Is added unto evil will and power,
No rampart can the people make against it.
His face appeared to me as long and large As is at Rome the pine-cone of Saint Peter’s, And in proportion were the other bones;
So that the margin, which an apron was Down from the middle, showed so much of him Above it, that to reach up to his hair
Three Frieslanders in vain had vaunted them; For I beheld thirty great palms of him
Down from the place where man his mantle buckles.
“Raphael mai amech izabi almi,”
Began to clamour the ferocious mouth, To which were not befitting sweeter psalms.
And unto him my Guide: “Soul idiotic, Keep to thy horn, and vent thyself with that, When wrath or other passion touches thee.
Search round thy neck, and thou wilt find the belt Which keeps it fastened, O bewildered soul, And see it, where it bars thy mighty breast.”
Then said to me: “He doth himself accuse; This one is Nimrod, by whose evil thought One language in the world is not still used.
Here let us leave him and not speak in vain; For even such to him is every language
As his to others, which to none is known.”
Therefore a longer journey did we make, Turned to the left, and a crossbow-shot oft We found another far more fierce and large.
In binding him, who might the master be I cannot say; but he had pinioned close Behind the right arm, and in front the other,
With chains, that held him so begirt about From the neck down, that on the part uncovered It wound itself as far as the fifth gyre.
“This proud one wished to make experiment Of his own power against the Supreme Jove,” My Leader said, “whence he has such a guerdon.
Ephialtes is his name; he showed great prowess. What time the giants terrified the gods; The arms he wielded never more he moves.”
And I to him: “If possible, I should wish That of the measureless Briareus
These eyes of mine might have experience.”
Whence he replied: “Thou shalt behold Antaeus Close by here, who can speak and is unbound, Who at the bottom of all crime shall place us.
Much farther yon is he whom thou wouldst see, And he is bound, and fashioned like to this one, Save that he seems in aspect more ferocious.”
There never was an earthquake of such might That it could shake a tower so violently, As Ephialtes suddenly shook himself.
Then was I more afraid of death than ever, For nothing more was needful than the fear, If I had not beheld the manacles.
Then we proceeded farther in advance, And to Antaeus came, who, full five ells Without the head, forth issued from the cavern.
“O thou, who in the valley fortunate, Which Scipio the heir of glory made,
When Hannibal turned back with all his hosts,
Once brought’st a thousand lions for thy prey, And who, hadst thou been at the mighty war Among thy brothers, some it seems still think
The sons of Earth the victory would have gained: Place us below, nor be disdainful of it, There where the cold doth lock Cocytus up.
Make us not go to Tityus nor Typhoeus; This one can give of that which here is longed for; Therefore stoop down, and do not curl thy lip.
Still in the world can he restore thy fame; Because he lives, and still expects long life, If to itself Grace call him not untimely.”
So said the Master; and in haste the other His hands extended and took up my Guide,– Hands whose great pressure Hercules once felt.
Virgilius, when he felt himself embraced, Said unto me: “Draw nigh, that I may take thee;” Then of himself and me one bundle made.
As seems the Carisenda, to behold
Beneath the leaning side, when goes a cloud Above it so that opposite it hangs;
Such did Antaeus seem to me, who stood Watching to see him stoop, and then it was I could have wished to go some other way.
But lightly in the abyss, which swallows up Judas with Lucifer, he put us down;
Nor thus bowed downward made he there delay,
But, as a mast does in a ship, uprose.
Inferno: Canto XXXII
If I had rhymes both rough and stridulous, As were appropriate to the dismal hole
Down upon which thrust all the other rocks,
I would press out the juice of my conception More fully; but because I have them not, Not without fear I bring myself to speak;
For ’tis no enterprise to take in jest, To sketch the bottom of all the universe, Nor for a tongue that cries Mamma and Babbo.
But may those Ladies help this verse of mine, Who helped Amphion in enclosing Thebes, That from the fact the word be not diverse.
O rabble ill-begotten above all,
Who’re in the place to speak of which is hard, ‘Twere better ye had here been sheep or goats!
When we were down within the darksome well, Beneath the giant’s feet, but lower far, And I was scanning still the lofty wall,
I heard it said to me: “Look how thou steppest! Take heed thou do not trample with thy feet The heads of the tired, miserable brothers!”
Whereat I turned me round, and saw before me And underfoot a lake, that from the frost The semblance had of glass, and not of water.
So thick a veil ne’er made upon its current In winter-time Danube in Austria,
Nor there beneath the frigid sky the Don,
As there was here; so that if Tambernich Had fallen upon it, or Pietrapana,
E’en at the edge ‘twould not have given a creak.
And as to croak the frog doth place himself With muzzle out of water,–when is dreaming Of gleaning oftentimes the peasant-girl,–
Livid, as far down as where shame appears, Were the disconsolate shades within the ice, Setting their teeth unto the note of storks.
Each one his countenance held downward bent; From mouth the cold, from eyes the doleful heart Among them witness of itself procures.
When round about me somewhat I had looked, I downward turned me, and saw two so close, The hair upon their heads together mingled.
“Ye who so strain your breasts together, tell me,” I said, “who are you;” and they bent their necks, And when to me their faces they had lifted,
Their eyes, which first were only moist within, Gushed o’er the eyelids, and the frost congealed The tears between, and locked them up again.
Clamp never bound together wood with wood So strongly; whereat they, like two he-goats, Butted together, so much wrath o’ercame them.
And one, who had by reason of the cold Lost both his ears, still with his visage downward, Said: “Why dost thou so mirror thyself in us?
If thou desire to know who these two are, The valley whence Bisenzio descends
Belonged to them and to their father Albert.
They from one body came, and all Caina Thou shalt search through, and shalt not find a shade More worthy to be fixed in gelatine;
Not he in whom were broken breast and shadow At one and the same blow by Arthur’s hand; Focaccia not; not he who me encumbers
So with his head I see no farther forward, And bore the name of Sassol Mascheroni; Well knowest thou who he was, if thou art Tuscan.
And that thou put me not to further speech, Know that I Camicion de’ Pazzi was,
And wait Carlino to exonerate me.”
Then I beheld a thousand faces, made
Purple with cold; whence o’er me comes a shudder, And evermore will come, at frozen ponds.
And while we were advancing tow’rds the middle, Where everything of weight unites together, And I was shivering in the eternal shade,
Whether ’twere will, or destiny, or chance, I know not; but in walking ‘mong the heads I struck my foot hard in the face of one.
Weeping he growled: “Why dost thou trample me? Unless thou comest to increase the vengeance of Montaperti, why dost thou molest me?”
And I: “My Master, now wait here for me, That I through him may issue from a doubt; Then thou mayst hurry me, as thou shalt wish.”
