1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

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

. (page 23 of 37)
Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriThe Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri → online text (page 23 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

That Ubertino of Donati cjrud£;'d


ITis fntlicr-in-law should yoke him to its tribe.

Already Caponsaeco had descended 120

Into the mart from Fesole : and Giuda

An<l Infangato were good citizens,

A tiling incredible I tell, tho' true :

The gateway, named from those of Pera, led

Into the narrow circuit of your walls. 125

Each one, who bears the sightly quarterings

Of the great Uaron (he whose name and worth

The festival of Thomas still revives)

His knighthood and his privilege retain'd ;

Albeit one, who borders them with gold, 130

This day is mingled with the common herd.

In Borgo yet the Gualterotti dwelt.

And Importuni : Avell for its repose

Plad it still lack'd of newer neighbourhood.

The house, from whence your tears have had their spring,

Through the jiist anger that hath murder'd ye 136

And put a period to your gladsome days,

Was honour'd, it, and those consorted with it.

O Buondelmonti ! what ill counseling

Prevail'd on thee to break the plighted bond ? 140

Many, who now are weejnng, would rejoice,

Had God to Ema giv'n thee, the first time

Thou near our city cam'st. But so was doom'd :

On that maim'd stone set up to guard the bridge.

At thy last peace, the victim, Florence ! fell. 145

With these and others like to them, I saw

Florence in such assur'd tranquillity.

She had no cause at which to grieve : with these

Saw her so glorious and so just, that ne'er

The lily from the lance had hung reverse, 150

Or through division been with vermeil dyed."


Such as the youth, wlio came to Clymene

To certify himself of that re])roach.

Which had been fasten'd on him, (he whose end

300 PARAmSR.

Still makes the fatliors cliavy to their sons,

E'cii such was I ; nor luujbserv'd was such 6

Of l>eatriee, and that saintly lam]),

Who had erewhile for me his station mov'd ;

When thus by lady: " Give thy wish free vent,

That it may issue, bearing true report

Of the mind's im])i'ess ; not that aught thy words 10

May to our knowledge add, but to the end,

That thou mayst use thyself to own thy thirst

And men may mingle for thee when they hear."

" O plant ! from whence I spiing! rever'd and lov'd !
Who soar'st so high a pitch, thou seest as clear, 15

As earthly thought determines two obtuse
In one triangle not contain'd, so clear
Dost see contingencies, ere in themselves
P]xistent, looking at the point whereto
All times are ]»resent, I, the whilst I scal'd 20

With Virgil the soul-purifying mount,
And visited the nether world of svoe,
Touching my future destiny have heard
Words grievous, though I feel me on all sides
Well squar'd to fortune's blows. Therefore my will 25
Were satisfied to know the lot awaits me,
The arrow, seen beforehand, slacks its flight."

So said I to the brightness, which erewhile
To me had spoken, and my Avill declar'd.
As Beatrice will'd, exjdicitly. 30

Nor with oracular res])onse obscure,
Such, as or ere the Lamb of God was slain,
Beguil'd the credulous nations ; but, in terms
Precise and unambiguous lore, replied
The spirit of ])aternal love, enshrin'd, 35

Yet in his smile apparent ; and thus spake :
" Contingency, unfolded not to view
TJ|>on the tablet of your mortal mold.
Is all depictur'd in the' eternal sight;
laut hence deriveth not necessity, 40

More tlien the tall ship, hurried down the flood,
Doth from the vision, that reflects the scene.
From thence, as to the ear sweet harmony


From organ conies, so comes before mine eye

The time prepar'd for thee. Such as driv'n out 15

From Atliens, l)y his cruel stejuhime's wiles,

Hippolytus de))arted, such must thou

Depart from Florence. This they wish, and this

Contrive, and will ere long effectuate, there,

Where gainful merchandize is made of Christ, 50

Throughout the livelong day. The common cry,

Will, as 't is ever wont, affix the blame

Unto the party injur'd : but the truth

Shall, in the vengeance it dispenseth, find

A faithful witness. Thou shall leave eacli thing 55

Belov'd most dearly : this is the first shaft

Shot from the bow of exile. Thou shalt prove

How salt the savour is of other's bread,

How hard the passage to descend and climb

By othei-'s staii-s. But that shall gall thee most 60

Will be the worthless and vile coni])any.

