Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

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. bo Adhæsit 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

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

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.”

130

133

140

145

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.

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

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.

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

distant now,

70

75

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

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 drawri,

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,

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

I

105

TIC

115

120

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." a 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.

125

130

135

« PreviousContinue »