The Leader stopped; and to that one I said Who was blaspheming vehemently still:
“Who art thou, that thus reprehendest others?”
“Now who art thou, that goest through Antenora Smiting,” replied he, “other people’s cheeks, So that, if thou wert living, ’twere too much?”
“Living I am, and dear to thee it may be,” Was my response, “if thou demandest fame, That ‘mid the other notes thy name I place.”
And he to me: “For the reverse I long; Take thyself hence, and give me no more trouble; For ill thou knowest to flatter in this hollow.”
Then by the scalp behind I seized upon him, And said: “It must needs be thou name thyself, Or not a hair remain upon thee here.”
Whence he to me: “Though thou strip off my hair, I will not tell thee who I am, nor show thee, If on my head a thousand times thou fall.”
I had his hair in hand already twisted, And more than one shock of it had pulled out, He barking, with his eyes held firmly down,
When cried another: “What doth ail thee, Bocca? Is’t not enough to clatter with thy jaws, But thou must bark? what devil touches thee?”
“Now,” said I, “I care not to have thee speak, Accursed traitor; for unto thy shame
I will report of thee veracious news.”
“Begone,” replied he, “and tell what thou wilt, But be not silent, if thou issue hence, Of him who had just now his tongue so prompt;
He weepeth here the silver of the French; ‘I saw,’ thus canst thou phrase it, ‘him of Duera There where the sinners stand out in the cold.’
If thou shouldst questioned be who else was there, Thou hast beside thee him of Beccaria,
Of whom the gorget Florence slit asunder;
Gianni del Soldanier, I think, may be Yonder with Ganellon, and Tebaldello
Who oped Faenza when the people slep.”
Already we had gone away from him,
When I beheld two frozen in one hole, So that one head a hood was to the other;
And even as bread through hunger is devoured, The uppermost on the other set his teeth, There where the brain is to the nape united.
Not in another fashion Tydeus gnawed
The temples of Menalippus in disdain, Than that one did the skull and the other things.
“O thou, who showest by such bestial sign Thy hatred against him whom thou art eating, Tell me the wherefore,” said I, “with this compact,
That if thou rightfully of him complain, In knowing who ye are, and his transgression, I in the world above repay thee for it,
If that wherewith I speak be not dried up.”
Inferno: Canto XXXIII
His mouth uplifted from his grim repast, That sinner, wiping it upon the hair
Of the same head that he behind had wasted.
Then he began: “Thou wilt that I renew The desperate grief, which wrings my heart already To think of only, ere I speak of it;
But if my words be seed that may bear fruit Of infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw,
Speaking and weeping shalt thou see together.
I know not who thou art, nor by what mode Thou hast come down here; but a Florentine Thou seemest to me truly, when I hear thee.
Thou hast to know I was Count Ugolino, And this one was Ruggieri the Archbishop; Now I will tell thee why I am such a neighbour.
That, by effect of his malicious thoughts, Trusting in him I was made prisoner,
And after put to death, I need not say;
But ne’ertheless what thou canst not have heard, That is to say, how cruel was my death, Hear shalt thou, and shalt know if he has wronged me.
A narrow perforation in the mew,
Which bears because of me the title of Famine, And in which others still must be locked up,
Had shown me through its opening many moons Already, when I dreamed the evil dream
Which of the future rent for me the veil.
This one appeared to me as lord and master, Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see.
With sleuth-hounds gaunt, and eager, and well trained, Gualandi with Sismondi and Lanfianchi
He had sent out before him to the front.
After brief course seemed unto me forespent The father and the sons, and with sharp tushes It seemed to me I saw their flanks ripped open.
When I before the morrow was awake,
Moaning amid their sleep I heard my sons Who with me were, and asking after bread.
Cruel indeed art thou, if yet thou grieve not, Thinking of what my heart foreboded me, And weep’st thou not, what art thou wont to weep at?
They were awake now, and the hour drew nigh At which our food used to be brought to us, And through his dream was each one apprehensive;
And I heard locking up the under door Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word I gazed into the faces of my sons.
I wept not, I within so turned to stone; They wept; and darling little Anselm mine Said: ‘Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?’
Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter, Until another sun rose on the world.
As now a little glimmer made its way
Into the dolorous prison, and I saw Upon four faces my own very aspect,
Both of my hands in agony I bit;
And, thinking that I did it from desire Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,
And said they: ‘Father, much less pain ’twill give us If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.’
I calmed me then, not to make them more sad. That day we all were silent, and the next. Ah! obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open?
When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo Threw himself down outstretched before my feet, Saying, ‘My father, why dost thou not help me?’
And there he died; and, as thou seest me, I saw the three fall, one by one, between The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,
Already blind, to groping over each,
And three days called them after they were dead; Then hunger did what sorrow could not do.”
When he had said this, with his eyes distorted, The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth, Which, as a dog’s, upon the bone were strong.
Ah! Pisa, thou opprobrium of the people Of the fair land there where the ‘Si’ doth sound, Since slow to punish thee thy neighbours are,
Let the Capraia and Gorgona move,
And make a hedge across the mouth of Arno That every person in thee it may drown!
For if Count Ugolino had the fame
Of having in thy castles thee betrayed, Thou shouldst not on such cross have put his sons.
Guiltless of any crime, thou modern Thebes! Their youth made Uguccione and Brigata, And the other two my song doth name above!
We passed still farther onward, where the ice Another people ruggedly enswathes,
Not downward turned, but all of them reversed.
Weeping itself there does not let them weep, And grief that finds a barrier in the eyes Turns itself inward to increase the anguish;
Because the earliest tears a cluster form, And, in the manner of a crystal visor,
Fill all the cup beneath the eyebrow full.
And notwithstanding that, as in a callus, Because of cold all sensibility
Its station had abandoned in my face,
Still it appeared to me I felt some wind; Whence I: “My Master, who sets this in motion? Is not below here every vapour quenched?”
Whence he to me: “Full soon shalt thou be where Thine eye shall answer make to thee of this, Seeing the cause which raineth down the blast.”
And one of the wretches of the frozen crust Cried out to us: “O souls so merciless
That the last post is given unto you,
Lift from mine eyes the rigid veils, that I May vent the sorrow which impregns my heart A little, e’er the weeping recongeal.”
Whence I to him: “If thou wouldst have me help thee Say who thou wast; and if I free thee not, May I go to the bottom of the ice.”
Then he replied: “I am Friar Alberigo; He am I of the fruit of the bad garden, Who here a date am getting for my fig.”
“O,” said I to him, “now art thou, too, dead?” And he to me: “How may my body fare
Up in the world, no knowledge I possess.
Such an advantage has this Ptolomaea, That oftentimes the soul descendeth here Sooner than Atropos in motion sets it.
