1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

The Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri online

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Im|)arts his liglit bcneatli, thou niiglit'st behold

The ruddy zodiac nearer to the bears

Wheel, if its ancient course it not forsook.

How that may be if thou would'st tliink ; within

Pond'ring, imagine Sion Avith this mount 65

Plac'd on the earth, so that to both be one

Horizon, and two hemispheres apart,

Where lies the path that Phaeton ill knew

To guide his erring chariot : thou wilt see

TIow of necessity by this on one 70

He passes, while by that on the' other side,

If with clear view thine intellect attend."

" Of truth, kind teacher ! " I exclaiui'd, " so clear
Aught saw I never, as I now discern
Where seem'd my ken to fail, that the mid orb 75

Of the supernal motion (which in terms
Of art is called the Equator, and remains
Ever between the sun and winter) for the cause
Thou hast assign'd, from hence toward the north
Departs, when those who in the Hebrew land 80

Inhabit, see it tow'rds the warmer part.
But if it please thee, I would gladly knov,-,
How far we liave to journey: for the hill
Mounts higher, than tliis sight of mine can mount."

He thus to me: "Such is this steep ascent, 85

That it is ever difficult at first,
But, more a man proceeds, less evil grows.
When pleasant it shall seem to thee, so much
That uj)ward going shall be easy to thee.
As in a vessel to go down tlie tide, 90

TJien of this path tliou wilt have reach'd the end.
Tliere hope to rest thee from thy toil. No more
I ans\\ er, and thus far for certain kiu^w."



As lie liis words had spoken, near to us

A voice there sounded : " Yet ye first percliaucc 95

May to repose yon by constraint be led."

At sound thereof each turn'd, and on the left

A huge stone we beheld, of which nor I

Nor he before was ware. Thither we drew,

And there were some, who in the shady place 100

Behind the rock were standing, as a man

TIn-o' idleness might stand. Among them one,

"Who seem'd to me much wearied, sat him down,

And with his arms did fold his knees about,

Holding his face between them downward bent. 105

" Sweet Sir !" I cry'd, "behold that man, who shows
Himself more idle, than if laziness
Were sister to him." Straight he turn'd to us,
And, o'er the thigh lifting his face, observ'd,
Then in these accents spake : " Up tlien, proceed 110
Thou valiant one." Straight who it was I knew;
Nor could the pain I felt (for want of breath
Still somewhat urg'd me) hinder my approach.
And when I came to him, he scarce his head
Uplifted, saying " Well hast thou discern'd, 115

How from the left the sun his chariot leads."

His lazy acts and broken words my lips
To laughter somewhat mov'd ; when I began :
" Belacqua, now for thee I grieve no more.
But tell, why thou art seated upright there ? 120

Waitest thou escort to conduct thee hence?
Or blame I only thine accustom'd ways ? "
Then he : " My brother, of what use to mount.
When to my suffering woidd not let me pass
The bird of God, who at the ])ortal sits ? 125

Belioves so long that lieav'n first bear me round
Without its limits, as in life it bore.
Because I to the end repentant sighs
Delay'd, if prayer do not aid me first,
That risetli up from heart which lives in grace. 130

Wliat other kind avails, not heard in heaven ?"

Before me now the Poet up the mount
Ascending, cried : " Haste thee, for see the sun

punr.ATOKY. 135

Has toucli'd tlic point movidinn, and the niglit

Now covers with her foot Marocco's shore." 135


Now had I left those spirits, and pursued

The steps of my Conductor, when beliind

Pointing the finger at nie one exchxini'd :

" See liow it seems as if tlie light not shone

Frem the left hand of him beneath, and he, 5

As living, seems to be led on." Mine eyes

I at that sound reverting, saw them gaze

Through wonder first at me, and then at me

And the light broken underneath, by turns.

"Why arc thy thoughts thus riveted," my guide 10

Exclaim'd, "that thou liust slaek'd thy pace '? or how

Imports it thee, what thing is whispcr'd here?