With whom thou must be thrown into these straits.

For all ungrateful, impious all and mad.

Shall turn 'gainst thee: but in a little while

Theirs and not thine shall be the crimson'd brow. G5

Their course shall so evince their brutishness

T' have ta'en thy stand apart shall well become thee.

" First refuge thou must find, first placie of rest,
In the great Lombard's courtesy, who bears
Upon the ladder perch'd tlie sacred bird. 70

He shall behold thee wath such kind regard,
That 'twixt ye two, the contrary to that
Which falls 'twixt other men, the granting shall
Forerun the asking. With him shalt thou see
That mortal, who was at his birth impi-est 75

So strongly from this star, that of his deeds
The nations shall take note. His unripe age
Yet holds him from observance ; for these wheels
Only nine years have compast him about.
But, ere the Gascon practice on great Hai-iy, 80

Si)arkles of virtue shall shoot forth in him,
In equal scorn of labours and of gold.
His bounty shall be spread abroad so widely,



As not to let the tongues e'en of bis foes

Be idle in its ])raise. Look tlion to him 86

And liis benclicence : for he sliall cause

Reversal of their lot to many peoj^le,

Rich men and beggars interchanging fortunes.

And tliou shalt bear this written in thy soul

Of him, but tell it not ; " and things he told 90

Incredible to those Avho Avitness them ;

Tlien added : " So interpret thou, my son,

What hath been told thee. — Lo ! the ambushment

Tliat a few circling seasons hide for tliee !

Yet envy not thy neighbours : time extends 95

Thy span beyond their treason's chastisement."

Soon, as the saintly spirit, by his silence,
Had shown the web, which I had stretch'd for him
Upon the warp, was woven, I began,
As one, who in perplexity desires 100

Counsel of other, wise, benign and friendly :
"My father! well I mark how time spurs on
Toward me, ready to inflict the blow.
Which falls most heavily on him, who most
Abandoneth himself. Therefore 't is good 105

I should forecast, that dri\en from the place
Most dear to me, I may not lose myself
All others by my song. Down through the world
Of infinite mourning, and along the mount
From whose fair height my lady's eyes did lift me, 110
And after through this heav'n from light to light,
Have I learnt tliat, which if I tell again,
It may with many "wofully disrelish ;
And, if I am a timid friend to truth,

I fear my life may pei'ish among those, 115

To whom these days shall be of ancient date."

The brightness, whci'e enclos'd the treasure sinil'd,
Which I had found there, first shone glisteringly,
Like to a golden mirroi- in the sun ;

Next answer'd : " Conscience, dimm'd or by its own 120
Or other's shame, will feel thy saying sharj).
Thou, notwithstanding, all deceit remov'd,
See the whole vision be made manifest.


And let tliom Avince who have their withers wrung.

"What tliough, when tasted first, tliy voice shall prove 1*25

Unwelcome, on digestion it will turn

To vital nourishment. Tiie cry tliou raisest,

Shall, as the wind doth, smite the proudest summits ;

Which is of honour no light argument.

For this there only have been shown to thee, 1.30

Throughout these orbs, the mountain, and the deep,

Spirits, whom fame hath note of. For the mind

Of him, who hears, is loth to acquiesce

And fix its faith, unless the instance brought

Be palpable, and proof apparent urge." 135


Now in his word, sole, ruminating, joy'd

That blessed spirit ; and I fed on mine,

Temp'ring the sweet witli bitter : she meanwhile,

Who led me unto God, admonish'd : " Muse

On other thoughts: bethink thee, that near Him 5

I dwell, who recompenseth every wrong."

