Purgatorio: Canto XVI
Darkness of hell, and of a night deprived
Of every planet under a poor sky,
As much as may be tenebrous with cloud,
Ne'er made unto my sight so thick a veil,
As did that smoke which there enveloped us,
Nor to the feeling of so rough a texture;
For not an eye it suffered to stay open;
Whereat mine escort, faithful and sagacious,
Drew near to me and offered me his shoulder.
E'en as a blind man goes behind his guide,
Lest he should wander, or should strike against
Aught that may harm or peradventure kill him,
So went I through the bitter and foul air,
Listening unto my Leader, who said only,
"Look that from me thou be not separated."
Voices I heard, and every one appeared
To supplicate for peace and misericord
The Lamb of God who takes away our sins.
Still "Agnus Dei" their exordium was;
One word there was in all, and metre one,
So that all harmony appeared among them.
"Master," I said, "are spirits those I hear?"
And he to me: "Thou apprehendest truly,
And they the knot of anger go unloosing."
"Now who art thou, that cleavest through our smoke
And art discoursing of us even as though
Thou didst by calends still divide the time?"
After this manner by a voice was spoken;
Whereon my Master said: "Do thou reply,
And ask if on this side the way go upward."
And I: "O creature that dost cleanse thyself
To return beautiful to Him who made thee,
Thou shalt hear marvels if thou follow me."
"Thee will I follow far as is allowed me,"
He answered; "and if smoke prevent our seeing,
Hearing shall keep us joined instead thereof."
Thereon began I: "With that swathing band
Which death unwindeth am I going upward,
And hither came I through the infernal anguish.
And if God in his grace has me infolded,
So that he wills that I behold his court
By method wholly out of modern usage,
Conceal not from me who ere death thou wast,
But tell it me, and tell me if I go
Right for the pass, and be thy words our escort."
"Lombard was I, and I was Marco called;
The world I knew, and loved that excellence,
At which has each one now unbent his bow.
For mounting upward, thou art going right."
Thus he made answer, and subjoined: "I pray thee
To pray for me when thou shalt be above."
And I to him: "My faith I pledge to thee
To do what thou dost ask me; but am bursting
Inly with doubt, unless I rid me of it.
First it was simple, and is now made double
By thy opinion, which makes certain to me,
Here and elsewhere, that which I couple with it.
The world forsooth is utterly deserted
By every virtue, as thou tellest me,
And with iniquity is big and covered;
But I beseech thee point me out the cause,
That I may see it, and to others show it;
For one in the heavens, and here below one puts it."
A sigh profound, that grief forced into Ai!
He first sent forth, and then began he: "Brother,
The world is blind, and sooth thou comest from it!
Ye who are living every cause refer
Still upward to the heavens, as if all things
They of necessity moved with themselves.
If this were so, in you would be destroyed
Free will, nor any justice would there be
In having joy for good, or grief for evil.
The heavens your movements do initiate,
I say not all; but granting that I say it,
Light has been given you for good and evil,
And free volition; which, if some fatigue
In the first battles with the heavens it suffers,
Afterwards conquers all, if well 'tis nurtured.
To greater force and to a better nature,
Though free, ye subject are, and that creates
The mind in you the heavens have not in charge.
Hence, if the present world doth go astray,
In you the cause is, be it sought in you;
And I therein will now be thy true spy.
Forth from the hand of Him, who fondles it
Before it is, like to a little girl
Weeping and laughing in her childish sport,
Issues the simple soul, that nothing knows,
Save that, proceeding from a joyous Maker,
Gladly it turns to that which gives it pleasure.
Of trivial good at first it tastes the savour;
Is cheated by it, and runs after it,
If guide or rein turn not aside its love.
Hence it behoved laws for a rein to place,
Behoved a king to have, who at the least
Of the true city should discern the tower.
The laws exist, but who sets hand to them?
No one; because the shepherd who precedes
Can ruminate, but cleaveth not the hoof;
Wherefore the people that perceives its guide
Strike only at the good for which it hankers,
Feeds upon that, and farther seeketh not.
