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  • 1308-1321
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Rolls to the ocean: Ottocar his name: Who in his swaddling clothes was of more worth Than Winceslaus his son, a bearded man,
Pamper’d with rank luxuriousness and ease. And that one with the nose depress, who close In counsel seems with him of gentle look, Flying expir’d, with’ring the lily’s flower. Look there how he doth knock against his breast! The other ye behold, who for his cheek
Makes of one hand a couch, with frequent sighs. They are the father and the father-in-law Of Gallia’s bane: his vicious life they know And foul; thence comes the grief that rends them thus. “He, so robust of limb, who measure keeps In song, with him of feature prominent,
With ev’ry virtue bore his girdle brac’d. And if that stripling who behinds him sits, King after him had liv’d, his virtue then From vessel to like vessel had been pour’d; Which may not of the other heirs be said. By James and Frederick his realms are held; Neither the better heritage obtains.
Rarely into the branches of the tree Doth human worth mount up; and so ordains He who bestows it, that as his free gift It may be call’d. To Charles my words apply No less than to his brother in the song; Which Pouille and Provence now with grief confess. So much that plant degenerates from its seed, As more than Beatrice and Margaret
Costanza still boasts of her valorous spouse. “Behold the king of simple life and plain, Harry of England, sitting there alone:
He through his branches better issue spreads. “That one, who on the ground beneath the rest Sits lowest, yet his gaze directs aloft, Us William, that brave Marquis, for whose cause The deed of Alexandria and his war
Makes Conferrat and Canavese weep.”

CANTO VIII

Now was the hour that wakens fond desire In men at sea, and melts their thoughtful heart, Who in the morn have bid sweet friends farewell, And pilgrim newly on his road with love
Thrills, if he hear the vesper bell from far, That seems to mourn for the expiring day: When I, no longer taking heed to hear
Began, with wonder, from those spirits to mark One risen from its seat, which with its hand Audience implor’d. Both palms it join’d and rais’d, Fixing its steadfast gaze towards the east, As telling God, “I care for naught beside.” “Te Lucis Ante,” so devoutly then
Came from its lip, and in so soft a strain, That all my sense in ravishment was lost. And the rest after, softly and devout,
Follow’d through all the hymn, with upward gaze Directed to the bright supernal wheels.
Here, reader! for the truth makes thine eyes keen: For of so subtle texture is this veil,
That thou with ease mayst pass it through unmark’d. I saw that gentle band silently next
Look up, as if in expectation held, Pale and in lowly guise; and from on high I saw forth issuing descend beneath
Two angels with two flame-illumin’d swords, Broken and mutilated at their points.
Green as the tender leaves but newly born, Their vesture was, the which by wings as green Beaten, they drew behind them, fann’d in air. A little over us one took his stand,
The other lighted on the’ Opposing hill, So that the troop were in the midst contain’d. Well I descried the whiteness on their heads; But in their visages the dazzled eye
Was lost, as faculty that by too much Is overpower’d. “From Mary’s bosom both
Are come,” exclaim’d Sordello, “as a guard Over the vale, ganst him, who hither tends, The serpent.” Whence, not knowing by which path He came, I turn’d me round, and closely press’d, All frozen, to my leader’s trusted side. Sordello paus’d not: “To the valley now (For it is time) let us descend; and hold Converse with those great shadows: haply much Their sight may please ye.” Only three steps down Methinks I measur’d, ere I was beneath,
And noted one who look’d as with desire To know me. Time was now that air arrow dim; Yet not so dim, that ‘twixt his eyes and mine It clear’d not up what was conceal’d before. Mutually tow’rds each other we advanc’d. Nino, thou courteous judge! what joy I felt, When I perceiv’d thou wert not with the bad! No salutation kind on either part
Was left unsaid. He then inquir’d: “How long Since thou arrived’st at the mountain’s foot, Over the distant waves?” –“O!” answer’d I, “Through the sad seats of woe this morn I came, And still in my first life, thus journeying on, The other strive to gain.” Soon as they heard My words, he and Sordello backward drew, As suddenly amaz’d. To Virgil one,
The other to a spirit turn’d, who near Was seated, crying: “Conrad! up with speed: Come, see what of his grace high God hath will’d.” Then turning round to me: “By that rare mark Of honour which thou ow’st to him, who hides So deeply his first cause, it hath no ford, When thou shalt he beyond the vast of waves. Tell my Giovanna, that for me she call
There, where reply to innocence is made. Her mother, I believe, loves me no more; Since she has chang’d the white and wimpled folds, Which she is doom’d once more with grief to wish. By her it easily may be perceiv’d,
How long in women lasts the flame of love, If sight and touch do not relume it oft. For her so fair a burial will not make
The viper which calls Milan to the field, As had been made by shrill Gallura’s bird.” He spoke, and in his visage took the stamp Of that right seal, which with due temperature Glows in the bosom. My insatiate eyes
Meanwhile to heav’n had travel’d, even there Where the bright stars are slowest, as a wheel Nearest the axle; when my guide inquir’d: “What there aloft, my son, has caught thy gaze?” I answer’d: “The three torches, with which here The pole is all on fire. “He then to me: “The four resplendent stars, thou saw’st this morn Are there beneath, and these ris’n in their stead.” While yet he spoke. Sordello to himself Drew him, and cry’d: “Lo there our enemy!” And with his hand pointed that way to look. Along the side, where barrier none arose Around the little vale, a serpent lay,
Such haply as gave Eve the bitter food. Between the grass and flowers, the evil snake Came on, reverting oft his lifted head;
And, as a beast that smoothes its polish’d coat, Licking his hack. I saw not, nor can tell, How those celestial falcons from their seat Mov’d, but in motion each one well descried, Hearing the air cut by their verdant plumes. The serpent fled; and to their stations back The angels up return’d with equal flight. The Spirit (who to Nino, when he call’d, Had come), from viewing me with fixed ken, Through all that conflict, loosen’d not his sight. “So may the lamp, which leads thee up on high, Find, in thy destin’d lot, of wax so much, As may suffice thee to the enamel’s height.” It thus began: “If any certain news
Of Valdimagra and the neighbour part Thou know’st, tell me, who once was mighty there They call’d me Conrad Malaspina, not
That old one, but from him I sprang. The love I bore my people is now here refin’d.”
“In your dominions,” I answer’d, “ne’er was I. But through all Europe where do those men dwell, To whom their glory is not manifest?
The fame, that honours your illustrious house, Proclaims the nobles and proclaims the land; So that he knows it who was never there. I swear to you, so may my upward route
Prosper! your honour’d nation not impairs The value of her coffer and her sword.
Nature and use give her such privilege, That while the world is twisted from his course By a bad head, she only walks aright,
And has the evil way in scorn.” He then: “Now pass thee on: sev’n times the tired sun Revisits not the couch, which with four feet The forked Aries covers, ere that kind
Opinion shall be nail’d into thy brain With stronger nails than other’s speech can drive, If the sure course of judgment be not stay’d.”