And, that thou mayest more willingly remove From off my countenance these glassy tears, Know that as soon as any soul betrays
As I have done, his body by a demon
Is taken from him, who thereafter rules it, Until his time has wholly been revolved.
Itself down rushes into such a cistern; And still perchance above appears the body Of yonder shade, that winters here behind me.
This thou shouldst know, if thou hast just come down; It is Ser Branca d’ Oria, and many years Have passed away since he was thus locked up.”
“I think,” said I to him, “thou dost deceive me; For Branca d’ Oria is not dead as yet,
And eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes.”
“In moat above,” said he, “of Malebranche, There where is boiling the tenacious pitch, As yet had Michel Zanche not arrived,
When this one left a devil in his stead In his own body and one near of kin,
Who made together with him the betrayal.
But hitherward stretch out thy hand forthwith, Open mine eyes;”–and open them I did not, And to be rude to him was courtesy.
Ah, Genoese! ye men at variance
With every virtue, full of every vice Wherefore are ye not scattered from the world?
For with the vilest spirit of Romagna I found of you one such, who for his deeds In soul already in Cocytus bathes,
And still above in body seems alive!
Inferno: Canto XXXIV
“‘Vexilla Regis prodeunt Inferni’
Towards us; therefore look in front of thee,” My Master said, “if thou discernest him.”
As, when there breathes a heavy fog, or when Our hemisphere is darkening into night, Appears far off a mill the wind is turning,
Methought that such a building then I saw; And, for the wind, I drew myself behind My Guide, because there was no other shelter.
Now was I, and with fear in verse I put it, There where the shades were wholly covered up, And glimmered through like unto straws in glass.
Some prone are lying, others stand erect, This with the head, and that one with the soles; Another, bow-like, face to feet inverts.
When in advance so far we had proceeded, That it my Master pleased to show to me The creature who once had the beauteous semblance,
He from before me moved and made me stop, Saying: “Behold Dis, and behold the place Where thou with fortitude must arm thyself.”
How frozen I became and powerless then, Ask it not, Reader, for I write it not, Because all language would be insufficient.
I did not die, and I alive remained not; Think for thyself now, hast thou aught of wit, What I became, being of both deprived.
The Emperor of the kingdom dolorous
From his mid-breast forth issued from the ice; And better with a giant I compare
Than do the giants with those arms of his; Consider now how great must be that whole, Which unto such a part conforms itself.
Were he as fair once, as he now is foul, And lifted up his brow against his Maker, Well may proceed from him all tribulation.
O, what a marvel it appeared to me,
When I beheld three faces on his head! The one in front, and that vermilion was;
Two were the others, that were joined with this Above the middle part of either shoulder, And they were joined together at the crest;
And the right-hand one seemed ‘twixt white and yellow; The left was such to look upon as those Who come from where the Nile falls valley-ward.
Underneath each came forth two mighty wings, Such as befitting were so great a bird; Sails of the sea I never saw so large.
No feathers had they, but as of a bat Their fashion was; and he was waving them, So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom.
Thereby Cocytus wholly was congealed. With six eyes did he weep, and down three chins Trickled the tear-drops and the bloody drivel.
At every mouth he with his teeth was crunching A sinner, in the manner of a brake,
So that he three of them tormented thus.
To him in front the biting was as naught Unto the clawing, for sometimes the spine Utterly stripped of all the skin remained.
“That soul up there which has the greatest pain,” The Master said, “is Judas Iscariot;
With head inside, he plies his legs without.
Of the two others, who head downward are, The one who hangs from the black jowl is Brutus; See how he writhes himself, and speaks no word.
And the other, who so stalwart seems, is Cassius. But night is reascending, and ’tis time That we depart, for we have seen the whole.”
As seemed him good, I clasped him round the neck, And he the vantage seized of time and place, And when the wings were opened wide apart,
He laid fast hold upon the shaggy sides; From fell to fell descended downward then Between the thick hair and the frozen crust.
When we were come to where the thigh revolves Exactly on the thickness of the haunch, The Guide, with labour and with hard-drawn breath,
Turned round his head where he had had his legs, And grappled to the hair, as one who mounts, So that to Hell I thought we were returning.
“Keep fast thy hold, for by such stairs as these,” The Master said, panting as one fatigued, “Must we perforce depart from so much evil.”
Then through the opening of a rock he issued, And down upon the margin seated me;
Then tow’rds me he outstretched his wary step.
I lifted up mine eyes and thought to see Lucifer in the same way I had left him; And I beheld him upward hold his legs.
And if I then became disquieted,
Let stolid people think who do not see What the point is beyond which I had passed.
“Rise up,” the Master said, “upon thy feet; The way is long, and difficult the road, And now the sun to middle-tierce returns.”
It was not any palace corridor
There where we were, but dungeon natural, With floor uneven and unease of light.
“Ere from the abyss I tear myself away, My Master,” said I when I had arisen,
“To draw me from an error speak a little;
Where is the ice? and how is this one fixed Thus upside down? and how in such short time From eve to morn has the sun made his transit?”
And he to me: “Thou still imaginest
Thou art beyond the centre, where I grasped The hair of the fell worm, who mines the world.
That side thou wast, so long as I descended; When round I turned me, thou didst pass the point To which things heavy draw from every side,
And now beneath the hemisphere art come Opposite that which overhangs the vast
Dry-land, and ‘neath whose cope was put to death
The Man who without sin was born and lived. Thou hast thy feet upon the little sphere Which makes the other face of the Judecca.
Here it is morn when it is evening there; And he who with his hair a stairway made us Still fixed remaineth as he was before.
Upon this side he fell down out of heaven; And all the land, that whilom here emerged, For fear of him made of the sea a veil,
And came to our hemisphere; and peradventure To flee from him, what on this side appears Left the place vacant here, and back recoiled.”
A place there is below, from Beelzebub As far receding as the tomb extends,
Which not by sight is known, but by the sound
Of a small rivulet, that there descendeth Through chasm within the stone, which it has gnawed With course that winds about and slightly falls.
The Guide and I into that hidden road Now entered, to return to the bright world; And without care of having any rest
We mounted up, he first and I the second, Till I beheld through a round aperture
Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;
Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.
The Divine Comedy
translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (e-text courtesy ILT’s Digital Dante Project)
Purgatorio: Canto I
To run o’er better waters hoists its sail The little vessel of my genius now,
That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel;
And of that second kingdom will I sing Wherein the human spirit doth purge itself, And to ascend to heaven becometh worthy.
But let dead Poesy here rise again,
O holy Muses, since that I am yours, And here Calliope somewhat ascend,
My song accompanying with that sound, Of which the miserable magpies felt
The blow so great, that they despaired of pardon.
Sweet colour of the oriental sapphire, That was upgathered in the cloudless aspect Of the pure air, as far as the first circle,
Unto mine eyes did recommence delight Soon as I issued forth from the dead air, Which had with sadness filled mine eyes and breast.
The beauteous planet, that to love incites, Was making all the orient to laugh,
Veiling the Fishes that were in her escort.
To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind Upon the other pole, and saw four stars Ne’er seen before save by the primal people.
Rejoicing in their flamelets seemed the heaven. O thou septentrional and widowed site,
Because thou art deprived of seeing these!
When from regarding them I had withdrawn, Turning a little to the other pole,
There where the Wain had disappeared already,
I saw beside me an old man alone,
Worthy of so much reverence in his look, That more owes not to father any son.
A long beard and with white hair intermingled He wore, in semblance like unto the tresses, Of which a double list fell on his breast.
The rays of the four consecrated stars Did so adorn his countenance with light, That him I saw as were the sun before him.
“Who are you? ye who, counter the blind river, Have fled away from the eternal prison?” Moving those venerable plumes, he said:
“Who guided you? or who has been your lamp In issuing forth out of the night profound, That ever black makes the infernal valley?
The laws of the abyss, are they thus broken? Or is there changed in heaven some council new, That being damned ye come unto my crags?”
Then did my Leader lay his grasp upon me, And with his words, and with his hands and signs, Reverent he made in me my knees and brow;
Then answered him: “I came not of myself; A Lady from Heaven descended, at whose prayers I aided this one with my company.
But since it is thy will more be unfolded Of our condition, how it truly is,
Mine cannot be that this should be denied thee.
This one has never his last evening seen, But by his folly was so near to it
That very little time was there to turn.
As I have said, I unto him was sent
To rescue him, and other way was none Than this to which I have myself betaken.
I’ve shown him all the people of perdition, And now those spirits I intend to show
Who purge themselves beneath thy guardianship.
How I have brought him would be long to tell thee. Virtue descendeth from on high that aids me To lead him to behold thee and to hear thee.
Now may it please thee to vouchsafe his coming; He seeketh Liberty, which is so dear,
As knoweth he who life for her refuses.
Thou know’st it; since, for her, to thee not bitter Was death in Utica, where thou didst leave The vesture, that will shine so, the great day.
By us the eternal edicts are not broken; Since this one lives, and Minos binds not me; But of that circle I, where are the chaste
Eyes of thy Marcia, who in looks still prays thee, O holy breast, to hold her as thine own; For her love, then, incline thyself to us.
Permit us through thy sevenfold realm to go; I will take back this grace from thee to her, If to be mentioned there below thou deignest.”
“Marcia so pleasing was unto mine eyes While I was on the other side,” then said he, “That every grace she wished of me I granted;
Now that she dwells beyond the evil river, She can no longer move me, by that law
Which, when I issued forth from there, was made.
But if a Lady of Heaven do move and rule thee, As thou dost say, no flattery is needful; Let it suffice thee that for her thou ask me.
Go, then, and see thou gird this one about With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face, So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom,
For ’twere not fitting that the eye o’ercast By any mist should go before the first
Angel, who is of those of Paradise.
This little island round about its base Below there, yonder, where the billow beats it, Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze;
No other plant that putteth forth the leaf, Or that doth indurate, can there have life, Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks.
Thereafter be not this way your return; The sun, which now is rising, will direct you To take the mount by easier ascent.”
With this he vanished; and I raised me up Without a word, and wholly drew myself
Unto my Guide, and turned mine eyes to him.
And he began: “Son, follow thou my steps; Let us turn back, for on this side declines The plain unto its lower boundaries.”
The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour Which fled before it, so that from afar I recognised the trembling of the sea.
Along the solitary plain we went
As one who unto the lost road returns, And till he finds it seems to go in vain.
As soon as we were come to where the dew Fights with the sun, and, being in a part Where shadow falls, little evaporates,
Both of his hands upon the grass outspread In gentle manner did my Master place;
Whence I, who of his action was aware,
Extended unto him my tearful cheeks;
There did he make in me uncovered wholly That hue which Hell had covered up in me.
Then came we down upon the desert shore Which never yet saw navigate its waters Any that afterward had known return.
There he begirt me as the other pleased; O marvellous! for even as he culled
The humble plant, such it sprang up again
Suddenly there where he uprooted it.
Purgatorio: Canto II
Already had the sun the horizon reached Whose circle of meridian covers o’er
Jerusalem with its most lofty point,
And night that opposite to him revolves Was issuing forth from Ganges with the Scales That fall from out her hand when she exceedeth;
So that the white and the vermilion cheeks Of beautiful Aurora, where I was,
By too great age were changing into orange.
We still were on the border of the sea, Like people who are thinking of their road, Who go in heart and with the body stay;
And lo! as when, upon the approach of morning, Through the gross vapours Mars grows fiery red Down in the West upon the ocean floor,
Appeared to me–may I again behold it!– A light along the sea so swiftly coming, Its motion by no flight of wing is equalled;
From which when I a little had withdrawn Mine eyes, that I might question my Conductor, Again I saw it brighter grown and larger.
Then on each side of it appeared to me I knew not what of white, and underneath it Little by little there came forth another.
My Master yet had uttered not a word
While the first whiteness into wings unfolded; But when he clearly recognised the pilot,
He cried: “Make haste, make haste to bow the knee! Behold the Angel of God! fold thou thy hands! Henceforward shalt thou see such officers!
See how he scorneth human arguments,
So that nor oar he wants, nor other sail Than his own wings, between so distant shores.
See how he holds them pointed up to heaven, Fanning the air with the eternal pinions, That do not moult themselves like mortal hair!”
Then as still nearer and more near us came The Bird Divine, more radiant he appeared, So that near by the eye could not endure him,
But down I cast it; and he came to shore With a small vessel, very swift and light, So that the water swallowed naught thereof.
Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot; Beatitude seemed written in his face,
And more than a hundred spirits sat within.
“In exitu Israel de Aegypto!”
They chanted all together in one voice, With whatso in that psalm is after written.
Then made he sign of holy rood upon them, Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore, And he departed swiftly as he came.
The throng which still remained there unfamiliar Seemed with the place, all round about them gazing, As one who in new matters makes essay.
On every side was darting forth the day. The sun, who had with his resplendent shafts From the mid-heaven chased forth the Capricorn,
When the new people lifted up their faces Towards us, saying to us: “If ye know,
Show us the way to go unto the mountain.”
And answer made Virgilius: “Ye believe Perchance that we have knowledge of this place, But we are strangers even as yourselves.
Just now we came, a little while before you, Another way, which was so rough and steep, That mounting will henceforth seem sport to us.”
The souls who had, from seeing me draw breath, Become aware that I was still alive,
Pallid in their astonishment became;
And as to messenger who bears the olive The people throng to listen to the news, And no one shows himself afraid of crowding,
So at the sight of me stood motionless Those fortunate spirits, all of them, as if Oblivious to go and make them fair.
