Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

Tarned 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 up mine eyes 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 sice 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,

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

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 chasra 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 inounted up, he first and I the second,

Till I beheld through a round aperture

Some of the beauteous things that Heaven dɔth bear, Therce we came forth to rebehold the stars



[graphic][ocr errors]



The Divine COMEDY. — The Vita parts, and each part again subdivided Nurn of Dante closes with these words : in its structure into three. The whole "After this sonnet there appeared to me number of cantos is one hundred, the a wonderful vision, in which I beheld perfect number ten multiplied into itself; things that made me propose to say no but if we count the first canto of the Inmore of this blessed one, until I shall be ferno as a Prelude, which it really is, able to treat of her more worthily. And each part will consist of thirty-three Il astain thereunto, truly I strive with all cantos, making ninety-nine in all ; and so my power, as she knoweth. So that if the favourite mystic numbers reappear. it shall be the pleasure of Him, through The three divisions of the Inferno are whom all things live, that my life con- minutely described and explained by tinue somewhat longer, I hope to say Dante in Canto XI. They are sepa. of her what never yet was said of any rated from each other by great spaces in

And then may it please Him, the infernal abyss. The sins punished who is the Sire of courtesy, that my soul in them are, — I. Incontinence. II. may depart to look upon the glory of Malice. III. Bestiality. its Lady, that is to say, of the Blessed I. INCONTINENCE: 1. The Wanton. Beatrice, who in glory gazes into the face 2. The Gluttonous. 3. The Avaricious of Him, qui est per omnia sæcula bene- I and Prodigal. 4. The Irascible and the dictus."

Sullen. In these lines we have the earliest II. Malice: 1. The Violent against glimpse of the Divine Comedy, as it their neighbour, in person or property. rose in the author's mind.

2. The Violent against themselves, in Whoever has read the Vita Nuova will person or property. 3. The Violent remember the stress which Dante lays against God, or against Nature, the upon the mystic numbers Nine and daughter of God, or against Art, the Three ; his first meeting with Beatrice daughter of Nature. at the beginning of her ninth year, and I. BESTIALITY : first subdivision : the end of his; his nine days' illness, 1. Seducers. 2. Flatterers. 3. Simoniand the thought of her death which came acs. 4. Soothsayers. 5. Barrators. 6. to him on the ninth day; her death on Hypocrites. 7. Thieves. 8. Evil coun. the ninth day of the ninth month, com- sellors. 9. Schismatics. 10. Falsifiers. puting by the Syrian method," and in Second subdivision : 1. Traitors to that year of ou

Lord " when the persect their kindredi. Traitors to their number ten was nine times completed in country. 3. Traitors to their friends. that century" which was the thirteenth. 4. Traitors to their lords and benefacMoreover, he says the number nine was tors. friendly to her, because the nine heavens The Divine Comedy is not strictly an were in conjunction at her birth ; and allegorical poem in the sense in which that she was herself the number nine, the Faerie Oucene is ; and yet it is full "that is, a miracle whose root is the of allegorical symbols and figurative Wonderful Trinity.

meanings. In a letter to Can Grande Following out this idea, we find the della Scala, Dante writes: “It is to be Divine Comedy written in terza rima, remarked, that the sense of this work or threefold rhyme, divided into three is not simple, but on the contrary one


« PreviousContinue »