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To whose desires repose would have been giv'n,
That now but serve them for eternal grief.
I speak of Plato, and the Stagyrite,
And others many more.” And then he bent
Downwards his forehead, and in troubled mood
Broke off his speech. Meanwhile we had arriv’d
Far as the mountain's foot, and there the rock
45 Found of so steep ascent, that nimblest steps To climb it had been vain. The most remote Most wild untrodden path, in all the tract 'Twixt Lerice and Turbia were to this A ladder easy' and open of access.
50 “ Who knows on which hand now the stoep declines ?” My master said and paus'd, “so that he may Ascend, who journeys without aid of wing ?” And while with looks directed to the ground The meaning of the pathway he explor'd,
55 And I gaz'd upward round the stony height, On the left hand appear’d to us a troop Of spirits, that toward us mov'd their steps, Yet moving seem'd not, they so slow approach’d.
I thus my guide address'd : “Upraise thine eyes, 60 Lo that way some, of whom thou may'st obtain Counsel, if of thyself thou find'st it not!”
Straightway he look’d, and with free speech replied : “Let us tend thither : they but softly come. And thou be firm in hope, my son belov’d.”
Now was that people distant far in space
A thousand paces behind ours, as much
As at a throw the nervous arm could fling,
When all drew backward on the massy crags
Of the steep bank, and firmly stood unmov'd
As one who walks in doubt might stand to look.
“O spirits perfect! O already chosen !'
Virgil to them began, "by that blest peace,
Which, as I deem, is for you all prepard,
Instruct us where the mountain low declines,
So that attempt to mount it be not vain.
For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves.”
As sheep, that step from forth their fold, by one,
Or pairs, or three at once; meanwhile the rest
Stand fearfully, bending the eye and nose
To ground, and what the foremost does, that do
The others, gath'ring round her, if she stops,
Simple and quiet, nor the cause discern;
So saw I moving to advance the first,
Who of that fortunate crew were at the head,
Of modest mien and graceful in their gait.
When they before me had beheld the light
From my right side fall broken on the ground,
So that the shadow reach'd the cave, they stopp'd
And somewhat back retir'd: the same did all,
Who follow'd, though unweeting of the cause.
“Unask'd of you, yet freely I confess,
This is a human body which ye see.
That the sun's light is broken on the ground,
Marvel not: but believe, that not without
Virtue deriv'd from Heaven, we to climb
Over this wall aspire.” So them bespake
My master; and that virtuous tribe rejoin'd;
“Turn, and before you there the entrance lies,”
Making a signal to us with bent hands.
Then of them one began. 6. Whoe'er thou art,
Who journey'st thus this way, thy visage turn,
Think if me elsewhere thou hast ever seen.”
I tow'rds him turn'd, and with fix'd eye beheld.
Comely, and fair, and gentle of aspect,
He seem'd, but on one brow a gash was mark’d.
When humbly I disclaim’d to have beheld
Him ever: “Now behold !” he said, and show'd
High on his breast a wound: then smiling spake.
"I am Manfredi, grandson to the Queen
Costanza : whence I pray thee, when return'd,
To my fair daughter go, the parent glad
Of Aragonia and Sicilia's pride;
And of the truth inform her, if of me
Aught else be told. When by two mortal blows
My frame was shatter'd, I betook myself
Weeping to him, who of free will forgives.
My sins were horrible ; but so wide arms
Hath goodness infinite, that it receives
All who turn to it. Had this text divine
Been of Cosenza's shepherd better scann'd,
Who then by Clement on my hunt was set,
Yet at the bridge's head my bones had lain,
Near Benevento, by the heavy mole
Protected; but the rain now drenches them,
And the wind drives, out of the kingdom's bounds,
Far as the stream of Verde, where, with lights
Extinguish’d, he remov'd them from their bed.
Yet by their curse we are not so destroy'd,
But that the eternal love may turn, while hope
Retains her verdant blossoms. True it is,
That such one as in contumacy dies
Against the holy church, though he repent,
Must wander thirty-fold for all the time
In his presumption past; if such decree
Be not by prayers of good men shorter made.