One from among them saw I coming forward, As to embrace me, with such great affection, That it incited me to do the like.
O empty shadows, save in aspect only! Three times behind it did I clasp my hands, As oft returned with them to my own breast!
I think with wonder I depicted me;
Whereat the shadow smiled and backward drew; And I, pursuing it, pressed farther forward.
Gently it said that I should stay my steps; Then knew I who it was, and I entreated That it would stop awhile to speak with me.
It made reply to me: “Even as I loved thee In mortal body, so I love thee free;
Therefore I stop; but wherefore goest thou?”
“My own Casella! to return once more
There where I am, I make this journey,” said I; “But how from thee has so much time be taken?”
And he to me: “No outrage has been done me, If he who takes both when and whom he pleases Has many times denied to me this passage,
For of a righteous will his own is made. He, sooth to say, for three months past has taken Whoever wished to enter with all peace;
Whence I, who now had turned unto that shore Where salt the waters of the Tiber grow, Benignantly by him have been received.
Unto that outlet now his wing is pointed, Because for evermore assemble there
Those who tow’rds Acheron do not descend.”
And I: “If some new law take not from thee Memory or practice of the song of love, Which used to quiet in me all my longings,
Thee may it please to comfort therewithal Somewhat this soul of mine, that with its body Hitherward coming is so much distressed.”
“Love, that within my mind discourses with me,” Forthwith began he so melodiously,
The melody within me still is sounding.
My Master, and myself, and all that people Which with him were, appeared as satisfied As if naught else might touch the mind of any.
We all of us were moveless and attentive Unto his notes; and lo! the grave old man, Exclaiming: “What is this, ye laggard spirits?
What negligence, what standing still is this? Run to the mountain to strip off the slough, That lets not God be manifest to you.”
Even as when, collecting grain or tares, The doves, together at their pasture met, Quiet, nor showing their accustomed pride,
If aught appear of which they are afraid, Upon a sudden leave their food alone,
Because they are assailed by greater care;
So that fresh company did I behold
The song relinquish, and go tow’rds the hill, As one who goes, and knows not whitherward;
Nor was our own departure less in haste.
Purgatorio: Canto III
Inasmuch as the instantaneous flight
Had scattered them asunder o’er the plain, Turned to the mountain whither reason spurs us,
I pressed me close unto my faithful comrade, And how without him had I kept my course? Who would have led me up along the mountain?
He seemed to me within himself remorseful; O noble conscience, and without a stain, How sharp a sting is trivial fault to thee!
After his feet had laid aside the haste Which mars the dignity of every act,
My mind, that hitherto had been restrained,
Let loose its faculties as if delighted, And I my sight directed to the hill
That highest tow’rds the heaven uplifts itself.
The sun, that in our rear was flaming red, Was broken in front of me into the figure Which had in me the stoppage of its rays;
Unto one side I turned me, with the fear Of being left alone, when I beheld
Only in front of me the ground obscured.
“Why dost thou still mistrust?” my Comforter Began to say to me turned wholly round; “Dost thou not think me with thee, and that I guide thee?
‘Tis evening there already where is buried The body within which I cast a shadow;
‘Tis from Brundusium ta’en, and Naples has it.
Now if in front of me no shadow fall, Marvel not at it more than at the heavens, Because one ray impedeth not another
To suffer torments, both of cold and heat, Bodies like this that Power provides, which wills That how it works be not unveiled to us.
Insane is he who hopeth that our reason Can traverse the illimitable way,
Which the one Substance in three Persons follows!
Mortals, remain contented at the ‘Quia;’ For if ye had been able to see all,
No need there were for Mary to give birth;
And ye have seen desiring without fruit, Those whose desire would have been quieted, Which evermore is given them for a grief.
I speak of Aristotle and of Plato,
And many others;”–and here bowed his head, And more he said not, and remained disturbed.
We came meanwhile unto the mountain’s foot; There so precipitate we found the rock, That nimble legs would there have been in vain.
‘Twixt Lerici and Turbia, the most desert, The most secluded pathway is a stair
Easy and open, if compared with that.
“Who knoweth now upon which hand the hill Slopes down,” my Master said, his footsteps staying, “So that who goeth without wings may mount?”
And while he held his eyes upon the ground Examining the nature of the path,
And I was looking up around the rock,
On the left hand appeared to me a throng Of souls, that moved their feet in our direction, And did not seem to move, they came so slowly.
“Lift up thine eyes,” I to the Master said; “Behold, on this side, who will give us counsel, If thou of thine own self can have it not.”
Then he looked at me, and with frank expression Replied: “Let us go there, for they come slowly, And thou be steadfast in thy hope, sweet son.”
Still was that people as far off from us, After a thousand steps of ours I say,
As a good thrower with his hand would reach,
When they all crowded unto the hard masses Of the high bank, and motionless stood and close, As he stands still to look who goes in doubt.
“O happy dead! O spirits elect already!” Virgilius made beginning, “by that peace Which I believe is waiting for you all,
Tell us upon what side the mountain slopes, So that the going up be possible,
For to lose time irks him most who most knows.”
As sheep come issuing forth from out the fold By ones and twos and threes, and the others stand Timidly, holding down their eyes and nostrils,
And what the foremost does the others do, Huddling themselves against her, if she stop, Simple and quiet and the wherefore know not;
So moving to approach us thereupon
I saw the leader of that fortunate flock, Modest in face and dignified in gait.
As soon as those in the advance saw broken The light upon the ground at my right side, So that from me the shadow reached the rock,
They stopped, and backward drew themselves somewhat; And all the others, who came after them, Not knowing why nor wherefore, did the same.
“Without your asking, I confess to you This is a human body which you see,
Whereby the sunshine on the ground is cleft.
Marvel ye not thereat, but be persuaded That not without a power which comes from Heaven Doth he endeavour to surmount this wall.”
The Master thus; and said those worthy people: “Return ye then, and enter in before us,” Making a signal with the back o’ the hand
And one of them began: “Whoe’er thou art, Thus going turn thine eyes, consider well If e’er thou saw me in the other world.”
I turned me tow’rds him, and looked at him closely; Blond was he, beautiful, and of noble aspect, But one of his eyebrows had a blow divided.
When with humility I had disclaimed
E’er having seen him, “Now behold!” he said, And showed me high upon his breast a wound.
Then said he with a smile: “I am Manfredi, The grandson of the Empress Costanza;
Therefore, when thou returnest, I beseech thee
Go to my daughter beautiful, the mother Of Sicily’s honour and of Aragon’s,
And the truth tell her, if aught else be told.
After I had my body lacerated
By these two mortal stabs, I gave myself Weeping to Him, who willingly doth pardon.
