Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

up

mine eyes

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Turned round his head where he had had his legs,

And grappled to the hair, as one who mounts,

So that to Hell I thought we were returning. Keep fast thy hold, for by such stairs as these,"

The Master said, panting as one fatigued,

“ Must we perforce depart from so much evil.” Then through the opening of a rock he issued,

And down upon the margin seated me;

Then tow'rds me he outstretched his wary step. I lifted

and thought to see Lucifer in the same way I had left him;

And I beheld him upward hold his legs. And if I then became disquieted,

Let stolid people think who do not see

What the point is beyond which I had passed. “Rise up," the Master said, “ upon thy feet;

The way is long, and difficult the road,

And now the sun to middle-tierce returns." It was not any palace corridor

There where we were, but dungeon natural,

With floor uneven and unease of light. “ Ere from the abyss I tear myself away,

My Master," said I when I had arisen,

“To draw me from an error speak a little ; Where is the ice?" and how is this one fixed

Thus upside down ? and how in such short time

From eve to morn has the sun made his transit ?" And he to me: “Thou still imaginest

Thou art beyond the centre, where I grasped

The hair of the fell worm, who mines the world. That side thou wasc, so long as I descended;

When round I turned me, thou didst pass the point

To which things heavy draw from every side, And now beneath the hemisphere art come

Opposite that which overhangs the vast

Dry-land, and 'neath whose cope was put to death The Man who without sin was born and lived.

Thou hast thy feet upon the little sphere

Which makes the other face of the Judecca. Here it is morn when it is evening there;

And he who with his hair a stairway made us

Still fixed remaineth as he was before.
Upon this side he fell down out of heaven;

And all the land, that whilom here emerged,
For fear of him made of the sea a veil,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

130

And came to our hemisphere; and peradventure

To flee from him, what on this side appears

Left the place vacant here, and back recoiled.” A place there is below, from Beelzebub

As far receding as the tomb extends,

Which not by sight is known, but by the sound Of a small rivulet, that there descendeth

Through chasma within the stone, which it has gnawed

With course that winds about and slightly falis. The Guide and I into that hidden road

Now entered, to return to the bright world ;

And without care of having any rest We mounted up, he first and I the second,

Till I beheld through a round aperture

Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear; 'T'hence we came forth to rebehold the stars.

195

PURGATORIO

[ocr errors]

I ENTER, and I see thee in the gloom

Of the long aisles, O poet saturnine !
And strive to make my steps keep pace with thing.

The air is filled with some unknown perfume;
The congregation of the dead make room

For thee to pass; the votive tapers shine ;
Like rooks that haunt Ravenna's groves of pine

The hovering echoes fly from tomb to tomb.
From the confessionals I hear arise

Rehearsals of forgotten tragedies,

And lamentations from the crypts below ;
And then a voice celestial that begins

With the pathetic words, “ Although your sins
As scarlet be," and ends with “as the snow,'

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

I!

To run o'er better waters hoists its sail

The little vessel of my genius now,

That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel ; And of that second kingdom will I sing

Wherein the human spirit doth purge itself,

And to ascend to heaven becometh worthy. But let dead Poesy here rise again,

O holy Muses, since that I am yours,

And here Calliope somewhat ascend, My song accompanying with that sound,

Of which the miserable magpies felt

The blow so great, that they despaired of pardon. Sweet colour of the oriental sapphire,

That was upgathered in the cloudless aspect

Of the pure air, as far as the first circle, Unto mine eyes did recommence delight

Soon as I issued forth from the dead air,

Which had with sadness filled mine eyes and breast. The beauteous planet, that to love incites,

Was making all the orient to laugh,

Veiling the Fishes that were in her escort. To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind

Upon the other pole, and saw four stars

Ne'er seen before save by the primal people. Rejoicing in their flamelets seemed the heaven.

O thou septentrional and widowed site,

Because thou art deprived of seeing these !
When from regarding them I had withdrawn,

Turning a little to the other pole,
There where the Wain had disappeared already,

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »