Purgatorio: Canto XI
"Our Father, thou who dwellest in the heavens,
Not circumscribed, but from the greater love
Thou bearest to the first effects on high,
Praised be thy name and thine omnipotence
By every creature, as befitting is
To render thanks to thy sweet effluence.
Come unto us the peace of thy dominion,
For unto it we cannot of ourselves,
If it come not, with all our intellect.
Even as thine own Angels of their will
Make sacrifice to thee, Hosanna singing,
So may all men make sacrifice of theirs.
Give unto us this day our daily manna,
Withouten which in this rough wilderness
Backward goes he who toils most to advance.
And even as we the trespass we have suffered
Pardon in one another, pardon thou
Benignly, and regard not our desert.
Our virtue, which is easily o'ercome,
Put not to proof with the old Adversary,
But thou from him who spurs it so, deliver.
This last petition verily, dear Lord,
Not for ourselves is made, who need it not,
But for their sake who have remained behind us."
Thus for themselves and us good furtherance
Those shades imploring, went beneath a weight
Like unto that of which we sometimes dream,
Unequally in anguish round and round
And weary all, upon that foremost cornice,
Purging away the smoke-stains of the world.
If there good words are always said for us,
What may not here be said and done for them,
By those who have a good root to their will?
Well may we help them wash away the marks
That hence they carried, so that clean and light
They may ascend unto the starry wheels!
"Ah! so may pity and justice you disburden
Soon, that ye may have power to move the wing,
That shall uplift you after your desire,
Show us on which hand tow'rd the stairs the way
Is shortest, and if more than one the passes,
Point us out that which least abruptly falls;
For he who cometh with me, through the burden
Of Adam's flesh wherewith he is invested,
Against his will is chary of his climbing."
The words of theirs which they returned to those
That he whom I was following had spoken,
It was not manifest from whom they came,
But it was said: "To the right hand come with us
Along the bank, and ye shall find a pass
Possible for living person to ascend.
And were I not impeded by the stone,
Which this proud neck of mine doth subjugate,
Whence I am forced to hold my visage down,
Him, who still lives and does not name himself,
Would I regard, to see if I may know him
And make him piteous unto this burden.
A Latian was I, and born of a great Tuscan;
Guglielmo Aldobrandeschi was my father;
I know not if his name were ever with you.
The ancient blood and deeds of gallantry
Of my progenitors so arrogant made me
That, thinking not upon the common mother,
All men I held in scorn to such extent
I died therefor, as know the Sienese,
And every child in Campagnatico.
I am Omberto; and not to me alone
Has pride done harm, but all my kith and kin
Has with it dragged into adversity.
And here must I this burden bear for it
Till God be satisfied, since I did not
Among the living, here among the dead."
Listening I downward bent my countenance;
And one of them, not this one who was speaking,
Twisted himself beneath the weight that cramps him,
And looked at me, and knew me, and called out,
Keeping his eyes laboriously fixed
On me, who all bowed down was going with them.
"O," asked I him, "art thou not Oderisi,
Agobbio's honour, and honour of that art
Which is in Paris called illuminating?"
"Brother," said he, "more laughing are the leaves
Touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese;
All his the honour now, and mine in part.
In sooth I had not been so courteous
While I was living, for the great desire
Of excellence, on which my heart was bent.
Here of such pride is paid the forfeiture;
And yet I should not be here, were it not
That, having power to sin, I turned to God.
O thou vain glory of the human powers,
How little green upon thy summit lingers,
If't be not followed by an age of grossness!
In painting Cimabue thought that he
Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry,
So that the other's fame is growing dim.
So has one Guido from the other taken
The glory of our tongue, and he perchance
Is born, who from the nest shall chase them both.
Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath
Of wind, that comes now this way and now that,
And changes name, because it changes side.
What fame shalt thou have more, if old peel off
From thee thy flesh, than if thou hadst been dead
Before thou left the 'pappo' and the 'dindi,'
Ere pass a thousand years? which is a shorter
Space to the eterne, than twinkling of an eye
Unto the circle that in heaven wheels slowest.