Horrible my iniquities had been;
But Infinite Goodness hath such ample arms, That it receives whatever turns to it.
Had but Cosenza’s pastor, who in chase Of me was sent by Clement at that time, In God read understandingly this page,
The bones of my dead body still would be At the bridge-head, near unto Benevento, Under the safeguard of the heavy cairn.
Now the rain bathes and moveth them the wind, Beyond the realm, almost beside the Verde, Where he transported them with tapers quenched.
By malison of theirs is not so lost
Eternal Love, that it cannot return, So long as hope has anything of green.
True is it, who in contumacy dies
Of Holy Church, though penitent at last, Must wait upon the outside this bank
Thirty times told the time that he has been In his presumption, unless such decree
Shorter by means of righteous prayers become.
See now if thou hast power to make me happy, By making known unto my good Costanza
How thou hast seen me, and this ban beside,
For those on earth can much advance us here.”
Purgatorio: Canto IV
Whenever by delight or else by pain,
That seizes any faculty of ours,
Wholly to that the soul collects itself,
It seemeth that no other power it heeds; And this against that error is which thinks One soul above another kindles in us.
And hence, whenever aught is heard or seen Which keeps the soul intently bent upon it, Time passes on, and we perceive it not,
Because one faculty is that which listens, And other that which the soul keeps entire; This is as if in bonds, and that is free.
Of this I had experience positive
In hearing and in gazing at that spirit; For fifty full degrees uprisen was
The sun, and I had not perceived it, when We came to where those souls with one accord Cried out unto us: “Here is what you ask.”
A greater opening ofttimes hedges up
With but a little forkful of his thorns The villager, what time the grape imbrowns,
Than was the passage-way through which ascended Only my Leader and myself behind him,
After that company departed from us.
One climbs Sanleo and descends in Noli, And mounts the summit of Bismantova,
With feet alone; but here one needs must fly;
With the swift pinions and the plumes I say Of great desire, conducted after him
Who gave me hope, and made a light for me.
We mounted upward through the rifted rock, And on each side the border pressed upon us, And feet and hands the ground beneath required.
When we were come upon the upper rim
Of the high bank, out on the open slope, “My Master,” said I, “what way shall we take?”
And he to me: “No step of thine descend; Still up the mount behind me win thy way, Till some sage escort shall appear to us.”
The summit was so high it vanquished sight, And the hillside precipitous far more
Than line from middle quadrant to the centre.
Spent with fatigue was I, when I began: “O my sweet Father! turn thee and behold How I remain alone, unless thou stay!”
“O son,” he said, “up yonder drag thyself,” Pointing me to a terrace somewhat higher, Which on that side encircles all the hill.
These words of his so spurred me on, that I Strained every nerve, behind him scrambling up, Until the circle was beneath my feet.
Thereon ourselves we seated both of us Turned to the East, from which we had ascended, For all men are delighted to look back.
To the low shores mine eyes I first directed, Then to the sun uplifted them, and wondered That on the left hand we were smitten by it.
The Poet well perceived that I was wholly Bewildered at the chariot of the light, Where ‘twixt us and the Aquilon it entered.
Whereon he said to me: “If Castor and Pollux Were in the company of yonder mirror,
That up and down conducteth with its light,
Thou wouldst behold the zodiac’s jagged wheel Revolving still more near unto the Bears, Unless it swerved aside from its old track.
How that may be wouldst thou have power to think, Collected in thyself, imagine Zion
Together with this mount on earth to stand,
So that they both one sole horizon have, And hemispheres diverse; whereby the road Which Phaeton, alas! knew not to drive,
Thou’lt see how of necessity must pass This on one side, when that upon the other, If thine intelligence right clearly heed.”
“Truly, my Master,” said I, “never yet Saw I so clearly as I now discern,
There where my wit appeared incompetent,
That the mid-circle of supernal motion, Which in some art is the Equator called, And aye remains between the Sun and Winter,
For reason which thou sayest, departeth hence Tow’rds the Septentrion, what time the Hebrews Beheld it tow’rds the region of the heat.
But, if it pleaseth thee, I fain would learn How far we have to go; for the hill rises Higher than eyes of mine have power to rise.”
And he to me: “This mount is such, that ever At the beginning down below ’tis tiresome, And aye the more one climbs, the less it hurts.
Therefore, when it shall seem so pleasant to thee, That going up shall be to thee as easy
As going down the current in a boat,
Then at this pathway’s ending thou wilt be; There to repose thy panting breath expect; No more I answer; and this I know for true.”
And as he finished uttering these words, A voice close by us sounded: “Peradventure Thou wilt have need of sitting down ere that.”
At sound thereof each one of us turned round, And saw upon the left hand a great rock, Which neither I nor he before had noticed.
Thither we drew; and there were persons there Who in the shadow stood behind the rock, As one through indolence is wont to stand.
And one of them, who seemed to me fatigued, Was sitting down, and both his knees embraced, Holding his face low down between them bowed.
“O my sweet Lord,” I said, “do turn thine eye On him who shows himself more negligent Then even Sloth herself his sister were.”
Then he turned round to us, and he gave heed, Just lifting up his eyes above his thigh, And said: “Now go thou up, for thou art valiant.”
Then knew I who he was; and the distress, That still a little did my breathing quicken, My going to him hindered not; and after
I came to him he hardly raised his head, Saying: “Hast thou seen clearly how the sun O’er thy left shoulder drives his chariot?”
His sluggish attitude and his curt words A little unto laughter moved my lips;
Then I began: “Belacqua, I grieve not
For thee henceforth; but tell me, wherefore seated In this place art thou? Waitest thou an escort? Or has thy usual habit seized upon thee?”
And he: “O brother, what’s the use of climbing? Since to my torment would not let me go The Angel of God, who sitteth at the gate.
First heaven must needs so long revolve me round Outside thereof, as in my life it did,
Since the good sighs I to the end postponed,
Unless, e’er that, some prayer may bring me aid Which rises from a heart that lives in grace; What profit others that in heaven are heard not?”
Meanwhile the Poet was before me mounting, And saying: “Come now; see the sun has touched Meridian, and from the shore the night
Covers already with her foot Morocco.”
Purgatorio: Canto V
I had already from those shades departed, And followed in the footsteps of my Guide, When from behind, pointing his finger at me,
One shouted: “See, it seems as if shone not The sunshine on the left of him below,
And like one living seems he to conduct him.”
Mine eyes I turned at utterance of these words, And saw them watching with astonishment But me, but me, and the light which was broken!
“Why doth thy mind so occupy itself,” The Master said, “that thou thy pace dost slacken? What matters it to thee what here is whispered?
Come after me, and let the people talk; Stand like a steadfast tower, that never wags Its top for all the blowing of the winds;
For evermore the man in whom is springing Thought upon thought, removes from him the mark, Because the force of one the other weakens.”
