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,
"Among them do not wish me to conduct you.
Better from off this ledge the acts and faces
Of all of them will you discriminate,
Than in the plain below received among them.
He who sits highest, and the semblance bears
Of having what he should have done neglected,
And to the others' song moves not his lips,
Rudolph the Emperor was, who had the power
To heal the wounds that Italy have slain,
So that through others slowly she revives.
The other, who in look doth comfort him,
Governed the region where the water springs,
The Moldau bears the Elbe, and Elbe the sea.
His name was Ottocar; and in swaddling-clothes
Far better he than bearded Winceslaus
His son, who feeds in luxury and ease.
And the small-nosed, who close in council seems
With him that has an aspect so benign,
Died fleeing and disflowering the lily;
Look there, how he is beating at his breast!
Behold the other one, who for his cheek
Sighing has made of his own palm a bed;
Father and father-in-law of France's Pest
Are they, and know his vicious life and lewd,
And hence proceeds the grief that so doth pierce them.
He who appears so stalwart, and chimes in,
Singing, with that one of the manly nose,
The cord of every valour wore begirt;
And if as King had after him remained
The stripling who in rear of him is sitting,
Well had the valour passed from vase to vase,
Which cannot of the other heirs be said.
Frederick and Jacomo possess the realms,
But none the better heritage possesses.
Not oftentimes upriseth through the branches
The probity of man; and this He wills
Who gives it, so that we may ask of Him.
Eke to the large-nosed reach my words, no less
Than to the other, Pier, who with him sings;
Whence Provence and Apulia grieve already
The plant is as inferior to its seed,
As more than Beatrice and Margaret
Costanza boasteth of her husband still.
Behold the monarch of the simple life,
Harry of England, sitting there alone;
He in his branches has a better issue.
He who the lowest on the ground among them
Sits looking upward, is the Marquis William,
For whose sake Alessandria and her war
Make Monferrat and Canavese weep."
Purgatorio: Canto VIII
'Twas now the hour that turneth back desire
In those who sail the sea, and melts the heart,
The day they've said to their sweet friends farewell,
And the new pilgrim penetrates with love,
If he doth hear from far away a bell
That seemeth to deplore the dying day,
When I began to make of no avail
My hearing, and to watch one of the souls
Uprisen, that begged attention with its hand.
It joined and lifted upward both its palms,
Fixing its eyes upon the orient,
As if it said to God, "Naught else I care for."
"Te lucis ante" so devoutly issued
Forth from its mouth, and with such dulcet notes,
It made me issue forth from my own mind.
And then the others, sweetly and devoutly,
Accompanied it through all the hymn entire,
Having their eyes on the supernal wheels.
Here, Reader, fix thine eyes well on the truth,
For now indeed so subtile is the veil,
Surely to penetrate within is easy.
I saw that army of the gentle-born
Thereafterward in silence upward gaze,
As if in expectation, pale and humble;
And from on high come forth and down descend,
I saw two Angels with two flaming swords,
Truncated and deprived of their points.
Green as the little leaflets just now born
Their garments were, which, by their verdant pinions
Beaten and blown abroad, they trailed behind.
One just above us came to take his station,
And one descended to the opposite bank,
So that the people were contained between them.
Clearly in them discerned I the blond head;
But in their faces was the eye bewildered,
As faculty confounded by excess.
"From Mary's bosom both of them have come,"
Sordello said, "as guardians of the valley
Against the serpent, that will come anon."
Whereupon I, who knew not by what road,
Turned round about, and closely drew myself,
Utterly frozen, to the faithful shoulders.
And once again Sordello: "Now descend we
'Mid the grand shades, and we will speak to them;
Right pleasant will it be for them to see you."
Only three steps I think that I descended,
And was below, and saw one who was looking
Only at me, as if he fain would know me.
Already now the air was growing dark,
But not so that between his eyes and mine
It did not show what it before locked up.
Tow'rds me he moved, and I tow'rds him did move;
Noble Judge Nino! how it me delighted,
When I beheld thee not among the damned!
No greeting fair was left unsaid between us;
Then asked he: "How long is it since thou camest
O'er the far waters to the mountain's foot?"
"Oh!" said I to him, "through the dismal places
I came this morn; and am in the first life,
Albeit the other, going thus, I gain."
And on the instant my reply was heard,
He and Sordello both shrank back from me,
Like people who are suddenly bewildered.
One to Virgilius, and the other turned
To one who sat there, crying, "Up, Currado!
Come and behold what God in grace has willed!"
