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CANTO VIII

ARGUMENT.-Two Angels, with flaming swords broken at the points, descend to keep watch over the valley, into which Virgil and Dante entering by desire of Sordello, our Poet meets with joy the spirit of Nino, the judge of Gallura, one who was well known to him. Meantime three exceedingly bright stars appear near the pole, and a serpent creeps subtly into the valley, but flees at hearing the approach of those angelic guards. Lastly, Conrad Malaspina predicts to our Poet his future banishment.

N OW was the hour that wakens fond desire
In men at sea, and melts their thoughtful heart
Who in the morn have bid sweet friends farewell,
And pilgrim newly on his road with love
Thrills, if he hear the vesper bell from far,
That seems to mourn for the expiring day:
When I, no longer taking heed to hear,
Began, with wonder, from those spirits to mark
One risen from its seat, which with its hand
Audience implored. Both palms it join’d and raised,
Fixing its stedfast gaze toward the east,
As telling God, “I care for naught beside.”
“Te Lucis Ante,” so devoutly then
Came from its lip, and in so soft a strain,
That all my sense in ravishment was lost.
And the rest after, softly and devout,
Follow'd through all the hymn, with upward gaze
Directed to the bright supernal wheels.
Here, reader for the truth make thine eyes keen:
For of so subtle texture is this veil,
That thou with ease mayst pass it through unmark'd.
I saw that gentle band silently next
Look up, as if in expectation held,
Pale and in lowly guise; and, from on high,
I saw, forth issuing descend beneath,
Two Angels, with two flame-illumined swords,
Broken and mutilated of their points.
Green as the tender leaves but newly born,

+ Te lucis ante terminum,” the part of the sacred office, termed first verse of the hymn in the last ‘complin.”

Their vesture was, the which, by wings as green
Beaten, they drew behind them, fann'd in air.
A little over us one took his stand;
The other lighted on the opposing hill;
So that the troop were in the midst contain'd.

Well I descried the whiteness on their heads;
But in their visages the dazzled eye
Was lost, as faculty that by too much
Is overpower'd. “From Mary's bosom both
Are come,” exclaim'd Sordello, “as a guard
Over the vale, 'gainst him, who hither tends,
The serpent.” Whence, not knowing by which path
He came, I turn'd me round; and closely press'd,
All frozen, to my leader's trusted side.

Sordello paused not: “To the valley now (For it is time) let us descend; and hold Converse with those great shadows: haply much Their sight may please ye.” Only three steps

down Methinks I measured, ere I was beneath, And noted one who look'd as with desire To know me. Time was now that air grew dim; Yet not so dim, that, 'twixt his eyes and mine, It clear'd not up what was conceal'd before. Mutually toward each other we advanced. Nino, thou courteous judge !what joy I felt, When I perceived thou wert not with the bad.

No salutation kind on either part Was left unsaid. He then inquired: “How long, Since thou arrived'st at the mountain's foot, Over the distant waves ? "_" Oh!” answer'd I, “ Through the sad seats of woe this morn I came; And still in my first life, thus journeying on, The other strive to gain.” Soon as they heard My words, he and Sordello backward drew, As suddenly amazed. To Virgil one, The other to a spirit turn'd, who near Was seated, crying: “Conrad !' up with speed :

Nino di Gallura de' Visconti, nephew to Count Ugolino de' Ghe. rardeschi, and betrayed by him.

* Father to Marcello Malaspina.

Come, see what of His grace high God hath will’d.”
Then turning round to me: “By that rare mark
Of honour, which thou owest to Him, who hides
So deeply His first cause it hath no ford;
When thou shalt be beyond the vast of waves,
Tell my Giovanna,' that for me she call
There, where reply to innocence is made.
Her mother, I believe, loves me no more;
Since she has changed the white and wimpled folds,
Which she is doom'd once more with grief to wish.
By her it easily may be perceived,
How long in woman lasts the flame of love,
If sight and touch do not relume it oft.
For her so fair a burial will not make
The viper,” which calls Milan to the field,
As had been made by shrill Gallura's bird.":

He spoke, and in his visage took the stamp
Of that right zeal, which with due temperature
Glows in the bosom. My insatiate eyes
Meanwhile to Heaven had travel'd, even there :
Where the bright stars are slowest, as a wheel
Nearest the axle; when my guide inquired:
“What there aloft, my son, has caught thy gaze?”

I answer'd: “The three torches, with which here
The pole is all on fire.” He then to me:
“ The four resplendent stars, thou saw'st this morn,
Are there beneath; and these, risen in their stead.”