Clearly canst thou perceive that evil guidance
The cause is that has made the world depraved,
And not that nature is corrupt in you.
Rome, that reformed the world, accustomed was
Two suns to have, which one road and the other,
Of God and of the world, made manifest.
One has the other quenched, and to the crosier
The sword is joined, and ill beseemeth it
That by main force one with the other go,
Because, being joined, one feareth not the other;
If thou believe not, think upon the grain,
For by its seed each herb is recognized.
In the land laved by Po and Adige,
Valour and courtesy used to be found,
Before that Frederick had his controversy;
Now in security can pass that way
Whoever will abstain, through sense of shame,
From speaking with the good, or drawing near them.
True, three old men are left, in whom upbraids
The ancient age the new, and late they deem it
That God restore them to the better life:
Currado da Palazzo, and good Gherardo,
And Guido da Castel, who better named is,
In fashion of the French, the simple Lombard:
Say thou henceforward that the Church of Rome,
Confounding in itself two governments,
Falls in the mire, and soils itself and burden."
"O Marco mine," I said, "thou reasonest well;
And now discern I why the sons of Levi
Have been excluded from the heritage.
But what Gherardo is it, who, as sample
Of a lost race, thou sayest has remained
In reprobation of the barbarous age?"
"Either thy speech deceives me, or it tempts me,"
He answered me; "for speaking Tuscan to me,
It seems of good Gherardo naught thou knowest.
By other surname do I know him not,
Unless I take it from his daughter Gaia.
May God be with you, for I come no farther.
Behold the dawn, that through the smoke rays out,
Already whitening; and I must depart--
Yonder the Angel is--ere he appear."
Thus did he speak, and would no farther hear me.
Purgatorio: Canto XVII
Remember, Reader, if e'er in the Alps
A mist o'ertook thee, through which thou couldst see
Not otherwise than through its membrane mole,
How, when the vapours humid and condensed
Begin to dissipate themselves, the sphere
Of the sun feebly enters in among them,
And thy imagination will be swift
In coming to perceive how I re-saw
The sun at first, that was already setting.
Thus, to the faithful footsteps of my Master
Mating mine own, I issued from that cloud
To rays already dead on the low shores.
O thou, Imagination, that dost steal us
So from without sometimes, that man perceives not,
Although around may sound a thousand trumpets,
Who moveth thee, if sense impel thee not?
Moves thee a light, which in the heaven takes form,
By self, or by a will that downward guides it.
Of her impiety, who changed her form
Into the bird that most delights in singing,
In my imagining appeared the trace;
And hereupon my mind was so withdrawn
Within itself, that from without there came
Nothing that then might be received by it.
Then reigned within my lofty fantasy
One crucified, disdainful and ferocious
In countenance, and even thus was dying.
Around him were the great Ahasuerus,
Esther his wife, and the just Mordecai,
Who was in word and action so entire.
And even as this image burst asunder
Of its own self, in fashion of a bubble
In which the water it was made of fails,
There rose up in my vision a young maiden
Bitterly weeping, and she said: "O queen,
Why hast thou wished in anger to be naught?
Thou'st slain thyself, Lavinia not to lose;
Now hast thou lost me; I am she who mourns,
Mother, at thine ere at another's ruin."
As sleep is broken, when upon a sudden
New light strikes in upon the eyelids closed,
And broken quivers ere it dieth wholly,
So this imagining of mine fell down
As soon as the effulgence smote my face,
Greater by far than what is in our wont.
I turned me round to see where I might be,
When said a voice, "Here is the passage up;"
Which from all other purposes removed me,
And made my wish so full of eagerness
To look and see who was it that was speaking,
It never rests till meeting face to face;
But as before the sun, which quells the sight,
And in its own excess its figure veils,
Even so my power was insufficient here.
"This is a spirit divine, who in the way
Of going up directs us without asking,
And who with his own light himself conceals.
He does with us as man doth with himself;
For he who sees the need, and waits the asking,
Malignly leans already tow'rds denial.