With him, who takes so little of the road
In front of me, all Tuscany resounded;
And now he scarce is lisped of in Siena,
Where he was lord, what time was overthrown
The Florentine delirium, that superb
Was at that day as now 'tis prostitute.
Your reputation is the colour of grass
Which comes and goes, and that discolours it
By which it issues green from out the earth."
And I: "Thy true speech fills my heart with good
Humility, and great tumour thou assuagest;
But who is he, of whom just now thou spakest?"
"That," he replied, "is Provenzan Salvani,
And he is here because he had presumed
To bring Siena all into his hands.
He has gone thus, and goeth without rest
E'er since he died; such money renders back
In payment he who is on earth too daring."
And I: "If every spirit who awaits
The verge of life before that he repent,
Remains below there and ascends not hither,
(Unless good orison shall him bestead,)
Until as much time as he lived be passed,
How was the coming granted him in largess?"
"When he in greatest splendour lived," said he,
"Freely upon the Campo of Siena,
All shame being laid aside, he placed himself;
And there to draw his friend from the duress
Which in the prison-house of Charles he suffered,
He brought himself to tremble in each vein.
I say no more, and know that I speak darkly;
Yet little time shall pass before thy neighbours
Will so demean themselves that thou canst gloss it.
This action has released him from those confines."
Purgatorio: Canto XII
Abreast, like oxen going in a yoke,
I with that heavy-laden soul went on,
As long as the sweet pedagogue permitted;
But when he said, "Leave him, and onward pass,
For here 'tis good that with the sail and oars,
As much as may be, each push on his barque;"
Upright, as walking wills it, I redressed
My person, notwithstanding that my thoughts
Remained within me downcast and abashed.
I had moved on, and followed willingly
The footsteps of my Master, and we both
Already showed how light of foot we were,
When unto me he said: "Cast down thine eyes;
'Twere well for thee, to alleviate the way,
To look upon the bed beneath thy feet."
As, that some memory may exist of them,
Above the buried dead their tombs in earth
Bear sculptured on them what they were before;
Whence often there we weep for them afresh,
From pricking of remembrance, which alone
To the compassionate doth set its spur;
So saw I there, but of a better semblance
In point of artifice, with figures covered
Whate'er as pathway from the mount projects.
I saw that one who was created noble
More than all other creatures, down from heaven
Flaming with lightnings fall upon one side.
I saw Briareus smitten by the dart
Celestial, lying on the other side,
Heavy upon the earth by mortal frost.
I saw Thymbraeus, Pallas saw, and Mars,
Still clad in armour round about their father,
Gaze at the scattered members of the giants.
I saw, at foot of his great labour, Nimrod,
As if bewildered, looking at the people
Who had been proud with him in Sennaar.
O Niobe! with what afflicted eyes
Thee I beheld upon the pathway traced,
Between thy seven and seven children slain!
O Saul! how fallen upon thy proper sword
Didst thou appear there lifeless in Gilboa,
That felt thereafter neither rain nor dew!
O mad Arachne! so I thee beheld
E'en then half spider, sad upon the shreds
Of fabric wrought in evil hour for thee!
O Rehoboam! no more seems to threaten
Thine image there; but full of consternation
A chariot bears it off, when none pursues!
Displayed moreo'er the adamantine pavement
How unto his own mother made Alcmaeon
Costly appear the luckless ornament;
Displayed how his own sons did throw themselves
Upon Sennacherib within the temple,
And how, he being dead, they left him there;
Displayed the ruin and the cruel carnage
That Tomyris wrought, when she to Cyrus said,
"Blood didst thou thirst for, and with blood I glut thee!"
Displayed how routed fled the Assyrians
After that Holofernes had been slain,
And likewise the remainder of that slaughter.
I saw there Troy in ashes and in caverns;
O Ilion! thee, how abject and debased,
Displayed the image that is there discerned!
Whoe'er of pencil master was or stile,
That could portray the shades and traits which there
Would cause each subtile genius to admire?
