1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

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

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Remembrance of his alter'd lineaments
Was kindled from that spark ; and I agniz'd
The visage of Forese. " Ah ! respect
This wan and leprous wither'd skin," thus he 45

Suppliant implor'd, " this macerated flesh.
Speak to me truly of thyself. And who
Are those twain spirits, that escort thee there?
Be it not said thou scorn'st to talk with me."

" That face of tliino," I answer'd him, " which dead 50
I once bewail'd, disposes me not less
For weeping, when I see it thus transform'd.
Say then, by Heav'n, what blasts ye thus? The whilst
I wonder, ask not speech from me : unapt
Is lie to speak, whom other will employs." 55

He thus: "The water and tlie jtlant we pass'd,
Virtue possesses, by th' eternal will
Infus'd, the which so pines me. Every spirit,
Whose song bewails his gluttony indulgVl
Too grossly, here in hunger and in thirst 60

Is purified. The odour, which the fruit.
And spray, that showers upon the verdure, breathe,
Inflames us with desire to feed and drink.


Nor once nlono enconi])nssing our route
We come to add fresh fuel to the ])ain : 65

Pain, said I ? solace rather : for that will
To the tree leads us, by which Christ was led
To call Elias, joyful when he paid
Our ransom from his vein." I answering thus :
" Forese ! from that day, in which the world 70

For Letter life thou changedst, not five years
Have circled. If the power of sinning more
Were first concluded in thee, ere thou knew'st
That kindly grief, which re-espouses us
To God, how hither art thon come so soon ? 75

I thought to find thee lower, there, where time
Is recompense for time." He straight replied :
" To drink up the sweet wormwood of affliction
I have been brought thus early by the tears
Stream'd down my Nella's cheeks. Her prayers de-
vout, bO
Her sighs have drawn me from the coast, where oft
Expectance lingers, and have set me free
From th' other circles. In the sight of God
So much the dearer is my widow priz'd,
She whom I lov'd so fondlj^, as she ranks 85
More singly eminent for virtuous deeds.
The tract most barb'rous of Sardinia's isle,
Hath dames more chaste and modester by far
Than that wherein I left her. O sweet brother !
What wouldst thou have me say?. A time to come 90
Stands full within my view, to which this hour
Shall not be counted of an ancient date,
When from the pulpit shall be loudly warn'd
Th' unblushing dames of Florence, lest they bare
Unkerchief'd bosoms to the common gaze. 95
What savage women hath the world e'er seen,
What Saracens, for whom there needed scourge
Of spiritual or other discipline.
To force them walk with cov'ring on their limbs !
But did they see, the shameless ones, that Heav'n 100
Wafts on swift wing toward them, while I speak,
Their mouths were ojD'd for howling: they shall taste


Of sorrow (unless foresiglit cheat mc liere)
Or ere the cheek of him be cloth'd with down
Who is now rock'd witli InUaby asleep. 105

Ah ! now, my brother, hide thyself no more,
Tliou seest how not I alone but all
Gaze, where thou veil'st the intercepted sun."
Whence I replied : " If thou recall to mind
What we were once togetlier, even yet 110

Ivemenibrance of those days may grieve thee sore.
That I forsook that life, was due to him
AYho there precedes me, some few evenings past,
When she was round, who shines with sister lamp
To his, that glisters yonder," and I show'd 115

The sun. "Tis he, who through profoundest niglit
Of the true dead has brought me, with this flesh
As true, that follows. Fi-om that gloom the aid
Of his sure comfort drew me on to climb,
And climbing wind along this mountain-steep, 120

Which rectifies in you wliate'er the world
Made crooked and deprav'd. I have his word,
That he will bear me company as far
As till I come where Beatrice dwells :
But there must leave me. Virgil is that spirit, 125

Wlio thus hath promis'd," and I pointed to him ;
" The otlier is that shade, for whom so late
Your realm, as he arose, exulting shook
Through every pendent cliff and rocky bound."