Come after me, and to their babblings leave

The crowd. Be as a tower, that, firmly set.

Shakes not its top for any blast that bloM'S ! 15

He, in whose bosom thought on thought shoots out.

Still of his aim is wide, in that the one

Sicklies and wastes to nought the other's strength."

What other could I ans^^'er save "I come?"
I said it, somewhat with that colour ting'd 20

Which ofttimes pardon meriteth for man.

Mean-\vhilc traverse along the hill there came,
A little way before us, some Avho sang
Tbe " Miserere" in res])onsive strains.
When they jierceiv'd that through uiy body I '_15

Gave way not for the rays to pass, tlieir song
Straight to a long and hoarse exclaim they chang'd ;
And two of them, in guise of messengers.
Ran on to meet us, and inquiring ask'd :
" Of your condition we would gladly learn." 30

To them my guide. " Ye may return, and bear
Tidings to them who sent you, that his frame
Is real flesh. If, as I deem, to view
His shade they paus'd, enough is answer'd them.


j Iliin lot tlieni lionour, tlx^y may pri/X' liiin well," .%

i Ne'er saw I lieiy v:i])Ours will) sucli speed

Cut througli the seivue air at fall of night,
[ Nor Augu.st's cloiuls athwart the sotting sun,
' That upward these did not in shorter space
I Tietui'n ; and, there arriving, with the rest 40

I Wheel back on us, as with loose rein a troop.
I " Many," exclaini'd the bard, " arc these, who throng
I Around us : to ifetition thee they come.
I Go therefore on, and listen as thou go'st."
[ " O spirit ! who go'st on to blessedness 45

\ With the same limbs, that clad thee at thy birth."
I Shouting they came, " a little rest thy step.
I Look if thou any one amongst our tribe
I Ilast e'er beheld, that tidings of him there
I Thou mayst re}>oi't. Ah, wherefore go'st thou on ? 50
i Ah wherefore tanuest thou not ? We all
I By violence died, and to our latest hour
I Were sinners, but then warn'd by light from heav'n,
I So that, repenting and forgiving, we
I Did issue out of life at jieace with God, 55

- Who wnth desire to see him fills our heart."

Then I: " T!ie visages of all I scan
■ Yet none of ye remember. But if aught,
• That I can do, may please you, gentle spirits !
Speak ; and I will })oi-fortn it, by that ])eace, 60

Whicli on the ste])s of guide so excellent
Following from world to world intent I seek."

In answer he began : "None here distrusts
Thy kindness, though not promis'd with an oath ;
So as the will fail not for want of ])Ower. 65

Whence I, who sole before the others speak,
Entreat thee, if thou ever see that land.
Which lies between Romagna and the realm
Of Charles, that of thy courtesy thou pray
Those who inhnbit Fano, that for me 70

Their adorations duly be put up,
By which I may purge oft" my grievous sins.
From thence I came. But the deep passages.
Whence issued out the blood wherein I dwelt,

— j-

rU fKiATORY. 137

ir|)on my bosom in Autenor's l;in<l 75

Were made, wliere to be more secure I thoug'lit.

The author of the deed was Este's ])riiice,

Who, more than ri_t;-lit couhl warrant, wiih his wi'atli

Pursued me. Had I towards Mira tied,

AV^hen overta'en at Oriaco, still 80

Miglit I liave breath'd. But to the marsh I sped,

And in tlie mire and rushes tangled there

Fell, and beheld my life-blood lloat the ])lain."

Then said another: "Ah! so may the wish,
That takes thee o'er tlie mountain, be fulfiU'd, 85

As tliou shalt graciously give aid to mine.
Of Montefeltro I ; Buonconte I:
Giovanna nor none else liave care for me,
Sorrowing with these I therefore go." I thus:
" From Campaldlno's field what force or chance 90

Drew thee, tliat ne'er thy sepulture was known ?"

