Page images
PDF

That name ne'er utter'd without tears in Milan.
And there is he, hath one foot in his grave,
Who for that monastery ere long shall weep,
Ruing his power misused: for that his son,
Of body ill compact, and worse in mind,
And born in evil, he hath set in place
Of its true pastor.” Whether more he spake,
Or here was mute, I know not: he had sped
E'en now so far beyond us. Yet thus much
I heard, and in remembrance treasured it.

He then, who never fail'd me at my need,
Cried, “ Hither turn. Lo! two with sharp remorse
Chiding their sin.” In rear of all the troop
These shouted: “First they died,1° to whom the sea
Open'd, or ever Jordan saw his heirs:
And they," who with Æneas to the end
Endured not suffering, for their portion chose
Life without glory.” Soon as they had fled
Past reach of sight, new thought within me rose
By others follow'd fast, and each unlike
Its fellow: till led on from thought to thought,
And pleasured with the fleeting train, mine eye
Was closed, and meditation changed to dream.

CANTO XIX ARGUMENT.-The Poet, after describing his dream, relates how, at the summoning of an Angel, he ascends with Virgil to the fifth cornice, where the sin of avarice is cleansed, and where he finds Pope Adrian V. IT was the hour, when of diurnal heat

No reliques chafe the cold beams of the moon,

O’erpower'd by earth, or planetary sway Of Saturn; and the geomancer' sees “There is he.” Alberto della 11" And they." Those Trojans, Scala, Lord of Verona, who had who, wearied with their voyage, made his natural son Abbot of San chose rather to remain in Sicily with

Acestes than accompany Æneas to 20 " First they died.” The Israel. Italy. ites, who on account of their dis 17. The hour." Near the dawn. obedience died before reaching the 3“ The geomancer." The geopromised land.

mancers, when they divined, drew

Zeno.

His Greater Fortune up the east ascend,
Where gray dawn checkers first the shadowy cone;
When, 'fore me in my dream, a woman's shape 8
There came, with lips that stammer'd, eyes aslant,
Distorted feet, hands maim'd, and colour pale.

I look'd upon her; and, as sunshine cheers
Limbs numb'd by nightly cold, e'en thus my look
Unloosed her tongue; next, in brief space, her form
Decrepit raised erect, and faded face
With love's own hue illumed. Recovering speech,
She forthwith, warbling, such a strain began,
That I, how loth soe'er, could scarce have held
Attention from the song. “I,” thus she sang,
“I am the Syren, she, whom mariners
On the wide sea are wilder'd when they hear;
Such fulness of delight the listener feels.
I, from his course, Ulysses“ by my lay
Enchanted drew. Whoe'er frequents me once,
Parts seldom: so I charm him, and his heart
Contented knows no void.” Or ere her mouth
Was closed, to shame her, at my side appear'd
A dame of semblance holy. With stern voice
She utter'd: “Say, O Virgil! who is this?”
Which hearing, he approach'd, with eyes still bent
Toward that goodly presence: the other seized her,
And, her robes tearing, open'd her before,
And show'd the belly to me, whence a smell,
Exhaling loathsome, waked me. Round I turn'd
Mine eyes: and thus the teacher: “At the least
Three times my voice hath call'd thee. Rise, begone.
Let us the opening find where thou mayst pass."

I straightway rose. Now day, pour'd down from high,

a figure consisting of sixteen marks, named from so many stars which constitute the end of Aquarius and the beginning of Pisces. One of these they called "the greater fortune.”

8"A woman's shape.” Worldly happiness. This allegory reminds us of the “ Choice of Hercules."

“Ulysses.” It is not easy to determine why Ulysses, contrary to

the authority of Homer, is said to have been drawn aside from his course by the song of the Siren. No improbable way of accounting for the contradiction is, to suppose that she is here represented as purposely deviating from the truth. Or Dante may have followed some leg. end of the Middle Ages.

6" A dame." Philosophy, or per. haps Truth.

Fill'd all the circuits of the sacred mount;
And, as we journey'd, on our shoulder smote
The early ray. I follow'd, stooping low
My forehead, as a man, o'ercharged with thought,
Who bends him to the likeness of an arch
That midway spans the flood; when thus I heard,
“ Come, enter here,” in tone so soft and mild,
As never met the ear on mortal strand.

With swan-like wings dispred and pointing up,
Who thus had spoken marshal'd us along,
Where, each side of the solid masonry,
The sloping walls retired; then moved his plumes,
And fanning us, affirm'd that those, who mourn,
Are blessed, for that comfort shall be theirs.

