Page images
[blocks in formation]

And he to me: “My writing is explicit,

And not fallacious is the hope of these,

If with sane intellect 'tis well regarded ;
For top of judgment doth not vail itself,

Because the fire of love fulfils at once

What he must satisfy who here installs him.
And there, where I affirmed that proposition,

Defect was not amended by a prayer,

Because the prayer from God was separatc.
Verily, in so deep a questioning

Do not decide, unless she tell it thee,

Who light 'twixt truth and intellect shall be.
I know not if thou understand; I speak

Of Beatrice ; her shalt thou see above,

Smiling and happy, on this mountain's top."
And I: “Good Leader, let us make more haste,

For I no longer tire me as before ;

And see, e'en now the hill a shadow casts."
“We will go forward with this day,” he answered,

“ As far as now is possible for us;

But otherwise the fact is than thou thinkest.
Ere thou art up there, thou shalt see return

Him, who now hides himself behind the hill,

So that thou dost not interrupt his rays.
But yonder there behold! a soul that stationed

All, all alone is looking hitherward ;

It will point out to us the quickest way.”
We came up unto it; O Lombard soul,

How lofty and disdainful thou didst bear thee,

And grand and slow in moving of thine eyes!
Nothing whatever did it say to us,

But let us go our way, eying us only

After the manner of a couchant lion ;
Still near to it Virgilius drew, entreating

That it would point us out the best ascent ;

And it replied not unto his demand,
But of our native land and of our life

It questioned us; and the sweet Guide began :

* Mantua,”and the shade, all in itself recluse, Rose tow'rds him from the place where first it was,

Saying: “O Mantuan, I am Sordello

Of thine own land !” and one embraced the other.
Ah! servile Italy, grief's hostelry!

A ship without a pilot in great tempest !
No Lady thou of Provinces, but brothel !


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

That noble soul was so impatient, only

At the sweet sound of his own native land,

To make its citizen glad welcome there ; And now within thee are not without war

Thy living ones, and one doth gnaw the other

Of those whom one wall and one fosse shut in ! Search, wretched one, all round about the shores

Thy seaboard, and then look within thy bosom,

If any part of thee enjoyeth peace ! What boots it, that for thee Justinian

The bridle mend, if empty be the saddle ?

Withouten this the shame would be the less. Ah! people, thou that oughtest to be devout,

And to let Cæsar sit upon the saddle,

If well thou hearest what God teacheth thee, Behold how fell this wild beast has become,

Being no longer by the spur corrected,

Since thou hast laid thy hand upon the bridle. O German Albert! who abandonest

Her that has grown recalcitrant and savage,

And oughtest to bestride her saddle-bow, May a just judgment from the stars down fall

Upon thy blood, and be it new and open,

That thy successor may have fear thereof; Because thy father and thyself have suffered,

By greed of those transalpine lands distrained,

The garden of the empire to be waste. Come and behold Montecchi and Cappelletti,

Monaldi and Fillippeschi, careless man!

Those sad already, and these doubt-depressed : Come, cruel one ! come and behold the oppression

Of thy nobility, and cure their wounds,

And thou shalt see how safe is Santafiore ! Come and behold thy Rome, that is lamenting,

Widowed, alone, and day and night exclaims,

My Cæsar, why hast thou forsaken me?" Come and behold how loving are the people ;

And if for us no pity moveth thee,

Come and be made ashamed of thy renown! And if it lawful be, O Jove Supreme !

Who upon earth for us wast crucified,

Are thy just eyes averted otherwhere?
Or preparation is 't, that, in the abyss

Of thine own counsel, for some good thou makest
From our perception utterly cut off?

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

For all the towns of Italy are full

Of tyrants, and becometh a Marcellus

Each peasant churl who plays the partisan ! My Florence! well mayst thou contented be

With this digression, which concerns thee not,

Thanks to thy people who such forethought take ! Many at heart have justice, but shoot slowly,

That unadvised they come not to the bow,

But on their very lips thy people have it ! Many refuse to bear the common burden;

But thy solicitous people answereth

Without being asked, and crieth : “I submit.” Now be thou joyful, for thou hast good reason;

Thou affluent, thou in peace, thou full of wisdom !

If I speak true, the event conceals it not. Athens and Lacedæmon, they who made

The ancient laws, and were so civilized,

Made towards living well a little sign Compared with thee, who makest such fine-spun

Provisions, that to middle of November

Reaches not what thou in October spinnest. How oft, within the time of thy remembrance,

Laws, money, offices, and usages

Hast thou remodelled, and renewed thy members ? And if thou mind thee well, and see the light,

Thou shalt behold thyself like a sick woman,

Who cannot find repose upon her down, But by her tossing wardeth off her pain.

[merged small][ocr errors]


AFTER the gracious and glad salutations

Had three and four times been reiterated,

Sordello backward drew and said, “Who are you?" “ Or ever to this mountain were directed

The souls deserving to ascend to God,

My bones were buried by Octavian. I am Virgilius ; and for no crime else

Did I lose heaven, than for not having faith ;"

In this wise then my Leader made reply.
As one who suddenly before him sees

Something whereat he marvels, who believes
And yet does not, saying, “ It is ! it is not !"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

We might indeed therewith return below,

And, wandering, walk the hill-side round about,

While the horizon holds the day imprisoned."
Thereon my Lord, as if in wonder, said:

“Do thou conduct us thither, where thou sayest

That we can take delight in tarrying."
Little had we withdrawn us from that place,

When I perceived the mount was hollowed out

In fashion as the valleys here are hollowed. “ Thitherward,” said that shade, “will we repair,

Where of itself the hill-side makes a lap,

And there for the new day will we await.” 'Twixt hill and plain there was a winding path

Which led us to the margin of that dell,

Where dies the border more than half away
Gold and fine silver, and scarlet and pearl-white,

The Indian wood resplendent and serene,

Fresh emerald the moment it is broken,
By herbage and by flowers within that hollow

Planted, each one in colour would be vanquished,

As by its greater vanquished is the less.
Nor in that place had nature painted only,

But of the sweetness of a thousand odours

Made there a mingled fragrance and unknown. Salve Regina," on the green and flowers

There seated, singing, spirits I beheld,

Which were not visible outside the valley. “Before the scanty sun now seeks his nest,"

Began the Mantuan who had led us thither,

“ Among them do not wish me to conduct you. Better from off this ledge the acts and faces

Of all of them will you discriminate,

Than in the plain below received among them,
He who sits highest, and the semblance bears

Of having what he should have done neglected,

And to the others' song moves not his lips,
Rudolph the Emperor was, who had the power

To heal the wounds that Italy have slain,

So that through others slowly she revives.
The other, who in look doth comfort him,

Governed the region where the water springs,

The Moldau bears the Elbe, and Elbe the sea.
His name was Ottocar; and in swaddling-clothes

Far better he than bearded Winceslaus
His son, who feeds in luxury and ease.

[ocr errors]

And ye.

« PreviousContinue »