Look therefore if thou canst advance my bliss ;
Revealing to my good Costanza, how
Thou hast beheld me, and beside the terms
Laid on me of that interdict ; for here
By means of those below much profit comes."
WHEN by sensations of delight or pain,
That any of our faculties hath seiz'd,
Entire the soul collects herself, it seems
She is intent upon that power alone,
And thus the errour is disprov'd which holds
The soul not singly lighted in the breast.
And therefore when as aught is heard or seen,
That firmly keeps the soul toward it turn'd,
Time passes, and a man perceives it not.
For that, whereby we hearken, is one power,
Another that, which the whole spirit hath ;
This is as it were bound, while that is free.
This found I true by proof, hearing that spirit
And wond'ring; for full fifty steps aloft
The sun had measur'd unobserv'd of me,
When we arriv'd where all with one accord
The spirits shouted, “Here is what ye ask.”
A larger aperture ofttimes is stopp’d
With forked stake of thorn by villager,
When the ripe grape imbrowns, than was the path,
By which my guide, and I behind him close,
Ascended solitary, when that troop
Departing left us. On Sanleo's road
Who journeys, or to Noli low descends,
Or mounts Bismantua's height, must use his feet;
But here a man had need to fly, I mean
With the swift wing and plumes of high desire,
Conducted by his aid, who gave me hope,
And with light furnish'd to direct my way.
We through the broken rock ascended, close
Pent on each side, while underneath the ground
Ask'd help of hands and feet. When we arriv’d
Near on the highest ridge of the steep bank,
Where the plain level open'd I exclaim’d,
“O master! say which way can we proceed ?”
He answer'd, “ Let no step of thine recede.
Behind me gain the mountain, till to us
Some practis'd guide appear.” That eminence
Was lofty that no eye might reach its point,
And the side proudly rising, more than line
From the mid quadrant to the centre drawn.
I wearied thus began: “Parent belor'd !
Turn, and behold how I remain alone,
If thou stay not.”—“My son!” he straight reply'd,
“ Thus far put forth thy strength ;” and to a track
Pointed, that, on this side projecting, round
Circles the hill. His words so spurr'd me on,
That I behind him clamb'ring, forc'd myself,
Till my feet press'd the circuit plain beneath.
There both together seated, turn'd we round
To eastward, whence was our ascent: and oft
Many beside have with delight look'd back.
First on the nether shores I turn'd my eyes,
Then rais'd them to the sun, and wond'ring mark’d
That from the left it smote us. Soon perceiv’l
That Poet sage how at the car of light
Amaz'd I stood, where 'twixt us and the north
Its course it enter’d. Whence he thus to me:
" Were Leda's offspring now in company
Of that broad mirror, that high up and low
Imparts his light beneath, thou might'st behold
The ruddy zodiac nearer to the bears
Wheel, if its ancient course it not forsook.
How that may be if thou would'st think; within
Pond'ring, imagine Sion with this mount
Plac'd on the earth, so that to both be one
Horizon, and two hemispheres apart,
Where lies the path that Phaëton ill knew
To guide his erring chariot : thou wilt see
How of necessity by this on one
He passes, while by that on the other side,
If with clear view thine intellect attend."
“Of truth, kind teacher!” I exclaim’d,
Aught saw I never, as I now discern
Where seem'd my ken to fail, that the mid orb
Of the supernal motion (which in terms
Of art is called the Equator, and remains
Ever between the sun and winter) for the cause
Thou hast assign'd, from hence toward the north
Departs, when those who in the Hebrew land
Inhabit, see it tow'rds the warmer part.
But if it please thee, I would gladly know,
How far we have to journey: for the hill
Mounts bigher, than this sight of inine can mount.'
He thus to me: “Such is this steep ascent,
That it is ever difficult at first,
But, more a man proceeds, less evil grows.
When pleasant it shall seem to thee, so much
That upward going shall be easy to thee.
As in a vessel to go down the tide,
Then of this path thou wilt have reach'd the end.
There hope to rest thee from thy toil.
I answer, and thus far for certain know.”