Accord we now our feet to such inviting,
Let us make haste to mount ere it grow dark;
For then we could not till the day return."
Thus my Conductor said; and I and he
Together turned our footsteps to a stairway;
And I, as soon as the first step I reached,
Near me perceived a motion as of wings,
And fanning in the face, and saying, "'Beati
Pacifici,' who are without ill anger."
Already over us were so uplifted
The latest sunbeams, which the night pursues,
That upon many sides the stars appeared.
"O manhood mine, why dost thou vanish so?"
I said within myself; for I perceived
The vigour of my legs was put in truce.
We at the point were where no more ascends
The stairway upward, and were motionless,
Even as a ship, which at the shore arrives;
And I gave heed a little, if I might hear
Aught whatsoever in the circle new;
Then to my Master turned me round and said:
"Say, my sweet Father, what delinquency
Is purged here in the circle where we are?
Although our feet may pause, pause not thy speech."
And he to me: "The love of good, remiss
In what it should have done, is here restored;
Here plied again the ill-belated oar;
But still more openly to understand,
Turn unto me thy mind, and thou shalt gather
Some profitable fruit from our delay.
Neither Creator nor a creature ever,
Son," he began, "was destitute of love
Natural or spiritual; and thou knowest it.
The natural was ever without error;
But err the other may by evil object,
Or by too much, or by too little vigour.
While in the first it well directed is,
And in the second moderates itself,
It cannot be the cause of sinful pleasure;
But when to ill it turns, and, with more care
Or lesser than it ought, runs after good,
'Gainst the Creator works his own creation.
Hence thou mayst comprehend that love must be
The seed within yourselves of every virtue,
And every act that merits punishment.
Now inasmuch as never from the welfare
Of its own subject can love turn its sight,
From their own hatred all things are secure;
And since we cannot think of any being
Standing alone, nor from the First divided,
Of hating Him is all desire cut off.
Hence if, discriminating, I judge well,
The evil that one loves is of one's neighbour,
And this is born in three modes in your clay.
There are, who, by abasement of their neighbour,
Hope to excel, and therefore only long
That from his greatness he may be cast down;
There are, who power, grace, honour, and renown
Fear they may lose because another rises,
Thence are so sad that the reverse they love;
And there are those whom injury seems to chafe,
So that it makes them greedy for revenge,
And such must needs shape out another's harm.
This threefold love is wept for down below;
Now of the other will I have thee hear,
That runneth after good with measure faulty.
Each one confusedly a good conceives
Wherein the mind may rest, and longeth for it;
Therefore to overtake it each one strives.
If languid love to look on this attract you,
Or in attaining unto it, this cornice,
After just penitence, torments you for it.
There's other good that does not make man happy;
'Tis not felicity, 'tis not the good
Essence, of every good the fruit and root.
The love that yields itself too much to this
Above us is lamented in three circles;
But how tripartite it may be described,
I say not, that thou seek it for thyself."
Purgatorio: Canto XVIII
An end had put unto his reasoning
The lofty Teacher, and attent was looking
Into my face, if I appeared content;
And I, whom a new thirst still goaded on,
Without was mute, and said within: "Perchance
The too much questioning I make annoys him."
But that true Father, who had comprehended
The timid wish, that opened not itself,
By speaking gave me hardihood to speak.
Whence I: "My sight is, Master, vivified
So in thy light, that clearly I discern
Whate'er thy speech importeth or describes.
Therefore I thee entreat, sweet Father dear,
To teach me love, to which thou dost refer
Every good action and its contrary."
"Direct," he said, "towards me the keen eyes
Of intellect, and clear will be to thee
The error of the blind, who would be leaders.
The soul, which is created apt to love,
Is mobile unto everything that pleases,
Soon as by pleasure she is waked to action.
Your apprehension from some real thing
An image draws, and in yourselves displays it
So that it makes the soul turn unto it.