What could I say in answer but “I come”? I said it somewhat with that colour tinged Which makes a man of pardon sometimes worthy.
Meanwhile along the mountain-side across Came people in advance of us a little,
Singing the Miserere verse by verse.
When they became aware I gave no place For passage of the sunshine through my body, They changed their song into a long, hoarse “Oh!”
And two of them, in form of messengers, Ran forth to meet us, and demanded of us, “Of your condition make us cognisant.”
And said my Master: “Ye can go your way And carry back again to those who sent you, That this one’s body is of very flesh.
If they stood still because they saw his shadow, As I suppose, enough is answered them;
Him let them honour, it may profit them.”
Vapours enkindled saw I ne’er so swiftly At early nightfall cleave the air serene, Nor, at the set of sun, the clouds of August,
But upward they returned in briefer time, And, on arriving, with the others wheeled Tow’rds us, like troops that run without a rein.
“This folk that presses unto us is great, And cometh to implore thee,” said the Poet; “So still go onward, and in going listen.”
“O soul that goest to beatitude
With the same members wherewith thou wast born,” Shouting they came, “a little stay thy steps,
Look, if thou e’er hast any of us seen, So that o’er yonder thou bear news of him; Ah, why dost thou go on? Ah, why not stay?
Long since we all were slain by violence, And sinners even to the latest hour;
Then did a light from heaven admonish us,
So that, both penitent and pardoning, forth From life we issued reconciled to God,
Who with desire to see Him stirs our hearts.”
And I: “Although I gaze into your faces, No one I recognize; but if may please you Aught I have power to do, ye well-born spirits,
Speak ye, and I will do it, by that peace Which, following the feet of such a Guide, From world to world makes itself sought by me.”
And one began: “Each one has confidence In thy good offices without an oath,
Unless the I cannot cut off the I will;
Whence I, who speak alone before the others, Pray thee, if ever thou dost see the land That ‘twixt Romagna lies and that of Charles,
Thou be so courteous to me of thy prayers In Fano, that they pray for me devoutly, That I may purge away my grave offences.
From thence was I; but the deep wounds, through which Issued the blood wherein I had my seat, Were dealt me in bosom of the Antenori,
There where I thought to be the most secure; ‘Twas he of Este had it done, who held me In hatred far beyond what justice willed.
But if towards the Mira I had fled,
When I was overtaken at Oriaco,
I still should be o’er yonder where men breathe.
I ran to the lagoon, and reeds and mire Did so entangle me I fell, and saw there A lake made from my veins upon the ground.”
Then said another: “Ah, be that desire Fulfilled that draws thee to the lofty mountain, As thou with pious pity aidest mine.
I was of Montefeltro, and am Buonconte; Giovanna, nor none other cares for me;
Hence among these I go with downcast front.”
And I to him: “What violence or what chance Led thee astray so far from Campaldino, That never has thy sepulture been known?”
“Oh,” he replied, “at Casentino’s foot A river crosses named Archiano, born
Above the Hermitage in Apennine.
There where the name thereof becometh void Did I arrive, pierced through and through the throat, Fleeing on foot, and bloodying the plain;
There my sight lost I, and my utterance Ceased in the name of Mary, and thereat I fell, and tenantless my flesh remained.
Truth will I speak, repeat it to the living; God’s Angel took me up, and he of hell
Shouted: ‘O thou from heaven, why dost thou rob me?
Thou bearest away the eternal part of him, For one poor little tear, that takes him from me; But with the rest I’ll deal in other fashion!’
Well knowest thou how in the air is gathered That humid vapour which to water turns, Soon as it rises where the cold doth grasp it.
He joined that evil will, which aye seeks evil, To intellect, and moved the mist and wind By means of power, which his own nature gave;
Thereafter, when the day was spent, the valley From Pratomagno to the great yoke covered With fog, and made the heaven above intent,
So that the pregnant air to water changed; Down fell the rain, and to the gullies came Whate’er of it earth tolerated not;
And as it mingled with the mighty torrents, Towards the royal river with such speed It headlong rushed, that nothing held it back.
My frozen body near unto its outlet
The robust Archian found, and into Arno Thrust it, and loosened from my breast the cross
I made of me, when agony o’ercame me; It rolled me on the banks and on the bottom, Then with its booty covered and begirt me.”
“Ah, when thou hast returned unto the world, And rested thee from thy long journeying,” After the second followed the third spirit,
“Do thou remember me who am the Pia;
Siena made me, unmade me Maremma;
He knoweth it, who had encircled first,
Espousing me, my finger with his gem.”
Purgatorio: Canto VI
Whene’er is broken up the game of Zara, He who has lost remains behind despondent, The throws repeating, and in sadness learns;
The people with the other all depart; One goes in front, and one behind doth pluck him, And at his side one brings himself to mind;
He pauses not, and this and that one hears; They crowd no more to whom his hand he stretches, And from the throng he thus defends himself.
Even such was I in that dense multitude, Turning to them this way and that my face, And, promising, I freed myself therefrom.
There was the Aretine, who from the arms Untamed of Ghin di Tacco had his death, And he who fleeing from pursuit was drowned.
There was imploring with his hands outstretched Frederick Novello, and that one of Pisa Who made the good Marzucco seem so strong.
I saw Count Orso; and the soul divided By hatred and by envy from its body,
As it declared, and not for crime committed,
Pierre de la Brosse I say; and here provide While still on earth the Lady of Brabant, So that for this she be of no worse flock!
As soon as I was free from all those shades Who only prayed that some one else may pray, So as to hasten their becoming holy,
Began I: “It appears that thou deniest, O light of mine, expressly in some text, That orison can bend decree of Heaven;
And ne’ertheless these people pray for this. Might then their expectation bootless be? Or is to me thy saying not quite clear?”
And he to me: “My writing is explicit, And not fallacious is the hope of these, If with sane intellect ’tis well regarded;
For top of judgment doth not vail itself, Because the fire of love fulfils at once What he must satisfy who here installs him.
And there, where I affirmed that proposition, Defect was not amended by a prayer,
Because the prayer from God was separate.
Verily, in so deep a questioning
Do not decide, unless she tell it thee, Who light ‘twixt truth and intellect shall be.
I know not if thou understand; I speak Of Beatrice; her shalt thou see above,
Smiling and happy, on this mountain’s top.”
And I: “Good Leader, let us make more haste, For I no longer tire me as before;
And see, e’en now the hill a shadow casts.”
“We will go forward with this day” he answered, “As far as now is possible for us;
But otherwise the fact is than thou thinkest.
Ere thou art up there, thou shalt see return Him, who now hides himself behind the hill, So that thou dost not interrupt his rays.