CANTO IX

Now the fair consort of Tithonus old, Arisen from her mate’s beloved arms,
Look’d palely o’er the eastern cliff: her brow, Lucent with jewels, glitter’d, set in sign Of that chill animal, who with his train Smites fearful nations: and where then we were, Two steps of her ascent the night had past, And now the third was closing up its wing, When I, who had so much of Adam with me, Sank down upon the grass, o’ercome with sleep, There where all five were seated. In that hour, When near the dawn the swallow her sad lay, Rememb’ring haply ancient grief, renews, And with our minds more wand’rers from the flesh, And less by thought restrain’d are, as ‘t were, full Of holy divination in their dreams,
Then in a vision did I seem to view A golden-feather’d eagle in the sky,
With open wings, and hov’ring for descent, And I was in that place, methought, from whence Young Ganymede, from his associates ‘reft, Was snatch’d aloft to the high consistory. “Perhaps,” thought I within me, “here alone He strikes his quarry, and elsewhere disdains To pounce upon the prey.” Therewith, it seem’d, A little wheeling in his airy tour
Terrible as the lightning rush’d he down, And snatch’d me upward even to the fire. There both, I thought, the eagle and myself Did burn; and so intense th’ imagin’d flames, That needs my sleep was broken off. As erst Achilles shook himself, and round him roll’d His waken’d eyeballs wond’ring where he was, Whenas his mother had from Chiron fled
To Scyros, with him sleeping in her arms; E’en thus I shook me, soon as from my face The slumber parted, turning deadly pale, Like one ice-struck with dread. Solo at my side My comfort stood: and the bright sun was now More than two hours aloft: and to the sea My looks were turn’d. “Fear not,” my master cried, “Assur’d we are at happy point. Thy strength Shrink not, but rise dilated. Thou art come To Purgatory now. Lo! there the cliff
That circling bounds it! Lo! the entrance there, Where it doth seem disparted! Ere the dawn Usher’d the daylight, when thy wearied soul Slept in thee, o’er the flowery vale beneath A lady came, and thus bespake me: “I
Am Lucia. Suffer me to take this man, Who slumbers. Easier so his way shall speed.” Sordello and the other gentle shapes
Tarrying, she bare thee up: and, as day shone, This summit reach’d: and I pursued her steps. Here did she place thee. First her lovely eyes That open entrance show’d me; then at once She vanish’d with thy sleep.” Like one, whose doubts Are chas’d by certainty, and terror turn’d To comfort on discovery of the truth,
Such was the change in me: and as my guide Beheld me fearless, up along the cliff
He mov’d, and I behind him, towards the height. Reader! thou markest how my theme doth rise, Nor wonder therefore, if more artfully
I prop the structure! Nearer now we drew, Arriv’d’ whence in that part, where first a breach As of a wall appear’d, I could descry
A portal, and three steps beneath, that led For inlet there, of different colour each, And one who watch’d, but spake not yet a word. As more and more mine eye did stretch its view, I mark’d him seated on the highest step, In visage such, as past my power to bear. Grasp’d in his hand a naked sword, glanc’d back The rays so toward me, that I oft in vain My sight directed. “Speak from whence ye stand:” He cried: “What would ye? Where is your escort? Take heed your coming upward harm ye not.” “A heavenly dame, not skilless of these things,” Replied the’ instructor, “told us, even now, ‘Pass that way: here the gate is.” –“And may she Befriending prosper your ascent,” resum’d The courteous keeper of the gate: “Come then Before our steps.” We straightway thither came. The lowest stair was marble white so smooth And polish’d, that therein my mirror’d form Distinct I saw. The next of hue more dark Than sablest grain, a rough and singed block, Crack’d lengthwise and across. The third, that lay Massy above, seem’d porphyry, that flam’d Red as the life-blood spouting from a vein. On this God’s angel either foot sustain’d, Upon the threshold seated, which appear’d A rock of diamond. Up the trinal steps
My leader cheerily drew me. “Ask,” said he, “With humble heart, that he unbar the bolt.” Piously at his holy feet devolv’d
I cast me, praying him for pity’s sake That he would open to me: but first fell Thrice on my bosom prostrate. Seven times0 The letter, that denotes the inward stain, He on my forehead with the blunted point Of his drawn sword inscrib’d. And “Look,” he cried, “When enter’d, that thou wash these scars away.” Ashes, or earth ta’en dry out of the ground, Were of one colour with the robe he wore. From underneath that vestment forth he drew Two keys of metal twain: the one was gold, Its fellow silver. With the pallid first, And next the burnish’d, he so ply’d the gate, As to content me well. “Whenever one
Faileth of these, that in the keyhole straight It turn not, to this alley then expect
Access in vain.” Such were the words he spake. “One is more precious: but the other needs Skill and sagacity, large share of each, Ere its good task to disengage the knot
Be worthily perform’d. From Peter these I hold, of him instructed, that I err
Rather in opening than in keeping fast; So but the suppliant at my feet implore.” Then of that hallow’d gate he thrust the door, Exclaiming, “Enter, but this warning hear: He forth again departs who looks behind.” As in the hinges of that sacred ward
The swivels turn’d, sonorous metal strong, Harsh was the grating; nor so surlily
Roar’d the Tarpeian, when by force bereft Of good Metellus, thenceforth from his loss To leanness doom’d. Attentively I turn’d, List’ning the thunder, that first issued forth; And “We praise thee, O God,” methought I heard In accents blended with sweet melody.
The strains came o’er mine ear, e’en as the sound Of choral voices, that in solemn chant
With organ mingle, and, now high and clear, Come swelling, now float indistinct away.

CANTO X

When we had passed the threshold of the gate (Which the soul’s ill affection doth disuse, Making the crooked seem the straighter path), I heard its closing sound. Had mine eyes turn’d, For that offence what plea might have avail’d? We mounted up the riven rock, that wound On either side alternate, as the wave
Flies and advances. “Here some little art Behooves us,” said my leader, “that our steps Observe the varying flexure of the path.” Thus we so slowly sped, that with cleft orb The moon once more o’erhangs her wat’ry couch, Ere we that strait have threaded. But when free We came and open, where the mount above
One solid mass retires, I spent, with toil, And both, uncertain of the way, we stood, Upon a plain more lonesome, than the roads That traverse desert wilds. From whence the brink Borders upon vacuity, to foot
Of the steep bank, that rises still, the space Had measur’d thrice the stature of a man: And, distant as mine eye could wing its flight, To leftward now and now to right dispatch’d, That cornice equal in extent appear’d.
Not yet our feet had on that summit mov’d, When I discover’d that the bank around,
Whose proud uprising all ascent denied, Was marble white, and so exactly wrought With quaintest sculpture, that not there alone Had Polycletus, but e’en nature’s self
Been sham’d. The angel who came down to earth With tidings of the peace so many years
Wept for in vain, that op’d the heavenly gates From their long interdict) before us seem’d, In a sweet act, so sculptur’d to the life, He look’d no silent image. One had sworn He had said, “Hail!” for she was imag’d there, By whom the key did open to God’s love,
And in her act as sensibly impress
That word, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” As figure seal’d on wax. “Fix not thy mind On one place only,” said the guide belov’d, Who had me near him on that part where lies The heart of man. My sight forthwith I turn’d And mark’d, behind the virgin mother’s form, Upon that side, where he, that mov’d me, stood, Another story graven on the rock.
I passed athwart the bard, and drew me near, That it might stand more aptly for my view. There in the self-same marble were engrav’d The cart and kine, drawing the sacred ark, That from unbidden office awes mankind.
Before it came much people; and the whole Parted in seven quires. One sense cried, “Nay,” Another, “Yes, they sing.” Like doubt arose Betwixt the eye and smell, from the curl’d fume Of incense breathing up the well-wrought toil. Preceding the blest vessel, onward came
With light dance leaping, girt in humble guise, Sweet Israel’s harper: in that hap he seem’d Less and yet more than kingly. Opposite, At a great palace, from the lattice forth Look’d Michol, like a lady full of scorn And sorrow. To behold the tablet next,
Which at the hack of Michol whitely shone, I mov’d me. There was storied on the rock The’ exalted glory of the Roman prince,
Whose mighty worth mov’d Gregory to earn His mighty conquest, Trajan th’ Emperor. A widow at his bridle stood, attir’d
In tears and mourning. Round about them troop’d Full throng of knights, and overhead in gold The eagles floated, struggling with the wind. The wretch appear’d amid all these to say: “Grant vengeance, sire! for, woe beshrew this heart My son is murder’d.” He replying seem’d; “Wait now till I return.” And she, as one Made hasty by her grief; “O sire, if thou Dost not return?”–“Where I am, who then is, May right thee.”–” What to thee is other’s good, If thou neglect thy own?”–“Now comfort thee,” At length he answers. “It beseemeth well My duty be perform’d, ere I move hence:
So justice wills; and pity bids me stay.” He, whose ken nothing new surveys, produc’d That visible speaking, new to us and strange The like not found on earth. Fondly I gaz’d Upon those patterns of meek humbleness,
Shapes yet more precious for their artist’s sake, When “Lo,” the poet whisper’d, “where this way (But slack their pace), a multitude advance. These to the lofty steps shall guide us on.” Mine eyes, though bent on view of novel sights Their lov’d allurement, were not slow to turn. Reader! I would not that amaz’d thou miss Of thy good purpose, hearing how just God Decrees our debts be cancel’d. Ponder not The form of suff’ring. Think on what succeeds, Think that at worst beyond the mighty doom It cannot pass. “Instructor,” I began,
“What I see hither tending, bears no trace Of human semblance, nor of aught beside
That my foil’d sight can guess.” He answering thus: “So courb’d to earth, beneath their heavy teems Of torment stoop they, that mine eye at first Struggled as thine. But look intently thither, An disentangle with thy lab’ring view,
What underneath those stones approacheth: now, E’en now, mayst thou discern the pangs of each.” Christians and proud! O poor and wretched ones! That feeble in the mind’s eye, lean your trust Upon unstaid perverseness! Know ye not
That we are worms, yet made at last to form The winged insect, imp’d with angel plumes That to heaven’s justice unobstructed soars? Why buoy ye up aloft your unfleg’d souls? Abortive then and shapeless ye remain,
Like the untimely embryon of a worm! As, to support incumbent floor or roof, For corbel is a figure sometimes seen,
That crumples up its knees unto its breast, With the feign’d posture stirring ruth unfeign’d In the beholder’s fancy; so I saw
These fashion’d, when I noted well their guise. Each, as his back was laden, came indeed Or more or less contract; but it appear’d As he, who show’d most patience in his look, Wailing exclaim’d: “I can endure no more.”