Our journey was not slacken'd by our talk.
Nor yet our talk by journeying. Still we spake,
And urg'd our travel stoutly, like a ship
When the wind sits astern. The shadowy forms,
That seem'd things dead and dead again, drew in
At their deep-delved orbs j-are wonder of me,
Perceiving I had life ; and I my words
Continued, and thus spake; " He journeys uj)
Perliaps more tardily then else lie would,


For othei's' sako. But tell me, if thou know'st, 1(J

Wliere is Piccarda? Tell mc, if I see

Any of mark, among tliis multitude,

Who eye me tlius." — "My .sister (she for wliom,

'Twixt beautiful and good ; I cannot say

Which name was fitter) wears e'en now lier crown, 15

And triumphs in Olympus." Saying this,

He added : " Since s])are diet hath so worn

Our semblance out, 't is lawful liere to name

Each one. This," and his finger then he rais'd,

"Is Buonaggiunta, — Buonaggiunta, he 20

Of Lucca : and that face beyond him, pierc'd

Unto a leaner fineness than the rest,

Had keeping of the church : he was of Tours,

And purges by wan abstinence away

Bolsena's eels and cups of muscadel." 25

He show'd me many others, one by one.
And all, as they were nam'd, seem'd well content ;
For no dark gesture I discern'd in any.
I saw through hunger Ubaldino grind
His teeth on emptiness ; and Boniface, 30

That wav'd the crozier o'er a num'rous flock.
I saw the Marquis, who had time erewhile
To swill at Forli with less drought, yet so
Was one ne'er sated. I howe'er, like him.
That gazing 'midst a crowd, singles out one, 35

So singled him of Lucca ; for methought
Was none amongst them took such note of me.
Somewhat I heard him whisper of Gentucca :
The sound was indistinct, and mnrmur'd there.
Where justice, that so strips them, fix'd her sting. 40

" Spirit ! " said I, " it seems as thou wouldst fain
Speak with me. Let me hear thee. JVIutual wish
To converse prompts, which let us both indulge."

He, answ'ring, straight began : " Woman is born,
Whose brow no wim])le shades yet, that shall make 45
My city please thee, bUme it as they may.
Go then with this forewarning. If aught false
My whis])er too implied, th' event shall tell.
But say, if of a truth 1 see the man

I'UllGATOUY. 205

Of tliat new lay tli' inventor, which bcyins 50

Witli 'Ladies, ye that eon the lore of love'."

To whom I thus : " Count of me hut as one
Who am the scribe of love ; that, when he breathes,
Take up my pen, and, as he dictates, write."

"Brother! " said he, "the hind'rance which once hehl
The notary with Guittone and myself, 56

Short of that new and sweeter style I hear,
Is now disclos'd. I see how ye your ])luines
Stretch, as th' inditer guides them ; which, no question,
Ours did not. He that seeks a gi-ace beyond, 60

Sees not the distance ])arts one style from other."
And, as contented, here he held his peace.

Like as the bird, that winter near the Nile,
In squared regiment direct tlieir course.
Then stretch themselves in file for speedier flight; 65
Thus all the tribe of s])irits, as they turn'd
Their visage, faster Hed, nimble alike
Through leanness and desire. And. as a man,
Tir'd with the motion of a trotting steed,
Slacks pace, and stays behind, his company, 70

Till his o'erbreathed lungs keej) temperate time ;
E'en so Forese let that holy crew
Proceed, behind them lingering at my side.
And saying : " When shall I again behold thee ? "

" How long my life may last," said I, " I know not ; 75
This know, how soon soever I return.
My wishes will before me have arriA''cT.
Sithence the place, where I am set to live,
Is, day by day, more scoop'd. of all its good,
And. elismal ruin seems to threaten it." 80

" Go now," he cried : " lo ! he, whose guilt is most,
Passes before my vision, dragg'd at heels
Of an infuriate beast. Toward the vale.
Where guilt hath no redemption, on it speeds,
Each step increasing swiftness on the last ; 85

Until a blow it strikes, that leaveth him
A corse most vilely shatter'd. No long space
Those wheels have yet to roll" (thei'ewith liis eyes
Look'd up to heav'n) " ere thou shall plainly see


That wliich my words may not more plainly tell. 90

I quit thee : time is precious here : I lose

Too much, thus measuring my pace with thine."

