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PURGATOK. with gerne May Sololata

CANTO XXVII

PURGATORY

257

The escorting spirits turn'd with gentle looks
Toward me; and the Mantuan spake: “My son,
Here torment thou mayst feel, but canst not death.
Remember thee, remember thee, if I
Safe e'en on Geryon brought thee; now I come
More near to God, wilt thou not trust me now?
Of this be sure; though in its womb that flame
A thousand years contain'd thee, from thy head
No hair should perish. If thou doubt my truth,
Approach; and with thy hand thy vesture's hem
Stretch forth, and for thyself confirm belief.
Lay now all fear, oh! lay all fear aside.
Turn hither, and come onward undismay'd.”

I still, though conscience urged, no step advanced.

When still he saw me fix'd and obstinate,
Somewhat disturbid he cried: “Mark now, my son,
From Beatrice thou art by this wall
Divided.” As at Thisbe's name the eye
Of Pyramus was open'd, (when life ebb'd
Fast from his veins,) and took one parting glance,
While vermeil dyed the mulberry; thus I turn'd
To my sage guide, relenting, when I heard
The name that springs for ever in my breast.

He shook his forehead; and, “How long," he said,
“ Linger we now?” then smiled, as one would smile
Upon a child that eyes the fruit and yields.
Into the fire before me then he walk'd;
And Statius, who erewhile no little space
Had parted us, he pray'd to come behind.

I would have cast me into molten glass
To cool me, when I enter'd; so intense
Raged the conflagrant mass. The sire beloved,
To comfort me, as he proceeded, still
Of Beatrice talk'd. “Her eyes," saith he,
“E'en now I seem to view." From the other side
A voice, that sang, did guide us; and the voice
Following, with heedful ear, we issued forth,
There where the path led upward. “ Come,"we heard,
Come, blessed of my Father.” Such the sounds,

3" Come.”—Matt. xxv. 34.

I-VOL. XX

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That hail'd us from within a light, which shone
So radiant, I could not endure the view.
The sun,” it added, “hastes: and evening comes.
Delay not: ere the western sky is hung
With blackness, strive ye for the pass.” Our way
Upright within the rock arose, and faced
Such part of heaven, that from before my steps
The beams were shrouded of the sinking sun.

Nor many stairs were overpast, when now
By fading of the shadow we perceived
The sun behind us couch'd; and ere one face
Of darkness o'er its measureless expanse
Involved the horizon, and the night her lot
Held individual, each of us had made
A stair his pallet; not that will, but power,
Had fail'd us, by the nature of that mount
Forbidden further travel. As the goats,
That late have skipt and wanton'd rapidly
Upon the craggy cliffs, ere they had ta'en
Their supper on the herb, now silent lie
And ruminate beneath the umbrage brown,
While noon-day rages; and the goatherd leans
Upon his staff, and leaning watches them:
And as the swain, that lodges out all night
In quiet by his flock, lest beast of prey
Disperse them: even so all three abode,
I as a goat, and as the shepherds they,
Close pent on either side by shelving rock.

A little glimpse of sky was seen above;
Yet by that little I beheld the stars,
In magnitude and lustre shining forth
With more than wonted glory. As I lay,
Gazing on them, and in that fit of musing
Sleep overcame me, sleep, that bringeth oft
Tidings of future hap. About the hour,
As I believe, when Venus from the east
First lighten'd on the mountain, she whose orb
Seems always glowing with the fire of love,
A lady young and beautiful, I dream'd,
Was passing o'er a lea; and, as she came,

Methought I saw her ever and anon Bending to cull the flowers; and thus she sang: “Know ye, whoever of my name would ask, That I am Leah:“for my brow to weave A garland, these fair hands unwearied ply. To please me at the crystal mirror, here I deck me. But my sister Rachel, she Before her glass abides the livelong day, Her radiant eyes beholding, charm'd no less, Than I with this delightful task. Her joy In contemplation, as in labour mine.” And now as glimmering dawn appear'd, that breaks More welcome to the pilgrim still, as he Sojourns less distant on his homeward way, Darkness from all sides fled, and with it fled My slumber; whence I rose, and saw my guide Already risen. “That delicious fruit, Which through so many a branch the zealous care Of mortals roams in quest of, shall this day Appease thy hunger.” Such the words I heard From Virgil's lip; and never greeting heard, So pleasant as the sounds. Within me straight Desire so grew upon desire to mount, Thenceforward at each step I felt the wings Increasing for my flight. When we had run O'er all the ladder to its topmost round, As there we stood, on me the Mantuan fix'd His eyes, and thus he spake: “Both fires, my son, The temporal and eternal, thou hast seen; And art arrived, where of itself my ken No further reaches. I, with skill and art, Thus far have drawn thee. Now thy pleasure take For guide. Thou hast o'ercome the steeper way, O'ercome the straiter. Lo! the sun, that darts His beam upon my forehead: lo! the herb, The arborets and flowers, which of itself This land pours forth profuse. Till those bright eyes" * Leah, the active life; Rachel, the his monument of Julius II in the