CANTO XI

O thou Almighty Father, who dost make The heavens thy dwelling, not in bounds confin’d, But that with love intenser there thou view’st Thy primal effluence, hallow’d be thy name: Join each created being to extol
Thy might, for worthy humblest thanks and praise Is thy blest Spirit. May thy kingdom’s peace Come unto us; for we, unless it come,
With all our striving thither tend in vain. As of their will the angels unto thee
Tender meet sacrifice, circling thy throne With loud hosannas, so of theirs be done By saintly men on earth. Grant us this day Our daily manna, without which he roams
Through this rough desert retrograde, who most Toils to advance his steps. As we to each Pardon the evil done us, pardon thou
Benign, and of our merit take no count. ‘Gainst the old adversary prove thou not Our virtue easily subdu’d; but free
From his incitements and defeat his wiles. This last petition, dearest Lord! is made Not for ourselves, since that were needless now, But for their sakes who after us remain.” Thus for themselves and us good speed imploring, Those spirits went beneath a weight like that We sometimes feel in dreams, all, sore beset, But with unequal anguish, wearied all,
Round the first circuit, purging as they go, The world’s gross darkness off: In our behalf If there vows still be offer’d, what can here For them be vow’d and done by such, whose wills Have root of goodness in them? Well beseems That we should help them wash away the stains They carried hence, that so made pure and light, They may spring upward to the starry spheres. “Ah! so may mercy-temper’d justice rid Your burdens speedily, that ye have power To stretch your wing, which e’en to your desire Shall lift you, as ye show us on which hand Toward the ladder leads the shortest way. And if there be more passages than one,
Instruct us of that easiest to ascend; For this man who comes with me, and bears yet The charge of fleshly raiment Adam left him, Despite his better will but slowly mounts.” From whom the answer came unto these words, Which my guide spake, appear’d not; but ’twas said “Along the bank to rightward come with us, And ye shall find a pass that mocks not toil Of living man to climb: and were it not
That I am hinder’d by the rock, wherewith This arrogant neck is tam’d, whence needs I stoop My visage to the ground, him, who yet lives, Whose name thou speak’st not him I fain would view. To mark if e’er I knew him? and to crave His pity for the fardel that I bear.
I was of Latiun, of a Tuscan horn
A mighty one: Aldobranlesco’s name
My sire’s, I know not if ye e’er have heard. My old blood and forefathers’ gallant deeds Made me so haughty, that I clean forgot
The common mother, and to such excess, Wax’d in my scorn of all men, that I fell, Fell therefore; by what fate Sienna’s sons, Each child in Campagnatico, can tell.
I am Omberto; not me only pride
Hath injur’d, but my kindred all involv’d In mischief with her. Here my lot ordains Under this weight to groan, till I appease God’s angry justice, since I did it not
Amongst the living, here amongst the dead.” List’ning I bent my visage down: and one (Not he who spake) twisted beneath the weight That urg’d him, saw me, knew me straight, and call’d, Holding his eyes With difficulty fix’d
Intent upon me, stooping as I went
Companion of their way. “O!” I exclaim’d, “Art thou not Oderigi, art not thou
Agobbio’s glory, glory of that art
Which they of Paris call the limmer’s skill?” “Brother!” said he, “with tints that gayer smile, Bolognian Franco’s pencil lines the leaves. His all the honour now; mine borrow’d light. In truth I had not been thus courteous to him, The whilst I liv’d, through eagerness of zeal For that pre-eminence my heart was bent on. Here of such pride the forfeiture is paid. Nor were I even here; if, able still
To sin, I had not turn’d me unto God. O powers of man! how vain your glory, nipp’d E’en in its height of verdure, if an age Less bright succeed not! Cimabue thought To lord it over painting’s field; and now The cry is Giotto’s, and his name eclips’d. Thus hath one Guido from the other snatch’d The letter’d prize: and he perhaps is born, Who shall drive either from their nest. The noise Of worldly fame is but a blast of wind,
That blows from divers points, and shifts its name Shifting the point it blows from. Shalt thou more Live in the mouths of mankind, if thy flesh Part shrivel’d from thee, than if thou hadst died, Before the coral and the pap were left,
Or ere some thousand years have passed? and that Is, to eternity compar’d, a space,
Briefer than is the twinkling of an eye To the heaven’s slowest orb. He there who treads So leisurely before me, far and wide
Through Tuscany resounded once; and now Is in Sienna scarce with whispers nam’d: There was he sov’reign, when destruction caught The madd’ning rage of Florence, in that day Proud as she now is loathsome. Your renown Is as the herb, whose hue doth come and go, And his might withers it, by whom it sprang Crude from the lap of earth.” I thus to him: “True are thy sayings: to my heart they breathe The kindly spirit of meekness, and allay What tumours rankle there. But who is he Of whom thou spak’st but now?” –“This,” he replied, “Is Provenzano. He is here, because
He reach’d, with grasp presumptuous, at the sway Of all Sienna. Thus he still hath gone,
Thus goeth never-resting, since he died. Such is th’ acquittance render’d back of him, Who, beyond measure, dar’d on earth.” I then: “If soul that to the verge of life delays Repentance, linger in that lower space,
Nor hither mount, unless good prayers befriend, How chanc’d admittance was vouchsaf’d to him?” “When at his glory’s topmost height,” said he, “Respect of dignity all cast aside,
Freely He fix’d him on Sienna’s plain, A suitor to redeem his suff’ring friend, Who languish’d in the prison-house of Charles, Nor for his sake refus’d through every vein To tremble. More I will not say; and dark, I know, my words are, but thy neighbours soon Shall help thee to a comment on the text. This is the work, that from these limits freed him.”

CANTO XII

With equal pace as oxen in the yoke,
I with that laden spirit journey’d on Long as the mild instructor suffer’d me; But when he bade me quit him, and proceed (For “here,” said he, “behooves with sail and oars Each man, as best he may, push on his bark”), Upright, as one dispos’d for speed, I rais’d My body, still in thought submissive bow’d. I now my leader’s track not loth pursued; And each had shown how light we far’d along When thus he warn’d me: “Bend thine eyesight down: For thou to ease the way shall find it good To ruminate the bed beneath thy feet.”
As in memorial of the buried, drawn Upon earth-level tombs, the sculptur’d form Of what was once, appears (at sight whereof Tears often stream forth by remembrance wak’d, Whose sacred stings the piteous only feel), So saw I there, but with more curious skill Of portraiture o’erwrought, whate’er of space From forth the mountain stretches. On one part Him I beheld, above all creatures erst
Created noblest, light’ning fall from heaven: On th’ other side with bolt celestial pierc’d Briareus: cumb’ring earth he lay through dint Of mortal ice-stroke. The Thymbraean god With Mars, I saw, and Pallas, round their sire, Arm’d still, and gazing on the giant’s limbs Strewn o’er th’ ethereal field. Nimrod I saw: At foot of the stupendous work he stood, As if bewilder’d, looking on the crowd
Leagued in his proud attempt on Sennaar’s plain. O Niobe! in what a trance of woe
Thee I beheld, upon that highway drawn, Sev’n sons on either side thee slain! O Saul! How ghastly didst thou look! on thine own sword Expiring in Gilboa, from that hour
Ne’er visited with rain from heav’n or dew! O fond Arachne! thee I also saw
Half spider now in anguish crawling up Th’ unfinish’d web thou weaved’st to thy bane! O Rehoboam! here thy shape doth seem
Louring no more defiance! but fear-smote With none to chase him in his chariot whirl’d. Was shown beside upon the solid floor How dear Alcmaeon forc’d his mother rate That ornament in evil hour receiv’d:
How in the temple on Sennacherib fell His sons, and how a corpse they left him there. Was shown the scath and cruel mangling made By Tomyris on Cyrus, when she cried:
“Blood thou didst thirst for, take thy fill of blood!” Was shown how routed in the battle fled
Th’ Assyrians, Holofernes slain, and e’en The relics of the carnage. Troy I mark’d In ashes and in caverns. Oh! how fall’n, How abject, Ilion, was thy semblance there! What master of the pencil or the style Had trac’d the shades and lines, that might have made The subtlest workman wonder? Dead the dead, The living seem’d alive; with clearer view His eye beheld not who beheld the truth, Than mine what I did tread on, while I went Low bending. Now swell out; and with stiff necks Pass on, ye sons of Eve! veil not your looks, Lest they descry the evil of your path!
I noted not (so busied was my thought) How much we now had circled of the mount, And of his course yet more the sun had spent, When he, who with still wakeful caution went, Admonish’d: “Raise thou up thy head: for know Time is not now for slow suspense. Behold That way an angel hasting towards us! Lo Where duly the sixth handmaid doth return From service on the day. Wear thou in look And gesture seemly grace of reverent awe, That gladly he may forward us aloft.
Consider that this day ne’er dawns again.” Time’s loss he had so often warn’d me ‘gainst, I could not miss the scope at which he aim’d. The goodly shape approach’d us, snowy white In vesture, and with visage casting streams Of tremulous lustre like the matin star. His arms he open’d, then his wings; and spake: “Onward: the steps, behold! are near; and now Th’ ascent is without difficulty gain’d.” A scanty few are they, who when they hear Such tidings, hasten. O ye race of men
Though born to soar, why suffer ye a wind So slight to baffle ye? He led us on
Where the rock parted; here against my front Did beat his wings, then promis’d I should fare In safety on my way. As to ascend
That steep, upon whose brow the chapel stands (O’er Rubaconte, looking lordly down
On the well-guided city,) up the right Th’ impetuous rise is broken by the steps Carv’d in that old and simple age, when still The registry and label rested safe;
Thus is th’ acclivity reliev’d, which here Precipitous from the other circuit falls: But on each hand the tall cliff presses close. As ent’ring there we turn’d, voices, in strain Ineffable, sang: “Blessed are the poor
In spirit.” Ah how far unlike to these The straits of hell; here songs to usher us, There shrieks of woe! We climb the holy stairs: And lighter to myself by far I seem’d
Than on the plain before, whence thus I spake: “Say, master, of what heavy thing have I Been lighten’d, that scarce aught the sense of toil Affects me journeying?” He in few replied: “When sin’s broad characters, that yet remain Upon thy temples, though well nigh effac’d, Shall be, as one is, all clean razed out, Then shall thy feet by heartiness of will Be so o’ercome, they not alone shall feel No sense of labour, but delight much more Shall wait them urg’d along their upward way.” Then like to one, upon whose head is plac’d Somewhat he deems not of but from the becks Of others as they pass him by; his hand
Lends therefore help to’ assure him, searches, finds, And well performs such office as the eye Wants power to execute: so stretching forth The fingers of my right hand, did I find Six only of the letters, which his sword Who bare the keys had trac’d upon my brow. The leader, as he mark’d mine action, smil’d.