Dead seemed the dead, the living seemed alive;
Better than I saw not who saw the truth,
All that I trod upon while bowed I went.
Now wax ye proud, and on with looks uplifted,
Ye sons of Eve, and bow not down your faces
So that ye may behold your evil ways!
More of the mount by us was now encompassed,
And far more spent the circuit of the sun,
Than had the mind preoccupied imagined,
When he, who ever watchful in advance
Was going on, began: "Lift up thy head,
'Tis no more time to go thus meditating.
Lo there an Angel who is making haste
To come towards us; lo, returning is
From service of the day the sixth handmaiden.
With reverence thine acts and looks adorn,
So that he may delight to speed us upward;
Think that this day will never dawn again."
I was familiar with his admonition
Ever to lose no time; so on this theme
He could not unto me speak covertly.
Towards us came the being beautiful
Vested in white, and in his countenance
Such as appears the tremulous morning star.
His arms he opened, and opened then his wings;
"Come," said he, "near at hand here are the steps,
And easy from henceforth is the ascent."
At this announcement few are they who come!
O human creatures, born to soar aloft,
Why fall ye thus before a little wind?
He led us on to where the rock was cleft;
There smote upon my forehead with his wings,
Then a safe passage promised unto me.
As on the right hand, to ascend the mount
Where seated is the church that lordeth it
O'er the well-guided, above Rubaconte,
The bold abruptness of the ascent is broken
By stairways that were made there in the age
When still were safe the ledger and the stave,
E'en thus attempered is the bank which falls
Sheer downward from the second circle there;
But on this, side and that the high rock graze.
As we were turning thitherward our persons,
"Beati pauperes spiritu," voices
Sang in such wise that speech could tell it not.
Ah me! how different are these entrances
From the Infernal! for with anthems here
One enters, and below with wild laments.
We now were hunting up the sacred stairs,
And it appeared to me by far more easy
Than on the plain it had appeared before.
Whence I: "My Master, say, what heavy thing
Has been uplifted from me, so that hardly
Aught of fatigue is felt by me in walking?"
He answered: "When the P's which have remained
Still on thy face almost obliterate
Shall wholly, as the first is, be erased,
Thy feet will be so vanquished by good will,
That not alone they shall not feel fatigue,
But urging up will be to them delight."
Then did I even as they do who are going
With something on the head to them unknown,
Unless the signs of others make them doubt,
Wherefore the hand to ascertain is helpful,
And seeks and finds, and doth fulfill the office
Which cannot be accomplished by the sight;
And with the fingers of the right hand spread
I found but six the letters, that had carved
Upon my temples he who bore the keys;
Upon beholding which my Leader smiled.
We were upon the summit of the stairs,
Where for the second time is cut away
The mountain, which ascending shriveth all.
There in like manner doth a cornice bind
The hill all round about, as does the first,
Save that its arc more suddenly is curved.
Shade is there none, nor sculpture that appears;
So seems the bank, and so the road seems smooth,
With but the livid colour of the stone.
"If to inquire we wait for people here,"
The Poet said, "I fear that peradventure
Too much delay will our election have."
Then steadfast on the sun his eyes he fixed,
Made his right side the centre of his motion,
And turned the left part of himself about.
"O thou sweet light! with trust in whom I enter
Upon this novel journey, do thou lead us,"
Said he, "as one within here should be led.
Thou warmest the world, thou shinest over it;
If other reason prompt not otherwise,
Thy rays should evermore our leaders be!"
As much as here is counted for a mile,
So much already there had we advanced
In little time, by dint of ready will;
And tow'rds us there were heard to fly, albeit
They were not visible, spirits uttering
Unto Love's table courteous invitations,
The first voice that passed onward in its flight,
"Vinum non habent," said in accents loud,
And went reiterating it behind us.
And ere it wholly grew inaudible
Because of distance, passed another, crying,
"I am Orestes!" and it also stayed not.
"O," said I, "Father, these, what voices are they?"
And even as I asked, behold the third,
Saying: "Love those from whom ye have had evil!"