And if, when turned, towards it she incline,
Love is that inclination; it is nature,
Which is by pleasure bound in you anew
Then even as the fire doth upward move
By its own form, which to ascend is born,
Where longest in its matter it endures,
So comes the captive soul into desire,
Which is a motion spiritual, and ne'er rests
Until she doth enjoy the thing beloved.
Now may apparent be to thee how hidden
The truth is from those people, who aver
All love is in itself a laudable thing;
Because its matter may perchance appear
Aye to be good; but yet not each impression
Is good, albeit good may be the wax."
"Thy words, and my sequacious intellect,"
I answered him, "have love revealed to me;
But that has made me more impregned with doubt;
For if love from without be offered us,
And with another foot the soul go not,
If right or wrong she go, 'tis not her merit."
And he to me: "What reason seeth here,
Myself can tell thee; beyond that await
For Beatrice, since 'tis a work of faith.
Every substantial form, that segregate
From matter is, and with it is united,
Specific power has in itself collected,
Which without act is not perceptible,
Nor shows itself except by its effect,
As life does in a plant by the green leaves.
But still, whence cometh the intelligence
Of the first notions, man is ignorant,
And the affection for the first allurements,
Which are in you as instinct in the bee
To make its honey; and this first desire
Merit of praise or blame containeth not.
Now, that to this all others may be gathered,
Innate within you is the power that counsels,
And it should keep the threshold of assent.
This is the principle, from which is taken
Occasion of desert in you, according
As good and guilty loves it takes and winnows.
Those who, in reasoning, to the bottom went,
Were of this innate liberty aware,
Therefore bequeathed they Ethics to the world.
Supposing, then, that from necessity
Springs every love that is within you kindled,
Within yourselves the power is to restrain it.
The noble virtue Beatrice understands
By the free will; and therefore see that thou
Bear it in mind, if she should speak of it."
The moon, belated almost unto midnight,
Now made the stars appear to us more rare,
Formed like a bucket, that is all ablaze,
And counter to the heavens ran through those paths
Which the sun sets aflame, when he of Rome
Sees it 'twixt Sardes and Corsicans go down;
And that patrician shade, for whom is named
Pietola more than any Mantuan town,
Had laid aside the burden of my lading;
Whence I, who reason manifest and plain
In answer to my questions had received,
Stood like a man in drowsy reverie.
But taken from me was this drowsiness
Suddenly by a people, that behind
Our backs already had come round to us.
And as, of old, Ismenus and Asopus
Beside them saw at night the rush and throng,
If but the Thebans were in need of Bacchus,
So they along that circle curve their step,
From what I saw of those approaching us,
Who by good-will and righteous love are ridden.
Full soon they were upon us, because running
Moved onward all that mighty multitude,
And two in the advance cried out, lamenting,
"Mary in haste unto the mountain ran,
And Caesar, that he might subdue Ilerda,
Thrust at Marseilles, and then ran into Spain."
"Quick! quick! so that the time may not be lost
By little love!" forthwith the others cried,
"For ardour in well-doing freshens grace!"
"O folk, in whom an eager fervour now
Supplies perhaps delay and negligence,
Put by you in well-doing, through lukewarmness,
This one who lives, and truly I lie not,
Would fain go up, if but the sun relight us;
So tell us where the passage nearest is."
These were the words of him who was my Guide;
And some one of those spirits said: "Come on
Behind us, and the opening shalt thou find;
So full of longing are we to move onward,
That stay we cannot; therefore pardon us,
If thou for churlishness our justice take.
I was San Zeno's Abbot at Verona,
Under the empire of good Barbarossa,
Of whom still sorrowing Milan holds discourse;
And he has one foot in the grave already,
Who shall erelong lament that monastery,
And sorry be of having there had power,
Because his son, in his whole body sick,
And worse in mind, and who was evil-born,
He put into the place of its true pastor."
If more he said, or silent was, I know not,
He had already passed so far beyond us;
But this I heard, and to retain it pleased me.
And he who was in every need my succour
Said: "Turn thee hitherward; see two of them
Come fastening upon slothfulness their teeth."