At the sweet sounds of comfort straight I turn'd ;
And, in the saintly eyes what love was seen,
I leave in silence here : nor through distrust
Of ray words only, but that to such bliss 10

The mind remounts not without aid. Thus much
Yet may I speak ; that, as I gaz'd on her,
Affection found no room for other wish.
While the' everlasting ])leasure, that did full
On Beatrice shine, with second view 15

From her fair countenance my gladden'd soul
Contented ; vanquishing me with a beam
Of her soft smile, she spake : " Turn thee, and list.
These eyes are not thy only Paradise."

As here we sometimes in the, looks may see 20

Th' affection mark'd, when that its sway hath ta'en
The spirit wholly ; tlius the hallow'd light.
To whom I turriM, flashing, bewi-ay'd its will
To talk yet further with me, and began :


" On this fiftli lodgmenl of the tree, wliose life 25

Is from its toji, wliose fruit is ever fair

And leaf unwitli'ring, blessed S])irits abide,

That were below, ere they arriv'd in heav'n,

So mighty in renown, as every muse

Might grace her triumph with them. On the liorns oO

Look therefore of the cross : he, Avhom I name,

Shall there enact, as doth in summer cloud

Its nimble fire." Along the cross I saw,

At the repeated name of Joshua,

A s]ilendour gliding ; nor, the word was said, 35

Ere it was done : then, at the naming saw

Of the great Maccabee, another move

With whirling speed ; and gladness w\as the scourge

Unto that top. The next for Charlemagne

And for the peer Orlando, two my gaze 40

Pursued, intently, as the eye pui'sues

A falcon flying. Last, along the cross,

William, and Renard, and Duke Godfrey drew

My ken, and Robert Guiscard. And the soul,

Who spake with me among the other lights 45

Did move away, and mix ; and with the choir

Of heav'niy songsters prov'd his tuneful skill.

To Beatrice on my right I bent.
Looking for intimation or by word

Or act, what next behov'd ; and did descry 50

Such mere effulgence in her eyes, such joy,
It past all former wont. And, as by sense
Of new delight, the man, who pei-severes
In good deeds doth perceive from day to day
His virtue growing ; I e'en thus perceiv'd 55

Of my ascent, together with the heav'n
The circuit widen'd, noting the increase
Of beauty in that wonder. Like the change
In a brief moment on some maiden's cheek.
Which from its fairness doth discharge the weight 60
Of pudency, that stain'd it ; such in her.
And to mine eyes so sudden was the change.
Through silvery whiteness of that tem])erate star,
Whose sixth orb now enfolded us. I saw.




Witliin tlial Jovial cresset, tlie clear sparks 65

Of love, that reiii'n'd there, fashion to my view
Our language. And as birds, from river bank?
-Arisen, now in round, now Icngthen'd troop.
Array them in their flight, greeting, as seems.
Their new-fonnd pastures ; so, within the lights, 70

The saintly creatures flying, sang, and made
Now D. now I. now L. figur'd i' th' air.
First, singing, to their notes they mov'd, then one
Becoming of these signs, a little while
Did rest them, and were mute. O nymph divine 75

Of Pegasean race ! whose souls, which thou
Tns])ir\st, mak'st glorious and long-liv'd, as they
C'ities and realms by thee ! thou with thyself
Inform me ; that I may set forth the shapes,
As fancy doth present them. Be thy power 80

I)is]^lay\l in this brief song. The characters,
Vocal and consonant, were five-fold seven.
In order each, as they ap])ear'd, I mark'd.
Diligite Justitiam, the first,

Both verb and noun all blazon'd ; and the' extreme 85
Qui judicatis terram. In the M.
Of the fifth word they held their station,
]V[aking the star seem silver streak'd with gold.
And on the siimmit of the M. I saw

Descending other lights, that rested there, 90

Singing, methinks, their bliss and ])rimal good.
Then, as at shaking of a lighted brand,
Sparkles innumerable on all sides
Rise scattcr'd, source of augury to th' \inwise ;
Thus more than thousand twinkling lustres hence 05

Seem'd reascending, and a higher ])itch
Some mounting, and some less; e'en as the sun.
Which kindleth them, decreed. And when each oi >
Had settled in his i)lace, the head and neck
Then saw I of an eagle, livelily ^OO

Grav'd in that streaky fire. AVho ])ainteth there,
Hath none to guide him ; of himself he guides;
And every line and texture of the nest
Doth own from him the virtue, fashions it.



