Page images
PDF
EPUB

65

70.

75

80

But how from animal it man becomes

Thou dost not see as yet ; this is a point

Which made a wiser man than thou once err So far, that in his doctrine separate

He made the soul from possible intellect,

For he no organ saw by this assumed. Open thy breast unto the truth that's coming,

And know that, just as soon as in the foetus

The articulation of the brain is perfect, The primal Motor turns to it well pleased

At so great art of nature, and inspires

A spirit new with virtue all replete, Which what it finds there active doth attract

Into its substance, and becomes one soul,

Which lives, and feels, and on itself revolves. And that thou less may wonder at my word,

Behold the sun's heat, which becometh wine,

Joined to the juice that from the vine distils. Whenever Lachesis has no more thread,

It separates from the flesh, and virtually

Bears with itself the human and divine; The other faculties are voiceless all ;

The memory, the intelligence, and the will

In action far more vigorous than before. Without a pause it falleth of itself

In marvellous way on one shore or the other ;

There of its roads it first is cognizant. Soon as the place there circumscribeth it,

The virtue informative rays round about,

As, and as much as, in the living members. And even as the air, when full of rain,

By alien rays that are therein reflected,

With divers colours shows itself adorned, So there the neighbouring air doth shape itself

Into that form which doth impress upon it

Virtually the soul that has stood still. And then in manner of the little flame,

Which followeth the fire where'er it shifts,

After the spirit followeth its new form. Since afterwards it takes from this its semblance,

It is called shade ; and thence it organizes

Thereafter every sense, even to the sight.
Thence is it that we speak, and thence we laugh ;

Thence is it that we form the tears and sighs,
That on the mountain thou mayhap hast heard.

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

According as impress us our desires

And other affections, so the shade is shaped,

And this is cause of what thou wonderest at." And now unto the last of all the circles

Had we arrived, and to the right hand turned,

And were attentive to another care.
There the embankment shoots forth flames of fire,

And upward doth the cornice breathe a blast

That drives them back, and from itself sequesters. Hence we must needs go on the open side,

And one by one ; and I did fear the fire

On this side, and on that the falling down. My Leader said: “Along this place one ought

To keep upon the eyes a tightened rein,

Seeing that one so easily might err.” Summæ Deus clementiæ,in the bosom

Of the great burning chanted then I heard,

Which made me no less eager to turn round; And spirits saw I walking through the flame;

Wherefore I looked, to my own steps and theirs

Apportioning my sight from time to time. After the close which to that hymn is made,

Aloud they shouted, “Virum non cognosco ;"

Then recommenced the hymn with voices low. This also ended, cried they: “To the wood

Diana ran, and drove forth Helice

Therefrom, who had of Venus felt the poison.” Then to their song returned they ; then the wives

They shouted, and the husbands who were chaste,

As virtue and the marriage vow imposes. And I believe that them this mode suffices,

For all the time the fire is burning them ;

With such care is it needful, and such food, That the last wound of all should be closed up.

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

CANTO XXVI.

WHILE on the brink thus one before the other

We went upon our way, oft the good Master

Said: “Take thou heed ! suffice it that I warn thee."
On the right shoulder smote me now the sun,

That, raying out, already the whole west
Changed from its azure aspect into white.

[ocr errors]

20

And with my shadow did I make the flame

Appear more red; and even to such a sign

Shades saw I many, as they went, give heed. This was the cause that gave them a beginning

To speak of me; and to themselves began they

To say: “That seems not a factitious body!" Then towards me, as far as they could come,

Came certain of them, always with regard

Not to step forth where they would not be burned. “O thou who goest, not from being slower

But reverent perhaps, behind the others,

Answer me, who in thirst and fire am burning. Nor to me only is thine answer needful ;

For all of these have greater thirst for it

Than for cold water Ethiop or Indian. Tell us how is it that thou makest thyself

A wall unto the sun, as if thou hadst not

Entered as yet into the net of death."
Thus one of them addressed me, and I straight

Should have revealed myself, were I not bent

On other novelty that then appeared. For through the middle of the burning road

There came a people face to face with these,

Which held me in suspense with gazing at them. There see I hastening upon either side

Each of the shades, and kissing one another

Without a pause, content with brief salute. Thus in the middle of their brown battalions

Muzzle to muzzle one ant meets another

Perchance to spy their journey or their fortune. No sooner is the friendly greeting ended,

Or ever the first footstep passes onward,

Each one endeavours to outcry the other ; The new-come people : “Sodom and Gomorrah !”