CANTO XIII

We reach’d the summit of the scale, and stood Upon the second buttress of that mount
Which healeth him who climbs. A cornice there, Like to the former, girdles round the hill; Save that its arch with sweep less ample bends. Shadow nor image there is seen; all smooth The rampart and the path, reflecting nought But the rock’s sullen hue. “If here we wait For some to question,” said the bard, “I fear Our choice may haply meet too long delay.” Then fixedly upon the sun his eyes
He fastn’d, made his right the central point From whence to move, and turn’d the left aside. “O pleasant light, my confidence and hope, Conduct us thou,” he cried, “on this new way, Where now I venture, leading to the bourn We seek. The universal world to thee
Owes warmth and lustre. If no other cause Forbid, thy beams should ever be our guide.” Far, as is measur’d for a mile on earth, In brief space had we journey’d; such prompt will Impell’d; and towards us flying, now were heard Spirits invisible, who courteously
Unto love’s table bade the welcome guest. The voice, that first? flew by, call’d forth aloud, “They have no wine; ” so on behind us past, Those sounds reiterating, nor yet lost
In the faint distance, when another came Crying, “I am Orestes,” and alike
Wing’d its fleet way. “Oh father!” I exclaim’d, “What tongues are these?” and as I question’d, lo! A third exclaiming, “Love ye those have wrong’d you.” “This circuit,” said my teacher, “knots the scourge For envy, and the cords are therefore drawn By charity’s correcting hand. The curb
Is of a harsher sound, as thou shalt hear (If I deem rightly), ere thou reach the pass, Where pardon sets them free. But fix thine eyes Intently through the air, and thou shalt see A multitude before thee seated, each
Along the shelving grot.” Then more than erst I op’d my eyes, before me view’d, and saw Shadows with garments dark as was the rock; And when we pass’d a little forth, I heard A crying, “Blessed Mary! pray for us,
Michael and Peter! all ye saintly host!” I do not think there walks on earth this day Man so remorseless, that he hath not yearn’d With pity at the sight that next I saw.
Mine eyes a load of sorrow teemed, when now I stood so near them, that their semblances Came clearly to my view. Of sackcloth vile Their cov’ring seem’d; and on his shoulder one Did stay another, leaning, and all lean’d Against the cliff. E’en thus the blind and poor, Near the confessionals, to crave an alms, Stand, each his head upon his fellow’s sunk, So most to stir compassion, not by sound Of words alone, but that, which moves not less, The sight of mis’ry. And as never beam
Of noonday visiteth the eyeless man, E’en so was heav’n a niggard unto these
Of his fair light; for, through the orbs of all, A thread of wire, impiercing, knits them up, As for the taming of a haggard hawk.
It were a wrong, methought, to pass and look On others, yet myself the while unseen.
To my sage counsel therefore did I turn. He knew the meaning of the mute appeal,
Nor waited for my questioning, but said: “Speak; and be brief, be subtle in thy words.” On that part of the cornice, whence no rim Engarlands its steep fall, did Virgil come; On the’ other side me were the spirits, their cheeks Bathing devout with penitential tears,
That through the dread impalement forc’d a way. I turn’d me to them, and “O shades!” said I, “Assur’d that to your eyes unveil’d shall shine The lofty light, sole object of your wish, So may heaven’s grace clear whatsoe’er of foam Floats turbid on the conscience, that thenceforth The stream of mind roll limpid from its source, As ye declare (for so shall ye impart
A boon I dearly prize) if any soul
Of Latium dwell among ye; and perchance That soul may profit, if I learn so much.” “My brother, we are each one citizens Of one true city. Any thou wouldst say,
Who lived a stranger in Italia’s land.” So heard I answering, as appeal’d, a voice That onward came some space from whence I stood. A spirit I noted, in whose look was mark’d Expectance. Ask ye how? The chin was rais’d As in one reft of sight. “Spirit,” said I, “Who for thy rise are tutoring (if thou be That which didst answer to me,) or by place Or name, disclose thyself, that I may know thee.” “I was,” it answer’d, “of Sienna: here I cleanse away with these the evil life, Soliciting with tears that He, who is,
Vouchsafe him to us. Though Sapia nam’d In sapience I excell’d not, gladder far
Of others’ hurt, than of the good befell me. That thou mayst own I now deceive thee not, Hear, if my folly were not as I speak it. When now my years slop’d waning down the arch, It so bechanc’d, my fellow citizens
Near Colle met their enemies in the field, And I pray’d God to grant what He had will’d. There were they vanquish’d, and betook themselves Unto the bitter passages of flight.
I mark’d the hunt, and waxing out of bounds In gladness, lifted up my shameless brow, And like the merlin cheated by a gleam,
Cried, “It is over. Heav’n! I fear thee not.” Upon my verge of life I wish’d for peace With God; nor repentance had supplied
What I did lack of duty, were it not The hermit Piero, touch’d with charity,
In his devout orisons thought on me. But who art thou that question’st of our state, Who go’st to my belief, with lids unclos’d, And breathest in thy talk?” –“Mine eyes,” said I, “May yet be here ta’en from me; but not long; For they have not offended grievously
With envious glances. But the woe beneath Urges my soul with more exceeding dread. That nether load already weighs me down.” She thus: “Who then amongst us here aloft Hath brought thee, if thou weenest to return?” “He,” answer’d I, “who standeth mute beside me. I live: of me ask therefore, chosen spirit, If thou desire I yonder yet should move
For thee my mortal feet.” –“Oh!” she replied, “This is so strange a thing, it is great sign That God doth love thee. Therefore with thy prayer Sometime assist me: and by that I crave, Which most thou covetest, that if thy feet E’er tread on Tuscan soil, thou save my fame Amongst my kindred. Them shalt thou behold With that vain multitude, who set their hope On Telamone’s haven, there to fail
Confounded, more shall when the fancied stream They sought of Dian call’d: but they who lead Their navies, more than ruin’d hopes shall mourn.”

CANTO XIV

“Say who is he around our mountain winds, Or ever death has prun’d his wing for flight, That opes his eyes and covers them at will?” “I know not who he is, but know thus much He comes not singly. Do thou ask of him, For thou art nearer to him, and take heed Accost him gently, so that he may speak.” Thus on the right two Spirits bending each Toward the other, talk’d of me, then both Addressing me, their faces backward lean’d, And thus the one began: “O soul, who yet Pent in the body, tendest towards the sky! For charity, we pray thee’ comfort us,
Recounting whence thou com’st, and who thou art: For thou dost make us at the favour shown thee Marvel, as at a thing that ne’er hath been.” “There stretches through the midst of Tuscany, I straight began: “a brooklet, whose well-head Springs up in Falterona, with his race
Not satisfied, when he some hundred miles Hath measur’d. From his banks bring, I this frame. To tell you who I am were words misspent: For yet my name scarce sounds on rumour’s lip.” “If well I do incorp’rate with my thought The meaning of thy speech,” said he, who first Addrest me, “thou dost speak of Arno’s wave.” To whom the other: “Why hath he conceal’d The title of that river, as a man
Doth of some horrible thing?” The spirit, who Thereof was question’d, did acquit him thus: “I know not: but ’tis fitting well the name Should perish of that vale; for from the source Where teems so plenteously the Alpine steep Maim’d of Pelorus, (that doth scarcely pass Beyond that limit,) even to the point
Whereunto ocean is restor’d, what heaven Drains from th’ exhaustless store for all earth’s streams, Throughout the space is virtue worried down, As ’twere a snake, by all, for mortal foe, Or through disastrous influence on the place, Or else distortion of misguided wills,
That custom goads to evil: whence in those, The dwellers in that miserable vale,
Nature is so transform’d, it seems as they Had shar’d of Circe’s feeding. ‘Midst brute swine, Worthier of acorns than of other food
Created for man’s use, he shapeth first His obscure way; then, sloping onward, finds Curs, snarlers more in spite than power, from whom He turns with scorn aside: still journeying down, By how much more the curst and luckless foss Swells out to largeness, e’en so much it finds Dogs turning into wolves. Descending still Through yet more hollow eddies, next he meets A race of foxes, so replete with craft,
They do not fear that skill can master it. Nor will I cease because my words are heard By other ears than thine. It shall be well For this man, if he keep in memory
What from no erring Spirit I reveal. Lo! I behold thy grandson, that becomes
A hunter of those wolves, upon the shore Of the fierce stream, and cows them all with dread: Their flesh yet living sets he up to sale, Then like an aged beast to slaughter dooms. Many of life he reaves, himself of worth And goodly estimation. Smear’d with gore Mark how he issues from the rueful wood, Leaving such havoc, that in thousand years It spreads not to prime lustihood again.” As one, who tidings hears of woe to come, Changes his looks perturb’d, from whate’er part The peril grasp him, so beheld I change
That spirit, who had turn’d to listen, struck With sadness, soon as he had caught the word. His visage and the other’s speech did raise Desire in me to know the names of both,
whereof with meek entreaty I inquir’d. The shade, who late addrest me, thus resum’d: “Thy wish imports that I vouchsafe to do For thy sake what thou wilt not do for mine. But since God’s will is that so largely shine His grace in thee, I will be liberal too. Guido of Duca know then that I am.
Envy so parch’d my blood, that had I seen A fellow man made joyous, thou hadst mark’d A livid paleness overspread my cheek.
Such harvest reap I of the seed I sow’d. O man, why place thy heart where there doth need Exclusion of participants in good?
This is Rinieri’s spirit, this the boast And honour of the house of Calboli,
Where of his worth no heritage remains. Nor his the only blood, that hath been stript (‘twixt Po, the mount, the Reno, and the shore,) Of all that truth or fancy asks for bliss; But in those limits such a growth has sprung Of rank and venom’d roots, as long would mock Slow culture’s toil. Where is good Lizio? where Manardi, Traversalo, and Carpigna?
O bastard slips of old Romagna’s line! When in Bologna the low artisan,
And in Faenza yon Bernardin sprouts, A gentle cyon from ignoble stem.
Wonder not, Tuscan, if thou see me weep, When I recall to mind those once lov’d names, Guido of Prata, and of Azzo him
That dwelt with you; Tignoso and his troop, With Traversaro’s house and Anastagio s, (Each race disherited) and beside these, The ladies and the knights, the toils and ease, That witch’d us into love and courtesy;
Where now such malice reigns in recreant hearts. O Brettinoro! wherefore tarriest still,
Since forth of thee thy family hath gone, And many, hating evil, join’d their steps? Well doeth he, that bids his lineage cease, Bagnacavallo; Castracaro ill,
And Conio worse, who care to propagate A race of Counties from such blood as theirs. Well shall ye also do, Pagani, then
When from amongst you tries your demon child. Not so, howe’er, that henceforth there remain True proof of what ye were. O Hugolin!
Thou sprung of Fantolini’s line! thy name Is safe, since none is look’d for after thee To cloud its lustre, warping from thy stock. But, Tuscan, go thy ways; for now I take Far more delight in weeping than in words. Such pity for your sakes hath wrung my heart.” We knew those gentle spirits at parting heard Our steps. Their silence therefore of our way Assur’d us. Soon as we had quitted them, Advancing onward, lo! a voice that seem’d Like vollied light’ning, when it rives the air, Met us, and shouted, “Whosoever finds
Will slay me,” then fled from us, as the bolt Lanc’d sudden from a downward-rushing cloud. When it had giv’n short truce unto our hearing, Behold the other with a crash as loud
As the quick-following thunder: “Mark in me Aglauros turn’d to rock.” I at the sound Retreating drew more closely to my guide. Now in mute stillness rested all the air: And thus he spake: “There was the galling bit. But your old enemy so baits his hook,
He drags you eager to him. Hence nor curb Avails you, nor reclaiming call. Heav’n calls And round about you wheeling courts your gaze With everlasting beauties. Yet your eye
Turns with fond doting still upon the earth. Therefore He smites you who discerneth all.”