Tlie oilier briGjht beatitude, that seemM 105

Erewliile, with lilieil crowning, well content
To over-canopy the M. mov'd forth.
Following gently the impress of the bird.

Sweet star ! what glorious and thick-studded gems
Declar'd to me our justice on the earth 110

To be the effluence of that heav'n, which thou,
Thyself a costly jewel, dost inlay !
Therefore I i>ray the Sovran Mind, from whom
Thy motion and thy virtue are begun.
That he would look from whence the fog doth rise, 115
To vitiate thy beam : so that once more
He may ])ut forth his hand 'gainst such, as drive
Their traffic in that sanctuary, Avhose walls
With miracles and martyrdoms were built.

Ye host of heaven ! whose glory I survey ! 120

beg ye grace for those, that are on earth
All after ill example gone astray.

War once had for its instrument the sword :

But now 't is made, taking the bread away

Which the good Father locks from none. — And thou, 125

That writes but to cancel, think, that they,

Who for the vineyai'd, which thou wastest, died,

Peter and Paul live yet, and mark thy doings.

Thou hast good cause to cry, " My heart so cleaves

To him, that liv'd in solitude remote, 130

And from the wilds was dragg'd to martyrdom,

1 wist not of the fisherman nor Paul."


Before my sight appear'd, with open wings,
The beauteous image, in fruition sweet
Gladdening the thronged spirits. Each did seem
A little ruby, whereon so intense
The sun-beam glow'd that to mine eyes it came
In clear refraction. And that, which next
Befalls me to portray, voice hath not utter'd,
Nor hatli ink written, nor in fantasy


Was e'er conceiv'd. For I beheld and heard

The beak discourse ; and, wliat intention forni'd 10

Of many, singly as of one express,

Beginning: " For that I was just and piteous,

I am exalted to this height of glory.

The which no wish exceeds : and there on earth

Have I my memory left, e'en by the bad 15

Commended, while they leave its course untrod."

Thus is one heat from many embers felt,
As in that image many were the loves,
And one the voice, that issued from them all.
Whence I addrest them : " O perennial flowers 20

Of gladness everlasting ! that exhale
In single breath your odours manifold!
Breathe now ; and let the hunger be appeas'd,
That with great craving long hath held my soul,
Finding no food on earth. This well I know, 25

That if there be in hcav'n a realm, that shows
In faithful mirror the celestial Justice,
Yours without veil reflects it. Ye discern
The heed, wherewith I do prepare myself
To hearken ; ye the doubt, that iirges me 30

With such inveterate craving." Straight I saw,
Like to a falcon issuing from the hood.
That rears his head, and claps him with his Avings,
His beauty and his eagerness bewraying.
So saw I move that stately sign, with praise 85

Of grace divine inwoven and high song
Of inexpressive joy. " He," it began,

I " Who turn'd his compass on the world's extreme,

I And in that space so variously hath wrought,

Both oj»enly' and in secret, in such wise 40

I Could not through all the universe disjflay

I Imj^ression of his glory, that the Word

I Of his omniscience should not still remain

I In infinite excess. In proof whereof,

I He first through pride supplanted, who was sum 45

\ Of each created being, waited not

I For light celestial, and abortive fell.

I Whence needs each lesser nature is but scant



Roc(>]Uaele unto that Good, whicli knows

No limit, nieasnr'd by itself .alone. 50

Therefore your sight, of th' omnipi-esent Mind

A single beam, its origin must own

Surj)assing far its utmost potency.