In rear of all they shouted: "Sooner were
The people dead to whom the sea was opened,
Than their inheritors the Jordan saw;
And those who the fatigue did not endure
Unto the issue, with Anchises' son,
Themselves to life withouten glory offered."
Then when from us so separated were
Those shades, that they no longer could be seen,
Within me a new thought did entrance find,
Whence others many and diverse were born;
And so I lapsed from one into another,
That in a reverie mine eyes I closed,
And meditation into dream transmuted.
Purgatorio: Canto XIX
It was the hour when the diurnal heat
No more can warm the coldness of the moon,
Vanquished by earth, or peradventure Saturn,
When geomancers their Fortuna Major
See in the orient before the dawn
Rise by a path that long remains not dim,
There came to me in dreams a stammering woman,
Squint in her eyes, and in her feet distorted,
With hands dissevered and of sallow hue.
I looked at her; and as the sun restores
The frigid members which the night benumbs,
Even thus my gaze did render voluble
Her tongue, and made her all erect thereafter
In little while, and the lost countenance
As love desires it so in her did colour.
When in this wise she had her speech unloosed,
She 'gan to sing so, that with difficulty
Could I have turned my thoughts away from her.
"I am," she sang, "I am the Siren sweet
Who mariners amid the main unman,
So full am I of pleasantness to hear.
I drew Ulysses from his wandering way
Unto my song, and he who dwells with me
Seldom departs so wholly I content him."
Her mouth was not yet closed again, before
Appeared a Lady saintly and alert
Close at my side to put her to confusion.
"Virgilius, O Virgilius! who is this?"
Sternly she said; and he was drawing near
With eyes still fixed upon that modest one.
She seized the other and in front laid open,
Rending her garments, and her belly showed me;
This waked me with the stench that issued from it.
I turned mine eyes, and good Virgilius said:
"At least thrice have I called thee; rise and come;
Find we the opening by which thou mayst enter."
I rose; and full already of high day
Were all the circles of the Sacred Mountain,
And with the new sun at our back we went.
Following behind him, I my forehead bore
Like unto one who has it laden with thought,
Who makes himself the half arch of a bridge,
When I heard say, "Come, here the passage is,"
Spoken in a manner gentle and benign,
Such as we hear not in this mortal region.
With open wings, which of a swan appeared,
Upward he turned us who thus spake to us,
Between the two walls of the solid granite.
He moved his pinions afterwards and fanned us,
Affirming those 'qui lugent' to be blessed,
For they shall have their souls with comfort filled.
"What aileth thee, that aye to earth thou gazest?"
To me my Guide began to say, we both
Somewhat beyond the Angel having mounted.
And I: "With such misgiving makes me go
A vision new, which bends me to itself,
So that I cannot from the thought withdraw me."
"Didst thou behold," he said, "that old enchantress,
Who sole above us henceforth is lamented?
Didst thou behold how man is freed from her?
Suffice it thee, and smite earth with thy heels,
Thine eyes lift upward to the lure, that whirls
The Eternal King with revolutions vast."
Even as the hawk, that first his feet surveys,
Then turns him to the call and stretches forward,
Through the desire of food that draws him thither,
Such I became, and such, as far as cleaves
The rock to give a way to him who mounts,
Went on to where the circling doth begin.
On the fifth circle when I had come forth,
People I saw upon it who were weeping,
Stretched prone upon the ground, all downward turned.
"Adhaesit pavimento anima mea,"
I heard them say with sighings so profound,
That hardly could the words be understood.
"O ye elect of God, whose sufferings
Justice and Hope both render less severe,
Direct ye us towards the high ascents."
"If ye are come secure from this prostration,
And wish to find the way most speedily,
Let your right hands be evermore outside."
Thus did the Poet ask, and thus was answered
By them somewhat in front of us; whence I
In what was spoken divined the rest concealed,
And unto my Lord's eyes mine eyes I turned;
Whence he assented with a cheerful sign
To what the sight of my desire implored.