CANTO XV

As much as ‘twixt the third hour’s close and dawn, Appeareth of heav’n’s sphere, that ever whirls As restless as an infant in his play,
So much appear’d remaining to the sun Of his slope journey towards the western goal. Evening was there, and here the noon of night; and full upon our forehead smote the beams. For round the mountain, circling, so our path Had led us, that toward the sun-set now
Direct we journey’d: when I felt a weight Of more exceeding splendour, than before, Press on my front. The cause unknown, amaze Possess’d me, and both hands against my brow Lifting, I interpos’d them, as a screen, That of its gorgeous superflux of light
Clipp’d the diminish’d orb. As when the ray, Striking On water or the surface clear
Of mirror, leaps unto the opposite part, Ascending at a glance, e’en as it fell,
(And so much differs from the stone, that falls Through equal space, as practice skill hath shown; Thus with refracted light before me seemed The ground there smitten; whence in sudden haste My sight recoil’d. “What is this, sire belov’d! ‘Gainst which I strive to shield the sight in vain?” Cried I, “and which towards us moving seems?” “Marvel not, if the family of heav’n,” He answer’d, “yet with dazzling radiance dim Thy sense it is a messenger who comes,
Inviting man’s ascent. Such sights ere long, Not grievous, shall impart to thee delight, As thy perception is by nature wrought
Up to their pitch.” The blessed angel, soon As we had reach’d him, hail’d us with glad voice: “Here enter on a ladder far less steep
Than ye have yet encounter’d.” We forthwith Ascending, heard behind us chanted sweet, “Blessed the merciful,” and “happy thou! That conquer’st.” Lonely each, my guide and I Pursued our upward way; and as we went,
Some profit from his words I hop’d to win, And thus of him inquiring, fram’d my speech: “What meant Romagna’s spirit, when he spake Of bliss exclusive with no partner shar’d?” He straight replied: “No wonder, since he knows, What sorrow waits on his own worst defect, If he chide others, that they less may mourn. Because ye point your wishes at a mark,
Where, by communion of possessors, part Is lessen’d, envy bloweth up the sighs of men. No fear of that might touch ye, if the love Of higher sphere exalted your desire.
For there, by how much more they call it ours, So much propriety of each in good
Increases more, and heighten’d charity Wraps that fair cloister in a brighter flame.” “Now lack I satisfaction more,” said I, “Than if thou hadst been silent at the first, And doubt more gathers on my lab’ring thought. How can it chance, that good distributed, The many, that possess it, makes more rich, Than if ‘t were shar’d by few?” He answering thus: “Thy mind, reverting still to things of earth, Strikes darkness from true light. The highest good Unlimited, ineffable, doth so speed
To love, as beam to lucid body darts, Giving as much of ardour as it finds.
The sempiternal effluence streams abroad Spreading, wherever charity extends.
So that the more aspirants to that bliss Are multiplied, more good is there to love, And more is lov’d; as mirrors, that reflect, Each unto other, propagated light.
If these my words avail not to allay Thy thirsting, Beatrice thou shalt see,
Who of this want, and of all else thou hast, Shall rid thee to the full. Provide but thou That from thy temples may be soon eras’d, E’en as the two already, those five scars, That when they pain thee worst, then kindliest heal,” “Thou,” I had said, “content’st me,” when I saw The other round was gain’d, and wond’ring eyes Did keep me mute. There suddenly I seem’d By an ecstatic vision wrapt away;
And in a temple saw, methought, a crowd Of many persons; and at th’ entrance stood A dame, whose sweet demeanour did express A mother’s love, who said, “Child! why hast thou Dealt with us thus? Behold thy sire and I Sorrowing have sought thee;” and so held her peace, And straight the vision fled. A female next Appear’d before me, down whose visage cours’d Those waters, that grief forces out from one By deep resentment stung, who seem’d to say: “If thou, Pisistratus, be lord indeed
Over this city, nam’d with such debate Of adverse gods, and whence each science sparkles, Avenge thee of those arms, whose bold embrace Hath clasp’d our daughter; “and to fuel, meseem’d, Benign and meek, with visage undisturb’d, Her sovran spake: “How shall we those requite, Who wish us evil, if we thus condemn
The man that loves us?” After that I saw A multitude, in fury burning, slay
With stones a stripling youth, and shout amain “Destroy, destroy: “and him I saw, who bow’d Heavy with death unto the ground, yet made His eyes, unfolded upward, gates to heav’n, Praying forgiveness of th’ Almighty Sire, Amidst that cruel conflict, on his foes, With looks, that With compassion to their aim. Soon as my spirit, from her airy flight Returning, sought again the things, whose truth Depends not on her shaping, I observ’d
How she had rov’d to no unreal scenes Meanwhile the leader, who might see I mov’d, As one, who struggles to shake off his sleep, Exclaim’d: “What ails thee, that thou canst not hold Thy footing firm, but more than half a league Hast travel’d with clos’d eyes and tott’ring gait, Like to a man by wine or sleep o’ercharg’d?” “Beloved father! so thou deign,” said I, “To listen, I will tell thee what appear’d Before me, when so fail’d my sinking steps.” He thus: “Not if thy Countenance were mask’d With hundred vizards, could a thought of thine How small soe’er, elude me. What thou saw’st Was shown, that freely thou mightst ope thy heart To the waters of peace, that flow diffus’d From their eternal fountain. I not ask’d, What ails thee? for such cause as he doth, who Looks only with that eye which sees no more, When spiritless the body lies; but ask’d, To give fresh vigour to thy foot. Such goads The slow and loit’ring need; that they be found Not wanting, when their hour of watch returns.” So on we journey’d through the evening sky Gazing intent, far onward, as our eyes
With level view could stretch against the bright Vespertine ray: and lo! by slow degrees
Gath’ring, a fog made tow’rds us, dark as night. There was no room for ‘scaping; and that mist Bereft us, both of sight and the pure air.

