Purgatorio: Canto IX
The concubine of
old Tithonus now
white upon the eastern balcony,
Forth from the arms of her sweet paramour;
With gems her
forehead all relucent was,
in the shape of that cold animal
Which with its tail doth smite amain the nations,
And of the steps,
with which she mounts, the Night
taken two in that place where we were,
And now the third was bending down its wings;
When I, who
something had of Adam in me,
by sleep, upon the grass reclined,
There were all five of us already sat.
Just at the hour
when her sad lay begins
little swallow, near unto the morning,
Perchance in memory of her former woes,
And when the mind
of man, a wanderer
from the flesh, and less by thought imprisoned,
Almost prophetic in its visions is,
In dreams it seemed
to me I saw suspended
eagle in the sky, with plumes of gold,
With wings wide open, and intent to stoop,
And this, it seemed
to me, was where had been
Ganymede his kith and kin abandoned,
When to the high consistory he was rapt.
I thought within
myself, perchance he strikes
habit only here, and from elsewhere
Disdains to bear up any in his feet.
somewhat more, it seemed to me,
as the lightning he descended,
And snatched me upward even to the fire.
Therein it seemed
that he and I were burning,
the imagined fire did scorch me so,
That of necessity my sleep was broken.
Achilles started up,
him turning his awakened eyes,
And knowing not the place in which he was,
What time from
Chiron stealthily his mother
him sleeping in her arms to Scyros,
Wherefrom the Greeks withdrew him afterwards,
Than I upstarted,
when from off my face
fled away; and pallid I became,
As doth the man who freezes with affright.
Only my Comforter
was at my side,
now the sun was more than two hours high,
And turned towards the sea-shore was my face.
intimidated," said my Lord,
reassured, for all is well with us;
Do not restrain, but put forth all thy strength.
Thou hast at length
arrived at Purgatory;
there the cliff that closes it around;
See there the entrance, where it seems disjoined.
Whilom at dawn,
which doth precede the day,
inwardly thy spirit was asleep
Upon the flowers that deck the land below,
There came a Lady
and said: 'I am Lucia;
me take this one up, who is asleep;
So will I make his journey easier for him.'
Sordello and the
other noble shapes
she took thee, and, as day grew bright,
Upward she came, and I upon her footsteps.
She laid thee here;
and first her beauteous eyes
open entrance pointed out to me;
Then she and sleep together went away."
In guise of one
whose doubts are reassured,
who to confidence his fear doth change,
After the truth has been discovered to him,
So did I change;
and when without disquiet
Leader saw me, up along the cliff
He moved, and I behind him, tow'rd the height.
Reader, thou seest
well how I exalt
theme, and therefore if with greater art
I fortify it, marvel not thereat.
we, and were in such place,
there, where first appeared to me a rift
Like to a crevice that disparts a wall,
I saw a portal, and
three stairs beneath,
in colour, to go up to it,
And a gate-keeper, who yet spake no word.
And as I opened
more and more mine eyes,
saw him seated on the highest stair,
Such in the face that I endured it not.
And in his hand he
had a naked sword,
so reflected back the sunbeams tow'rds us,
That oft in vain I lifted up mine eyes.
"Tell it from where
you are, what is't you wish?"
he to exclaim; "where is the escort?
Take heed your coming hither harm you not!"
"A Lady of Heaven,
with these things conversant,"
Master answered him, "but even now
Said to us, 'Thither go; there is the portal.'"
"And may she speed
your footsteps in all good,"
began the courteous janitor;
"Come forward then unto these stairs of ours."
Thither did we
approach; and the first stair
marble white, so polished and so smooth,
I mirrored myself therein as I appear.
The second, tinct
of deeper hue than perse,
of a calcined and uneven stone,
Cracked all asunder lengthwise and across.
The third, that
uppermost rests massively,
seemed to me, as flaming red
As blood that from a vein is spirting forth.
Both of his feet
was holding upon this
Angel of God, upon the threshold seated,
Which seemed to me a stone of diamond.
Along the three
stairs upward with good will
my Conductor draw me, saying: "Ask
Humbly that he the fastening may undo."
Devoutly at the
holy feet I cast me,
mercy's sake besought that he would open,
But first upon my breast three times I smote.
Seven P's upon my
forehead he described
the sword's point, and, "Take heed that thou wash
These wounds, when thou shalt be within," he said.
Ashes, or earth
that dry is excavated,
the same colour were with his attire,
And from beneath it he drew forth two keys.
One was of gold,
and the other was of silver;
with the white, and after with the yellow,
Plied he the door, so that I was content.
either of these keys
that it turn not rightly in the lock,"
He said to us, "this entrance doth not open.
More precious one
is, but the other needs
art and intellect ere it unlock,
For it is that which doth the knot unloose.
From Peter I have
them; and he bade me err
in opening than in keeping shut,
If people but fall down before my feet."
Then pushed the
portals of the sacred door,
"Enter; but I give you warning
That forth returns whoever looks behind."
And when upon their
hinges were turned round
swivels of that consecrated gate,
Which are of metal, massive and sonorous,
Roared not so loud,
nor so discordant seemed
when was ta'en from it the good
Metellus, wherefore meagre it remained.
At the first
thunder-peal I turned attentive,
"Te Deum laudamus" seemed to hear
In voices mingled with sweet melody.
Exactly such an
image rendered me
which I heard, as we are wont to catch,
When people singing with the organ stand;
For now we hear,
and now hear not, the words.
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
Home | Bible versions | Bible Dictionary | Christian Classics | Christian Articles | Daily Devotions
Sister Projects: Wikichristian | WikiMD
BelieversCafe is a large collection of christian articles with over 40,000 pages