" Oh ! " ans\vei-'d he, " at Casentino's foot
A stream there courscth, nam'd Archiano, sprung
In Apennine above the Hermit's seat.
E'en where its name is cancel'd, there came I, 95

Pierc'd in the heart, fleeing away on foot.
And bloodying the plain. Here sight and speech
Fail'd me, and finishing with Mary's name
I fell, and tenantless my flesh remain'd.
I will report the trutli ; which thou again 100

Tell to the li\-ing. Me God's angel took.
Whilst he of hell exclaini'd : 'O thou fi-om heav'n !
' Say wherefore hast thou robb'd me ? Thou of him
' Th' eternal poilion bear'st vrith thee away
' For one poor tear tliat he deprives me of. 105

' But of the other, other rule I make.'

" Thou knowest how in the atmosphere collects
That vapour dank, returning into water.
Soon as it mounts where cold condenses it.
That evil will, which in his intellect 110

Still follows evil, cime, and rais'd the wind
And smoky mist, by virtue of the power
Griv'u by his nature. Thence the valley, soon
As day was spent, he covered o'er with cloud


From Pratoirino'iio to llie niouiitain range, 115

And stretcli'd tho sky above, so lliat tlie air

Iin])rt'giiale cliaiig'd to water. Fell the rain.

And to the fosses eanie all that the land

Contain'd not; and, as mightiest streams are wont,

To the great river with such headlong sweep I'JO

Kusli'd, that nought stay'd its course. My stift'euM

Laid at liis mouth the fell Archiano found.
And dash'd it into Arno, from my breast
Loos'ning the cross, that of myself I made
When overcome witli j^ain. He luirl'd me on, 125

Along the banks and bottom of his course ;
Then in his muddy spoils encircling wraj)t."

" Ah ! when thou to the world shalt be return'd,
And rested after thy long road," so spake
Next the third spirit ; " then remember me. 130

I once was Pia. Sienna gave me life,
Maremma took it from me. That he knows.
Who me with jewell'd ring had first espous'd."


When from their game of dice men separate,

He, who hath lost, remains in sadness fix'd,

devolving in his mind, what luckless throws

He cast: but meanwhile all the comjiany

Go with the other; one before him runs, 5

And one behind his mantle twitches, one

Fast by his side bids him remember him.

He stops not; and each one, to whom his hand

Is stretcli'd, well knows he bids him stand aside*,

And thus he from the press defends himself, 10

E'en such was I in that close-crowding throng;

And turning so my face around to all.

And promising, I 'scap'd from it with jjains.

Here of Arezzo him I saw, who fell
By Ghino's cruel arm ; and him beside, 15

Who in his chase was swallow'd by the stream.

PURr.ATOllY. 130

llei-c Frederic Novc'llo, with liis liand

Stretcli'd forth, entreated ; and of Pisa ho,

Who put tlie good Mar/.uco to such proof

Of constancy. Count Orso I helield ; 20

And from its frame a soul dismiss'd for spite

And envy, as it said, but for no crime :

I speak of Peter de h^ Brosse ; and here.

While she yet lives, that Lady of ]>ral)ant

Let her beware ; lest for so false a deed 25

She herd with worse than these. When I was freed

From all those spirits, who pray'd for others' prayers

To hasten on their state of blessedness ;

Straight I began : " O thou, my luminary !

It seems expressly in thy text denied, 30

That heaven's supreme decree can never bend

To supplication ; yet with this design

Do these entreat. Can then tlieir hope be vain,

Or is thy saying not to me reveal'd ? "

lie thus to me : " Both what I write is plain, 35

And these deceiv'd not in their hope, if well
Thy mind consider, that the sacred height
Of judgment doth not stoop, because love's flame
In a short moment all fulfils, which he
Who sojourns Jiere, in right should satisfy. 40

Besides, when I this point concluded thus.
By praying no defect could be supplied ;
Because the pray'r had none access to God.
Yet in this deep suspicion rest thou not
Contented unless she assure thee so, 45

Who betwixt truth and mind infuses light.
I know not if thou take me right ; I mean
Beatrice. Her thou shalt behold above.
Upon this mountain's crown, fair seat of joy."