CANTO XVI

Hell’s dunnest gloom, or night unlustrous, dark, Of every planes ‘reft, and pall’d in clouds, Did never spread before the sight a veil In thickness like that fog, nor to the sense So palpable and gross. Ent’ring its shade, Mine eye endured not with unclosed lids; Which marking, near me drew the faithful guide, Offering me his shoulder for a stay.
As the blind man behind his leader walks, Lest he should err, or stumble unawares
On what might harm him, or perhaps destroy, I journey’d through that bitter air and foul, Still list’ning to my escort’s warning voice, “Look that from me thou part not.” Straight I heard Voices, and each one seem’d to pray for peace, And for compassion, to the Lamb of God
That taketh sins away. Their prelude still Was “Agnus Dei,” and through all the choir, One voice, one measure ran, that perfect seem’d The concord of their song. “Are these I hear Spirits, O master?” I exclaim’d; and he: “Thou aim’st aright: these loose the bonds of wrath.” “Now who art thou, that through our smoke dost cleave? And speak’st of us, as thou thyself e’en yet Dividest time by calends?” So one voice
Bespake me; whence my master said: “Reply; And ask, if upward hence the passage lead.” “O being! who dost make thee pure, to stand Beautiful once more in thy Maker’s sight! Along with me: and thou shalt hear and wonder.” Thus I, whereto the spirit answering spake: “Long as ‘t is lawful for me, shall my steps Follow on thine; and since the cloudy smoke Forbids the seeing, hearing in its stead Shall keep us join’d.” I then forthwith began “Yet in my mortal swathing, I ascend
To higher regions, and am hither come Through the fearful agony of hell.
And, if so largely God hath doled his grace, That, clean beside all modern precedent, He wills me to behold his kingly state,
From me conceal not who thou wast, ere death Had loos’d thee; but instruct me: and instruct If rightly to the pass I tend; thy words The way directing as a safe escort.”
“I was of Lombardy, and Marco call’d: Not inexperienc’d of the world, that worth I still affected, from which all have turn’d The nerveless bow aside. Thy course tends right Unto the summit:” and, replying thus,
He added, “I beseech thee pray for me, When thou shalt come aloft.” And I to him: “Accept my faith for pledge I will perform What thou requirest. Yet one doubt remains, That wrings me sorely, if I solve it not, Singly before it urg’d me, doubled now
By thine opinion, when I couple that With one elsewhere declar’d, each strength’ning other. The world indeed is even so forlorn
Of all good as thou speak’st it and so swarms With every evil. Yet, beseech thee, point The cause out to me, that myself may see, And unto others show it: for in heaven
One places it, and one on earth below.” Then heaving forth a deep and audible sigh, “Brother!” he thus began, “the world is blind; And thou in truth com’st from it. Ye, who live, Do so each cause refer to heav’n above,
E’en as its motion of necessity
Drew with it all that moves. If this were so, Free choice in you were none; nor justice would There should be joy for virtue, woe for ill. Your movements have their primal bent from heaven; Not all; yet said I all; what then ensues? Light have ye still to follow evil or good, And of the will free power, which, if it stand Firm and unwearied in Heav’n’s first assay, Conquers at last, so it be cherish’d well, Triumphant over all. To mightier force,
To better nature subject, ye abide
Free, not constrain’d by that, which forms in you The reasoning mind uninfluenc’d of the stars. If then the present race of mankind err, Seek in yourselves the cause, and find it there. Herein thou shalt confess me no false spy. “Forth from his plastic hand, who charm’d beholds Her image ere she yet exist, the soul
Comes like a babe, that wantons sportively Weeping and laughing in its wayward moods, As artless and as ignorant of aught,
Save that her Maker being one who dwells With gladness ever, willingly she turns
To whate’er yields her joy. Of some slight good The flavour soon she tastes; and, snar’d by that, With fondness she pursues it, if no guide Recall, no rein direct her wand’ring course. Hence it behov’d, the law should be a curb; A sovereign hence behov’d, whose piercing view Might mark at least the fortress and main tower Of the true city. Laws indeed there are: But who is he observes them? None; not he, Who goes before, the shepherd of the flock, Who chews the cud but doth not cleave the hoof. Therefore the multitude, who see their guide Strike at the very good they covet most, Feed there and look no further. Thus the cause Is not corrupted nature in yourselves,
But ill-conducting, that hath turn’d the world To evil. Rome, that turn’d it unto good, Was wont to boast two suns, whose several beams Cast light on either way, the world’s and God’s. One since hath quench’d the other; and the sword Is grafted on the crook; and so conjoin’d Each must perforce decline to worse, unaw’d By fear of other. If thou doubt me, mark The blade: each herb is judg’d of by its seed. That land, through which Adice and the Po Their waters roll, was once the residence Of courtesy and velour, ere the day,
That frown’d on Frederick; now secure may pass Those limits, whosoe’er hath left, for shame, To talk with good men, or come near their haunts. Three aged ones are still found there, in whom The old time chides the new: these deem it long Ere God restore them to a better world:
The good Gherardo, of Palazzo he
Conrad, and Guido of Castello, nam’d In Gallic phrase more fitly the plain Lombard. On this at last conclude. The church of Rome, Mixing two governments that ill assort,
Hath miss’d her footing, fall’n into the mire, And there herself and burden much defil’d.” “O Marco!” I replied, shine arguments Convince me: and the cause I now discern Why of the heritage no portion came
To Levi’s offspring. But resolve me this Who that Gherardo is, that as thou sayst Is left a sample of the perish’d race,
And for rebuke to this untoward age?” “Either thy words,” said he, “deceive; or else Are meant to try me; that thou, speaking Tuscan, Appear’st not to have heard of good Gherado; The sole addition that, by which I know him; Unless I borrow’d from his daughter Gaia Another name to grace him. God be with you. I bear you company no more. Behold
The dawn with white ray glimm’ring through the mist. I must away–the angel comes–ere he
Appear.” He said, and would not hear me more.

CANTO XVII

Call to remembrance, reader, if thou e’er Hast, on a mountain top, been ta’en by cloud, Through which thou saw’st no better, than the mole Doth through opacous membrane; then, whene’er The wat’ry vapours dense began to melt
Into thin air, how faintly the sun’s sphere Seem’d wading through them; so thy nimble thought May image, how at first I re-beheld
The sun, that bedward now his couch o’erhung. Thus with my leader’s feet still equaling pace From forth that cloud I came, when now expir’d The parting beams from off the nether shores. O quick and forgetive power! that sometimes dost So rob us of ourselves, we take no mark
Though round about us thousand trumpets clang! What moves thee, if the senses stir not? Light Kindled in heav’n, spontaneous, self-inform’d, Or likelier gliding down with swift illapse By will divine. Portray’d before me came The traces of her dire impiety,
Whose form was chang’d into the bird, that most Delights itself in song: and here my mind Was inwardly so wrapt, it gave no place
To aught that ask’d admittance from without. Next shower’d into my fantasy a shape As of one crucified, whose visage spake
Fell rancour, malice deep, wherein he died; And round him Ahasuerus the great king,
Esther his bride, and Mordecai the just, Blameless in word and deed. As of itself That unsubstantial coinage of the brain
Burst, like a bubble, Which the water fails That fed it; in my vision straight uprose A damsel weeping loud, and cried, “O queen! O mother! wherefore has intemperate ire
Driv’n thee to loath thy being? Not to lose Lavinia, desp’rate thou hast slain thyself. Now hast thou lost me. I am she, whose tears Mourn, ere I fall, a mother’s timeless end.” E’en as a sleep breaks off, if suddenly New radiance strike upon the closed lids, The broken slumber quivering ere it dies; Thus from before me sunk that imagery
Vanishing, soon as on my face there struck The light, outshining far our earthly beam. As round I turn’d me to survey what place I had arriv’d at, “Here ye mount,” exclaim’d A voice, that other purpose left me none, Save will so eager to behold who spake,
I could not choose but gaze. As ‘fore the sun, That weighs our vision down, and veils his form In light transcendent, thus my virtue fail’d Unequal. “This is Spirit from above,
Who marshals us our upward way, unsought; And in his own light shrouds him;. As a man Doth for himself, so now is done for us. For whoso waits imploring, yet sees need Of his prompt aidance, sets himself prepar’d For blunt denial, ere the suit be made.
Refuse we not to lend a ready foot
At such inviting: haste we to ascend, Before it darken: for we may not then,
Till morn again return.” So spake my guide; And to one ladder both address’d our steps; And the first stair approaching, I perceiv’d Near me as ’twere the waving of a wing,
That fann’d my face and whisper’d: “Blessed they The peacemakers: they know not evil wrath.” Now to such height above our heads were rais’d The last beams, follow’d close by hooded night, That many a star on all sides through the gloom Shone out. “Why partest from me, O my strength?” So with myself I commun’d; for I felt
My o’ertoil’d sinews slacken. We had reach’d The summit, and were fix’d like to a bark Arriv’d at land. And waiting a short space, If aught should meet mine ear in that new round, Then to my guide I turn’d, and said: “Lov’d sire! Declare what guilt is on this circle purg’d. If our feet rest, no need thy speech should pause.” He thus to me: “The love of good, whate’er Wanted of just proportion, here fulfils. Here plies afresh the oar, that loiter’d ill. But that thou mayst yet clearlier understand, Give ear unto my words, and thou shalt cull Some fruit may please thee well, from this delay. “Creator, nor created being, ne’er,
My son,” he thus began, “was without love, Or natural, or the free spirit’s growth. Thou hast not that to learn. The natural still Is without error; but the other swerves, If on ill object bent, or through excess Of vigour, or defect. While e’er it seeks The primal blessings, or with measure due Th’ inferior, no delight, that flows from it, Partakes of ill. But let it warp to evil, Or with more ardour than behooves, or less. Pursue the good, the thing created then
Works ‘gainst its Maker. Hence thou must infer That love is germin of each virtue in ye, And of each act no less, that merits pain. Now since it may not be, but love intend The welfare mainly of the thing it loves, All from self-hatred are secure; and since No being can be thought t’ exist apart
And independent of the first, a bar Of equal force restrains from hating that. “Grant the distinction just; and it remains The’ evil must be another’s, which is lov’d. Three ways such love is gender’d in your clay. There is who hopes (his neighbour’s worth deprest,) Preeminence himself, and coverts hence
For his own greatness that another fall. There is who so much fears the loss of power, Fame, favour, glory (should his fellow mount Above him), and so sickens at the thought, He loves their opposite: and there is he, Whom wrong or insult seems to gall and shame That he doth thirst for vengeance, and such needs Must doat on other’s evil. Here beneath
This threefold love is mourn’d. Of th’ other sort Be now instructed, that which follows good But with disorder’d and irregular course. “All indistinctly apprehend a bliss
On which the soul may rest, the hearts of all Yearn after it, and to that wished bourn All therefore strive to tend. If ye behold Or seek it with a love remiss and lax,
This cornice after just repenting lays Its penal torment on ye. Other good
There is, where man finds not his happiness: It is not true fruition, not that blest
Essence, of every good the branch and root. The love too lavishly bestow’d on this,
Along three circles over us, is mourn’d. Account of that division tripartite
Expect not, fitter for thine own research.