As from a troop of well-rankM chi\alry
One knig-ht, more enter])rising than the rest,
Pricks forth at galloj), eager to (lis])lay 95

His prowess in the first encounter jn'ov'd ;
So parted he from us ■with lengtlien'd strides,
And left me on the way with those twain s])irits,
Who were such mighty marshals of the world.

When he beyond us had so fled, mine eyes 100

No nearer reach'd him, than my thought his words,
The branches of another fruit, thick hung.
And blooming fresh, appear'd. E'en as our steps
Turn'd thither, not far off it rose to view.
Beneath it were a multitude, that rais'd 105

Their hands, and shouted forth I know not what
Unto the boughs ; like greedy and fond brats,
That beg, and answer none obtain from liim.
Of whom they beg ; but more to draw them on.
He at arm's length the object of their wish 110

Above them holds aloft, and hides it not.

At length, as undeceiv'd they went their way :
And we approach the tree, who vows and tears
Sue to in vain, the mighty tree. " Pass on.
And come not near. Stands higher up the wood, 115
Whereof Eve tasted, and from it was ta'en
This plant." Such sounds from midst the thickets

Whence I, with either bard, close to the side
That rose, pass'd forth beyond. " Remember," next
We heard, " those unblest creatures of the clouds, 120
How they their twofold bosoms overgorg'd
Oppos'd in fight to Theseus : call to mind
The Hebrews, how effeminate they stoo})'d
To ease their thii'st ; whence Gideon's ranks Avere

As he to Midian march'd adown the hills." 125

Thus near one border coasting, still we heard
The sins of gluttony, with woe ere while


Regiierdon'd. Then along the lonely path,

Once mofe at large, full thousand ])aces on

We travel'd, each conteni])lativc and mute. loO

"Why pensive journey tlnis ye three alone?"
Thus suddenly a voice exclainiM : wliereat
I shook, as doth a scar'd and paltry beast ;
Then rais'd my head to look from whence it came.

Was ne'er, in furnace, glass, or metal seen 135

So bright and glowing red, as was the shape
I now beheld. " If ye desire to mount,"
He cried, " liere must ye turn. This Avay he goes,
Wlio goes in quest of peace." His countenance
Had dazzled me ; and to ray guides I fac'd 140

Backward, like one who walks, as sound directs.

As when, to harbinger the dawn, springs up
On freshen'd wing the air of Ma}', and breathes
Of fragrance, all impregn'd with herb and llowers,
E'en such a wind I felt upon my front 145

Blow gently, and the moving of a wing
Perceiv'd, that moving shed ambrosial smell ;
And then a voice : " Blc-scd are they, whom grace
Doth so illume, that appetite in them
Exhaleth no inordinate desire, 150

Still hung'ring as the rule of temperance wills."


It was an hour, when he wlio climbs, had need

To walk uncrippled : for the sun had now

To Taurus the meridian circle left.

And to the Scorpion left the night. As one

That makes no pause, but presses on his road, 5

Whate'er betide him, if some urgent need

Impel : so enter'd we upon our way,

One before other ; for, but singly, none

That steep and narrow scale admits to climb.

E'en as the young stork lifteth up his wing 10

Through wish to fly, yet ventures not to quit
The nest, and drops it ; so in me desire
Of questioning my guide arose, and fell.

20S ruu(;ATouv.

Arriving even to the aet, that inai-ks

A man ])re))ar'd for speeeli. llini all our haste 15

Ilestrain'd not, hut tliun s))ake the sire Ijclov'd :

Fear not to speed the shaft, that on tliy lip

Stands tremhling for its flight." Encourag'd tlius

I straight began : " How there can leanness come,

Wliere is no want of nourishment to feed?" 20

" If thou," he answer'd, " hadst remember'd tliee,
How Melenger witli the Avasting brand
, Wasted alike, by equal fires consum'd.
This would not trouble thee : and hadst thou tliought,
ITow in the mirror your reflected form 2t

With mimic motion vibrates, wliat now seems
Hard, had appear'd no harder than the ]^ulp
Of summer fruit mature. But that thy will
In certainty may find its full repose,

Lo Statins here ! on him I call, and pray 30

That he would now be healer of thy wound." .

