Purgatorio: Canto XXII
Already was the
Angel left behind us,
Angel who to the sixth round had turned us,
Having erased one mark from off my face;
And those who have
in justice their desire
said to us, "Beati," in their voices,
With "sitio," and without more ended it.
And I, more light
than through the other passes,
onward so, that without any labour
I followed upward the swift-footed spirits;
When thus Virgilius
began: "The love
by virtue aye another kindles,
Provided outwardly its flame appear.
Hence from the hour
that Juvenal descended
us into the infernal Limbo,
Who made apparent to me thy affection,
towards thee was as great
ever bound one to an unseen person,
So that these stairs will now seem short to me.
But tell me, and
forgive me as a friend,
too great confidence let loose the rein,
And as a friend now hold discourse with me;
How was it possible
within thy breast
avarice to find place, 'mid so much wisdom
As thou wast filled with by thy diligence?"
These words excited
Statius at first
to laughter; afterward he answered:
"Each word of thine is love's dear sign to me.
do things appear
give fallacious matter to our doubts,
Instead of the true causes which are hidden!
Thy question shows
me thy belief to be
I was niggard in the other life,
It may be from the circle where I was;
thou, that avarice was removed
far from me; and this extravagance
Thousands of lunar periods have punished.
And were it not
that I my thoughts uplifted,
I the passage heard where thou exclaimest,
As if indignant, unto human nature,
'To what impellest
thou not, O cursed hunger
gold, the appetite of mortal men?'
Revolving I should feel the dismal joustings.
Then I perceived
the hands could spread too wide
wings in spending, and repented me
As well of that as of my other sins;
How many with shorn
hair shall rise again
of ignorance, which from this sin
Cuts off repentance living and in death!
And know that the
transgression which rebuts
direct opposition any sin
Together with it here its verdure dries.
Therefore if I have
been among that folk
mourns its avarice, to purify me,
For its opposite has this befallen me."
"Now when thou
sangest the relentless weapons
the twofold affliction of Jocasta,"
The singer of the Songs Bucolic said,
"From that which
Clio there with thee preludes,
does not seem that yet had made thee faithful
That faith without which no good works suffice.
If this be so, what
candles or what sun
thy darkness so that thou didst trim
Thy sails behind the Fisherman thereafter?"
And he to him:
"Thou first directedst me
Parnassus, in its grots to drink,
And first concerning God didst me enlighten.
Thou didst as he
who walketh in the night,
bears his light behind, which helps him not,
But wary makes the persons after him,
When thou didst
say: 'The age renews itself,
returns, and man's primeval time,
And a new progeny descends from heaven.'
Through thee I Poet
was, through thee a Christian;
that thou better see what I design,
To colour it will I extend my hand.
Already was the
world in every part
with the true creed, disseminated
By messengers of the eternal kingdom;
And thy assertion,
spoken of above,
the new preachers was in unison;
Whence I to visit them the custom took.
Then they became so
holy in my sight,
when Domitian persecuted them,
Not without tears of mine were their laments;
And all the while
that I on earth remained,
I befriended, and their upright customs
Made me disparage all the other sects.
And ere I led the
Greeks unto the rivers
Thebes, in poetry, I was baptized,
But out of fear was covertly a Christian,
For a long time
this lukewarmness caused me the fourth circle
To circuit round more than four centuries.
who hast raised the covering
hid from me whatever good I speak of,
While in ascending we have time to spare,
Tell me, in what
place is our friend Terentius,
Plautus, Varro, if thou knowest;
Tell me if they are damned, and in what alley."
"These, Persius and
myself, and others many,"
my Leader, "with that Grecian are
Whom more than all the rest the Muses suckled,
In the first circle
of the prison blind;
we of the mountain hold discourse
Which has our nurses ever with itself.
Euripides is with
Agatho, and many other
Greeks who of old their brows with laurel decked.
There some of thine
own people may be seen,
Deiphile and Argia,
And there Ismene mournful as of old.
There she is seen
who pointed out Langia;
is Tiresias' daughter, and there Thetis,
And there Deidamia with her sisters."
Silent already were
the poets both,
once more in looking round about,
From the ascent and from the walls released;
handmaidens of the day already
left behind, and at the pole the fifth
Was pointing upward still its burning horn,
What time my Guide:
"I think that tow'rds the edge
dexter shoulders it behoves us turn,
Circling the mount as we are wont to do."
Thus in that region
custom was our ensign;
we resumed our way with less suspicion
For the assenting of that worthy soul
They in advance
went on, and I alone
them, and I listened to their speech,
Which gave me lessons in the art of song.
But soon their
sweet discourses interrupted
tree which midway in the road we found,
With apples sweet and grateful to the smell.
And even as a
fir-tree tapers upward
bough to bough, so downwardly did that;
I think in order that no one might climb it.
On that side where
our pathway was enclosed
from the lofty rock a limpid water,
And spread itself abroad upon the leaves.
The Poets twain
unto the tree drew near,
from among the foliage a voice
Cried: "Of this food ye shall have scarcity."
Then said: "More
thoughtful Mary was of making
marriage feast complete and honourable,
Than of her mouth which now for you responds;
And for their drink
the ancient Roman women
water were content; and Daniel
Disparaged food, and understanding won.
The primal age was
beautiful as gold;
it made with hunger savorous,
And nectar every rivulet with thirst.
Honey and locusts
were the aliments
fed the Baptist in the wilderness;
Whence he is glorious, and so magnified
As by the Evangel
is revealed to you."
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
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