Purgatorio: Canto XIV
"Who is this one
that goes about our mountain,
ever Death has given him power of flight,
And opes his eyes and shuts them at his will?"
"I know not who,
but know he's not alone;
him thyself, for thou art nearer to him,
And gently, so that he may speak, accost him."
Thus did two
spirits, leaning tow'rds each other,
about me there on the right hand;
Then held supine their faces to address me.
And said the one:
"O soul, that, fastened still
the body, tow'rds the heaven art going,
For charity console us, and declare
Whence comest and
who art thou; for thou mak'st us
much to marvel at this grace of thine
As must a thing that never yet has been."
And I: "Through
midst of Tuscany there wanders
streamlet that is born in Falterona,
And not a hundred miles of course suffice it;
From thereupon do I
this body bring.
tell you who I am were speech in vain,
Because my name as yet makes no great noise."
"If well thy
meaning I can penetrate
intellect of mine," then answered me
He who first spake, "thou speakest of the Arno."
And said the other
to him: "Why concealed
one the appellation of that river,
Even as a man doth of things horrible?"
And thus the shade
that questioned was of this
acquitted: "I know not; but truly
'Tis fit the name of such a valley perish;
For from its
fountain-head (where is so pregnant
Alpine mountain whence is cleft Peloro
That in few places it that mark surpasses)
To where it yields
itself in restoration
what the heaven doth of the sea dry up,
Whence have the rivers that which goes with them,
Virtue is like an
all, as is a serpent, through misfortune
Of place, or through bad habit that impels them;
On which account
have so transformed their nature
dwellers in that miserable valley,
It seems that Circe had them in her pasture.
'Mid ugly swine, of
other food for human use created,
It first directeth its impoverished way.
Curs findeth it
thereafter, coming downward,
snarling than their puissance demands,
And turns from them disdainfully its muzzle.
It goes on falling,
and the more it grows,
more it finds the dogs becoming wolves,
This maledict and misadventurous ditch.
through many a hollow gulf,
finds the foxes so replete with fraud,
They fear no cunning that may master them.
Nor will I cease
because another hears me;
well 'twill be for him, if still he mind him
Of what a truthful spirit to me unravels.
Thy grandson I
behold, who doth become
hunter of those wolves upon the bank
Of the wild stream, and terrifies them all.
He sells their
flesh, it being yet alive;
slaughters them like ancient beeves;
Many of life, himself of praise, deprives.
issues from the dismal forest;
leaves it such, a thousand years from now
In its primeval state 'tis not re-wooded."
As at the
announcement of impending ills
face of him who listens is disturbed,
From whate'er side the peril seize upon him;
So I beheld that
other soul, which stood
round to listen, grow disturbed and sad,
When it had gathered to itself the word.
The speech of one
and aspect of the other
me desirous made to know their names,
And question mixed with prayers I made thereof,
Whereat the spirit
which first spake to me
again: "Thou wishest I should bring me
To do for thee what thou'lt not do for me;
But since God
willeth that in thee shine forth
grace of his, I'll not be chary with thee;
Know, then, that I Guido del Duca am.
My blood was so
with envy set on fire,
if I had beheld a man make merry,
Thou wouldst have seen me sprinkled o'er with pallor.
From my own sowing
such the straw I reap!
human race! why dost thou set thy heart
Where interdict of partnership must be?
This is Renier;
this is the boast and honour
the house of Calboli, where no one since
Has made himself the heir of his desert.
And not alone his
blood is made devoid,
Po and mount, and sea-shore and the Reno,
Of good required for truth and for diversion;
For all within
these boundaries is full
venomous roots, so that too tardily
By cultivation now would they diminish.
Where is good
Lizio, and Arrigo Manardi,
Traversaro, and Guido di Carpigna,
O Romagnuoli into bastards turned?
When in Bologna
will a Fabbro rise?
in Faenza a Bernardin di Fosco,
The noble scion of ignoble seed?
Be not astonished,
Tuscan, if I weep,
I remember, with Guido da Prata,
Ugolin d' Azzo, who was living with us,
and his company,
house of Traversara, and th' Anastagi,
And one race and the other is extinct;
The dames and
cavaliers, the toils and ease
filled our souls with love and courtesy,
There where the hearts have so malicious grown!
O Brettinoro! why
dost thou not flee,
that all thy family is gone,
And many people, not to be corrupted?
Bagnacaval does well in not begetting
ill does Castrocaro, and Conio worse,
In taking trouble to beget such Counts.
Will do well the
Pagani, when their Devil
have departed; but not therefore pure
Will testimony of them e'er remain.
O Ugolin de'
name is, since no longer is awaited
One who, degenerating, can obscure it!
But go now, Tuscan,
for it now delights me
weep far better than it does to speak,
So much has our discourse my mind distressed."
We were aware that
those beloved souls
us depart; therefore, by keeping silent,
They made us of our pathway confident.
When we became
alone by going onward,
when it doth cleave the air, appeared
A voice, that counter to us came, exclaiming:
"Shall slay me
whosoever findeth me!"
fled as the reverberation dies
If suddenly the cloud asunder bursts.
As soon as hearing
had a truce from this,
another, with so great a crash,
That it resembled thunderings following fast:
"I am Aglaurus, who
became a stone!"
then, to press myself close to the Poet,
I backward, and not forward, took a step.
Already on all
sides the air was quiet;
said he to me: "That was the hard curb
That ought to hold a man within his bounds;
But you take in the
bait so that the hook
the old Adversary draws you to him,
And hence availeth little curb or call.
The heavens are
calling you, and wheel around you,
to you their eternal beauties,
And still your eye is looking on the ground;
Whence He, who all
discerns, chastises you."
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
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