Purgatorio: Canto VIII
'Twas now the hour
that turneth back desire
those who sail the sea, and melts the heart,
The day they've said to their sweet friends farewell,
And the new pilgrim
penetrates with love,
he doth hear from far away a bell
That seemeth to deplore the dying day,
When I began to
make of no avail
hearing, and to watch one of the souls
Uprisen, that begged attention with its hand.
It joined and
lifted upward both its palms,
its eyes upon the orient,
As if it said to God, "Naught else I care for."
"Te lucis ante" so
from its mouth, and with such dulcet notes,
It made me issue forth from my own mind.
And then the
others, sweetly and devoutly,
it through all the hymn entire,
Having their eyes on the supernal wheels.
Here, Reader, fix
thine eyes well on the truth,
now indeed so subtile is the veil,
Surely to penetrate within is easy.
I saw that army of
in silence upward gaze,
As if in expectation, pale and humble;
And from on high
come forth and down descend,
saw two Angels with two flaming swords,
Truncated and deprived of their points.
Green as the little
leaflets just now born
garments were, which, by their verdant pinions
Beaten and blown abroad, they trailed behind.
One just above us
came to take his station,
one descended to the opposite bank,
So that the people were contained between them.
Clearly in them
discerned I the blond head;
in their faces was the eye bewildered,
As faculty confounded by excess.
"From Mary's bosom
both of them have come,"
said, "as guardians of the valley
Against the serpent, that will come anon."
Whereupon I, who
knew not by what road,
round about, and closely drew myself,
Utterly frozen, to the faithful shoulders.
And once again
Sordello: "Now descend we
the grand shades, and we will speak to them;
Right pleasant will it be for them to see you."
Only three steps I
think that I descended,
was below, and saw one who was looking
Only at me, as if he fain would know me.
Already now the air
was growing dark,
not so that between his eyes and mine
It did not show what it before locked up.
Tow'rds me he
moved, and I tow'rds him did move;
Judge Nino! how it me delighted,
When I beheld thee not among the damned!
No greeting fair
was left unsaid between us;
asked he: "How long is it since thou camest
O'er the far waters to the mountain's foot?"
"Oh!" said I to
him, "through the dismal places
came this morn; and am in the first life,
Albeit the other, going thus, I gain."
And on the instant
my reply was heard,
and Sordello both shrank back from me,
Like people who are suddenly bewildered.
One to Virgilius,
and the other turned
one who sat there, crying, "Up, Currado!
Come and behold what God in grace has willed!"
Then, turned to me:
"By that especial grace
owest unto Him, who so conceals
His own first wherefore, that it has no ford,
When thou shalt be
beyond the waters wide,
my Giovanna that she pray for me,
Where answer to the innocent is made.
I do not think her
mother loves me more,
she has laid aside her wimple white,
Which she, unhappy, needs must wish again.
Through her full
easily is comprehended
long in woman lasts the fire of love,
If eye or touch do not relight it often.
So fair a hatchment
will not make for her
Viper marshalling the Milanese
A-field, as would have made Gallura's Cock."
In this wise spake
he, with the stamp impressed
his aspect of that righteous zeal
Which measurably burneth in the heart.
My greedy eyes
still wandered up to heaven,
to that point where slowest are the stars,
Even as a wheel the nearest to its axle.
And my Conductor:
"Son, what dost thou gaze at
there?" And I to him: "At those three torches
With which this hither pole is all on fire."
And he to me: "The
four resplendent stars
sawest this morning are down yonder low,
And these have mounted up to where those were."
As he was speaking,
to himself Sordello
him, and said, "Lo there our Adversary!"
And pointed with his finger to look thither.
Upon the side on
which the little valley
barrier hath, a serpent was; perchance
The same which gave to Eve the bitter food.
'Twixt grass and
flowers came on the evil streak,
at times its head about, and licking
Its back like to a beast that smoothes itself.
I did not see, and
therefore cannot say
the celestial falcons 'gan to move,
But well I saw that they were both in motion.
Hearing the air
cleft by their verdant wings,
serpent fled, and round the Angels wheeled,
Up to their stations flying back alike.
The shade that to
the Judge had near approached
he had called, throughout that whole assault
Had not a moment loosed its gaze on me.
"So may the light
that leadeth thee on high
in thine own free-will as much of wax
As needful is up to the highest azure,"
Began it, "if some
Valdimagra or its neighbourhood
Thou knowest, tell it me, who once was great there.
was I called;
not the elder, but from him descended;
To mine I bore the love which here refineth."
"O," said I unto
him, "through your domains
never passed, but where is there a dwelling
Throughout all Europe, where they are not known?
That fame, which
doeth honour to your house,
its Signors and proclaims its land,
So that he knows of them who ne'er was there.
And, as I hope for
heaven, I swear to you
honoured family in naught abates
The glory of the purse and of the sword.
It is so privileged
by use and nature,
though a guilty head misguide the world,
Sole it goes right, and scorns the evil way."
And he: "Now go;
for the sun shall not lie
times upon the pillow which the Ram
With all his four feet covers and bestrides,
Before that such a
in the middle of thy head be nailed
With greater nails than of another's speech,
Unless the course
of justice standeth still."
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
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