And the good Master said: "This circle scourges
The sin of envy, and on that account
Are drawn from love the lashes of the scourge.
The bridle of another sound shall be;
I think that thou wilt hear it, as I judge,
Before thou comest to the Pass of Pardon.
But fix thine eyes athwart the air right steadfast,
And people thou wilt see before us sitting,
And each one close against the cliff is seated."
Then wider than at first mine eyes I opened;
I looked before me, and saw shades with mantles
Not from the colour of the stone diverse.
And when we were a little farther onward,
I heard a cry of, "Mary, pray for us!"
A cry of, "Michael, Peter, and all Saints!"
I do not think there walketh still on earth
A man so hard, that he would not be pierced
With pity at what afterward I saw.
For when I had approached so near to them
That manifest to me their acts became,
Drained was I at the eyes by heavy grief.
Covered with sackcloth vile they seemed to me,
And one sustained the other with his shoulder,
And all of them were by the bank sustained.
Thus do the blind, in want of livelihood,
Stand at the doors of churches asking alms,
And one upon another leans his head,
So that in others pity soon may rise,
Not only at the accent of their words,
But at their aspect, which no less implores.
And as unto the blind the sun comes not,
So to the shades, of whom just now I spake,
Heaven's light will not be bounteous of itself;
For all their lids an iron wire transpierces,
And sews them up, as to a sparhawk wild
Is done, because it will not quiet stay.
To me it seemed, in passing, to do outrage,
Seeing the others without being seen;
Wherefore I turned me to my counsel sage.
Well knew he what the mute one wished to say,
And therefore waited not for my demand,
But said: "Speak, and be brief, and to the point."
I had Virgilius upon that side
Of the embankment from which one may fall,
Since by no border 'tis engarlanded;
Upon the other side of me I had
The shades devout, who through the horrible seam
Pressed out the tears so that they bathed their cheeks.
To them I turned me, and, "O people, certain,"
Began I, "of beholding the high light,
Which your desire has solely in its care,
So may grace speedily dissolve the scum
Upon your consciences, that limpidly
Through them descend the river of the mind,
Tell me, for dear 'twill be to me and gracious,
If any soul among you here is Latian,
And 'twill perchance be good for him I learn it."
"O brother mine, each one is citizen
Of one true city; but thy meaning is,
Who may have lived in Italy a pilgrim."
By way of answer this I seemed to hear
A little farther on than where I stood,
Whereat I made myself still nearer heard.
Among the rest I saw a shade that waited
In aspect, and should any one ask how,
Its chin it lifted upward like a blind man.
"Spirit," I said, "who stoopest to ascend,
If thou art he who did reply to me,
Make thyself known to me by place or name."
"Sienese was I," it replied, "and with
The others here recleanse my guilty life,
Weeping to Him to lend himself to us.
Sapient I was not, although I Sapia
Was called, and I was at another's harm
More happy far than at my own good fortune.
And that thou mayst not think that I deceive thee,
Hear if I was as foolish as I tell thee.
The arc already of my years descending,
My fellow-citizens near unto Colle
Were joined in battle with their adversaries,
And I was praying God for what he willed.
Routed were they, and turned into the bitter
Passes of flight; and I, the chase beholding,
A joy received unequalled by all others;
So that I lifted upward my bold face
Crying to God, 'Henceforth I fear thee not,'
As did the blackbird at the little sunshine.
Peace I desired with God at the extreme
Of my existence, and as yet would not
My debt have been by penitence discharged,
Had it not been that in remembrance held me
Pier Pettignano in his holy prayers,
Who out of charity was grieved for me.
But who art thou, that into our conditions
Questioning goest, and hast thine eyes unbound
As I believe, and breathing dost discourse?"
"Mine eyes," I said, "will yet be here ta'en from me,
But for short space; for small is the offence
Committed by their being turned with envy.
Far greater is the fear, wherein suspended
My soul is, of the torment underneath,
For even now the load down there weighs on me."
And she to me: "Who led thee, then, among us
Up here, if to return below thou thinkest?"
