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CANTO IV.

A heavy thunder broke the sleep profound

From out my brain ; so that myself I shook,

As one perforce awakened : and around, Being uprisen, with eyes reposed I look,

And fixedly I gazed, could sight avail,

To know the place wherein my way I took. I found me on the border of the vale,

That valley of the dolorous abyss

Which gathereth thunder great of endless wail. So gloomy, deep, and cloudy it was, I wis,

That, though against its depth I fixed my gaze,

Nought could I there below discern for this.
Now down into the blind world, down apace,

Descend we, said the bard, all pale of hue,
I shall be first : hold thou the second place.

And I, because his colour wan I knew,

Said: How shall I come on, if thou dost fear,

From whom assurance, in my fears, I drew ?
And he to me: It is the anguish drear

Of those who are below, with pity, thus,

That paints my visage, which thou deemest fear. Proceed we; for the long way urgeth us.

So entered he, and made me enter too

The circle first that girds the abyss accurst.
Herein, for aught that ear could hearken to,

There was no plaint, save that alone of sighs.

Which made the eternal breezes tremble through. And these from sorrow, without pain, arise,

Which felt the crowds many and great, I wot,

Of infants, and of women, and likewise
Of men. The master said : Askest thou not

What spirits those are which thou seest yon?

I will that thou shouldst know they sinned not.
And if they have found mercy, that, alone,
Cannot suffice ; for baptism had they ne'er

part is of that faith thou trustest on. And, if ere Christianity they were,

They did not duly the true God adore :
And I am one of such, in that despair.

Which

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Through such defects, and nought of evil more,

Lost are we, only pained with such unbliss,

That in desire we live while hope is o'er. Great sorrow filled my heart when I heard this;

Because I knew that many a worthy wight

Was in that limbo, then, bereft of bliss. Tell me, good master mine, tell me aright,

I straight began, for I would certain be

Of that true faith which conquers error quite : Hence ever passed one out, by merit free,

His own or other's, and was, after, blest?

My covert speech then understanding, he Replied : I was but new in this unrest,

When, here, I saw a mighty one arrive

With sign of victory crowned, and honour best. The shade of the first sire of all who live

Hence drew he, and of Abel, too, his son;

Noah, and Moses that God's law did give; The patriarch Abraham; David, royal one;

Israel, with his father, and his sons,

With Rachel for whose sake so much he had done, And made them blest, with many more, eftsoons.

And I would have thee know that saved were
No human souls before those happy ones.

Tra le 12. ve renset 116 3. ar.

But ri jasseri örvar ariigi že vood aitav.

Te ved. I way. I mans spirts, there.
Es muie in že summit. 20, 30 Fay

25 26 Unwien I a fire beheld
In meilei ne jemisphere of darkness ay.
meviat trim sence, as yet, we held
Cursunxe, si act so tu bat that, in part.

It seem what honoured folk there dwelled. O acuzat icecrest as fore and art,

Sat we are these that such great worship find,

That them from other wights it doth dispart?
Ate to re: The name they left behind,

We speaketh in thy life above of those,
Woo grace in Heaven, which raised them in this

Erd
Meantime I heard a voice, full clear that rose;

Honour ye, honour ye the highest bard:

His shade, which was gone forth, returns to us. When that the voice made end, nor more was heard,

I saw four mighty shades from out that quire

Approach, whose semblance sad nor blithe appeared. Then the good master thus began : Admire !

Behold him yonder, with that sword in hand,
Who comes before the three, even as their sire:

That is great Homer, sovereign poet, and

Next is the satirist Horace who comes on:

Ovid is third ; Lucan last of that band. Because that these agree with me, each one,

In name, such as the voice pronounced, likewise

They do me honour, and, so, well have done. Thus the fair school I saw, in goodly guise,

Of that great lord of the most lofty song,

Which o'er the others, as an eagle, flies. When somewhat they had spoke, themselves among,

They turned towards me, with a greeting fair,

And my good master smiled on them along. And much more honour gave they to me, there ;

For one they made me of their band so bright,

And I was sixth of that assemblage rare. Thus went we onward, till we reached the light,

Speaking of things which may not here be told;

Though meet for utterance there, and spoken right. We came unto a noble castle old,

Circled by lofty walls, seven times, in girth ;

Fenced by a stream around, fair to behold.
This we passed o'er, as if o'er hardest earth.

By seven portals, with those sages great,
I entered a fresh verdant mead of worth.

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