« PreviousContinue »
Part shriveld from thee, than if thou hadst died
“When at his glory's topmost height,” said he,
• Provenzano Salvani, for the sake of one of his friends who was detained in captivity by Charles I of Sicily, personally supplicated the people of Siena to contribute the
ransom required by the King; and this act of self-abasement atoned for his general ambition. He fell at Vald' Elsa, where the Florentines discomfited the Sienese in June, 1269.
To tremble. More I will not say; and dark,
ARGUMENT.-Dante, being desired by Virgil to look down on the ground which they are treading, observes that it is wrought over with imagery exhibiting various instances of pride recorded in history and fable. They leave the first cornice, and are ushered to the next by an angel who points out the way.
ITH equal pace, as oxen in the yoke,
But, when he bade me quit him, and proceed,
I now my leader's track not loth pursued;
As, in memorial of the buried, drawn
With Mars, I saw, and Pallas, round their sire,
Leagued in his proud attempt on Sennaar's plain.
O Niobe 1 in what a trance of woe
How ghastly didst thou look, on thine own sword
Expiring, in Gilboa, from that hour
Had traced the shades and lines, that might have made
The living seem'd alive: with clearer view,
Low bending. Now swell out, and with stiff necks
Pass on, ye sons of Evel vale not your looks,
I noted not (so buşied was my thought) How much wę now had circled of the mount; And of his course yet more the sun had spent; When he, who with still wakeful caution went, Admonish'd: “Raise thou up thy head: for know Time is not now for slow suspense. Behold, That way, an Angel hasting toward us. Lo, When duly the sixth handmaid doth return From service on the day. Wear thou, in look And gesture, seemly grace of reverent awe; That gladly he may forward us aloft. Consider that this day ne'er dawns again."
Time's loss he had so often warn'd me 'gainst, I could not miss the scope at which he aim'd.
The goodly shape approach'd us, snowy white In vesture, and with visage casting streams Of tremulous lustre like the matin star. His arms he open'd, then his wings; and spake: “Onward! the steps, behold, are near; and now The ascent is without difficulty gain'd."
A scanty few are they, who, when they hear Such tidings, hasten. O, ye race of men ! Though born to soar, why suffer ye a wind So slight to baffle ye? He led us on Where the rock parted; here, against my front, Did beat his wings; then promised I should fare In safety on my way. As to ascend That steep, upon whose brow the chapel stands, (O'er Rubaconte, looking lordly down On the well-guided city,') up the right The impetuous rise is broken by the steps Carved in that old and simple age, when still The registry and label rested safe; Thus is the acclivity relieved, which here,
3“ The chapel stands.” The church of San Miniato in Florence, situated on a height that overlooks the Arno, where it is crossed by the bridge Rubaconte, so called from Messer Rubaconte da Mandella, of Milan, chief magistrate of Florence, by whom the bridge was founded in
1237. [The bridge is now generally known as the Ponte alle Grazie. -Ed.)
3" The well-guided city.” This is said ironically of Florence.
4 “The registry." In allusion to certain instances of fraud committed in Dante's time with respect to the public accounts and measures.
Precipitous, from the other circuit falls:
As, entering, there we turn'd, voices, in strain
Then like to one, upon whose head is placed Somewhat he deems not of, but from the becks Of others, as they pass him by; his hand Lends therefore help to assure him, searches, finds, And well performs such office as the eye Wants power to execute; so stretching forth The fingers of my right hand, did I find Six only of the letters, which his sword, Who bare the keys, had traced upon my brow. The leader, as he mark'd mine action, smiled.
5“ Blessed.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matth. v. 3.
8 * Sin's broad characters.” Of the seven P's, that denoted the same number of sins (Peccata) whereof
he was to be cleansed (see Canto ix. 100), the first had now vanished in consequence of his having passed the place where the sin of pride, the chief of them, was expiated.