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By us the eternal edicts are not broken;

Since this one lives, and Minos binds not me;

But of that circle I, where are the chaste
Eyes of thy Marcia, who in looks still prays thee,

O holy breast, to hold her as thine own;

For her love, then, incline thyself to us. Permit us through thy sevenfold realm to go ;

I will take back this grace from thee to her,

If to be mentioned there below thou deignest." "Marcia so pleasing was unto mine eyes

While I was on the other side,” then said he,

" That every grace she wished of me I granted ; Now that she dwells beyond the evil river,

She can no longer move me, by that law

Which, when I issued forth from there, was made. But if a Lady of Heaven do move and rule thee,

As thou dost say, no flattery is needful ;

Let it suffice thee that for her thou ask me. Go, then, and see thou gird this one about

With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face,

So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom, For 'twere not fitting that the eye o'ercast

By any mist should go before the first

Angel, who is of those of Paradise. This little island round about its base

Below there, yonder, where the billow berts it,

Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze; No other plant that putteth forth the leaf,

Or that doth indurate, can there have life,

Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks. Thereafter be not this way your return;

The sun, which now is rising, will direct you

To take the mount by easier ascent.” With this he vanished; and I raised me up

Without a word, and wholly drew myself

Unto my Guide, and turned mine eyes to him And he began : “Son, follow thou my steps;

Let us turn back, for on this side declines

The plain unto its lower boundaries.” The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour

Which fled before it, so that from afar

I recognised the trembling of the sea.
Along the solitary plain we went

As one who unto the lost road returns,
And till he finds it seems to go in vain.

190

ITO

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As soon as we were come to where the dew

Fights with the sun, and, being in a part

Where shadow falls, little evaporates,
Both of his hands upon the grass outspread

In gentle manner did my Master place;

Whence I, who of his action was aware,
Extended unto him my tearful cheeks;

There did he make in me uncovered wholly

That hue which Hell had covered up in me.
Then came we down upon the desert shore

Which never yet saw navigate its waters

Any that afterward had known return.
There he begirt me as the other pleased ;

O marvellous ! for even as he culled

The humble plant, such it sprang up again
Suddenly there where he uprooted it.

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ALREADY had the sun the horizon reached

Whose circle of meridian covers o'er

Jerusalem with its most lofty point,
And night that opposite to him revolves

Was issuing forth from Ganges with the Scales

That fall from out her hand when she exceedeth;
So that the white and the vermilion cheeks

Of beautiful Aurora, where I was,

By too great age were changing into orange.
We still were on the border of the sea,

Like people who are thinking of their road,

Who go in heart, and with the body stay ;
And lo! as when, upon the approach of morning,

Through the gross vapours Mars grows fiery red

Down in the West upon the ocean floor,
Appeared to me-may I again behold it! -

A light along the sea so swiftly coming,

Its motion by no flight of wing is equalled;
From which when I a little had withdrawn

Mine eyes, that I might question my Conducior,

Again I saw it brighter grown and larger.
Tl.en on each side of it appeared to me

I knew not what of white, and underneath it
Little by little there came forth another.

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My Master yet had uttered not a word

While the first whiteness into wings unfolded ;

But when he clearly recognised the pilot,
He cried : “Make haste, make haste to bow the knee !

Behold the Angel of God! fold thou thy hands !

Henceforward shalt thou see such officers ! See how he scorneth human arguments,

So that nor oar he wants, nor other sail

Than his own wings, between so distant shores. See how he holds them pointed up to heaven,

Fanning the air with the eternal pinions,

That do not moult themselves like mortal hair!” Then as still nearer and more near us came

The Bird Divine, more radiant he appeared,

So that near by the eye could not endure him, But down I cast it; and he came to shore

With a small vessel, very swift and light,

So that the water swallowed naught thereof. Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot;

Beatitude seemed written in his face,

And more than a hundred spirits sat within. In exitu Israel de Ægypto !"

