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E’en while awaiting, I was thine own root !

Such a beginning he in answer made me. Then said to me:.«. That one from whom is named

Thy race, and who a hundred years and more

Has circled round the mount on the first cornice, A son of mine and thy great-grandsire was;

Well it behoves thee that the long fatigue

Thou shouldst for him make shorter with thy works. Florence, within the ancient boundary

From which she taketh still her tierce and nones,

Abode in quiet, temperate and chaste. No golden chain she had, nor coronal,

Nor ladies shod with sandal shoon, nor girdle

That caught the eye more than the person did. Not yet the daughter at her birth struck fear

Into the father, for the time and dower

Did not o'errun this side or that the measure. No houses had she void of families,

Not yet had thither come Sardanapalus

To show what in a chamber can be done; Not yet surpassed had Montemalo been

By your Uccellatojo, which surpassed

Shall in its downfall be as in its rise. Bellincion Berti saw I go begirt

With leather and with bone, and from the mirror

His dame depart without a painted face; And him of Nerli saw, and him of Vecchio,

Contented with their simple suits of buff,

And with the spindle and the fax their dames.
O fortunate women! and each one was certain

Of her own burial-place, and none as yet
For sake of France was in her bed deserted.

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One o'er the cradle kept her studious watch,

And in her lullaby the language used

That first delights the fathers and the mothers; Another, drawing tresses from her distaff,

Told o'er among her family the tales

Of Trojans and of Fesole and Rome. As

great a marvel then would have been held A Lapo Salterello, a Cianghella,

As Cincinnatus or Cornelia now. To such a quiet, such a beautiful

Life of the citizen, to such a safe

Community, and to so sweet an inn,
Did Mary give me, with loud cries invoked,

And in your ancient Baptistery at once

Christian and Cacciaguida I became. Moronto was my brother, and Eliseo;

From Val di Pado came to me my wife,

And from that place thy surname was derived. I followed afterward the Emperor Conrad,

And he begirt me of his chivalry,

So much I pleased him with my noble deeds. I followed in his train against that law's

Iniquity, whose people doth usurp

Your just possession, through your Pastor's fault. There by that execrable race was I

Released from bonds of the fallacious world,

The love of which defileth many souls, And came from martyrdom unto this peace.

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CANTO XVI

5

IO

O Thou our poor nobility of blood,

If thou dost make the people glory in thee

Down here where our affection languisheth, A marvellous thing it ne'er will be to me;

For there where appetite is not perverted,

I say in Heaven, of thee I made a boast ! Truly thou art a cloak that quickly shortens,

So that unless we piece thee day by day

Time goeth round about thee with his shears ! With You, which Rome was first to tolerate

(Wherein her family less perseveres),

Yet once again my words beginning made; Whence Beatrice, who stood somewhat apart,

Smiling, appeared like unto her who coughed

At the first failing writ of Guenever. And I began : “ You are my ancestor,

You give to me all hardihood to speak,

You lift me so that I am more than I. So many rivulets with gladness fill

My mind, that of itself it makes a joy

Because it can endure this and not burst. Then tell me, my beloved root ancestral,

Who were your ancestors, and what the years

That in your boyhood chronicled themselves ?
Tell me about the sheepfold of Saint John,

How large it was, and who the people were
Within it worthy of the highest seats.”

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As at the blowing of the winds a coal

Quickens to flame, so I beheld that light

Become resplendent at my blandishments. And as unto mine

eyes

it

grew more fair, With voice more sweet and tender, but not in

This modern dialect, it said to me: “ From uttering of the Ave, till the birth

In which my mother, who is now a saint,

Of me was lightened who had been her burden, Unto its Lion had this fire returned

Five hundred fifty times and thirty more,

To reinfame irself beneath his paw. My ancestors and I our birthplace had

Where first is found the last ward of the city

By him who runneth in your annual game. Suffice it of my elders to hear this;

But who they were, and whence they thither came,

Silence is more considerate than speech.
All those who at that time were there between

Mars and the Baptist, fit for bearing arms,

Were a fifth part of those who now are living ; But the community, that now is mixed

With Campi and Certaldo and Figghine,

Pure in the lowest artisan was seen.
Oh how much better 't were to have as neighbors

The folk of whom I speak, and at Galluzzo

And at Trespiano have your boundary,
Than have them in the town, and bear the stench

Of Aguglione's churl, and him of Signa

Who hath sharp eyes for trickery already. Had not the folk, which most of all the world

Line 57. Who has sharp eyes for trickery already.

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Degenerates, been a step-dame unto Cæsar,

But as a mother to her son benignant,
Some who turn Florentines, and trade and discount,

Would have gone back again to Simifonte
There where their grandsires went about as beg-

gars.
At Montemurlo still would be the Counts,

The Cerchi in the parish of Acone,

Perhaps in Valdigrieve the Buondelmonti. Ever the intermingling of the people

Has been the source of malady in cities,

As in the body food it surfeits on;
And a blind bull more headlong plunges down

Than a blind lamb; and very often cuts

Better and more a single sword than five. If Luni thou regard, and Urbisaglia,

How they have passed away, and how are passing

Chiusi and Sinigaglia after them,
To hear how races waste themselves away,

Will seem to thee no novel thing nor hard,

Seeing that even cities have an end. All things of yours have their mortality,

Even as yourselves; but it is hidden in some

That a long while endure, and lives are short; And as the turning of the lunar heaven

Covers and bares the shores without a pause,

In the like manner fortune doth with Florence. Therefore should not appear a marvellous thing What I shall

say

of the great Florentines
Of whom the fame is hidden in the Past.
I saw the Ughi, saw the Catellini,
Line 84. In the like manner fortune does with Florence.

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