The rest : “Into the cow Pasiphae enters,

So that the bull unto her lust may run !" Then as the cranes, that to Riphæan mountains

Might fly in part, and part towards the sands,

These of the frost, those of the sun avoidant, One folk is going, and the other coming,

And weeping they return to their first songs,

And to the cry that most befitteth them ;
And close to me approached, even as before,

The very same who had entreated me,
Attent to listen in their countenance.

30

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

I, who their inclination twice had seen,

Began : “O souls secure in the possession,

Whene'er it may be, of a state of peace, Neither unripe nor ripened have remained

My members upon earth, but here are with me

With their own blood and their articulations, I go up here to be no longer blind;

A Lady is above, who wins this grace,

Whereby the mortal through your world I bring. But as your greatest longing satisfied

May soon become, so that the Heaven may house you

Which full of love is, and most amply spreads,
Tell me, that I again in books may write it,

Who are you, and what is that multitude
Which goes upon

its
way
behind

your backs ?" Not otherwise with wonder is bewildered

The mountaineer, and staring round is dumb,

When rough and rustic to the town he goes, Than every shade became in its appearance ;

But when they of their stupor were disburdened,

Which in high hearts is quickly quieted, “ Blessed be thou, who of our border-lands."

He recommenced who first had questioned us,

“Experience freightest for a better life. The folk that comes not with us have offended

In that for which once Cæsar, triumphing,

Heard himself called in contumely, Queen.' Therefore they separate, exclaiming, 'Sodom!'

Themselves reproving, even as thou hast heard,

And add unto their burning by their shame. Our own transgression was hermaphrodite ;

But because we observed not human law,

Following like unto beasts our appetite, In our opprobrium by us is read,

When we part company, the name of her

Who bestialized herself in bestial wood.
Now knowest thou our acts, and what our crime was;

Wouldst thou perchance by name know who we are,

There is not time to tell, nor could I do it. Thy wish to know me shall in sooth be granted ;

I'm Guido Guinicelli, and now purge me,

Having repented ere the hour extreme.”
The same that in the sadness of Lycurgus

Two sons became, their mother re-beholding,
Such I became, but rise not to such height,

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

The moment I heard name himself the father

Of me and of my betters, who had ever

Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of love ; And without speech and hearing thoughtfully

For a long time I went, beholding him,

Nor for the fire did I approach him nearer. When I was fed with looking, utterly

Myself I offered ready for his service,

With affirmation that compels belief.
And he to me: Thou leavest footprints such

In me, from what I hear, and so distinct,

Lethe cannot efface them, nor make dim. But if thy words just now the truth have sworn,

Tell me what is the cause why thou displayest

In word and look that dear thou holdest me?"
And I to him: “Those dulcet lays of yours

Which, long as shall endure our modern fashion,
Shall make for ever dear their

very

ink!” “O brother," said he," he whom I point out,

And here he pointed at a spirit in front,

“Was of the mother tongue a better smith. Verses of love and proses of romance,

He mastered all ; and let the idiots talk,

Who think the Lemosin surpasses him.
To clamour more than truth they turn their faces,

And in this way establish their opinion,

Ere art or reason has by them been heard.
Thus
many

ancients with Guittone did,
From cry to cry still giving him applause,

Until the truth has conquered with most persons.
Now, if thou hast such ample privilege

'Tis granted thee to go unto the cloister

Wherein is Christ the abbot of the college, To him repeat for me a Paternoster,

So far as needful to us of this world,

Where power of sinning is no longer ours." Then, to give place perchance to one behind,

Whom he had near, he vanished in the fire

As fish in water going to the bottom. I moved a little tow'rds him pointed out,

And said that to his name my own desire

An honourable place was making ready.
He of his own free will began to say:

Tan m' abellis vostre cortes deman,
Que jeu nom' puesc ni vueill a vos cobrire;

125

730

133

140

« PreviousContinue »