Then I : " Sir ! let us mend our speed ; for now 50

I tire not as before ; and lo ! the hill
Stretches its shadow far." He answer'd thus :
" Our progress with this day shall be as much
As we may now dispatch ; but otherwise
Than thou supposest is the truth. For there 55

Thou canst not be, ere tliou <mce more beliold


Him back rotuniini?, wlio beliiiid tlie steep

Is now so hidden, tliat as erst liis benm

Tliou dost not break. But lo ! a s]»irit there

Stands solitary, and toward us looks : CO

It will instruct us in the s})cediest way."

We soon approach'd it. O thou Lombard s])irit !
How didst thou stand, in high abstracted mood,
Scarce moving with slow dignity thine eyes !
It spoke not aught, but let us onM'ard pass, 65 |

Eyeing us as a lion on his watch.

But Virgil with entreaty mild advanc'd, |

Requesting it to show the best ascent.

It answer to his question none return'd, j

But of our country and our kind of life 70

Demanded. When my courteous guide began,
" Mantua," the solitary shadow quick 1

Rose tow'rds us from the place in which it stood, }

And cry'd, " Mantuan ! I am thy countryman I

Sordello." Each the other then embrac'd. 75

I'^^Ali slavish Italy ! thou inn of grief,

I Vessel without a pilot in loud storm,

I Lady no longer of fair provinces,

I But brothel-house impure ! this gentle spirit,

I Ev'n from tlie jJeasant sound of his dear l»nd 80

I Was prompt to greet a felloAV citizen

I With such glad cheer ; while now thy living ones

I In thee abide not without war; and one
Malicious gnaws another, ay of those
Whom the same wall and the same moat contains. 85
I Seek, wretched one ! around thy sea-coasts wide ;
Then homeward to thy bosom turn, and mark
If any part of the sweet peace enjoy.
i What boots it, that thy reins Justinian's hand
Refitted, if thy saddle be unpress'd ? 90

Nought doth he now but aggravate thy shame.
Ah people ! thou obedient still shoiddst live,
And in the saddle let thy Coesar sit.
If well thou marked'st that which God commands.

Look how that beast to felness hath relaps'd 95

From having lost coi-rection of the spur,


ruui;ATORY. 141

Since to tlio bridle thou liast set th'ino hand,

O German Albert ! wlio abandon'st her,

That is grown savage and unnianaoe;il)le,

When thou should'st clasji her ilanks with forked Jieels.

Just judgment from the stars fall on thy blood ! 101

And be it strange and manifest to all !

Such as may strike tliy successor with dread !

For tliat thy sire and thou have suffered tluis,

Throirgh greediness of yonder realms detain'd, 105

The garden of the empire to run waste.

Come see the Capulets and Montagues,

The Philippeschi and Monaldi ! man

Who car'st for nought ! those sunk in grief, and these

With dire suspicion rack'd. Come, cruel one ! 110 \

Come and beliold the' oppression of the nobles, \

And mark their injuries : and thou mayst see, |

What safet}' Santahore cm sujiply. j

Come and behold thy Tiome, who calls on thee, I

Desolate widow ! day and night with moans : 115 ?

"My Cresar, why dost thou desert my side?" 5

Come and behold what love among thy people: ]

And if no pity touclics thee for us.

