Purgatorio: Canto XXVI
While on the brink
thus one before the other
went upon our way, oft the good Master
Said: "Take thou heed! suffice it that I warn thee."
On the right
shoulder smote me now the sun,
raying out, already the whole west
Changed from its azure aspect into white.
And with my shadow
did I make the flame
more red; and even to such a sign
Shades saw I many, as they went, give heed.
This was the cause
that gave them a beginning
speak of me; and to themselves began they
To say: "That seems not a factitious body!"
Then towards me, as
far as they could come,
certain of them, always with regard
Not to step forth where they would not be burned.
"O thou who goest,
not from being slower
reverent perhaps, behind the others,
Answer me, who in thirst and fire am burning.
Nor to me only is
thine answer needful;
all of these have greater thirst for it
Than for cold water Ethiop or Indian.
Tell us how is it
that thou makest thyself
wall unto the sun, as if thou hadst not
Entered as yet into the net of death."
Thus one of them
addressed me, and I straight
have revealed myself, were I not bent
On other novelty that then appeared.
For through the
middle of the burning road
came a people face to face with these,
Which held me in suspense with gazing at them.
There see I
hastening upon either side
of the shades, and kissing one another
Without a pause, content with brief salute.
Thus in the middle
of their brown battalions
to muzzle one ant meets another
Perchance to spy their journey or their fortune.
No sooner is the
friendly greeting ended,
ever the first footstep passes onward,
Each one endeavours to outcry the other;
people: "Sodom and Gomorrah!"
rest: "Into the cow Pasiphae enters,
So that the bull unto her lust may run!"
Then as the cranes,
that to Riphaean mountains
fly in part, and part towards the sands,
These of the frost, those of the sun avoidant,
One folk is going,
and the other coming,
weeping they return to their first songs,
And to the cry that most befitteth them;
And close to me
approached, even as before,
very same who had entreated me,
Attent to listen in their countenance.
I, who their
inclination twice had seen,
"O souls secure in the possession,
Whene'er it may be, of a state of peace,
Neither unripe nor
ripened have remained
members upon earth, but here are with me
With their own blood and their articulations.
I go up here to be
no longer blind;
Lady is above, who wins this grace,
Whereby the mortal through your world I bring.
But as your
greatest longing satisfied
soon become, so that the Heaven may house you
Which full of love is, and most amply spreads,
Tell me, that I
again in books may write it,
are you, and what is that multitude
Which goes upon its way behind your backs?"
Not otherwise with
wonder is bewildered
mountaineer, and staring round is dumb,
When rough and rustic to the town he goes,
Than every shade
became in its appearance;
when they of their stupor were disburdened,
Which in high hearts is quickly quieted,
"Blessed be thou,
who of our border-lands,"
recommenced who first had questioned us,
"Experience freightest for a better life.
The folk that comes
not with us have offended
that for which once Caesar, triumphing,
Heard himself called in contumely, 'Queen.'
separate, exclaiming, 'Sodom!'
reproving, even as thou hast heard,
And add unto their burning by their shame.
transgression was hermaphrodite;
because we observed not human law,
Following like unto beasts our appetite,
In our opprobrium
by us is read,
we part company, the name of her
Who bestialized herself in bestial wood.
Now knowest thou
our acts, and what our crime was;
thou perchance by name know who we are,
There is not time to tell, nor could I do it.
Thy wish to know me
shall in sooth be granted;
Guido Guinicelli, and now purge me,
Having repented ere the hour extreme."
The same that in
the sadness of Lycurgus
sons became, their mother re-beholding,
Such I became, but rise not to such height,
The moment I heard
name himself the father
me and of my betters, who had ever
Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of love;
And without speech
and hearing thoughtfully
a long time I went, beholding him,
Nor for the fire did I approach him nearer.
When I was fed with
I offered ready for his service,
With affirmation that compels belief.
And he to me: "Thou
leavest footprints such
me, from what I hear, and so distinct,
Lethe cannot efface them, nor make dim.
But if thy words
just now the truth have sworn,
me what is the cause why thou displayest
In word and look that dear thou holdest me?"
And I to him:
"Those dulcet lays of yours
long as shall endure our modern fashion,
Shall make for ever dear their very ink!"
"O brother," said
he, "he whom I point out,"
here he pointed at a spirit in front,
"Was of the mother tongue a better smith.
Verses of love and
proses of romance,
mastered all; and let the idiots talk,
Who think the Lemosin surpasses him.
To clamour more
than truth they turn their faces,
in this way establish their opinion,
Ere art or reason has by them been heard.
Thus many ancients
with Guittone did,
cry to cry still giving him applause,
Until the truth has conquered with most persons.
Now, if thou hast
such ample privilege
granted thee to go unto the cloister
Wherein is Christ the abbot of the college,
To him repeat for
me a Paternoster,
far as needful to us of this world,
Where power of sinning is no longer ours."
Then, to give place
perchance to one behind,
he had near, he vanished in the fire
As fish in water going to the bottom.
I moved a little
tow'rds him pointed out,
said that to his name my own desire
An honourable place was making ready.
He of his own free
will began to say:
m' abellis vostre cortes deman,
Que jeu nom' puesc ni vueill a vos cobrire;
Jeu sui Arnaut, que
plor e vai chantan;
vei la passada folor,
E vei jauzen lo jorn qu' esper denan.
Ara vus prec per
vus condus al som de la scalina,
Sovenga vus a temprar ma dolor.'*
Then hid him in the
fire that purifies them.
* So pleases me
your courteous demand,
cannot and I will not hide me from you.
I am Arnaut, who
weep and singing go;
I see the folly of the past,
And joyous see the hoped-for day before me.
Therefore do I
implore you, by that power
guides you to the summit of the stairs,
Be mindful to assuage my suffering!
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
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