But yonder there behold! a soul that stationed All, all alone is looking hitherward;
It will point out to us the quickest way.”
We came up unto it; O Lombard soul,
How lofty and disdainful thou didst bear thee, And grand and slow in moving of thine eyes!
Nothing whatever did it say to us,
But let us go our way, eying us only After the manner of a couchant lion;
Still near to it Virgilius drew, entreating That it would point us out the best ascent; And it replied not unto his demand,
But of our native land and of our life It questioned us; and the sweet Guide began: “Mantua,”–and the shade, all in itself recluse,
Rose tow’rds him from the place where first it was, Saying: “O Mantuan, I am Sordello
Of thine own land!” and one embraced the other.
Ah! servile Italy, grief’s hostelry!
A ship without a pilot in great tempest! No Lady thou of Provinces, but brothel!
That noble soul was so impatient, only At the sweet sound of his own native land, To make its citizen glad welcome there;
And now within thee are not without war Thy living ones, and one doth gnaw the other Of those whom one wall and one fosse shut in!
Search, wretched one, all round about the shores Thy seaboard, and then look within thy bosom, If any part of thee enjoyeth peace!
What boots it, that for thee Justinian The bridle mend, if empty be the saddle? Withouten this the shame would be the less.
Ah! people, thou that oughtest to be devout, And to let Caesar sit upon the saddle,
If well thou hearest what God teacheth thee,
Behold how fell this wild beast has become, Being no longer by the spur corrected,
Since thou hast laid thy hand upon the bridle.
O German Albert! who abandonest
Her that has grown recalcitrant and savage, And oughtest to bestride her saddle-bow,
May a just judgment from the stars down fall Upon thy blood, and be it new and open, That thy successor may have fear thereof;
Because thy father and thyself have suffered, By greed of those transalpine lands distrained, The garden of the empire to be waste.
Come and behold Montecchi and Cappelletti, Monaldi and Fillippeschi, careless man! Those sad already, and these doubt-depressed!
Come, cruel one! come and behold the oppression Of thy nobility, and cure their wounds, And thou shalt see how safe is Santafiore!
Come and behold thy Rome, that is lamenting, Widowed, alone, and day and night exclaims, “My Caesar, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Come and behold how loving are the people; And if for us no pity moveth thee,
Come and be made ashamed of thy renown!
And if it lawful be, O Jove Supreme!
Who upon earth for us wast crucified, Are thy just eyes averted otherwhere?
Or preparation is ‘t, that, in the abyss Of thine own counsel, for some good thou makest From our perception utterly cut off?
For all the towns of Italy are full
Of tyrants, and becometh a Marcellus Each peasant churl who plays the partisan!
My Florence! well mayst thou contented be With this digression, which concerns thee not, Thanks to thy people who such forethought take!
Many at heart have justice, but shoot slowly, That unadvised they come not to the bow, But on their very lips thy people have it!
Many refuse to bear the common burden; But thy solicitous people answereth
Without being asked, and crieth: “I submit.”
Now be thou joyful, for thou hast good reason; Thou affluent, thou in peace, thou full of wisdom! If I speak true, the event conceals it not.
Athens and Lacedaemon, they who made
The ancient laws, and were so civilized, Made towards living well a little sign
Compared with thee, who makest such fine-spun Provisions, that to middle of November
Reaches not what thou in October spinnest.
How oft, within the time of thy remembrance, Laws, money, offices, and usages
Hast thou remodelled, and renewed thy members?
And if thou mind thee well, and see the light, Thou shalt behold thyself like a sick woman, Who cannot find repose upon her down,
But by her tossing wardeth off her pain.
Purgatorio: Canto VII
After the gracious and glad salutations Had three and four times been reiterated, Sordello backward drew and said, “Who are you?”
“Or ever to this mountain were directed The souls deserving to ascend to God,
My bones were buried by Octavian.
I am Virgilius; and for no crime else Did I lose heaven, than for not having faith;” In this wise then my Leader made reply.
As one who suddenly before him sees
Something whereat he marvels, who believes And yet does not, saying, “It is! it is not!”
So he appeared; and then bowed down his brow, And with humility returned towards him, And, where inferiors embrace, embraced him.
“O glory of the Latians, thou,” he said, “Through whom our language showed what it could do O pride eternal of the place I came from,
What merit or what grace to me reveals thee? If I to hear thy words be worthy, tell me If thou dost come from Hell, and from what cloister.”
“Through all the circles of the doleful realm,” Responded he, “have I come hitherward;
Heaven’s power impelled me, and with that I come.
I by not doing, not by doing, lost
The sight of that high sun which thou desirest, And which too late by me was recognized.
A place there is below not sad with torments, But darkness only, where the lamentations Have not the sound of wailing, but are sighs.
There dwell I with the little innocents Snatched by the teeth of Death, or ever they Were from our human sinfulness exempt.
There dwell I among those who the three saintly Virtues did not put on, and without vice The others knew and followed all of them.
But if thou know and can, some indication Give us by which we may the sooner come Where Purgatory has its right beginning.”
He answered: “No fixed place has been assigned us; ‘Tis lawful for me to go up and round;
So far as I can go, as guide I join thee.
But see already how the day declines, And to go up by night we are not able;
Therefore ’tis well to think of some fair sojourn.
Souls are there on the right hand here withdrawn; If thou permit me I will lead thee to them, And thou shalt know them not without delight.”
“How is this?” was the answer; “should one wish To mount by night would he prevented be By others? or mayhap would not have power?”
And on the ground the good Sordello drew His finger, saying, “See, this line alone Thou couldst not pass after the sun is gone;
Not that aught else would hindrance give, however, To going up, save the nocturnal darkness; This with the want of power the will perplexes.
We might indeed therewith return below, And, wandering, walk the hill-side round about, While the horizon holds the day imprisoned.”
Thereon my Lord, as if in wonder, said: “Do thou conduct us thither, where thou sayest That we can take delight in tarrying.”
Little had we withdrawn us from that place, When I perceived the mount was hollowed out In fashion as the valleys here are hollowed.
“Thitherward,” said that shade, “will we repair, Where of itself the hill-side makes a lap, And there for the new day will we await.”
‘Twixt hill and plain there was a winding path Which led us to the margin of that dell, Where dies the border more than half away.
Gold and fine silver, and scarlet and pearl-white, The Indian wood resplendent and serene, Fresh emerald the moment it is broken,
By herbage and by flowers within that hollow Planted, each one in colour would be vanquished, As by its greater vanquished is the less.
Nor in that place had nature painted only, But of the sweetness of a thousand odours Made there a mingled fragrance and unknown.
“Salve Regina,” on the green and flowers There seated, singing, spirits I beheld, Which were not visible outside the valley.
“Before the scanty sun now seeks his nest,” Began the Mantuan who had led us thither,