Page images
PDF
EPUB

8S

95

In

[ocr errors]

103

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 ït 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 Sapìa

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.

110

130

135

[ocr errors]

140

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."

145

ISO

CANTO XIV

5

“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.”

[ocr errors]

25

33

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 be nothe hea

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.

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

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,

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

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. Vill 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.”

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »