front of me he entered,
Beseeching Statius to come after me,
Who a long way before divided us.
When I was in it, into molten glass
I would have cast me to refresh myself,
So without measure was the burning there!
And my sweet Father, to encourage me,
Discoursing still of Beatrice went on,
Saying: "Her eyes I seem to see already!"
A voice, that on the other side was singing,
Directed us, and we, attent alone
On that, came forth where the ascent began.
"Venite, benedicti Patris mei,"
Sounded within a splendour, which was there
Such it o'ercame me, and I could not look.
"The sun departs," it added, "and night cometh;
Tarry ye not, but onward urge your steps,
So long as yet the west becomes not dark."
Straight forward through the rock the path ascended
In such a way that I cut off the rays
Before me of the sun, that now was low.
And of few stairs we yet had made assay,
Ere by the vanished shadow the sun's setting
Behind us we perceived, I and my Sages.
And ere in all its parts immeasurable
The horizon of one aspect had become,
And Night her boundless dispensation held,
Each of us of a stair had made his bed;
Because the nature of the mount took from us
The power of climbing, more than the delight.
Even as in ruminating passive grow
The goats, who have been swift and venturesome
Upon the mountain-tops ere they were fed,
Hushed in the shadow, while the sun is hot,
Watched by the herdsman, who upon his staff
Is leaning, and in leaning tendeth them;
And as the shepherd, lodging out of doors,
Passes the night beside his quiet flock,
Watching that no wild beast may scatter it,
Such at that hour were we, all three of us,
I like the goat, and like the herdsmen they,
Begirt on this side and on that by rocks.
Little could there be seen of things without;
But through that little I beheld the stars
More luminous and larger than their wont.
Thus ruminating, and beholding these,
Sleep seized upon me,--sleep, that oftentimes
Before a deed is done has tidings of it.
It was the hour, I think, when from the East
First on the mountain Citherea beamed,
Who with the fire of love seems always burning;
Youthful and beautiful in dreams methought
I saw a lady walking in a meadow,
Gathering flowers; and singing she was saying:
"Know whosoever may my name demand
That I am Leah, and go moving round
My beauteous hands to make myself a garland.
To please me at the mirror, here I deck me,
But never does my sister Rachel leave
Her looking-glass, and sitteth all day long.
To see her beauteous eyes as eager is she,
As I am to adorn me with my hands;
Her, seeing, and me, doing satisfies."
And now before the antelucan splendours
That unto pilgrims the more grateful rise,
As, home-returning, less remote they lodge,
The darkness fled away on every side,
And slumber with it; whereupon I rose,
Seeing already the great Masters risen.
"That apple sweet, which through so many branches
The care of mortals goeth in pursuit of,
To-day shall put in peace thy hungerings."
Speaking to me, Virgilius of such words
As these made use; and never were there guerdons
That could in pleasantness compare with these.
Such longing upon longing came upon me
To be above, that at each step thereafter
For flight I felt in me the pinions growing.
When underneath us was the stairway all
Run o'er, and we were on the highest step,
Virgilius fastened upon me his eyes,
And said: "The temporal fire and the eternal,
Son, thou hast seen, and to a place art come
Where of myself no farther I discern.
By intellect and art I here have brought thee;
Take thine own pleasure for thy guide henceforth;
Beyond the steep ways and the narrow art thou.
Behold the sun, that shines upon thy forehead;
Behold the grass, the flowerets, and the shrubs
Which of itself alone this land produces.
Until rejoicing come the beauteous eyes
Which weeping caused me to come unto thee,
Thou canst sit down, and thou canst walk among them.
Expect no more or word or sign from me;
Free and upright and sound is thy free-will,
And error were it not to do its bidding;
Thee o'er thyself I therefore crown and mitre!"
Purgatorio: Canto XXVIII
Eager already to search in and round
The heavenly forest, dense and living-green,
Which tempered to the eyes the new-born day,
Withouten more delay I left the bank,
Taking the level country slowly, slowly
Over the soil that everywhere breathes fragrance.
