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Than now for him, my prayers to thee prefer,
(And pray they be not scant) that thou wouldst drive 30
Each cloud of his mortality away;
That on the sovran pleasure he may gaze.
This also I entreat of thee, O queen!
Who canst do what thou wilt! that in him thou
Wouldst after all he hath beheld, preserve

35
Affection sound, and human passions quell.
Lo! where, with Beatrice, many a saint
Stretch their clasp'd hands, in furtherance of my suit!”

The eyes, that heav'n with love and awe regards, Fix'd on the suitor, witness'd, how benign

40 She looks on pious pray’rs : then fastend they On th' everlasting light, wherein no eye Of creature, as may well be thought, so far Can travel inward. I, meanwhile, who drew Near to the limit, where all wishes end,

45 The ardour of my wish (for so behov’d), Ended within me. Beck'ning smil'd the sage, That I should look aloft: but, ere he bade, Already of myself aloft I look’d; For visual strength, refining more and more,

50 Bare me into the

ray

authentical Of sovran light. Thenceforward, what I saw, Was not for words to speak, nor memory's self To stand against such outrage on her skill. As one, who from a dream awaken’d, straight, 55 All he hath seen forgets; yet still retains Impression of the feeling in his dream; E’en such am I: for all the vision dies, As 't were, away; and yet the sense of sweet,

from it, still trickles in my heart. 60 Thus in the sun-thaw is the snow unseald ; Thus in the winds on flitting leaves was lost The Sybil's sentence. O eternal beam ! (Whose height what reach of mortal thought may soar ?) Yield me again some little particle

65 Of what thou then appearedst, give my tongue Power, but to leave one sparkle of thy glory, Unto the race to come, that shall not lose

That sprang

Thy triumph wholly, if thou waken aught
Of memory in me, and endure to hear

70 The record sound in this unequal strain.

Such keenness from the living ray I met,
That, if mine eyes had turn'd away, methinks,
I had been lost'; but, so embolden'd, on
I pass'd, as I remember, till my view

75 Hover'd the brink of dread infinitude.

O grace! unenvying of thy boon! that gav'st Boldness to fix so earnestly my ken On th' everlasting splendour, that I look'a, While sight was unconsum'd, and, in that depth, 80 Saw in one volume clasp'd of love, whate'er The universe unfolds; all properties Of substance and of accident, beheld, Compounded, yet one individual light The whole. And of such bond methinks I saw 85 The universal form : for that whene'er I do but speak of it, my soul dilates Beyond her proper self; and, till I speak, One moment seems a longer lethargy, Than five-and-twenty ages had appear'd

90 To that emprize, that first made Neptune wonder At Argo's shadow darkening on his flood.

With fixed heed, suspense and motionless,
Wondring I gaz'd; and admiration still
Was kindled, as I gaz’d. It may not be,

95
That one, who looks upon that light, can turn
To other object, willingly, his view.
For all the good, that will may covet, there
Is summ’d; and all, elsewhere defective found,
Complete. My tongue shall utter now, no more 100
E’en what remembrance keeps, than could the babe's
That yet is moisten’d at his mother's breast.
Not that the semblance of the living light
Was chang'd (that ever as at first remain'd)
But that my vision quickening, in that sole

105 Appearance, still new miracles descry’d, And toil'd me with the change. In that abyss Of radiance, clear and lofty, seem'd methought,

110

115

120

Three orbs of triple hue clipt in one bound :
And, from another, one reflected seem’d,
As rainbow is from rainbow: and the third
Seem'd fire, breath'd equally from both. Oh speech
How feeble and how faint art thou, to give
Conception birth! Yet this to what I saw
Is less than little. Oh eternal light!
Sole in thyself that dwellst; and of thyself
Sole understood, past, present, or to come!
Thou smiledst; on that circling, which in thee
Seem'd as reflected splendour, while I mus'd;
For I therein, methought, in its own hue
Beheld our image painted : steadfastly
I therefore por’d upon the view. As one
Who vers’d in geometric lore, would fain
Measure the circle; and, though pondering long
And deeply, that beginning, which he needs,
Finds not; e'en such was I, intent to scan
The novel wonder, and trace out the form,
How to the circle fitted, and therein
How plac'd : but the flight was not for my wing;
Had not a flash darted athwart my mind,
And in the spleen unfolded what it sought.