And I: "He who is with me, and speaks not;
And living am I; therefore ask of me,
Spirit elect, if thou wouldst have me move
O'er yonder yet my mortal feet for thee."
"O, this is such a novel thing to hear,"
She answered, "that great sign it is God loves thee;
Therefore with prayer of thine sometimes assist me.
And I implore, by what thou most desirest,
If e'er thou treadest the soil of Tuscany,
Well with my kindred reinstate my fame.
Them wilt thou see among that people vain
Who hope in Talamone, and will lose there
More hope than in discovering the Diana;
But there still more the admirals will lose."
Purgatorio: Canto XIV
"Who is this one that goes about our mountain,
Or ever Death has given him power of flight,
And opes his eyes and shuts them at his will?"
"I know not who, but know he's not alone;
Ask him thyself, for thou art nearer to him,
And gently, so that he may speak, accost him."
Thus did two spirits, leaning tow'rds each other,
Discourse about me there on the right hand;
Then held supine their faces to address me.
And said the one: "O soul, that, fastened still
Within the body, tow'rds the heaven art going,
For charity console us, and declare
Whence comest and who art thou; for thou mak'st us
As much to marvel at this grace of thine
As must a thing that never yet has been."
And I: "Through midst of Tuscany there wanders
A streamlet that is born in Falterona,
And not a hundred miles of course suffice it;
From thereupon do I this body bring.
To tell you who I am were speech in vain,
Because my name as yet makes no great noise."
"If well thy meaning I can penetrate
With intellect of mine," then answered me
He who first spake, "thou speakest of the Arno."
And said the other to him: "Why concealed
This one the appellation of that river,
Even as a man doth of things horrible?"
And thus the shade that questioned was of this
Himself acquitted: "I know not; but truly
'Tis fit the name of such a valley perish;
For from its fountain-head (where is so pregnant
The Alpine mountain whence is cleft Peloro
That in few places it that mark surpasses)
To where it yields itself in restoration
Of what the heaven doth of the sea dry up,
Whence have the rivers that which goes with them,
Virtue is like an enemy avoided
By all, as is a serpent, through misfortune
Of place, or through bad habit that impels them;
On which account have so transformed their nature
The dwellers in that miserable valley,
It seems that Circe had them in her pasture.
'Mid ugly swine, of acorns worthier
Than other food for human use created,
It first directeth its impoverished way.
Curs findeth it thereafter, coming downward,
More snarling than their puissance demands,
And turns from them disdainfully its muzzle.
It goes on falling, and the more it grows,
The more it finds the dogs becoming wolves,
This maledict and misadventurous ditch.
Descended then through many a hollow gulf,
It finds the foxes so replete with fraud,
They fear no cunning that may master them.
Nor will I cease because another hears me;
And well 'twill be for him, if still he mind him
Of what a truthful spirit to me unravels.
Thy grandson I behold, who doth become
A hunter of those wolves upon the bank
Of the wild stream, and terrifies them all.
He sells their flesh, it being yet alive;
Thereafter slaughters them like ancient beeves;
Many of life, himself of praise, deprives.
Blood-stained he issues from the dismal forest;
He leaves it such, a thousand years from now
In its primeval state 'tis not re-wooded."
As at the announcement of impending ills
The face of him who listens is disturbed,
From whate'er side the peril seize upon him;
So I beheld that other soul, which stood
Turned round to listen, grow disturbed and sad,
When it had gathered to itself the word.
The speech of one and aspect of the other
Had me desirous made to know their names,
And question mixed with prayers I made thereof,
Whereat the spirit which first spake to me
Began again: "Thou wishest I should bring me
To do for thee what thou'lt not do for me;
But since God willeth that in thee shine forth
Such grace of his, I'll not be chary with thee;
Know, then, that I Guido del Duca am.
My blood was so with envy set on fire,
That if I had beheld a man make merry,
Thou wouldst have seen me sprinkled o'er with pallor.
From my own sowing such the straw I reap!
O human race! why dost thou set thy heart
Where interdict of partnership must be?
This is Renier; this is the boast and honour
Of the house of Calboli, where no one since
Has made himself the heir of his desert.