" If in thy presence I unfold to him
The secrets of heaven's vengeance, let me plead
Tliine own injunction, to exculjiate me."
So Statins answer'd, and forthwith began : 85

" Attend my words, O son, and in thy mind
Receive them : so shall they be light to clear
The doubt thou offer'st. Blood, concocted well,
Which by the thirsty veins is ne'er im]>ib'd,
And rests as food suiterfluous, to be ta'en 40

From the rcplenish'd tabic, in the heart
Derives effectual virtue, that informs
The several human limbs, as being that,
Which passes through the veins itself to make them.
Yet more concocted it descends, where shame 45

Forbids to mention : and from thence distils
In natural vessel on another's blood.
There each unite together, one dispos'd .
T' endure, to act the other, through meet frame
Of its recipient mould : that being reach'd, 5fl

It 'gins to work, coagulating first ;
Then vivifies what its own substance caus'd
To bear. With animation now indued,


The active virtue (diffeiiiig from a ]>lant

No further, llian that this is on tlie way 65

And at its limit that) continues yet

To operate, that now it moves, and feels,

As sea sponge clinging to the rock : and there

Assumes tli' organic powers its seed convey'd.

This is the })eriod, son ! at which the virtue, 60

That from the generating heait proceeds,

Is ])liant and expansive ; for each limb

Is in the heart by forgeful nature plann'd.

IIow babe of animal becomes, remains

For thy consid'ring. At this point, more w'ise, 65

Than thou hast err'd, making tlie soul disjoin'd

From ])assive intellect, because he saw

No organ for the hitter's use assign'd.

" Open thy bosom to the truth that comes.
Know soon as in the embryo, to the brain, 70

Articulation is comjilete, then turns
The primal Mover with a smile of joy
On such great work of nature, and imbrcathes
New s])irit re])lete with virtue, that M'hat here
Active it finds, to its own substance draws, 75

And forms an individual soul, that lives,
And feels, and bends reflective on itself.
And that thou less mayst marvel at the word,
JMark the sun's heat, how that to wine doth change,
Mix'd with the moisture filter'd through the vine, 80

" When Lachesis hath spun the thread, the soul
Takes wath her both the human and divine,
Memory, intelligence, and will, in act
Far keener than before, the other })Owers
Inactive all and mute. No pause allow'd, 85

In wond'rous sort self-moving, to one strand
Of those, where the de])arted roam, she falls.
Here learns her destin'd path. Soon as the place
Receives her, round the plastic virtue beams,
Distinct as in the living limbs before : 90

And as the air, when saturate with showers,
The casual beam refracting, decks itself
With many a hue ; so here the ambient air



Woaretli tliat form, wliicli influence of the soul

Iin])rints on it; and iike tlie flame, tliat where 95

T]m Are moves, tliither follows, so henceforth

The new form on the spirit follows still :

Ilence hath it semblance, and is shadow call'd,

"With each sense even to the sight endued :

Hence speech is ours, lience laughter, tears, and sighs.

AVliich thou mayst oft have witness'd on the mount 101

Th' obedient shadow fails not to present

Whatever varying 2)assion moves within us.

And this the cause of what thou marvel'st at."

Now the last flexure of our way we reach'd, 105

And to the right hand turning, other care
Awaits us. Here the rooky precipice
Hurls forth redundant flames, and from the rim
A blast upblown, with forcible rebuff
Driveth them back, sequester'd from its bound. 110

Behov'd us, one by one, along the side.
That border'd on the void, to pass ; and I
Fear'd on one hand the fire, on th' other fear'd
Headlong to fall : when thus th' instructor warn'd :
" Strict rein must in this place direct the eyes. 115

A little swerving and the way is lost."