When of myself I could dispose at will,
Above that creature did I draw myself,
Whose words before had caused me to take note,
Saying: "O Spirit, in whom weeping ripens
That without which to God we cannot turn,
Suspend awhile for me thy greater care.
Who wast thou, and why are your backs turned upwards,
Tell me, and if thou wouldst that I procure thee
Anything there whence living I departed."
And he to me: "Wherefore our backs the heaven
Turns to itself, know shalt thou; but beforehand
'Scias quod ego fui successor Petri.'
Between Siestri and Chiaveri descends
A river beautiful, and of its name
The title of my blood its summit makes.
A month and little more essayed I how
Weighs the great cloak on him from mire who keeps it,
For all the other burdens seem a feather.
Tardy, ah woe is me! was my conversion;
But when the Roman Shepherd I was made,
Then I discovered life to be a lie.
I saw that there the heart was not at rest,
Nor farther in that life could one ascend;
Whereby the love of this was kindled in me.
Until that time a wretched soul and parted
From God was I, and wholly avaricious;
Now, as thou seest, I here am punished for it.
What avarice does is here made manifest
In the purgation of these souls converted,
And no more bitter pain the Mountain has.
Even as our eye did not uplift itself
Aloft, being fastened upon earthly things,
So justice here has merged it in the earth.
As avarice had extinguished our affection
For every good, whereby was action lost,
So justice here doth hold us in restraint,
Bound and imprisoned by the feet and hands;
And so long as it pleases the just Lord
Shall we remain immovable and prostrate."
I on my knees had fallen, and wished to speak;
But even as I began, and he was 'ware,
Only by listening, of my reverence,
"What cause," he said, "has downward bent thee thus?"
And I to him: "For your own dignity,
Standing, my conscience stung me with remorse."
"Straighten thy legs, and upward raise thee, brother,"
He answered: "Err not, fellow-servant am I
With thee and with the others to one power.
If e'er that holy, evangelic sound,
Which sayeth 'neque nubent,' thou hast heard,
Well canst thou see why in this wise I speak.
Now go; no longer will I have thee linger,
Because thy stay doth incommode my weeping,
With which I ripen that which thou hast said.
On earth I have a grandchild named Alagia,
Good in herself, unless indeed our house
Malevolent may make her by example,
And she alone remains to me on earth."
Purgatorio: Canto XX
Ill strives the will against a better will;
Therefore, to pleasure him, against my pleasure
I drew the sponge not saturate from the water.
Onward I moved, and onward moved my Leader,
Through vacant places, skirting still the rock,
As on a wall close to the battlements;
For they that through their eyes pour drop by drop
The malady which all the world pervades,
On the other side too near the verge approach.
Accursed mayst thou be, thou old she-wolf,
That more than all the other beasts hast prey,
Because of hunger infinitely hollow!
O heaven, in whose gyrations some appear
To think conditions here below are changed,
When will he come through whom she shall depart?
Onward we went with footsteps slow and scarce,
And I attentive to the shades I heard
Piteously weeping and bemoaning them;
And I by peradventure heard "Sweet Mary!"
Uttered in front of us amid the weeping
Even as a woman does who is in child-birth;
And in continuance: "How poor thou wast
Is manifested by that hostelry
Where thou didst lay thy sacred burden down."
Thereafterward I heard: "O good Fabricius,
Virtue with poverty didst thou prefer
To the possession of great wealth with vice."
So pleasurable were these words to me
That I drew farther onward to have knowledge
Touching that spirit whence they seemed to come.
He furthermore was speaking of the largess
Which Nicholas unto the maidens gave,
In order to conduct their youth to honour.
"O soul that dost so excellently speak,
Tell me who wast thou," said I, "and why only
Thou dost renew these praises well deserved?
Not without recompense shall be thy word,
If I return to finish the short journey
Of that life which is flying to its end."
And he: "I'll tell thee, not for any comfort
I may expect from earth, but that so much
Grace shines in thee or ever thou art dead.
I was the root of that malignant plant
Which overshadows all the Christian world,
So that good fruit is seldom gathered from it;
But if Douay and Ghent, and Lille and Bruges
Had Power, soon vengeance would be taken on it;
And this I pray of Him who judges all.