And not alone his blood is made devoid,
'Twixt Po and mount, and sea-shore and the Reno,
Of good required for truth and for diversion;
For all within these boundaries is full
Of venomous roots, so that too tardily
By cultivation now would they diminish.
Where is good Lizio, and Arrigo Manardi,
Pier Traversaro, and Guido di Carpigna,
O Romagnuoli into bastards turned?
When in Bologna will a Fabbro rise?
When in Faenza a Bernardin di Fosco,
The noble scion of ignoble seed?
Be not astonished, Tuscan, if I weep,
When I remember, with Guido da Prata,
Ugolin d' Azzo, who was living with us,
Frederick Tignoso and his company,
The house of Traversara, and th' Anastagi,
And one race and the other is extinct;
The dames and cavaliers, the toils and ease
That filled our souls with love and courtesy,
There where the hearts have so malicious grown!
O Brettinoro! why dost thou not flee,
Seeing that all thy family is gone,
And many people, not to be corrupted?
Bagnacaval does well in not begetting
And ill does Castrocaro, and Conio worse,
In taking trouble to beget such Counts.
Will do well the Pagani, when their Devil
Shall have departed; but not therefore pure
Will testimony of them e'er remain.
O Ugolin de' Fantoli, secure
Thy name is, since no longer is awaited
One who, degenerating, can obscure it!
But go now, Tuscan, for it now delights me
To weep far better than it does to speak,
So much has our discourse my mind distressed."
We were aware that those beloved souls
Heard us depart; therefore, by keeping silent,
They made us of our pathway confident.
When we became alone by going onward,
Thunder, when it doth cleave the air, appeared
A voice, that counter to us came, exclaiming:
"Shall slay me whosoever findeth me!"
And fled as the reverberation dies
If suddenly the cloud asunder bursts.
As soon as hearing had a truce from this,
Behold another, with so great a crash,
That it resembled thunderings following fast:
"I am Aglaurus, who became a stone!"
And then, to press myself close to the Poet,
I backward, and not forward, took a step.
Already on all sides the air was quiet;
And said he to me: "That was the hard curb
That ought to hold a man within his bounds;
But you take in the bait so that the hook
Of the old Adversary draws you to him,
And hence availeth little curb or call.
The heavens are calling you, and wheel around you,
Displaying to you their eternal beauties,
And still your eye is looking on the ground;
Whence He, who all discerns, chastises you."
Purgatorio: Canto XV
As much as 'twixt the close of the third hour
And dawn of day appeareth of that sphere
Which aye in fashion of a child is playing,
So much it now appeared, towards the night,
Was of his course remaining to the sun;
There it was evening, and 'twas midnight here;
And the rays smote the middle of our faces,
Because by us the mount was so encircled,
That straight towards the west we now were going
When I perceived my forehead overpowered
Beneath the splendour far more than at first,
And stupor were to me the things unknown,
Whereat towards the summit of my brow
I raised my hands, and made myself the visor
Which the excessive glare diminishes.
As when from off the water, or a mirror,
The sunbeam leaps unto the opposite side,
Ascending upward in the selfsame measure
That it descends, and deviates as far
From falling of a stone in line direct,
(As demonstrate experiment and art,)
So it appeared to me that by a light
Refracted there before me I was smitten;
On which account my sight was swift to flee.
"What is that, Father sweet, from which I cannot
So fully screen my sight that it avail me,"
Said I, "and seems towards us to be moving?"
"Marvel thou not, if dazzle thee as yet
The family of heaven," he answered me;
"An angel 'tis, who comes to invite us upward.
Soon will it be, that to behold these things
Shall not be grievous, but delightful to thee
As much as nature fashioned thee to feel."
When we had reached the Angel benedight,
With joyful voice he said: "Here enter in
To stairway far less steep than are the others."
We mounting were, already thence departed,
And "Beati misericordes" was
Behind us sung, "Rejoice, thou that o'ercomest!"