CANTO XVIII

The teacher ended, and his high discourse Concluding, earnest in my looks inquir’d If I appear’d content; and I, whom still Unsated thirst to hear him urg’d, was mute, Mute outwardly, yet inwardly I said:
“Perchance my too much questioning offends But he, true father, mark’d the secret wish By diffidence restrain’d, and speaking, gave Me boldness thus to speak: “Master, my Sight Gathers so lively virtue from thy beams, That all, thy words convey, distinct is seen. Wherefore I pray thee, father, whom this heart Holds dearest! thou wouldst deign by proof t’ unfold That love, from which as from their source thou bring’st All good deeds and their opposite.” He then: “To what I now disclose be thy clear ken Directed, and thou plainly shalt behold
How much those blind have err’d, who make themselves The guides of men. The soul, created apt To love, moves versatile which way soe’er Aught pleasing prompts her, soon as she is wak’d By pleasure into act. Of substance true
Your apprehension forms its counterfeit, And in you the ideal shape presenting
Attracts the soul’s regard. If she, thus drawn, incline toward it, love is that inclining, And a new nature knit by pleasure in ye. Then as the fire points up, and mounting seeks His birth-place and his lasting seat, e’en thus Enters the captive soul into desire,
Which is a spiritual motion, that ne’er rests Before enjoyment of the thing it loves.
Enough to show thee, how the truth from those Is hidden, who aver all love a thing
Praise-worthy in itself: although perhaps Its substance seem still good. Yet if the wax Be good, it follows not th’ impression must.” “What love is,” I return’d, “thy words, O guide! And my own docile mind, reveal. Yet thence New doubts have sprung. For from without if love Be offer’d to us, and the spirit knows
No other footing, tend she right or wrong, Is no desert of hers.” He answering thus: “What reason here discovers I have power To show thee: that which lies beyond, expect From Beatrice, faith not reason’s task.
Spirit, substantial form, with matter join’d Not in confusion mix’d, hath in itself
Specific virtue of that union born, Which is not felt except it work, nor prov’d But through effect, as vegetable life
By the green leaf. From whence his intellect Deduced its primal notices of things,
Man therefore knows not, or his appetites Their first affections; such in you, as zeal In bees to gather honey; at the first,
Volition, meriting nor blame nor praise. But o’er each lower faculty supreme,
That as she list are summon’d to her bar, Ye have that virtue in you, whose just voice Uttereth counsel, and whose word should keep The threshold of assent. Here is the source, Whence cause of merit in you is deriv’d, E’en as the affections good or ill she takes, Or severs, winnow’d as the chaff. Those men Who reas’ning went to depth profoundest, mark’d That innate freedom, and were thence induc’d To leave their moral teaching to the world. Grant then, that from necessity arise
All love that glows within you; to dismiss Or harbour it, the pow’r is in yourselves. Remember, Beatrice, in her style,
Denominates free choice by eminence The noble virtue, if in talk with thee
She touch upon that theme.” The moon, well nigh To midnight hour belated, made the stars Appear to wink and fade; and her broad disk Seem’d like a crag on fire, as up the vault That course she journey’d, which the sun then warms, When they of Rome behold him at his set. Betwixt Sardinia and the Corsic isle.
And now the weight, that hung upon my thought, Was lighten’d by the aid of that clear spirit, Who raiseth Andes above Mantua’s name.
I therefore, when my questions had obtain’d Solution plain and ample, stood as one
Musing in dreary slumber; but not long Slumber’d; for suddenly a multitude,
The steep already turning, from behind, Rush’d on. With fury and like random rout, As echoing on their shores at midnight heard Ismenus and Asopus, for his Thebes
If Bacchus’ help were needed; so came these Tumultuous, curving each his rapid step, By eagerness impell’d of holy love.
Soon they o’ertook us; with such swiftness mov’d The mighty crowd. Two spirits at their head Cried weeping; “Blessed Mary sought with haste The hilly region. Caesar to subdue
Ilerda, darted in Marseilles his sting, And flew to Spain.”–“Oh tarry not: away;” The others shouted; “let not time be lost Through slackness of affection. Hearty zeal To serve reanimates celestial grace.”
“O ye, in whom intenser fervency Haply supplies, where lukewarm erst ye fail’d, Slow or neglectful, to absolve your part Of good and virtuous, this man, who yet lives, (Credit my tale, though strange) desires t’ ascend, So morning rise to light us. Therefore say Which hand leads nearest to the rifted rock?” So spake my guide, to whom a shade return’d: “Come after us, and thou shalt find the cleft. We may not linger: such resistless will
Speeds our unwearied course. Vouchsafe us then Thy pardon, if our duty seem to thee
Discourteous rudeness. In Verona I
Was abbot of San Zeno, when the hand Of Barbarossa grasp’d Imperial sway,
That name, ne’er utter’d without tears in Milan. And there is he, hath one foot in his grave, Who for that monastery ere long shall weep, Ruing his power misus’d: for that his son, Of body ill compact, and worse in mind,
And born in evil, he hath set in place Of its true pastor.” Whether more he spake, Or here was mute, I know not: he had sped E’en now so far beyond us. Yet thus much I heard, and in rememb’rance treasur’d it. He then, who never fail’d me at my need, Cried, “Hither turn. Lo! two with sharp remorse Chiding their sin!” In rear of all the troop These shouted: “First they died, to whom the sea Open’d, or ever Jordan saw his heirs:
And they, who with Aeneas to the end Endur’d not suffering, for their portion chose Life without glory.” Soon as they had fled Past reach of sight, new thought within me rose By others follow’d fast, and each unlike Its fellow: till led on from thought to thought, And pleasur’d with the fleeting train, mine eye Was clos’d, and meditation chang’d to dream.

CANTO XIX

It was the hour, when of diurnal heat No reliques chafe the cold beams of the moon, O’erpower’d by earth, or planetary sway
Of Saturn; and the geomancer sees
His Greater Fortune up the east ascend, Where gray dawn checkers first the shadowy cone; When ‘fore me in my dream a woman’s shape There came, with lips that stammer’d, eyes aslant, Distorted feet, hands maim’d, and colour pale. I look’d upon her; and as sunshine cheers Limbs numb’d by nightly cold, e’en thus my look Unloos’d her tongue, next in brief space her form Decrepit rais’d erect, and faded face
With love’s own hue illum’d. Recov’ring speech She forthwith warbling such a strain began, That I, how loth soe’er, could scarce have held Attention from the song. “I,” thus she sang, “I am the Siren, she, whom mariners
On the wide sea are wilder’d when they hear: Such fulness of delight the list’ner feels. I from his course Ulysses by my lay
Enchanted drew. Whoe’er frequents me once Parts seldom; so I charm him, and his heart Contented knows no void.” Or ere her mouth Was clos’d, to shame her at her side appear’d A dame of semblance holy. With stern voice She utter’d; “Say, O Virgil, who is this?” Which hearing, he approach’d, with eyes still bent Toward that goodly presence: th’ other seiz’d her, And, her robes tearing, open’d her before, And show’d the belly to me, whence a smell, Exhaling loathsome, wak’d me. Round I turn’d Mine eyes, and thus the teacher: “At the least Three times my voice hath call’d thee. Rise, begone. Let us the opening find where thou mayst pass.” I straightway rose. Now day, pour’d down from high, Fill’d all the circuits of the sacred mount; And, as we journey’d, on our shoulder smote The early ray. I follow’d, stooping low
My forehead, as a man, o’ercharg’d with thought, Who bends him to the likeness of an arch, That midway spans the flood; when thus I heard, “Come, enter here,” in tone so soft and mild, As never met the ear on mortal strand.
With swan-like wings dispread and pointing up, Who thus had spoken marshal’d us along,
Where each side of the solid masonry The sloping, walls retir’d; then mov’d his plumes, And fanning us, affirm’d that those, who mourn, Are blessed, for that comfort shall be theirs. “What aileth thee, that still thou look’st to earth?” Began my leader; while th’ angelic shape A little over us his station took.
“New vision,” I replied, “hath rais’d in me 8urmisings strange and anxious doubts, whereon My soul intent allows no other thought
Or room or entrance.–“Hast thou seen,” said he, “That old enchantress, her, whose wiles alone The spirits o’er us weep for? Hast thou seen How man may free him of her bonds? Enough. Let thy heels spurn the earth, and thy rais’d ken Fix on the lure, which heav’n’s eternal King Whirls in the rolling spheres.” As on his feet The falcon first looks down, then to the sky Turns, and forth stretches eager for the food, That woos him thither; so the call I heard, So onward, far as the dividing rock
Gave way, I journey’d, till the plain was reach’d. On the fifth circle when I stood at large, A race appear’d before me, on the ground All downward lying prone and weeping sore. “My soul hath cleaved to the dust,” I heard With sighs so deep, they well nigh choak’d the words. “O ye elect of God, whose penal woes
Both hope and justice mitigate, direct Tow’rds the steep rising our uncertain way.” “If ye approach secure from this our doom, Prostration–and would urge your course with speed, See that ye still to rightward keep the brink.” So them the bard besought; and such the words, Beyond us some short space, in answer came. I noted what remain’d yet hidden from them: Thence to my liege’s eyes mine eyes I bent, And he, forthwith interpreting their suit, Beckon’d his glad assent. Free then to act, As pleas’d me, I drew near, and took my stand O`er that shade, whose words I late had mark’d. And, “Spirit!” I said, “in whom repentant tears Mature that blessed hour, when thou with God Shalt find acceptance, for a while suspend For me that mightier care. Say who thou wast, Why thus ye grovel on your bellies prone, And if in aught ye wish my service there, Whence living I am come.” He answering spake “The cause why Heav’n our back toward his cope Reverses, shalt thou know: but me know first The successor of Peter, and the name
And title of my lineage from that stream, That’ twixt Chiaveri and Siestri draws
His limpid waters through the lowly glen. A month and little more by proof I learnt, With what a weight that robe of sov’reignty Upon his shoulder rests, who from the mire Would guard it: that each other fardel seems But feathers in the balance. Late, alas! Was my conversion: but when I became
Rome’s pastor, I discern’d at once the dream And cozenage of life, saw that the heart Rested not there, and yet no prouder height Lur’d on the climber: wherefore, of that life No more enamour’d, in my bosom love
Of purer being kindled. For till then I was a soul in misery, alienate
From God, and covetous of all earthly things; Now, as thou seest, here punish’d for my doting. Such cleansing from the taint of avarice Do spirits converted need. This mount inflicts No direr penalty. E’en as our eyes
Fasten’d below, nor e’er to loftier clime Were lifted, thus hath justice level’d us Here on the earth. As avarice quench’d our love Of good, without which is no working, thus Here justice holds us prison’d, hand and foot Chain’d down and bound, while heaven’s just Lord shall please. So long to tarry motionless outstretch’d.” My knees I stoop’d, and would have spoke; but he, Ere my beginning, by his ear perceiv’d
I did him reverence; and “What cause,” said he, “Hath bow’d thee thus!”–” Compunction,” I rejoin’d. “And inward awe of your high dignity.”
“Up,” he exclaim’d, “brother! upon thy feet Arise: err not: thy fellow servant I,
(Thine and all others’) of one Sovran Power. If thou hast ever mark’d those holy sounds Of gospel truth, ‘nor shall be given ill marriage,’ Thou mayst discern the reasons of my speech. Go thy ways now; and linger here no more. Thy tarrying is a let unto the tears,
With which I hasten that whereof thou spak’st. I have on earth a kinswoman; her name
Alagia, worthy in herself, so ill
Example of our house corrupt her not: And she is all remaineth of me there.”