Then, turned to me: "By that especial grace
Thou owest unto Him, who so conceals
His own first wherefore, that it has no ford,
When thou shalt be beyond the waters wide,
Tell my Giovanna that she pray for me,
Where answer to the innocent is made.
I do not think her mother loves me more,
Since she has laid aside her wimple white,
Which she, unhappy, needs must wish again.
Through her full easily is comprehended
How long in woman lasts the fire of love,
If eye or touch do not relight it often.
So fair a hatchment will not make for her
The Viper marshalling the Milanese
A-field, as would have made Gallura's Cock."
In this wise spake he, with the stamp impressed
Upon his aspect of that righteous zeal
Which measurably burneth in the heart.
My greedy eyes still wandered up to heaven,
Still to that point where slowest are the stars,
Even as a wheel the nearest to its axle.
And my Conductor: "Son, what dost thou gaze at
Up there?" And I to him: "At those three torches
With which this hither pole is all on fire."
And he to me: "The four resplendent stars
Thou sawest this morning are down yonder low,
And these have mounted up to where those were."
As he was speaking, to himself Sordello
Drew him, and said, "Lo there our Adversary!"
And pointed with his finger to look thither.
Upon the side on which the little valley
No barrier hath, a serpent was; perchance
The same which gave to Eve the bitter food.
'Twixt grass and flowers came on the evil streak,
Turning at times its head about, and licking
Its back like to a beast that smoothes itself.
I did not see, and therefore cannot say
How the celestial falcons 'gan to move,
But well I saw that they were both in motion.
Hearing the air cleft by their verdant wings,
The serpent fled, and round the Angels wheeled,
Up to their stations flying back alike.
The shade that to the Judge had near approached
When he had called, throughout that whole assault
Had not a moment loosed its gaze on me.
"So may the light that leadeth thee on high
Find in thine own free-will as much of wax
As needful is up to the highest azure,"
Began it, "if some true intelligence
Of Valdimagra or its neighbourhood
Thou knowest, tell it me, who once was great there.
Currado Malaspina was I called;
I'm not the elder, but from him descended;
To mine I bore the love which here refineth."
"O," said I unto him, "through your domains
I never passed, but where is there a dwelling
Throughout all Europe, where they are not known?
That fame, which doeth honour to your house,
Proclaims its Signors and proclaims its land,
So that he knows of them who ne'er was there.
And, as I hope for heaven, I swear to you
Your honoured family in naught abates
The glory of the purse and of the sword.
It is so privileged by use and nature,
That though a guilty head misguide the world,
Sole it goes right, and scorns the evil way."
And he: "Now go; for the sun shall not lie
Seven times upon the pillow which the Ram
With all his four feet covers and bestrides,
Before that such a courteous opinion
Shall in the middle of thy head be nailed
With greater nails than of another's speech,
Unless the course of justice standeth still."
Purgatorio: Canto IX
The concubine of old Tithonus now
Gleamed white upon the eastern balcony,
Forth from the arms of her sweet paramour;
With gems her forehead all relucent was,
Set in the shape of that cold animal
Which with its tail doth smite amain the nations,
And of the steps, with which she mounts, the Night
Had taken two in that place where we were,
And now the third was bending down its wings;
When I, who something had of Adam in me,
Vanquished by sleep, upon the grass reclined,
There were all five of us already sat.
Just at the hour when her sad lay begins
The little swallow, near unto the morning,
Perchance in memory of her former woes,
And when the mind of man, a wanderer
More from the flesh, and less by thought imprisoned,
Almost prophetic in its visions is,
In dreams it seemed to me I saw suspended
An eagle in the sky, with plumes of gold,
With wings wide open, and intent to stoop,
And this, it seemed to me, was where had been
By Ganymede his kith and kin abandoned,
When to the high consistory he was rapt.
I thought within myself, perchance he strikes
From habit only here, and from elsewhere
Disdains to bear up any in his feet.
Then wheeling somewhat more, it seemed to me,
Terrible as the lightning he descended,
And snatched me upward even to the fire.
Therein it seemed that he and I were burning,
And the imagined fire did scorch me so,
That of necessity my sleep was broken.
Not otherwise Achilles started up,
Around him turning his awakened eyes,
And knowing not the place in which he was,
What time from Chiron stealthily his mother
Carried him sleeping in her arms to Scyros,
Wherefrom the Greeks withdrew him afterwards,
Than I upstarted, when from off my face
Sleep fled away; and pallid I became,
As doth the man who freezes with affright.
Only my Comforter was at my side,
And now the sun was more than two hours high,
And turned towards the sea-shore was my face.
"Be not intimidated," said my Lord,
"Be reassured, for all is well with us;
Do not restrain, but put forth all thy strength.
Thou hast at length arrived at Purgatory;
See there the cliff that closes it around;
See there the entrance, where it seems disjoined.
Whilom at dawn, which doth precede the day,
When inwardly thy spirit was asleep
Upon the flowers that deck the land below,
There came a Lady and said: 'I am Lucia;
Let me take this one up, who is asleep;
So will I make his journey easier for him.'
Sordello and the other noble shapes
Remained; she took thee, and, as day grew bright,
Upward she came, and I upon her footsteps.
She laid thee here; and first her beauteous eyes
That open entrance pointed out to me;
Then she and sleep together went away."
In guise of one whose doubts are reassured,
And who to confidence his fear doth change,
After the truth has been discovered to him,
So did I change; and when without disquiet
My Leader saw me, up along the cliff
He moved, and I behind him, tow'rd the height.
Reader, thou seest well how I exalt
My theme, and therefore if with greater art
I fortify it, marvel not thereat.
Nearer approached we, and were in such place,
That there, where first appeared to me a rift
Like to a crevice that disparts a wall,
I saw a portal, and three stairs beneath,
Diverse in colour, to go up to it,
And a gate-keeper, who yet spake no word.
And as I opened more and more mine eyes,
I saw him seated on the highest stair,
Such in the face that I endured it not.
And in his hand he had a naked sword,
Which so reflected back the sunbeams tow'rds us,
That oft in vain I lifted up mine eyes.
"Tell it from where you are, what is't you wish?"
Began he to exclaim; "where is the escort?
Take heed your coming hither harm you not!"
"A Lady of Heaven, with these things conversant,"
My Master answered him, "but even now
Said to us, 'Thither go; there is the portal.'"
"And may she speed your footsteps in all good,"
Again began the courteous janitor;
"Come forward then unto these stairs of ours."
Thither did we approach; and the first stair
Was marble white, so polished and so smooth,
I mirrored myself therein as I appear.
The second, tinct of deeper hue than perse,
Was of a calcined and uneven stone,
Cracked all asunder lengthwise and across.
The third, that uppermost rests massively,
Porphyry seemed to me, as flaming red
As blood that from a vein is spirting forth.
Both of his feet was holding upon this
The Angel of God, upon the threshold seated,
Which seemed to me a stone of diamond.
Along the three stairs upward with good will
Did my Conductor draw me, saying: "Ask
Humbly that he the fastening may undo."
Devoutly at the holy feet I cast me,
For mercy's sake besought that he would open,
But first upon my breast three times I smote.
Seven P's upon my forehead he described
With the sword's point, and, "Take heed that thou wash
These wounds, when thou shalt be within," he said.
Ashes, or earth that dry is excavated,
Of the same colour were with his attire,
And from beneath it he drew forth two keys.
One was of gold, and the other was of silver;
First with the white, and after with the yellow,
Plied he the door, so that I was content.
"Whenever faileth either of these keys
So that it turn not rightly in the lock,"
He said to us, "this entrance doth not open.
More precious one is, but the other needs
More art and intellect ere it unlock,
For it is that which doth the knot unloose.
From Peter I have them; and he bade me err
Rather in opening than in keeping shut,
If people but fall down before my feet."
Then pushed the portals of the sacred door,
Exclaiming: "Enter; but I give you warning
That forth returns whoever looks behind."
And when upon their hinges were turned round
The swivels of that consecrated gate,
Which are of metal, massive and sonorous,
Roared not so loud, nor so discordant seemed
Tarpeia, when was ta'en from it the good
Metellus, wherefore meagre it remained.
At the first thunder-peal I turned attentive,
And "Te Deum laudamus" seemed to hear
In voices mingled with sweet melody.
Exactly such an image rendered me
That which I heard, as we are wont to catch,
When people singing with the organ stand;
For now we hear, and now hear not, the words.
Purgatorio: Canto X
When we had crossed the threshold of the door
Which the perverted love of souls disuses,
Because it makes the crooked way seem straight,
Re-echoing I heard it closed again;
And if I had turned back mine eyes upon it,
What for my failing had been fit excuse?
We mounted upward through a rifted rock,
Which undulated to this side and that,
Even as a wave receding and advancing.
"Here it behoves us use a little art,"
Began my Leader, "to adapt ourselves
Now here, now there, to the receding side."
And this our footsteps so infrequent made,
That sooner had the moon's decreasing disk
Regained its bed to sink again to rest,
Than we were forth from out that needle's eye;
But when we free and in the open were,
There where the mountain backward piles itself,
I wearied out, and both of us uncertain
About our way, we stopped upon a plain
More desolate than roads across the deserts.
