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PURGATORIO.

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PURGATORIO.

CANTO I.

IC

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 breas. 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When from regarding them I had withdrawn,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,

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I saw beside me an old man alone,

Worthy of so much reverence in his look,

That more owes not to father any son.
A long beard and with white hair intermingled

He wore, in semblance like unto the tresses,

Of which a double list fell on his breast. The rays of the four consecrated stars

Did so adorn his countenance with light,

That him I saw as were the sun before him. “ Who are you? ye who, counter the blind river,

Have fled away from the eternal prison?”

Moving those venerable plumes, he said : " Who guided you? or who has been your lamp

In issuing forth out of the night profound,

That ever black makes the infernal valley ? The laws of the abyss, are they thus broken?

Or is there changed in heaven some council new,

That being damned ye come unto my crags?” Then did my Leader lay his grasp upon me,

And with his words, and with his hands and signs,

Reverent be made in me my knees and brow; Then answered him : “I came not of myself ;

A Lady from Heaven descended, at whose prayers

I aided this one with my company. But since it is thy will more be unfolded

Of our condition, how it truly is,

Mine cannot be that this should be denied thee. This one has never his last evening seen,

But by his folly was so near to it

That very little time was there to turn. As I have said, I unto him was sent

To rescue him, and other way was none

Than this to which I have myself betaken. I've shown him all the people of perdition,

And now those spirits I intend to show

Who purge themselves beneath thy guardianship How I have brought him would be long to tell thee.

Virtue descendeth from on high that aids me

To lead him to behold thee and to hear thee. Now may it please thee to vouchsafe his coming ;

He seeketh Liberty, which is so dear,

As knoweth he who life for her refuses.
Thou know'st it ; since, for her, to thee not bitter

Was death in Utica, where thou didst leave
The vesture, that will shine so, the great day.

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