“What aileth thee, that still thou look'st to earth?” Began my leader; while the angelic shape A little over us his station took.

“New vision," I replied, “hath raised in me Surmisings strange and anxious doubts, whereon My soul intent allows no other thought Or room, or entrance.”—“Hast thou seen," said he, “That old enchantress, her, whose wiles alone The spirits o'er us weep for? Hast thou seen How man may free him of her bonds ? Enough. Let thy heels spurn the earth; and thy raised ken Fix on the lure, which Heaven's eternal King Whirls in the rolling spheres." As on his feet The falcon first looks down, then to the sky Turns, and forth stretches eager for the food, That wooes him thither; so the call I heard: So onward, far as the dividing rock Gave way, I journey'd, till the plain was reach'd.

On the fifth circle when I stood at large, A race appear'd before me, on the ground All downward lying prone and weeping sore. “My soul hath cleaved to the dust," I heard With sighs so deep, they well nigh choked the words.

"O ye elect of God! whose penal woes

8" Who mourn.” “ Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be

comforted.”—Matt. v. 4

Both hope and justice mitigate, direct
Towards the steep rising our uncertain way.

“If ye approach secure from this our doom, Prostration, and would urge your course with speed, See that ye still to rightward keep the brink.”

So them the bard besought; and such the words, Beyond us some short space, in answer came.

I noted what remain'd yet hidden from them:' Thence to my liege's eyes mine eyes I bent, And he, forthwith interpreting their suit, Beckon'd his glad assent. Free then to act As pleased me, I drew near, and took my stand Over that shade whose words I late had mark'd. And, "Spirit !” I said, " in whom repentant tears Mature that blessed hour when thou with God Shalt find acceptance, for a while suspend For me that mightier care. Say who thou wast; Why thus ye grovel on your bellies prone; And if, in aught, ye wish my service there, Whence living I am come.” He answering spake: The cause why Heaven our back towards his cope Reverses, shalt thou know: but me know first, The successor of Peter, and the name And title of my lineage, from that stream That 'twixt Chiaveri and Siestri draws His limpid waters through the lowly glen. A month and little more by proof I learnt, With what a weight that robe of sovereignty Upon his shoulder rests, who from the mire Would guard it; that each other fardel seems But feathers in the balance. Late, alas! Was my conversion : but, when I became Rome's pastor, I discerned at once the dream And cozenage of life; saw that the heart Rested not there, and yet no prouder height

?" I noted what remain'd yet hid Counts of Lavagno, died thirty-nine den from them.” They were ig days after he became Pope, with the norant, it appeared, whether Dante title of Adrian V, in 1276. was come there to be purged of his O" That stream.” The river Lasins.

vagno, in the Genoese territory; to " The successor of Peter." Ot. the east of which_territory are sittobuono, of the family of Fieschi, uated Siestri and Chiaveri. 8-VOL. XX

HC 10 “ A kinswoman.” Alagia is said to have been the wife of the Mar chese Marcello Malaspina, one of

Lured on the climber: whereof, of that life
No more enamor'd, in my bosom love
Of purer being kindled. For till then
I was a soul in misery, alienate
From God, and covetous of all earthly things;
Now, as thou seest, here punish'd for my doting.
Such cleansing from the taint of avarice,
Do spirits, converted, need. This mount inflicts
No direr penalty. E'en as our eyes
Fasten'd below, nor e'er to loftier clime
Were lifted; thus hath justice level'd us,
Here on the earth. As avarice quench'd our love
Of good, without which is no working; thus
Here justice holds us prison'd, hand and foot
Chain'd down and bound, while Heaven's just Lord shall

please,
So long to tarry, motionless, outstretch'd.”

My knees I stoop'd, and would have spoke; but he, Ere my beginning, by his ear perceived I did him reverence; and “What cause," said he, “Hath bow'd thee thus ? ”-“Compunction," I rejoin'd, “And inward awe of your high dignity.”

“Up,” he exclaim'd, “ brother! upon thy feet
Arise; err not: thy fellow-servant I,
(Thine and all others') of one Sovran Power.
If thou hast ever mark'd those holy sounds
Of gospel truth, 'nor shall be given in marriage,'
Thou mayst discern the reasons of my speech.
Go thy ways now; and linger here no more.
Thy tarrying is a let unto the tears,
With which I hasten that whereof thou spakest.
I have on earth a kinswoman; 10 her name
Alagia, worthy in herself, so ill
Example of our house corrupt her not:
And she is all remaineth of me there."

the Poet's protectors during his ex ile. See Canto viii. 133.

« PreviousContinue »