Then from the bosom of the burning mass,
" O God of mercy ! " heard I sung ; and felt
No less desire to turn. And when I saw
Spirits along the flame proceeding, I 1'20

Between their footsteps and mine own was fain
To share by turns my view. At the hymn's close
They shouted loud, " I do not know a man ; "
Then in low voice again took up the strain,
Whicli once more ended, " To the wood," they cried, 125
'■• Kan Dian, and drave forth Callisto, stung
With Cytherea's poison : " then return'd
Unto their song; then many a paiv extoll'd,
Who liv'd in virtue chastely, and the bands
Of wedded love. Nor from that task, I ween, 130

Surcease they ; whilesoe'er the scorching fire
Enclasps them. Of such skill appliance needs
To medicine the wound, that healeth last.



While singly thus along the rim we walk'd,

Oft the good master warn'd me : " Look thou well.

Avail it that I caution thee." The sun

Now all the western clime irradiate chang'd

From azure tinct to white ; and, as I pass'd, 5

My passing shadow made the umber'd flame

Burn ruddier. At so strange a sight I mark'd

That many a spirit marvel'cl on his way.

This bred occasion first to speak of me,
" He seems," said they, " no insubstantial frame : " 10
Then to obtain what certainty they might,
Stretch'd towards me, careful not to overpass
The burning pale. " O thou, who followest
The others, haply not more slow than they.
But mov'd by rey'reuce, answer me, who burn 15

In thirst and fire : nor I alone, but these
All for thine answer do more thirst, than doth
Indian or ^thiop for the cooling stream.
Tell us, how is it that thou luak'st thyself
A wall against the sun, as thou not yet . 20

Into th' inextricable toils of death
Hadst enter'd? " Thus spake one, and I had straight
Declar'd me, if attention had not turn'd
To new appearance. Meeting these, there came,
Midway the burning path, a crowd, on whom 25

Earnestly gazing, from each part I view
The shadows all press forward, sev'rally
Each snatcli a hasty kiss, and then away.
E'en so the emmets, 'mid their dusky troops,
Peer closely one at other, to spy out 30

Their mutual road perchance, and how they thrive.

That friendly greeting parted, ere dispatch
Of the first onward step, from either tribe
Loud clamour rises : those, wlio newly come.
Shout " Sodom and Gomorrah ! " these, " The cow 35
Pasiphae enter'd, that the beast she woo'd
Might rush unto her luxury," Then as cranes,
That part towards the liipluean mountains fly.


Part towards the Lybic sands, these to avoid

The iee, and those tlie sun ; so liastetli off 40

One crowd, advances th' other ; and resume

Their first song wee})ing, and their several sliout.

Again drew near my side tlie very same.
Who liad erewliile besought me, and tlieir looks
Murk'd eagerness to listen. I, who twice 45

Their will had noted, spake : "0 spirits secure,
Whene'er the time may be, of jieaceful end !
My limbs, nor crude, nor in mature old age,
Have I left yonder : here they bear me, fed
With blood, and sinew-strung. That I no more 50

May live in blindness, hence I tend aloft.
Tliere is a dame on high, who wins for us
This grace, by which my mortal through your realm
I bear. But may your utmost wish soon meet
Such full fruition, that the orb of heaven, 55

Fullest of love, and of most ample space,
Receive you, as ye tell (upon my page
Henceforth to stand recorded) who ye are.
And what this multitude, that at your backs
Have past behyid us." As one, mountain-bred, 60

Rugged and clownish, if some city's walls
He chance to enter, round him stares agape,
Confounded and struck dumb ; e'en such appear'd
Each spirit. But when rid of that amaze,
(Not long the inmate of a noble heart) 65

He, who before had question'd, thus resum'd. :
" O blessed, who, for death preparing, tak'st
Experience of our limits, in thy bark !
Their crime, who not with us proceed, was that.
For w^jich, as he did triumph, Caesar heard 70

