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By us the eternal edicts are not broken;
Since this one lives, and Minos binds not me;
But of that circle I, where are the chaste
O holy breast, to hold her as thine own;
For her love, then, incline thyself to us. Permit us through thy sevenfold realm to go ;
I will take back this grace from thee to her,
If to be mentioned there below thou deignest." "Marcia so pleasing was unto mine eyes
While I was on the other side,” then said he,
" That every grace she wished of me I granted ; Now that she dwells beyond the evil river,
She can no longer move me, by that law
Which, when I issued forth from there, was made. But if a Lady of Heaven do move and rule thee,
As thou dost say, no flattery is needful ;
Let it suffice thee that for her thou ask me. Go, then, and see thou gird this one about
With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face,
So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom, For 'twere not fitting that the eye o'ercast
By any mist should go before the first
Angel, who is of those of Paradise. This little island round about its base
Below there, yonder, where the billow berts it,
Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze; No other plant that putteth forth the leaf,
Or that doth indurate, can there have life,
Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks. Thereafter be not this way your return;
The sun, which now is rising, will direct you
To take the mount by easier ascent.” With this he vanished; and I raised me up
Without a word, and wholly drew myself
Unto my Guide, and turned mine eyes to him And he began : “Son, follow thou my steps;
Let us turn back, for on this side declines
The plain unto its lower boundaries.” The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour
Which fled before it, so that from afar
I recognised the trembling of the sea.
As one who unto the lost road returns,
As soon as we were come to where the dew
Fights with the sun, and, being in a part
Where shadow falls, little evaporates,
In gentle manner did my Master place;
Whence I, who of his action was aware,
There did he make in me uncovered wholly
That hue which Hell had covered up in me.
Which never yet saw navigate its waters
Any that afterward had known return.
O marvellous ! for even as he culled
The humble plant, such it sprang up again
ALREADY had the sun the horizon reached
Whose circle of meridian covers o'er
Jerusalem with its most lofty point,
Was issuing forth from Ganges with the Scales
That fall from out her hand when she exceedeth;
Of beautiful Aurora, where I was,
By too great age were changing into orange.
Like people who are thinking of their road,
Who go in heart, and with the body stay ;
Through the gross vapours Mars grows fiery red
Down in the West upon the ocean floor,
A light along the sea so swiftly coming,
Its motion by no flight of wing is equalled;
Mine eyes, that I might question my Conducior,
Again I saw it brighter grown and larger.
I knew not what of white, and underneath it
My Master yet had uttered not a word
While the first whiteness into wings unfolded ;
But when he clearly recognised the pilot,
Behold the Angel of God! fold thou thy hands !
Henceforward shalt thou see such officers ! See how he scorneth human arguments,
So that nor oar he wants, nor other sail
Than his own wings, between so distant shores. See how he holds them pointed up to heaven,
Fanning the air with the eternal pinions,
That do not moult themselves like mortal hair!” Then as still nearer and more near us came
The Bird Divine, more radiant he appeared,
So that near by the eye could not endure him, But down I cast it; and he came to shore
With a small vessel, very swift and light,
So that the water swallowed naught thereof. Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot;
Beatitude seemed written in his face,
And more than a hundred spirits sat within. “ In exitu Israel de Ægypto !"
They chanted all together in one voice,
With whatso in that psalm is after written. Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,
Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,
And he departed swiftly as he came.
Seemed with the place, all round about them gazing,
As one who in new matters makes essay. On every side was darting forth the day
The sun, who had with his resplendent shafts
From the mid-heaven chased forth the Capricorn, When the new people lifted up their faces
Towards us, saying to us: “If ye know,
Show us the way to go unto the mountain.” And answer made Virgilius : “ Ye believe
Perchance that we have knowledge of this place,
But we are strangers even as yourselves. Just now we came, a little while before you,
Another way, which was so rough and steep,
That mounting will henceforth seem sport to us.”
Become aware that I was still alive,
And as to messenger who bears the olive
The people throng to listen to the news,
And no one shows himself afraid of crowding,
Those fortunate spirits, all of them, as if
Oblivious to go and make them fair.
As to embrace me, with such great affection,
That it incited me to do the like.
Three times behind it did I clasp my hands,
As oft returned with them to my own breast !
Whereat the shadow smiled and backward drew;
And I, pursuing it, pressed farther forward.
Then knew I who it was, and I entreated
That it would stop awhile to speak with me. made reply to me: “ Even as I loved thee
In mortal body, so I love thee free;
Therefore I stop; but wherefore goest thou ?" "My own Casella ! to return once more
There where I am, I make this journey,” said I;
“ But how from thee has so much time be taken ? " And he to me: “No outrage has been done me,
If he who takes both when and whom he pleases
Has many times denied to me this passage,
He, sooth to say, for three months past has taken
Whoever wished to enter with all peace;
Where salt the waters of the Tiber grow,
Benignantly by him have been received.
Because for evermore assemble there
Those who tow'rds Acheron do not descend."
Memory or practice of the song of love,
Which used to quiet in me all my longings,
Somewhat this soul of mine, that with its body
Hitherward coming is so much distressed."
Forthwith began he so melodiously,
My Master, and myself, and all that people
Which with him were, appeared as satisfied
As if naught else might touch the mind of any. We all of us were moveless and attentive
Unto his notes; and lo! the grave old man,
Exclaiming : “What is this, ye laggard spirits? What negligence, what standing still is this?
Run to the mountain to strip off the slough,
That lets not God be manifest to you." Even as when, collecting grain or tares,
The doves, together at their pasture met,
Quiet, nor showing their accustomed pride, If aught appear of which they are afraid,
Upon a sudden leave their food alone,
Because they are assailed by greater care ; So that fresh company did I behold
The song relinquish, and go tow'rds the hill,
As one who goes, and knows not whitherward; Nor was our own departure less in haste.
INASMUCH as the instantaneous flight
Had scattered them asunder o'er the plain,
Turned to the mountain whither reason spurs us, I pressed me close unto my faithful comrade,
And how without him had I kept my course ?
Who would have led me up along the mountain ? He seemed to me within himself remorseful ;
O noble conscience, and without a stain,
How sharp a sting is trivial fault to thee ! After his feet had laid aside the haste
Which mars the dignity of every act,
My mind, that hitherto had been restrained, Let loose its faculties as if delighted,
And I my sight directed to the hill
That highest tow'rds the heaven uplifts itself. The sun, that in our rear was flaming red,
Was broken in front of me into the figure
Which had in me the stoppage of its rays ;
Of being left alone, when I beheld