The ken, your world is gifted with, descends

In th' everlasting Justice as low down, 55

As eye doth in the sea ; which though it mark

The bottom from the shore, in the wide main

Discerns it not ; and ne'ertheless it is.

But hidden through its deepness. Light is none,

Save that which coineth from the pure serene 60

Of ne'er disturbed ether : for the rest,

'Tis darkness all, or shadow of the flesh,

Or else its poison. Here confess reveal'd

That covert, which hath hidden from thy search

The living justice, of the Avhich thou mad'st 65

Such frequent question ; for thou saidst — 'A man

Is born on Indus' banks, and none is iheri

Who 8]jeaks of Chi-ist, nor who doth read nor write,

And all his inclinations and his acts,

As far as human reason sees, are good, 70

And he offendeth not in word or deed.

But unbaptiz'd he dies, and void of faith.

Where is the justice that condemns him? where

His blame, if he believeth not?' — What then,

And wlio art thou, that on the stool wouldst sit 75

To judge at distance of a thousand miles

With the short-sighted vision of a span ?

To him, "who subtilizes thus with me.

There would assuredly be room for doubt

Even to wonder, did not the safe word 80

Of scripture liold supreme authority.

" O animals of clay ! O sjnrits gross I
The prinial will, that in itself is good.
Hath from itself, the chief Good, ne'er been mov'd.
Justice consists in consonance with it, 85

Derivable by no created good.
Whose very cause depends uj^on its beam."

As on her uest the stork, that turns about


tlnto her yonncf, whom lately she hath fed,

While they with uj)\var(l eyes do look on her; 90

So lifted I my gaze ; and bending so

The ever-blessed image wav'd its wings,

Lab'ring with such deep counsel. Wheeling round

It warbled, and did say : " As are my notes

To thee, who understand'st them not, such is 95

Th' eternal judgment unto mortal ken."

Then still abiding in that ensign rang'd,
Wherewith the Romans over-awed the world,
Those burning splendours of the Holy Spirit
Took up the strain ; and thus it spake again : 100

" None ever hath ascended to this realm.
Who hath not a believer been in Christ,
Either before or after the blest limbs
Were nail'd upon the wood. But lo ! of those
Who call ' Christ, Christ,' there shall be many found, 105
In judgment, further off from him by far.
Than such, to whom his name was never known.
Christians like these the Ethiop shall condemn :
When that the two assemblages shall part ;
One rich eternally, the other poor. 110

" What may the Persians say unto your kings,
When they shall see that volume, in the which
All their dispraise is written, spread to view?
There amidst Albert's works shall that be read,
Which will give speedy motion to the pen, 115

When Prague shall mourn her desolated realm.
There shall be read the woe, that he doth work
With his adulterate money on the Seine,
Who by the tusk Avill perish : there be read
The thirsting pride, that maketh fool alike 120

The' English and Scot, impatient of their bound.
There shall be seen the Spaniard's luxury,
The delicate living there of the Bohemian,
Who still to Avorth has been a willing stranger.
The halter of Jerusalem shall see 125

A unit for his virtue, for his vices
No less a mark than million. He, who guards
The isle of fire by old Anchises honour'd


Bliall finfl his nvarico tliore and cowardice;

And bettor to denote liis littleness, 130

The writing must be letters maini'd, that speak

Much in a narrow space. All thei-e shall know

Ilis uncle and his brother's filthy doings,

Who so renown'd a nation and two crowns

Have bastavdiz'd. And they, of Portugal 135

And Norway, there shall be expos'd with him

Of llatza, who hath counterfeited ill

The coin of Venice. O blest Hungary !

If thou no longer patiently abid'st

Thy ill-entreating ! and, O blest Navarre ! 140

If with thy mountainous girdle thou wouldst arm thee '

In earnest of that day, e'en now are heard

Wailings and groans in Famagosta's streets

And Nicosia's, grudging at their beast,

Who keepeth even footing with the rest." 145


When, disappearing from our hemisphere,

The world's enlightener vanishes, and day

On all sides wasteth, suddenly the sky,

Erewhile irradiate only with his beam.

