Purgatorio: Canto I
To run o'er better
waters hoists its sail
little vessel of my genius now,
That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel;
And of that second
kingdom will I sing
the human spirit doth purge itself,
And to ascend to heaven becometh worthy.
But let dead Poesy
here rise again,
holy Muses, since that I am yours,
And here Calliope somewhat ascend,
accompanying with that sound,
which the miserable magpies felt
The blow so great, that they despaired of pardon.
Sweet colour of the
was upgathered in the cloudless aspect
Of the pure air, as far as the first circle,
Unto mine eyes did
as I issued forth from the dead air,
Which had with sadness filled mine eyes and breast.
planet, that to love incites,
making all the orient to laugh,
Veiling the Fishes that were in her escort.
To the right hand I
turned, and fixed my mind
the other pole, and saw four stars
Ne'er seen before save by the primal people.
Rejoicing in their
flamelets seemed the heaven.
thou septentrional and widowed site,
Because thou art deprived of seeing these!
When from regarding
them I had withdrawn,
a little to the other pole,
There where the Wain had disappeared already,
I saw beside me an
old man alone,
of so much reverence in his look,
That more owes not to father any son.
A long beard and
with white hair intermingled
wore, in semblance like unto the tresses,
Of which a double list fell on his breast.
The rays of the
four consecrated stars
so adorn his countenance with light,
That him I saw as were the sun before him.
"Who are you? ye
who, counter the blind river,
fled away from the eternal prison?"
Moving those venerable plumes, he said:
"Who guided you? or
who has been your lamp
issuing forth out of the night profound,
That ever black makes the infernal valley?
The laws of the
abyss, are they thus broken?
is there changed in heaven some council new,
That being damned ye come unto my crags?"
Then did my Leader
lay his grasp upon me,
with his words, and with his hands and signs,
Reverent he made in me my knees and brow;
Then answered him:
"I came not of myself;
Lady from Heaven descended, at whose prayers
I aided this one with my company.
But since it is thy
will more be unfolded
our condition, how it truly is,
Mine cannot be that this should be denied thee.
This one has never
his last evening seen,
by his folly was so near to it
That very little time was there to turn.
As I have said, I
unto him was sent
rescue him, and other way was none
Than this to which I have myself betaken.
I've shown him all
the people of perdition,
now those spirits I intend to show
Who purge themselves beneath thy guardianship.
How I have brought
him would be long to tell thee.
descendeth from on high that aids me
To lead him to behold thee and to hear thee.
Now may it please
thee to vouchsafe his coming;
seeketh Liberty, which is so dear,
As knoweth he who life for her refuses.
Thou know'st it;
since, for her, to thee not bitter
death in Utica, where thou didst leave
The vesture, that will shine so, the great day.
By us the eternal
edicts are not broken;
this one lives, and Minos binds not me;
But of that circle I, where are the chaste
Eyes of thy Marcia,
who in looks still prays thee,
holy breast, to hold her as thine own;
For her love, then, incline thyself to us.
Permit us through
thy sevenfold realm to go;
will take back this grace from thee to her,
If to be mentioned there below thou deignest."
"Marcia so pleasing
was unto mine eyes
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,
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,
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
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
any mist should go before the first
Angel, who is of those of Paradise.
This little island
round about its base
there, yonder, where the billow beats it,
Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze;
No other plant that
putteth forth the leaf,
that doth indurate, can there have life,
Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks.
Thereafter be not
this way your return;
sun, which now is rising, will direct you
To take the mount by easier ascent."
With this he
vanished; and I raised me up
a word, and wholly drew myself
Unto my Guide, and turned mine eyes to him.
And he began: "Son,
follow thou my steps;
us turn back, for on this side declines
The plain unto its lower boundaries."
The dawn was
vanquishing the matin hour
fled before it, so that from afar
I recognised the trembling of the sea.
Along the solitary
plain we went
one who unto the lost road returns,
And till he finds it seems to go in vain.
As soon as we were
come to where the dew
with the sun, and, being in a part
Where shadow falls, little evaporates,
Both of his hands
upon the grass outspread
gentle manner did my Master place;
Whence I, who of his action was aware,
Extended unto him
my tearful cheeks;
did he make in me uncovered wholly
That hue which Hell had covered up in me.
Then came we down
upon the desert shore
never yet saw navigate its waters
Any that afterward had known return.
There he begirt me
as the other pleased;
marvellous! for even as he culled
The humble plant, such it sprang up again
where he uprooted it.
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
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