A softly-breathing air, that no mutation
Had in itself, upon the forehead smote me
No heavier blow than of a gentle wind,
Whereat the branches, lightly tremulous,
Did all of them bow downward toward that side
Where its first shadow casts the Holy Mountain;
Yet not from their upright direction swayed,
So that the little birds upon their tops
Should leave the practice of each art of theirs;
But with full ravishment the hours of prime,
Singing, received they in the midst of leaves,
That ever bore a burden to their rhymes,
Such as from branch to branch goes gathering on
Through the pine forest on the shore of Chiassi,
When Eolus unlooses the Sirocco.
Already my slow steps had carried me
Into the ancient wood so far, that I
Could not perceive where I had entered it.
And lo! my further course a stream cut off,
Which tow'rd the left hand with its little waves
Bent down the grass that on its margin sprang.
All waters that on earth most limpid are
Would seem to have within themselves some mixture
Compared with that which nothing doth conceal,
Although it moves on with a brown, brown current
Under the shade perpetual, that never
Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon.
With feet I stayed, and with mine eyes I passed
Beyond the rivulet, to look upon
The great variety of the fresh may.
And there appeared to me (even as appears
Suddenly something that doth turn aside
Through very wonder every other thought)
A lady all alone, who went along
Singing and culling floweret after floweret,
With which her pathway was all painted over.
"Ah, beauteous lady, who in rays of love
Dost warm thyself, if I may trust to looks,
Which the heart's witnesses are wont to be,
May the desire come unto thee to draw
Near to this river's bank," I said to her,
"So much that I might hear what thou art singing.
Thou makest me remember where and what
Proserpina that moment was when lost
Her mother her, and she herself the Spring."
As turns herself, with feet together pressed
And to the ground, a lady who is dancing,
And hardly puts one foot before the other,
On the vermilion and the yellow flowerets
She turned towards me, not in other wise
Than maiden who her modest eyes casts down;
And my entreaties made to be content,
So near approaching, that the dulcet sound
Came unto me together with its meaning
As soon as she was where the grasses are.
Bathed by the waters of the beauteous river,
To lift her eyes she granted me the boon.
I do not think there shone so great a light
Under the lids of Venus, when transfixed
By her own son, beyond his usual custom!
Erect upon the other bank she smiled,
Bearing full many colours in her hands,
Which that high land produces without seed.
Apart three paces did the river make us;
But Hellespont, where Xerxes passed across,
(A curb still to all human arrogance,)
More hatred from Leander did not suffer
For rolling between Sestos and Abydos,
Than that from me, because it oped not then.
"Ye are new-comers; and because I smile,"
Began she, "peradventure, in this place
Elect to human nature for its nest,
Some apprehension keeps you marvelling;
But the psalm 'Delectasti' giveth light
Which has the power to uncloud your intellect.
And thou who foremost art, and didst entreat me,
Speak, if thou wouldst hear more; for I came ready
To all thy questionings, as far as needful."
"The water," said I, "and the forest's sound,
Are combating within me my new faith
In something which I heard opposed to this."
Whence she: "I will relate how from its cause
Proceedeth that which maketh thee to wonder,
And purge away the cloud that smites upon thee.
The Good Supreme, sole in itself delighting,
Created man good, and this goodly place
Gave him as hansel of eternal peace.
By his default short while he sojourned here;
By his default to weeping and to toil
He changed his innocent laughter and sweet play.
That the disturbance which below is made
By exhalations of the land and water,
(Which far as may be follow after heat,)
Might not upon mankind wage any war,
This mount ascended tow'rds the heaven so high,
And is exempt, from there where it is locked.
Now since the universal atmosphere
Turns in a circuit with the primal motion
Unless the circle is broken on some side,
Upon this height, that all is disengaged
In living ether, doth this motion strike
And make the forest sound, for it is dense;
And so much power the stricken plant possesses
That with its virtue it impregns the air,
And this, revolving, scatters it around;
And yonder earth, according as 'tis worthy
In self or in its clime, conceives and bears
Of divers qualities the divers trees;
It should not seem a marvel then on earth,
This being heard, whenever any plant
Without seed manifest there taketh root.
And thou must know, this holy table-land
In which thou art is full of every seed,
And fruit has in it never gathered there.