CANTO XX

Ill strives the will, ‘gainst will more wise that strives His pleasure therefore to mine own preferr’d, I drew the sponge yet thirsty from the wave. Onward I mov’d: he also onward mov’d, Who led me, coasting still, wherever place Along the rock was vacant, as a man
Walks near the battlements on narrow wall. For those on th’ other part, who drop by drop Wring out their all-infecting malady,
Too closely press the verge. Accurst be thou! Inveterate wolf! whose gorge ingluts more prey, Than every beast beside, yet is not fill’d! So bottomless thy maw! –Ye spheres of heaven! To whom there are, as seems, who attribute All change in mortal state, when is the day Of his appearing, for whom fate reserves To chase her hence? –With wary steps and slow We pass’d; and I attentive to the shades, Whom piteously I heard lament and wail;
And, ‘midst the wailing, one before us heard Cry out “O blessed Virgin!” as a dame
In the sharp pangs of childbed; and “How poor Thou wast,” it added, “witness that low roof Where thou didst lay thy sacred burden down. O good Fabricius! thou didst virtue choose With poverty, before great wealth with vice.” The words so pleas’d me, that desire to know The spirit, from whose lip they seem’d to come, Did draw me onward. Yet it spake the gift Of Nicholas, which on the maidens he
Bounteous bestow’d, to save their youthful prime Unblemish’d. “Spirit! who dost speak of deeds So worthy, tell me who thou was,” I said, “And why thou dost with single voice renew Memorial of such praise. That boon vouchsaf’d Haply shall meet reward; if I return
To finish the Short pilgrimage of life, Still speeding to its close on restless wing.” “I,” answer’d he, “will tell thee, not for hell, Which thence I look for; but that in thyself Grace so exceeding shines, before thy time Of mortal dissolution. I was root
Of that ill plant, whose shade such poison sheds O’er all the Christian land, that seldom thence Good fruit is gather’d. Vengeance soon should come, Had Ghent and Douay, Lille and Bruges power; And vengeance I of heav’n’s great Judge implore. Hugh Capet was I high: from me descend
The Philips and the Louis, of whom France Newly is govern’d; born of one, who ply’d The slaughterer’s trade at Paris. When the race Of ancient kings had vanish’d (all save one Wrapt up in sable weeds) within my gripe I found the reins of empire, and such powers Of new acquirement, with full store of friends, That soon the widow’d circlet of the crown Was girt upon the temples of my son,
He, from whose bones th’ anointed race begins. Till the great dower of Provence had remov’d The stains, that yet obscur’d our lowly blood, Its sway indeed was narrow, but howe’er
It wrought no evil: there, with force and lies, Began its rapine; after, for amends,
Poitou it seiz’d, Navarre and Gascony. To Italy came Charles, and for amends
Young Conradine an innocent victim slew, And sent th’ angelic teacher back to heav’n, Still for amends. I see the time at hand, That forth from France invites another Charles To make himself and kindred better known. Unarm’d he issues, saving with that lance, Which the arch-traitor tilted with; and that He carries with so home a thrust, as rives The bowels of poor Florence. No increase Of territory hence, but sin and shame
Shall be his guerdon, and so much the more As he more lightly deems of such foul wrong. I see the other, who a prisoner late
Had steps on shore, exposing to the mart His daughter, whom he bargains for, as do The Corsairs for their slaves. O avarice! What canst thou more, who hast subdued our blood So wholly to thyself, they feel no care
Of their own flesh? To hide with direr guilt Past ill and future, lo! the flower-de-luce Enters Alagna! in his Vicar Christ
Himself a captive, and his mockery
Acted again! Lo! to his holy lip
The vinegar and gall once more applied! And he ‘twixt living robbers doom’d to bleed! Lo! the new Pilate, of whose cruelty
Such violence cannot fill the measure up, With no degree to sanction, pushes on
Into the temple his yet eager sails! “O sovran Master! when shall I rejoice To see the vengeance, which thy wrath well-pleas’d In secret silence broods?–While daylight lasts, So long what thou didst hear of her, sole spouse Of the Great Spirit, and on which thou turn’dst To me for comment, is the general theme
Of all our prayers: but when it darkens, then A different strain we utter, then record Pygmalion, whom his gluttonous thirst of gold Made traitor, robber, parricide: the woes Of Midas, which his greedy wish ensued,
Mark’d for derision to all future times: And the fond Achan, how he stole the prey, That yet he seems by Joshua’s ire pursued. Sapphira with her husband next, we blame; And praise the forefeet, that with furious ramp Spurn’d Heliodorus. All the mountain round Rings with the infamy of Thracia’s king, Who slew his Phrygian charge: and last a shout Ascends: “Declare, O Crassus! for thou know’st, The flavour of thy gold.” The voice of each Now high now low, as each his impulse prompts, Is led through many a pitch, acute or grave. Therefore, not singly, I erewhile rehears’d That blessedness we tell of in the day:
But near me none beside his accent rais’d.” From him we now had parted, and essay’d With utmost efforts to surmount the way, When I did feel, as nodding to its fall, The mountain tremble; whence an icy chill Seiz’d on me, as on one to death convey’d. So shook not Delos, when Latona there
Couch’d to bring forth the twin-born eyes of heaven. Forthwith from every side a shout arose So vehement, that suddenly my guide
Drew near, and cried: “Doubt not, while I conduct thee.” “Glory!” all shouted (such the sounds mine ear Gather’d from those, who near me swell’d the sounds) “Glory in the highest be to God.” We stood Immovably suspended, like to those,
The shepherds, who first heard in Bethlehem’s field That song: till ceas’d the trembling, and the song Was ended: then our hallow’d path resum’d, Eying the prostrate shadows, who renew’d Their custom’d mourning. Never in my breast Did ignorance so struggle with desire
Of knowledge, if my memory do not err, As in that moment; nor through haste dar’d I To question, nor myself could aught discern, So on I far’d in thoughtfulness and dread.

CANTO XXI

The natural thirst, ne’er quench’d but from the well, Whereof the woman of Samaria crav’d,
Excited: haste along the cumber’d path, After my guide, impell’d; and pity mov’d My bosom for the ‘vengeful deed, though just. When lo! even as Luke relates, that Christ Appear’d unto the two upon their way,
New-risen from his vaulted grave; to us A shade appear’d, and after us approach’d, Contemplating the crowd beneath its feet. We were not ware of it; so first it spake, Saying, “God give you peace, my brethren!” then Sudden we turn’d: and Virgil such salute, As fitted that kind greeting, gave, and cried: “Peace in the blessed council be thy lot Awarded by that righteous court, which me To everlasting banishment exiles!”
“How!” he exclaim’d, nor from his speed meanwhile Desisting, “If that ye be spirits, whom God Vouchsafes not room above, who up the height Has been thus far your guide?” To whom the bard: “If thou observe the tokens, which this man Trac’d by the finger of the angel bears, ‘Tis plain that in the kingdom of the just He needs must share. But sithence she, whose wheel Spins day and night, for him not yet had drawn That yarn, which, on the fatal distaff pil’d, Clotho apportions to each wight that breathes, His soul, that sister is to mine and thine, Not of herself could mount, for not like ours Her ken: whence I, from forth the ample gulf Of hell was ta’en, to lead him, and will lead Far as my lore avails. But, if thou know, Instruct us for what cause, the mount erewhile Thus shook and trembled: wherefore all at once Seem’d shouting, even from his wave-wash’d foot.” That questioning so tallied with my wish, The thirst did feel abatement of its edge E’en from expectance. He forthwith replied, “In its devotion nought irregular
This mount can witness, or by punctual rule Unsanction’d; here from every change exempt. Other than that, which heaven in itself
Doth of itself receive, no influence Can reach us. Tempest none, shower, hail or snow, Hoar frost or dewy moistness, higher falls Than that brief scale of threefold steps: thick clouds Nor scudding rack are ever seen: swift glance Ne’er lightens, nor Thaumantian Iris gleams, That yonder often shift on each side heav’n. Vapour adust doth never mount above
The highest of the trinal stairs, whereon Peter’s vicegerent stands. Lower perchance, With various motion rock’d, trembles the soil: But here, through wind in earth’s deep hollow pent, I know not how, yet never trembled: then Trembles, when any spirit feels itself
So purified, that it may rise, or move For rising, and such loud acclaim ensues. Purification by the will alone
Is prov’d, that free to change society Seizes the soul rejoicing in her will.
Desire of bliss is present from the first; But strong propension hinders, to that wish By the just ordinance of heav’n oppos’d;