From where its margin borders on the void,
To foot of the high bank that ever rises,
A human body three times told would measure;
And far as eye of mine could wing its flight,
Now on the left, and on the right flank now,
The same this cornice did appear to me.
Thereon our feet had not been moved as yet,
When I perceived the embankment round about,
Which all right of ascent had interdicted,
To be of marble white, and so adorned
With sculptures, that not only Polycletus,
But Nature's self, had there been put to shame.
The Angel, who came down to earth with tidings
Of peace, that had been wept for many a year,
And opened Heaven from its long interdict,
In front of us appeared so truthfully
There sculptured in a gracious attitude,
He did not seem an image that is silent.
One would have sworn that he was saying, "Ave;"
For she was there in effigy portrayed
Who turned the key to ope the exalted love,
And in her mien this language had impressed,
"Ecce ancilla Dei," as distinctly
As any figure stamps itself in wax.
"Keep not thy mind upon one place alone,"
The gentle Master said, who had me standing
Upon that side where people have their hearts;
Whereat I moved mine eyes, and I beheld
In rear of Mary, and upon that side
Where he was standing who conducted me,
Another story on the rock imposed;
Wherefore I passed Virgilius and drew near,
So that before mine eyes it might be set.
There sculptured in the self-same marble were
The cart and oxen, drawing the holy ark,
Wherefore one dreads an office not appointed.
People appeared in front, and all of them
In seven choirs divided, of two senses
Made one say "No," the other, "Yes, they sing."
Likewise unto the smoke of the frankincense,
Which there was imaged forth, the eyes and nose
Were in the yes and no discordant made.
Preceded there the vessel benedight,
Dancing with girded loins, the humble Psalmist,
And more and less than King was he in this.
Opposite, represented at the window
Of a great palace, Michal looked upon him,
Even as a woman scornful and afflicted.
I moved my feet from where I had been standing,
To examine near at hand another story,
Which after Michal glimmered white upon me.
There the high glory of the Roman Prince
Was chronicled, whose great beneficence
Moved Gregory to his great victory;
'Tis of the Emperor Trajan I am speaking;
And a poor widow at his bridle stood,
In attitude of weeping and of grief.
Around about him seemed it thronged and full
Of cavaliers, and the eagles in the gold
Above them visibly in the wind were moving.
The wretched woman in the midst of these
Seemed to be saying: "Give me vengeance, Lord,
For my dead son, for whom my heart is breaking."
And he to answer her: "Now wait until
I shall return." And she: "My Lord," like one
In whom grief is impatient, "shouldst thou not
Return?" And he: "Who shall be where I am
Will give it thee." And she: "Good deed of others
What boots it thee, if thou neglect thine own?"
Whence he: "Now comfort thee, for it behoves me
That I discharge my duty ere I move;
Justice so wills, and pity doth retain me."
He who on no new thing has ever looked
Was the creator of this visible language,
Novel to us, for here it is not found.
While I delighted me in contemplating
The images of such humility,
And dear to look on for their Maker's sake,
"Behold, upon this side, but rare they make
Their steps," the Poet murmured, "many people;
These will direct us to the lofty stairs."
Mine eyes, that in beholding were intent
To see new things, of which they curious are,
In turning round towards him were not slow.
But still I wish not, Reader, thou shouldst swerve
From thy good purposes, because thou hearest
How God ordaineth that the debt be paid;
Attend not to the fashion of the torment,
Think of what follows; think that at the worst
It cannot reach beyond the mighty sentence.
"Master," began I, "that which I behold
Moving towards us seems to me not persons,
And what I know not, so in sight I waver."
And he to me: "The grievous quality
Of this their torment bows them so to earth,
That my own eyes at first contended with it;
But look there fixedly, and disentangle
By sight what cometh underneath those stones;
Already canst thou see how each is stricken."
O ye proud Christians! wretched, weary ones!
Who, in the vision of the mind infirm
Confidence have in your backsliding steps,
Do ye not comprehend that we are worms,
Born to bring forth the angelic butterfly
That flieth unto judgment without screen?
Why floats aloft your spirit high in air?
Like are ye unto insects undeveloped,
Even as the worm in whom formation fails!
As to sustain a ceiling or a roof,
In place of corbel, oftentimes a figure
Is seen to join its knees unto its breast,
Which makes of the unreal real anguish
Arise in him who sees it, fashioned thus
Beheld I those, when I had ta'en good heed.
True is it, they were more or less bent down,
According as they more or less were laden;
And he who had most patience in his looks
Weeping did seem to say, "I can no more!"
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