contemplative; Michael Angelo has church of S. Pietro in Vincolo. used these allegorical personages on * The eyes of Beatrice.

With gladness come, which, weeping, made me haste
To succour thee, thou mayst or seat thee down,
Or wander where thou wilt. Expect no more
Sanction of warning voice or sign from me,
Free of thy own arbitrement to chuse,
Discreet, judicious. To distrust thy sense
Were henceforth error. I invest thee then
With crown and mitre, sovereign o'er thyself.”

CANTO XXVIII

ARGUMENT.-Dante wanders through the forest of the terrestrial Paradise, till he is stopped by a stream, on the other side of which he beholds a fair lady, culling flowers. He speaks to her; and she, in reply, explains to him certain things touching the nature of that place, and tells that the water, which flows between them, is here called Lethe, and in another place has the name of Eunoe.

T HROUGH that celestial forest, whose thick shade

| With lively greenness the new-springing day

1 Attemper'd, eager now to roam, and search
Its limits round, forthwith I left the bank;
Along the champain leisurely my way
Pursuing, o'er the ground, that on all sides
Delicious odour breathed. A pleasant air,
That intermitted never, never veer'd,
Smote on my temples, gently, as a wind
Of softest influence: at which the sprays,
Obedient all, lean'd trembling to that part?
Where first the holy mountain casts his shade;
Yet were not so disorder'd, but that still
Upon their top the feather'd quiristers
Applied their wonted art, and with full joy
Welcomed those hours of prime, and warbled shrill
Amid the leaves, that to their jocund lays
Kept tenour; even as from branch to branch,
Along the piny forests on the shore
Of Chiassi, rolls the gathering melody,
When Eolus hath from his cavern loosed

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Admits beneath eat; yet compareigt seem

The dripping south. Already had my steps,
Though slow, so far into that ancient wood
Transported me, I could not ken the place
Where I had enter'd; when, behold! my path
Was bounded by a rill, which, to the left,
With little rippling waters bent the grass
That issued from its brink. On earth no wave
How clean soe'er, that would not seem to have
Some mixture in itself, compared with this,
Transpicuous clear; yet darkly on it rollid,
Darkly beneath perpetual gloom, which ne'er
Admits or sun or moon-light there to shine.

My feet advanced not; but my wondering eyes
Pass'd onward, o'er the streamlet to survey
The tender May-bloom, flush'd through many a hue,
In prodigal variety: and there,
As object, rising suddenly to view,
That from our bosom every thought beside
With the rare marvel chases, I beheld
A lady' all alone, who, singing, went,
And culling flower from flower, wherewith her way
Was all o'er painted. “ Lady beautiful!
Thou, who (if looks, that use to speak the heart,
Art worthy of our trust) with love's own beam
Dost warm thee,” thus to her my speech I framed;
“Ah! please thee hither toward the streamlet bend
Thy steps so near, that I may list thy song.
Beholding thee and this fair place, methinks,
I call to mind where wander'd and how look'd
Proserpine, in that season, when her child
The mother lost, and she the bloomy spring."

As when a lady, turning in the dance,
Doth foot it featly, and advances scarce
One step before the other to the ground;
Over the yellow and vermilion flowers,
Thus turn'd she at my suit, most maiden-like
Valing her sober eyes; and came so near,

& Most of the commentators suppose that this lady, who in the last Canto is called Matilda, is the Coun tess Matilda, who endowed the Holy

See with the estates called the Patri. mony of St. Peter and died in 1915. But it seems more probable that she was some contemporary of Dante.

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