Here vigour fail'd the tow’ring fantasy :
But yet the will rollid onward, like a wheel
In even motion, by the Love impell’d,
That moves the sun in heav'n and all the stars

125

130

135

NOTES TO HELL.

CANTO 1.

Verse 1. In the midway.] That the æra of the Poem is intended by these words to be fixed to the thirty-fifth year of the poet's age, A.D. 1300, will appear more plainly in Canto XXI. where that date is explicitly marked.

v. 16. That planet's beam.] The sun. v. 29. The hinder foot.] It is to be remembered, that in ascending a hill the weight of the body rests on the hinder foot.

v. 30. A panther.] Pleasure or luxury.

v. 36. With those stars.] The sun was in Aries, in which sign ho supposes it to have begun its course at the creation.

v. 43. A lion.] Pride or ambition. V. 45. A she-wolf.] Avarice.

v. 56. Where the sun in silence rests.] - Hence Milton appears to have taken his idea in the Samson Agonistes :

The sun to me is dark,

And silent as the moon, &c. The same metaphor will recur, Canto V. v. 29.

Into a place I came

Where light was silent all. V. 65. When the power of Julius.] This is explained by the commentators to mean—“Although it was rather late with respect to my birth, before Julius Cæsar assumed the supreme authority, and made himself perpetual dictator."

v. 98. That greyhound.) This passage is intended as an euloginm on the liberal spirit of his Veronese patron Can Grande della Scala.

v. 102. 'Twizt either Feltro.] Verona, the country of Can della Scala, is situated between Feltro, a city in the Marca Trivigiana, and Monte Feltro, a city in the territory of Urbino. v. 103. Italia's plains.] Umile Italia,” from Virgil, Æn. lib. :11. 522.

Humilemque videmus

Italiam. v. 115. Content in fire.] The spirits in Purgatory. v. 118. A spirit worthier.] Beatrice, who conducts the Poet through Paradise.

v. 130. Saint Peter's gate.] The gate of Purgatory, which the Poet feigns to be guarded by an angel placed on that station by St. Peter.

CANTO II.

v. 1. Now was the day.) A compendium of Virgil's description, Æn. lib. iv. 522. Nox erat, &c. Compare Apollonius Rhodius, lib. iii. 744. and lib. iv. 1058 v. 8. O mind.]

O thought that write all that I met,
And in the tresorie it set
Of my braine, now shall men see
If any virtue in thee be.

Chaucer. Temple of Fame, b. ii. v. 18. V. 14. Silvius' sire.] Æneas.

v. 30. The chosen vessel.] St. Paul. Acts, c. ix. v. 15. “ But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way ; for he is a chosen vessel unto me.

v. 46. Thy soul.] L'anima tua è da viltate offesa. So in Berni, Orl. Inn. lib. iii. c. i. st. 53.

Se l'alma avete offesa da viltate. v. 54. Who rest suspended.] The spirits in Limbo, neither admitted to a state of glory nor doomed to punishment.

v. 61. A friend not of my fortune, but myself.] Se non fortunæ sed hominibus solere esse amicum. Cornelii Nepotis Attici Vitæ, c. ix.

v. 78. Whatever is contain'd.] Every other thing comprised within the lunar heaven, which, being the lowest of all, has the smallest circle.

v. 93. A blessed dame.] The divine mercy:
v. 97. Lucia.] The enlightening grace of heaven.
v. 124. Three maids.] The divine mercy, Lucia, and Beatrice.
v. 127. As florets.] This simile is well translated by Chaucer-

· But right as floures through the cold of night
Iclosed, stoupen in her stalkes lowe,
Redressen hem agen the sunne bright,
And speden in her kinde course by rowe, &c.

Troilus and Creseide, b. ii. It has been imitated by many others, among whom see Berni, Orl. Inn. lib. 1. c. xii. st. 86. Marino, Adone, c. xvii. st. 63. and Son. “Donna vestita di nero." and Spenser's Faery Queen, b. 4. c. xii. st. 34. and b. 6. c. ii. st. 35.

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CANTO III.

Power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.]
The three persons of the blessed Trinity.
v. 9. All hope abandoned.]

Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch' entrate.
So Berni, Orl. Inn. lib. i. c. 8. st. 53.

Lascia pur della vita ogni speranza. v. 29. Like to the sand.]

Unnumber'd as the sands
Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings.

Milton. P. L. b. ii. 903,

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