Is yet iigain unfolded, putting forth 6

Innumerable lights wherein one shines.

Of such vicissitude in heaven I thought,

As the great sign, that marshaleth the world

And the world's leaders, in the blessed beak

Was silent ; for that all those living lights, 10

Waxing in splendour, burst forth into songs,

Such as from memory glide and fall away.

Sweet love ! that dost apparel thee in smiles,
How lustrous was thy semblance in those sparkles.
Which merely are from holy thouglits inspir'd ! 15

After the ])recious and bright beaming stones.
That did ingem the sixth light, ceas'd the chiming
Of their angelic bells ; methought I heard.
The murmuring of a river, that doth fall
P^rom rock to rock transpicuous, making known 20




Tlio riclmoss of his spring-lioad : nnrl as sound

Of cittern, at tlie fret-board, or of pii)e,

Is, at the wind-liole, modulate and tun'd ;

Tims up the neck, as it were hollow, rose

That murmuring of the eacle, and forth^vith 25 1

Voice there assum'd, and thence along the beak

Issued in form of Avords, such as my heart

Did look for, on whose tables I inscrib'd them.

" The part in me, that sees, and bears the sun,
In mortal eagles," it began, "must now 30

Be noted steadfastly : for of the fires,
That figure me, those, glittering in mine eye,
Are chief of all the greatest. This, that shines
Midmost for ])upil, was the same, who sang
The Holy Spirit's song, and bare about 35

The ark from town to town ; now doth he kno\r
The merit of his soul-impassion'd strains
By their well-fitted guerdon. Of the five,
That make the circle of the vision, he
Who to the beak is nearest, comforted 40

The widow for her son : now doth he know
How dear he costeth not to follow Christ,
Both from experience of this pleasant life.
And of its opposite. He next, who follows
In the circumference, for the over arch, 45

By true repenting slack'd the pace of death :
Now knoweth he, that the decrees of heav'n
Alter not, when through pious prayer below
To-day's is made to-morroAv's destiny.
The other following, with the laws and me, 50

To yield the shephei'd room, pass'd o'er to Greece,
From good intent producing evil fruit :
Now knoweth he, how all the ill, deriv'd
From his well doing, doth not harm him aught,
Though it have brought destruction on the world. 55

That, M'hich thou seest in the under bow,
Was William, whom that land bewails, which weeps
For Charles and Frederick living : now he knows
How well is lov'd in heav'n the righteous king,
Which he betokens by his radiant seeming. 60


Who in (lio orriiiGf world boncttli would dcom,

That Trojan 1M|)1kmis in this i-oiuid was set

I'^iflh of tiie saintly splendours V now he knows

Knoug-h of that, wliich the woi'ld cannot see,

The grace divine, alljeit e'en his sight 65

1 leach not its utmost dej)th." Like to the lark,

That warbling in the air ex])atiates long,

'I'lien, trilling out his last sweet melody,

]J)ro))s satiate with the sweetness ; such appoar'd

That image stami»t by the' everlasting pleasure, 70

Which fashions like itself all lovely tilings.

I, though my doul)ting were as manifest,
As is through glass the hue that mantles it,
In silence waited not : for to my lips
"What things are these?" involuntary rushM, 75

And forc'd a passage out: whereat I niark'd
A sudden lightening and new revelry.
The eye was kiudled : and i\\e l)lessed sign
No more to keep me wond'ring and suspense,
Keplied : " I see that thou believ'st these things, 80

Because I tell them, but discern'st not how ;
So that thy knowledge waits not on thy faith:
As one who knows the name of thing by rote.
But is a stranger to its properties,

Till other's tongue reveal them. Fervent love 85

And lively hope with violence assail
The kingdom of the heavens, and overcome
The will of the Most High ; not in such sort
As man prevails o'er man ; but conquers it,
Because 't is willing to be conquer'd, still, 90

Though conquer'd, by its mercy conquering.

Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriThe Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri → online text (page 23 of 37)