My Master and myself, we two alone
Were going upward, and I thought, in going,
Some profit to acquire from words of his;
And I to him directed me, thus asking:
"What did the spirit of Romagna mean,
Mentioning interdict and partnership?"
Whence he to me: "Of his own greatest failing
He knows the harm; and therefore wonder not
If he reprove us, that we less may rue it.
Because are thither pointed your desires
Where by companionship each share is lessened,
Envy doth ply the bellows to your sighs.
But if the love of the supernal sphere
Should upwardly direct your aspiration,
There would not be that fear within your breast;
For there, as much the more as one says 'Our,'
So much the more of good each one possesses,
And more of charity in that cloister burns."
"I am more hungering to be satisfied,"
I said, "than if I had before been silent,
And more of doubt within my mind I gather.
How can it be, that boon distributed
The more possessors can more wealthy make
Therein, than if by few it be possessed?"
And he to me: "Because thou fixest still
Thy mind entirely upon earthly things,
Thou pluckest darkness from the very light.
That goodness infinite and ineffable
Which is above there, runneth unto love,
As to a lucid body comes the sunbeam.
So much it gives itself as it finds ardour,
So that as far as charity extends,
O'er it increases the eternal valour.
And the more people thitherward aspire,
More are there to love well, and more they love there,
And, as a mirror, one reflects the other.
And if my reasoning appease thee not,
Thou shalt see Beatrice; and she will fully
Take from thee this and every other longing.
Endeavour, then, that soon may be extinct,
As are the two already, the five wounds
That close themselves again by being painful."
Even as I wished to say, "Thou dost appease me,"
I saw that I had reached another circle,
So that my eager eyes made me keep silence.
There it appeared to me that in a vision
Ecstatic on a sudden I was rapt,
And in a temple many persons saw;
And at the door a woman, with the sweet
Behaviour of a mother, saying: "Son,
Why in this manner hast thou dealt with us?
Lo, sorrowing, thy father and myself
Were seeking for thee;"--and as here she ceased,
That which appeared at first had disappeared.
Then I beheld another with those waters
Adown her cheeks which grief distils whenever
From great disdain of others it is born,
And saying: "If of that city thou art lord,
For whose name was such strife among the gods,
And whence doth every science scintillate,
Avenge thyself on those audacious arms
That clasped our daughter, O Pisistratus;"
And the lord seemed to me benign and mild
To answer her with aspect temperate:
"What shall we do to those who wish us ill,
If he who loves us be by us condemned?"
Then saw I people hot in fire of wrath,
With stones a young man slaying, clamorously
Still crying to each other, "Kill him! kill him!"
And him I saw bow down, because of death
That weighed already on him, to the earth,
But of his eyes made ever gates to heaven,
Imploring the high Lord, in so great strife,
That he would pardon those his persecutors,
With such an aspect as unlocks compassion.
Soon as my soul had outwardly returned
To things external to it which are true,
Did I my not false errors recognize.
My Leader, who could see me bear myself
Like to a man that rouses him from sleep,
Exclaimed: "What ails thee, that thou canst not stand?
But hast been coming more than half a league
Veiling thine eyes, and with thy legs entangled,
In guise of one whom wine or sleep subdues?"
"O my sweet Father, if thou listen to me,
I'll tell thee," said I, "what appeared to me,
When thus from me my legs were ta'en away."
And he: "If thou shouldst have a hundred masks
Upon thy face, from me would not be shut
Thy cogitations, howsoever small.
What thou hast seen was that thou mayst not fail
To ope thy heart unto the waters of peace,
Which from the eternal fountain are diffused.
I did not ask, 'What ails thee?' as he does
Who only looketh with the eyes that see not
When of the soul bereft the body lies,
But asked it to give vigour to thy feet;
Thus must we needs urge on the sluggards, slow
To use their wakefulness when it returns."
We passed along, athwart the twilight peering
Forward as far as ever eye could stretch
Against the sunbeams serotine and lucent;
And lo! by slow degrees a smoke approached
In our direction, sombre as the night,
Nor was there place to hide one's self therefrom.
This of our eyes and the pure air bereft us.
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