They chanted all together in one voice,

With whatso in that psalm is after written. Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,

Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,

And he departed swiftly as he came.
The throng which still remained there unfamiliar

Seemed with the place, all round about them gazing,

As one who in new matters makes essay. On every side was darting forth the day

The sun, who had with his resplendent shafts

From the mid-heaven chased forth the Capricorn, When the new people lifted up their faces

Towards us, saying to us: “If ye know,

Show us the way to go unto the mountain.” And answer made Virgilius : “ Ye believe

Perchance that we have knowledge of this place,

But we are strangers even as yourselves. Just now we came, a little while before you,

Another way, which was so rough and steep,

That mounting will henceforth seem sport to us.”
The souls who had, from seeing me draw breath,

Become aware that I was still alive,
Pallid in their astonishment became;

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And as to messenger who bears the olive

The people throng to listen to the news,

And no one shows himself afraid of crowding,
So at the sight of me stood motionless

Those fortunate spirits, all of them, as if

Oblivious to go and make them fair.
One from among them saw I coming forward,

As to embrace me, with such great affection,

That it incited me to do the like.
O empty shadows, save in aspect only!

Three times behind it did I clasp my hands,

As oft returned with them to my own breast !
I think with wonder I depicted me;

Whereat the shadow smiled and backward drew;

And I, pursuing it, pressed farther forward.
Gently it said that I should stay my steps;

Then knew I who it was, and I entreated

That it would stop awhile to speak with me. made reply to me: “ Even as I loved thee

In mortal body, so I love thee free;

Therefore I stop; but wherefore goest thou ?" "My own Casella ! to return once more

There where I am, I make this journey,” said I;

“ But how from thee has so much time be taken ? " And he to me: “No outrage has been done me,

If he who takes both when and whom he pleases

Has many times denied to me this passage,
For of a righteous will his own is made.

He, sooth to say, for three months past has taken

Whoever wished to enter with all peace;
Whence I, who now had turned unto that shore

Where salt the waters of the Tiber grow,

Benignantly by him have been received.
Unto that outlet now his wing is pointed,

Because for evermore assemble there

Those who tow'rds Acheron do not descend."
And I: “If some new law take not from thee

Memory or practice of the song of love,

Which used to quiet in me all my longings,
Thee may it please to comfort therewithal

Somewhat this soul of mine, that with its body

Hitherward coming is so much distressed."
Love, that within my mind discourses with me,"

Forthwith began he so melodiously,
The melody within me still is sounding.

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My Master, and myself, and all that people

Which with him were, appeared as satisfied

As if naught else might touch the mind of any. We all of us were moveless and attentive

Unto his notes; and lo! the grave old man,

Exclaiming : “What is this, ye laggard spirits? What negligence, what standing still is this?

Run to the mountain to strip off the slough,

That lets not God be manifest to you." Even as when, collecting grain or tares,

The doves, together at their pasture met,

Quiet, nor showing their accustomed pride, If aught appear of which they are afraid,

Upon a sudden leave their food alone,

Because they are assailed by greater care ; So that fresh company did I behold

The song relinquish, and go tow'rds the hill,

As one who goes, and knows not whitherward; Nor was our own departure less in haste.

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CANTO III.

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INASMUCH as the instantaneous flight

Had scattered them asunder o'er the plain,

Turned to the mountain whither reason spurs us, I pressed me close unto my faithful comrade,

And how without him had I kept my course ?

Who would have led me up along the mountain ? He seemed to me within himself remorseful ;

O noble conscience, and without a stain,

How sharp a sting is trivial fault to thee ! After his feet had laid aside the haste

Which mars the dignity of every act,

My mind, that hitherto had been restrained, Let loose its faculties as if delighted,

And I my sight directed to the hill

That highest tow'rds the heaven uplifts itself. The sun, that in our rear was flaming red,

Was broken in front of me into the figure

Which had in me the stoppage of its rays ;
Unto one side I turned me, with the fear

Of being left alone, when I beheld
Only in front of me the ground obscured.

221

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