Come and blush for thine own report. For me,

If it be lawful, Almighty Power, 120 i

Who wast in earth for our sakes crucified ! I

Are thy just eyes turn'd elsewdiere ? or is this |

A preparation in the wond'rous depth i

Of thy sage counsel made, for some good end,

Entirely from our reach of tliought cut off? 125

So are the' Italian cities all o'erthrong'd

With tyrants, and a great Marcellus made

Of every petty factious villager. ;

My Florence! thou mayst well remain unmov'd
At this digression, which affects not thee : loO

Thanks to thy peojile, who so wisely speed. \

Many have justice in their lieart, that long |

Waiteth for counsel to direct the bow, |

Or ere it dart unto its aim : but thine j

Have it on their lip's edge. Many refuse 135

To bear the common burdens : readier thine


Answer uncall'd, and cry. " Behold I stoop ! "
Make thyself glad, for thou hast reason now,
Thou wealthy! fhou at peace! thou wisdom-fraught!
Facts best witness if I speak the truth. 140

Athens and Lacedicmon, who of old
Enacted laws, for civil arts renown'd.
Made little progress in improving life
Tow'rds thee, who usest such nice subtlety,
That to the middle of November scarce 145

Reaches the thread thou in October weav'st.
Plow many times, within thy memory,
Customs, and laws, and coins, and offices
Have been by thee renew'd, and people chang'd !

If thou remember'st well and can'st see clear, 150

Thou wilt perceive thyself like a sick wretch.
Who finds no rest upon her down, but oft
Shifting her side, short respite seeks from pain.


After their courteous greetings joyfully

Sev'n times exchang'd, Sordello backward drew

Exclaiming, " Who are ye?" " Before this mount

By spirits worthy of ascent to God

Was sought, ray bones had by Octavius' care 5

Been buried. I am Virgil, for no sin

Depriv'd of heav'n, excei>t for lack of faith."

So answer'd him in few my gentle guide.

As one, who aught before him suddenly
Beholding, whence his wonder riseth, cries 10

" It is yet is not," wav'ring in belief;
Such he appear'd ; then downward bent his eyes.
And drawing near witli revei'ential step,
Cauglit him, where of mean estate might clasp
His "lord. " Glory of Latium ! " he exelaim'd, 15

" In whom our tcnigue its utmost jiower display'd!
Boast of my honor'd birth-place ! what desert
Of mine, what favour rather undeservVl,
Shows thee to me V If I to hear that voice


Am worthy, say if from below tliou com'st "20

And from what cloister's pale? " — " Tiirough every orb

Of that sad region," he rejdy'd, " thus far

Am I arriv'd, by heav'uly iiiilueuce led

And witli such aid I come. There is a jilace

There underneath, not made by torments sad, 25

But by dun shades alone; where mourning's voice

Sounds not of anguish sharp, but breathes in sighs

There I -with little innocents abide,

Who by death's fangs were bitten, ere exempt

From liuman taint. There I with those abide, 30

Who the three holy virtues put not on,

But understood the rest, and without blame

Follow'd them all. But if thcu know'st and canst,

Direct us, how we soonest may arrive.

Where Purgatory' its true beginning takes." 35

He answer'd thus : " We have no certain place
Assign'd us : upwards I may go or round,
Far as I can, I join thee for thy guide.
But thou beholdest now how day declines :
And upwards to proceed by night, our power 40

Excels : therefore it may be well to choose
A place of pleasant sojourn. To the right
Some spirits sit apart i-etir'd. If thou
Consentest, I to these will lead thy steps :
And thou wilt know them, not without delight." 45

" How chances this?" was answer'd ; " whoso wish'd
To' ascend by night, would he be thence debarr'd
By other, or through his own weakness fail ? "

The good Sordello then, along the ground
Trailing his finger, spoke : " Only this line 50

Thou shalt not overpass, soon as the sun
Hath disa2:)pear'd ; not that aught else imj»edes
Thy going upwards, save the shades of night.
These with the wont of power perplex the will.
With them thou haply mightst return beneath, 55

Or to and fro around the mountain's side
Wander, while day is in the horizon shut."

My master straight, as wond'ring at his speech,
Exclaim'd : " Then lead us quickly, where thou sayst.

141: puui;atouv. |

That, wliile wc stay, we may criioy dcHixlit." 60 t

A little space we were removM from thence, ?