Hugh Capet was I called upon the earth;
From me were born the Louises and Philips,
By whom in later days has France been governed.
I was the son of a Parisian butcher,
What time the ancient kings had perished all,
Excepting one, contrite in cloth of gray.
I found me grasping in my hands the rein
Of the realm's government, and so great power
Of new acquest, and so with friends abounding,
That to the widowed diadem promoted
The head of mine own offspring was, from whom
The consecrated bones of these began.
So long as the great dowry of Provence
Out of my blood took not the sense of shame,
'Twas little worth, but still it did no harm.
Then it began with falsehood and with force
Its rapine; and thereafter, for amends,
Took Ponthieu, Normandy, and Gascony.
Charles came to Italy, and for amends
A victim made of Conradin, and then
Thrust Thomas back to heaven, for amends.
A time I see, not very distant now,
Which draweth forth another Charles from France,
The better to make known both him and his.
Unarmed he goes, and only with the lance
That Judas jousted with; and that he thrusts
So that he makes the paunch of Florence burst.
He thence not land, but sin and infamy,
Shall gain, so much more grievous to himself
As the more light such damage he accounts.
The other, now gone forth, ta'en in his ship,
See I his daughter sell, and chaffer for her
As corsairs do with other female slaves.
What more, O Avarice, canst thou do to us,
Since thou my blood so to thyself hast drawn,
It careth not for its own proper flesh?
That less may seem the future ill and past,
I see the flower-de-luce Alagna enter,
And Christ in his own Vicar captive made.
I see him yet another time derided;
I see renewed the vinegar and gall,
And between living thieves I see him slain.
I see the modern Pilate so relentless,
This does not sate him, but without decretal
He to the temple bears his sordid sails!
When, O my Lord! shall I be joyful made
By looking on the vengeance which, concealed,
Makes sweet thine anger in thy secrecy?
What I was saying of that only bride
Of the Holy Ghost, and which occasioned thee
To turn towards me for some commentary,
So long has been ordained to all our prayers
As the day lasts; but when the night comes on,
Contrary sound we take instead thereof.
At that time we repeat Pygmalion,
Of whom a traitor, thief, and parricide
Made his insatiable desire of gold;
And the misery of avaricious Midas,
That followed his inordinate demand,
At which forevermore one needs but laugh.
The foolish Achan each one then records,
And how he stole the spoils; so that the wrath
Of Joshua still appears to sting him here.
Then we accuse Sapphira with her husband,
We laud the hoof-beats Heliodorus had,
And the whole mount in infamy encircles
Polymnestor who murdered Polydorus.
Here finally is cried: 'O Crassus, tell us,
For thou dost know, what is the taste of gold?'
Sometimes we speak, one loud, another low,
According to desire of speech, that spurs us
To greater now and now to lesser pace.
But in the good that here by day is talked of,
Erewhile alone I was not; yet near by
No other person lifted up his voice."
From him already we departed were,
And made endeavour to o'ercome the road
As much as was permitted to our power,
When I perceived, like something that is falling,
The mountain tremble, whence a chill seized on me,
As seizes him who to his death is going.
Certes so violently shook not Delos,
Before Latona made her nest therein
To give birth to the two eyes of the heaven.
Then upon all sides there began a cry,
Such that the Master drew himself towards me,
Saying, "Fear not, while I am guiding thee."
"Gloria in excelsis Deo," all
Were saying, from what near I comprehended,
Where it was possible to hear the cry.
We paused immovable and in suspense,
Even as the shepherds who first heard that song,
Until the trembling ceased, and it was finished.
Then we resumed again our holy path,
Watching the shades that lay upon the ground,
Already turned to their accustomed plaint.
No ignorance ever with so great a strife
Had rendered me importunate to know,
If erreth not in this my memory,
As meditating then I seemed to have;
Nor out of haste to question did I dare,
Nor of myself I there could aught perceive;
So I went onward timorous and thoughtful.
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