While yet he spoke, Sordello to himself
Drew him, and cried: “Lo there our enemy!”
And with his hand pointed that way to look.

Along the side, where barrier none arose
Around the little vale, a serpent lay,

The daughter of Nino, and wife of Riccardo da Camino, of Trevigi.

6" Her mother.” Beatrice, Mar. chioness of Este, wife of Nino, and after his death married to Galeazzo de' Visconti of Milan.

6 The weeds of widowhood.

? The arms of Galeazzo and the ensign of the Milanese.

8 The cock was the ensign of Gallura, Nino's province in Sardinia. A

certain shame appears to have been attached to a second marriage.

9 The three evangelical virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, are supposed to rise in the evening, to de. note their belonging to the contem. plative; as the four others are made to rise in the morning to signify their belonging to the active life: or perhaps it may mark the succes. sion, in order of time, of the Gospel to the heathen system of morality.

Such haply as gave Eve the bitter food.
Between the grass and flowers, the evil snake
Came on, reverting oft his lifted head;
And, as a beast that smooths its polish'd coat,
Licking his back. I saw not, nor can tell,
How those celestial falcons from their seat
Moved, but in motion each one well descried.
Hearing the air cut by their verdant plumes,
The serpent fled; and, to their stations, back
The Angels up return'd with equal flight.

The spirit, (who to Nino, when he callid,
Had come,) from viewing me with fixed ken,
Through all that conflict, loosen'd not his sight.

“So may the lamp, which leads thee up on high, Find, in thy free resolve, of wax so much, As may suffice thee to the enamel'd height," It thus began: “If any certain news Of Valdimagra and the neighbour part Thou know'st, tell me, who once was mighty there. They call’d me Conrad Malaspina; not That old one, but from him I sprang. The love I bore my people is now here refined.”

"In your domains," I answer'd, “ne'er was I. But, through all Europe, where do those men dwell, To whom their glory is not manifest? The fame, that honours your illustrious house, Proclaims the nobles, and proclaims the land; So that he knows it, who was never there. I swear to you, so may my upward route Prosper, your honoured nation not impairs The value of her coffer and her sword. Nature and use give her such privilege, That while the world is twisted from his course By a bad head, she only walks aright, And has the evil way in scorn.” He then: “Now pass thee on: seven times the tired sun 10

10 “ The sun shall not enter into the constellation of Aries seven times more, before thou shalt have still better cause for the good opinion thou expressest of Valdimagra,

in the kind reception thou shalt there meet with.” Dante was hospitably received by the Marchese Marcello, or Morello Malaspina, during his banishment, A. D. 1307.

Revisits not the couch, which with four feet
The forked Aries covers, ere that kind
Opinion shall be nail'd into thy brain
With stronger nails than other's speech can drive;
If the sure course of judgment be not stay'd.”

CANTO IX

ARGUMENT.-Dante is carried up the mountain, asleep and dreaming, by Lucia; and, on awakening, finds himself, two hours after sunrise, with Virgil, near the gate of Purgatory, through which they are admitted by the Angel deputed by St. Peter to keep it.

TOW the fair consort of Tithonus old,

Arisen from her mate's beloved arms,

Look'd palely o'er the eastern cliff; her brow, Lucent with jewels, glitter'd, set in sign Of that chill animal, who with his train Smites fearful nations: and where then we were, Two steps of her ascent the night had past; And now the third was closing up its wing, When I, who had so much of Adam with me, Sank down upon the grass, o'ercome with sleep, There where all five were seated. In that hour, When near the dawn the swallow her sad lay, Remembering haply ancient grief, renews; And when our minds, more wanderers from the flesh, And less by thought restrain'd, are, as 't were, full Of holy divination in their dreams; Then, in a vision, did I seem to view A golden-feather'd eagle in the sky, With open wings, and hovering for descent; And I was in that place, methought, from whence

1“ Of that chill animal.” The scorpion

the third watch was drawing to ward its close, which would stil leave an insurmountable difficulty i. the first verse.

3* The third was closing up its wing.” The night being divided into four watches, I think he may mean that the third was past, and the fourth and last was begun, so that there might be some faint glimmer. ing of morning twilight; and not merely, as Lombardi supposes, that

3“ All five.” Virgil, Dante, Sor. dello, Nino, and Corrado Malaspina.

4" Remembering haply ancient grief." Progne having been changed into a swallow after the outrage done her by Tereus.

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