The water which thou seest springs not from vein
Restored by vapour that the cold condenses,
Like to a stream that gains or loses breath;
But issues from a fountain safe and certain,
Which by the will of God as much regains
As it discharges, open on two sides.
Upon this side with virtue it descends,
Which takes away all memory of sin;
On that, of every good deed done restores it.
Here Lethe, as upon the other side
Eunoe, it is called; and worketh not
If first on either side it be not tasted.
This every other savour doth transcend;
And notwithstanding slaked so far may be
Thy thirst, that I reveal to thee no more,
I'll give thee a corollary still in grace,
Nor think my speech will be to thee less dear
If it spread out beyond my promise to thee.
Those who in ancient times have feigned in song
The Age of Gold and its felicity,
Dreamed of this place perhaps upon Parnassus.
Here was the human race in innocence;
Here evermore was Spring, and every fruit;
This is the nectar of which each one speaks."
Then backward did I turn me wholly round
Unto my Poets, and saw that with a smile
They had been listening to these closing words;
Then to the beautiful lady turned mine eyes.
Purgatorio: Canto XXIX
Singing like unto an enamoured lady
She, with the ending of her words, continued:
"Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata."
And even as Nymphs, that wandered all alone
Among the sylvan shadows, sedulous
One to avoid and one to see the sun,
She then against the stream moved onward, going
Along the bank, and I abreast of her,
Her little steps with little steps attending.
Between her steps and mine were not a hundred,
When equally the margins gave a turn,
In such a way, that to the East I faced.
Nor even thus our way continued far
Before the lady wholly turned herself
Unto me, saying, "Brother, look and listen!"
And lo! a sudden lustre ran across
On every side athwart the spacious forest,
Such that it made me doubt if it were lightning.
But since the lightning ceases as it comes,
And that continuing brightened more and more,
Within my thought I said, "What thing is this?"
And a delicious melody there ran
Along the luminous air, whence holy zeal
Made me rebuke the hardihood of Eve;
For there where earth and heaven obedient were,
The woman only, and but just created,
Could not endure to stay 'neath any veil;
Underneath which had she devoutly stayed,
I sooner should have tasted those delights
Ineffable, and for a longer time.
While 'mid such manifold first-fruits I walked
Of the eternal pleasure all enrapt,
And still solicitous of more delights,
In front of us like an enkindled fire
Became the air beneath the verdant boughs,
And the sweet sound as singing now was heard.
O Virgins sacrosanct! if ever hunger,
Vigils, or cold for you I have endured,
The occasion spurs me their reward to claim!
Now Helicon must needs pour forth for me,
And with her choir Urania must assist me,
To put in verse things difficult to think.
A little farther on, seven trees of gold
In semblance the long space still intervening
Between ourselves and them did counterfeit;
But when I had approached so near to them
The common object, which the sense deceives,
Lost not by distance any of its marks,
The faculty that lends discourse to reason
Did apprehend that they were candlesticks,
And in the voices of the song "Hosanna!"
Above them flamed the harness beautiful,
Far brighter than the moon in the serene
Of midnight, at the middle of her month.
I turned me round, with admiration filled,
To good Virgilius, and he answered me
With visage no less full of wonderment.
Then back I turned my face to those high things,
Which moved themselves towards us so sedately,
They had been distanced by new-wedded brides.
The lady chid me: "Why dost thou burn only
So with affection for the living lights,
And dost not look at what comes after them?"
Then saw I people, as behind their leaders,
Coming behind them, garmented in white,
And such a whiteness never was on earth.
The water on my left flank was resplendent,
And back to me reflected my left side,
E'en as a mirror, if I looked therein.
When I upon my margin had such post
That nothing but the stream divided us,
Better to see I gave my steps repose;
And I beheld the flamelets onward go,
Leaving behind themselves the air depicted,
And they of trailing pennons had the semblance,
So that it overhead remained distinct
With sevenfold lists, all of them of the colours
Whence the sun's bow is made, and Delia's girdle.
These standards to the rearward longer were
Than was my sight; and, as it seemed to me,
Ten paces were the outermost apart.