When I percoivM the mountain hoIlouM out. I

Ev'n as largo ^-alleys hollow'd out on eavth, j

" That way," the' escorting s|)irit cried, " we go,
Whore in a bosom the high hank recedes : 05 i

And thou await renewal of the day." |

Betwixt the steep and ])lain a crooked path
Led us traverse into the ridge's side, 8

Where more than half tlie sloping edge expires. ':

Refulgent gold, and silver thrice refin'd, 70 =

And scarlet grain and ceruse, Indian wood •;

Of lucid dye serene, fresh emeralds j

But newly broken, by the herbs and flowers I

Plac'd in that fair recess, in color all

Had been surpass'd, as great surpasses less. 75

Nor nature only there lavish'd her hues.
But of the sweetness of a thousand smells
A rare and undistinguish'd fragrance made.

" Salve Kegina," on the grass and flowers
Here chanting I beheld those spirits sit 80 J

Who not beyond the valley could be seen. |

"Before the west'ring sun sink to his bed," ]

Began the Mantuan, M'ho our steps had turn'd, t

" 'Mid those desires not that I lead ye on, ;

For from this eminence ye shall discern 85 !

Better the acts and visages of all, i

Than in the nether vale among them mix'd. \

He, who sits high above the rest, and seems j

To have neglected that he should have done, '

And to the others' song moves not his liji, 90

The Emperor Ivodol|)h call, who might have heal'd i

The wounds whei'eof fair Italy haJi died, j

So that by others she revives but slowly.
Pie, who with kindly visage comforts him, |

Sway'd in that country, where the water s])rings, 95 \

That Moldaw's river to the Elbe, and Elbe
Rolls to the ocean : Ottocar his name :
Who in .his swaddling clothes was of more worth
Than Winccslaus his son, a bearded man,


P;iin))('rM with runk luxuriousncss and case. 100

And liiat one with the nose deprest, who close
In counsel scoins with him of LCcntle look,
Flying expir'd, with'riiig tlie lily's rlower.
Look there how he doth knock against his breast !
The other ye behold, Avho for his cheek 1(*5

Makes of one hand a couch, with frequent sighs.
They are the father and the fsither-in-law
Of Gallia's bane: his vicious life they know
And foul ; thence conies the grief that rends them

" He, so robust of limb, who measure keeps 110

In song, with him of feature prominent,
With ev'ry virtue bore his girdle brac'd.
And if that strijiling who behinds him sits,
King after him had liv'd, his virtue then
From vessel to like vessel had been jiuur'd ; 115

Which may not of the other heirs be said.
V>y James and Frederick his realms are held ;
Neither the better heritage obtains,
llarely into the l)ran<'hes of the tree

Doth human worth mount up ; and so ordains 120

He who bestows it, that as his free gift
It may be call'd. To Charles my words apply
No less than to his brother in the song ;
Which Pouille and Provence now witli grief confess.
So much that plant degenerates from its seed, 125

As more than Beatrice and Margaret
Costanza still boasts of her valorous s]iouse.

" Behold the king of sim]/ie life and plain,
Harry of England, sitting there alone :
He through his branches better issue spreads. 130

" That one, who on the ground beneath the rest
Sits lowest, yet his gaze directs aloft.
Is William, that brave IMarcpiis, for whose cause
The deed of Alexandria and his war
Makes Conferrat and Canavese weep." 135


146 rcr:fiAT<)RV,


Now was the lioiir tliat wakens fond dosire

In men at sea, and melts their thouijlitful lieart,

Who in the morn have bid sweet friends farewell,

And ])ilu'rim newly on his road with love

Thrills, if he hear the vesjK'r bell from far, 5

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, Avhich with its hand

Audience implor'd. Both ])alins it join'd and rais'd, 10

Fixing its steadfast gaze towards 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. 15

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 makes thine eyes keen :
For of so subtle texture is this veil, 20

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 25

Two angels with two flame-illumin'd swords,
Broken and mutilated at their points.
Green as the tender leaves but newly born.
Their vesture was, the which by wings as green
Beaten, they drew behind them, fann'd iu air. 30

A little over iis 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 35

Was lost, as faculty that by too much

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