The shout of ' queen,' to taunt him. Hence their cry
Of ' Sodom,' as they parted, to rebuke
Themselves, and aid the burning by their sliam.e.
Our sinning was Hermaphrodite : but we,
Because the law of human kind we broke, 75

Following like beasts our vile concupiscence,
Hence parting from them, to our own disgrace
Record the name of lier, by whom the beast


[ In bestial tire was acted. Now our deerls

Thou kuow'nt, and liow we sinn'd. Tf tliou Ijy name 80

Wouldst haply know us, time ))ermits not now

To tell so much, nor can I. Of myself

Learn what thou wishest. Guinicelli I,

"Who having truly sorrow'd ere my last,

Already cleanse me." With such pious joy, 85

As the two sons upon their mother gaz'd

From sad Lycurgus rescu'd, such my joy

(Save that I more represt it) when I heard

From his own lips the name of him pronounc'd,

Who was a father to nie, and to those 90

My betters, who have ever us'd the sweet

And pleasant rhymes of love. So nought I heard

Nor spake, but long time thoughtfully I went,

Gazing on him ; and, only for the fire,

Approach'd not nearer. When my eyes were fed 95

By looking on him, with such solemn pledge.

As forces credence, I devoted me

Unto his service Avholly. In reply

He thus besjjake me : " What from thee I hear

Is gi-av'd so deeply on my mind, the waves 100

Of Lethe shall not wash it off, nor make

A whit less lively. But as now thy oath

Has seal'd the truth, declare what cause impels

That love, which both thy looks and speech bewray."

"Those dulcet lays," I answer'd, " which, as long 105
As of our tongue the beauty does not fade,
Shall make us love the very ink that trac'd them."

" Brother ! " he cried, and pointed at a shade
Before him, " there is one, whose mother speech
Doth owe to him a fairer ornament. 110

He in love ditties and the tales of prose
Without a rival stands, and lets the fools
Talk on, who think the songstei* of LiuK^ges
O'ertops him. Rumour and the popular voice
I'hey look to more than truth, and so confirm 115

Opinion, ere by art or reason taught.
Thus many of the elder time cried up
Guittone, giving him the prize, till truth

1:14 PURrrATORY.

By strength of nniiiLers vanqnisli'd. If thou OAvn

So .'unple privilege, as to have gain'd 120

Free entrance to tlie cloister, whereof Christ

Is Abbot of the college, say to him

One paternoster for me, far as needs

For dwellers in tliis world, where ])Ower to sin

No longer tempts us." Haply to make way 125

For one, that follow'd next, when that was said,

IKr vanish'd through tl)e fire, as through the wave

A fish, that glances diving to the deep.

I, to the spirit he had shown me, drew
A little onward, and besought his name, 130

For which my heart, I said, kept gracious room.
He frankly thus began : " Thy courtesy
So wins on me, I have nor power nor will
To hide me. I am Arnault ; and with songs,
Sorely waymenting for ray folly past, 135

Thorough this ford of fire I wade, and see
The day, I liope for, smiling in my view.
I pray ye by the Avorth that guides ye up
Unto the summit of the scale, in time
Kemember ye my suff'rings." With such words 140

He disappear'd in the refining flame.


Now was the sun so station'd, as when first

His early radiance quivers on the heights.

Where stream'd his Maker's blood, while Libra hangs

Above Hesperian Ebro, and new fires

Meridian flash on Ganges' yellow tide. 5

So day was sinking, Avhen the' angel of God
Appear'd before us. Joy was in his mien.
Forth of the flame he stood upon the brink,
And with a voice, whose lively clearness far
Surpass'd our human, " Blessed are the pure 10

In heart," lie sang : then near him as we came,
" Go ye not further, holy spirits ! " he cried,
"Ere the fire pierce you : enter in; and list


Attentive to the song ye lienr from tlience."

I, when I lieard liis saying, was as one 15

Laid in tlie grave. My huiids together clasp'd,
And n])\vard stretcliing, on tlie fire I h)ok'd,
And busy fancy eonjur'd up tlie forms
Erewhile belield alive consum'd in flames.

Til' escorting spirits turn'd with gentle looks 20

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