Under so fair a heaven as I describe
The four and twenty Elders, two by two,
Came on incoronate with flower-de-luce.
They all of them were singing: "Blessed thou
Among the daughters of Adam art, and blessed
For evermore shall be thy loveliness."
After the flowers and other tender grasses
In front of me upon the other margin
Were disencumbered of that race elect,
Even as in heaven star followeth after star,
There came close after them four animals,
Incoronate each one with verdant leaf.
Plumed with six wings was every one of them,
The plumage full of eyes; the eyes of Argus
If they were living would be such as these.
Reader! to trace their forms no more I waste
My rhymes; for other spendings press me so,
That I in this cannot be prodigal.
But read Ezekiel, who depicteth them
As he beheld them from the region cold
Coming with cloud, with whirlwind, and with fire;
And such as thou shalt find them in his pages,
Such were they here; saving that in their plumage
John is with me, and differeth from him.
The interval between these four contained
A chariot triumphal on two wheels,
Which by a Griffin's neck came drawn along;
And upward he extended both his wings
Between the middle list and three and three,
So that he injured none by cleaving it.
So high they rose that they were lost to sight;
His limbs were gold, so far as he was bird,
And white the others with vermilion mingled.
Not only Rome with no such splendid car
E'er gladdened Africanus, or Augustus,
But poor to it that of the Sun would be,--
That of the Sun, which swerving was burnt up
At the importunate orison of Earth,
When Jove was so mysteriously just.
Three maidens at the right wheel in a circle
Came onward dancing; one so very red
That in the fire she hardly had been noted.
The second was as if her flesh and bones
Had all been fashioned out of emerald;
The third appeared as snow but newly fallen.
And now they seemed conducted by the white,
Now by the red, and from the song of her
The others took their step, or slow or swift.
Upon the left hand four made holiday
Vested in purple, following the measure
Of one of them with three eyes m her head.
In rear of all the group here treated of
Two old men I beheld, unlike in habit,
But like in gait, each dignified and grave.
One showed himself as one of the disciples
Of that supreme Hippocrates, whom nature
Made for the animals she holds most dear;
Contrary care the other manifested,
With sword so shining and so sharp, it caused
Terror to me on this side of the river.
Thereafter four I saw of humble aspect,
And behind all an aged man alone
Walking in sleep with countenance acute.
And like the foremost company these seven
Were habited; yet of the flower-de-luce
No garland round about the head they wore,
But of the rose, and other flowers vermilion;
At little distance would the sight have sworn
That all were in a flame above their brows.
And when the car was opposite to me
Thunder was heard; and all that folk august
Seemed to have further progress interdicted,
There with the vanward ensigns standing still.
Purgatorio: Canto XXX
When the Septentrion of the highest heaven
(Which never either setting knew or rising,
Nor veil of other cloud than that of sin,
And which made every one therein aware
Of his own duty, as the lower makes
Whoever turns the helm to come to port)
Motionless halted, the veracious people,
That came at first between it and the Griffin,
Turned themselves to the car, as to their peace.
And one of them, as if by Heaven commissioned,
Singing, "Veni, sponsa, de Libano"
Shouted three times, and all the others after.
Even as the Blessed at the final summons
Shall rise up quickened each one from his cavern,
Uplifting light the reinvested flesh,
So upon that celestial chariot
A hundred rose 'ad vocem tanti senis,'
Ministers and messengers of life eternal.
They all were saying, "Benedictus qui venis,"
And, scattering flowers above and round about,
"Manibus o date lilia plenis."
Ere now have I beheld, as day began,
The eastern hemisphere all tinged with rose,
And the other heaven with fair serene adorned;
And the sun's face, uprising, overshadowed
So that by tempering influence of vapours
For a long interval the eye sustained it;
Thus in the bosom of a cloud of flowers
Which from those hands angelical ascended,
And downward fell again inside and out,
Over her snow-white veil with olive cinct
Appeared a lady under a green mantle,
Vested in colour of the living flame.
And my own spirit, that already now
So long a time had been, that in her presence
Trembling with awe it had not stood abashed,
Without more knowledge having by mine eyes,
Through occult virtue that from her proceeded
Of ancient love the mighty influence felt.
As soon as on my vision smote the power
Sublime, that had already pierced me through
Ere from my boyhood I had yet come forth,
To the left hand I turned with that reliance
With which the little child runs to his mother,
When he has fear, or when he is afflicted,
To say unto Virgilius: "Not a drachm
Of blood remains in me, that does not tremble;
I know the traces of the ancient flame."
But us Virgilius of himself deprived
Had left, Virgilius, sweetest of all fathers,
Virgilius, to whom I for safety gave me:
Nor whatsoever lost the ancient mother
Availed my cheeks now purified from dew,
That weeping they should not again be darkened.
"Dante, because Virgilius has departed
Do not weep yet, do not weep yet awhile;
For by another sword thou need'st must weep."
E'en as an admiral, who on poop and prow
Comes to behold the people that are working
In other ships, and cheers them to well-doing,
Upon the left hand border of the car,
When at the sound I turned of my own name,
Which of necessity is here recorded,
I saw the Lady, who erewhile appeared
Veiled underneath the angelic festival,
Direct her eyes to me across the river.
Although the veil, that from her head descended,
Encircled with the foliage of Minerva,
Did not permit her to appear distinctly,
In attitude still royally majestic
Continued she, like unto one who speaks,
And keeps his warmest utterance in reserve:
"Look at me well; in sooth I'm Beatrice!
How didst thou deign to come unto the Mountain?
Didst thou not know that man is happy here?"
Mine eyes fell downward into the clear fountain,
But, seeing myself therein, I sought the grass,
So great a shame did weigh my forehead down.
As to the son the mother seems superb,
So she appeared to me; for somewhat bitter
Tasteth the savour of severe compassion.
Silent became she, and the Angels sang
Suddenly, "In te, Domine, speravi:"
But beyond 'pedes meos' did not pass.
Even as the snow among the living rafters
Upon the back of Italy congeals,
Blown on and drifted by Sclavonian winds,
And then, dissolving, trickles through itself
Whene'er the land that loses shadow breathes,
So that it seems a fire that melts a taper;
E'en thus was I without a tear or sigh,
Before the song of those who sing for ever
After the music of the eternal spheres.
But when I heard in their sweet melodies
Compassion for me, more than had they said,
"O wherefore, lady, dost thou thus upbraid him?"
The ice, that was about my heart congealed,
To air and water changed, and in my anguish
Through mouth and eyes came gushing from my breast.
She, on the right-hand border of the car
Still firmly standing, to those holy beings
Thus her discourse directed afterwards:
"Ye keep your watch in the eternal day,
So that nor night nor sleep can steal from you
One step the ages make upon their path;
Therefore my answer is with greater care,
That he may hear me who is weeping yonder,
So that the sin and dole be of one measure.
Not only by the work of those great wheels,
That destine every seed unto some end,
According as the stars are in conjunction,
But by the largess of celestial graces,
Which have such lofty vapours for their rain
That near to them our sight approaches not,
Such had this man become in his new life
Potentially, that every righteous habit
Would have made admirable proof in him;
But so much more malignant and more savage
Becomes the land untilled and with bad seed,
The more good earthly vigour it possesses.
Some time did I sustain him with my look;
Revealing unto him my youthful eyes,
I led him with me turned in the right way.
As soon as ever of my second age
I was upon the threshold and changed life,
Himself from me he took and gave to others.
When from the flesh to spirit I ascended,
And beauty and virtue were in me increased,
I was to him less dear and less delightful;
And into ways untrue he turned his steps,
Pursuing the false images of good,
That never any promises fulfil;
Nor prayer for inspiration me availed,
By means of which in dreams and otherwise
I called him back, so little did he heed them.
So low he fell, that all appliances
For his salvation were already short,
Save showing him the people of perdition.
For this I visited the gates of death,
And unto him, who so far up has led him,
My intercessions were with weeping borne.
God's lofty fiat would be violated,
If Lethe should be passed, and if such viands
Should tasted be, withouten any scot
Of penitence, that gushes forth in tears."