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To whom, then, if thou wishest to ascend,
A soul shall be for that than I more worthy;
With her at my departure I will leave thee; Because that Emperor, who reigns above,
In that I was rebellious to his law, 123
Wills that through me none come into his city. He governs everywhere, and there he reigns;
There is his city and his lofty throne;
O happy he whom thereto he elects!" And I to him: "Poet, I thee entreat, 'j->
By that same God whom thou didst never know,
So that I may escape this woe and worse,
That I may see the portal of Saint Peter,
And those thou makest so disconsolate." Ms
Then he moved on, and I behind him followed.
Day was departing, and the embrowned air
Made myself ready to sustain the war,
Both of the way and likewise of the woe,
O Muses, O high genius, now assist me!
O memory, that didst write down what I saw,
And I began: "Poet, who guidest me,
Regard my manhood, if it be sufficient,
Ere to the arduous pass thou dost confide me.
Thou sayest, that of Silvius the parent,
But if the adversary of all evil
Was courteous, thinking of the high effect
To men of intellect unmeet it seems not;
For he was of great Rome, and of her empire
The which and what, wishing to speak the truth,
Upon this journey, whence thou givest him vaunt, 35
Things did he hear, which the occasion were
Both of his victory and the papal mantle. Thither went afterwards the Chosen Vessel,
To bring back comfort thence unto that Faith,
Which of salvation's way is the beginning. 30
But I, why thither come, or who concedes it?
I not /Eneas am, I am not Paul,
Nor I, nor others, think me worthy of it. Therefore, if I resign myself to come,
I fear the coming may be ill-advised; as
Thou'rt wise, and knowest better than I speak." And as he is, who unwills what he willed,
And by new thoughts doth his intention change,
So that from his design he quite withdraws, Such I became, upon that dark hillside, 40
Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
Which was so very prompt in the beginning. "If I have well thy language understood,"
Replied that shade of the Magnanimous,
"Thy soul attainted is with cowardice, 45
Which many times a man encumbers so,
It turns him back from honoured enterprise,
As false sight doth a beast, when he is shy. That thou mayst free thee from this apprehension,
I'll tell thee why I came, and what I heard so
At the first moment when I grieved for thee. Among those was I who are in suspense,
And a fair, saintly Lady called to me
In such wise, I besought her to command me. Her eyes where shining brighter than the Star; 55
And she began to say, gentle and low,
With voice angelical, in her own language: 'O spirit courteous of Mantua,
Of whom the fame still in the world endures,
And shall endure, long lasting as the world; 6.;
A friend of mine, and not the friend of fortune,
Upon the desert slope is so impeded
Upon his way, that he has turned through terror, And may, I fear, already be so lost,
That I too late have risen to his succour, «s
From that which I have heard of him in Heaven. Bestir thee now, and with thy speech ornate,
And with what needful is for his release,
Assist him so, that I may be consoled.
Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go; its
I come from there, where I would fain return;
Love moved me, which compelleth me to speak. When I shall be in presence of my Lord,
Full often will I praise thee unto him.'
Then paused she, and thereafter I began: 7;
'O Lady of virtue, thou alone through whom
The human race exceedeth all contained
Within the heaven that has the lesser circles, So grateful unto me is thy commandment,
To obey, if 'twere already done, were late; to
No farther need'st thou ope to me thy wish. But the cause tell me why thou dost not shun
The here descending down into this centre,
From the vast place thou burnest to return to.' 'Since thou wouldst fain so inwardly discern, is
Briefly will I relate,' she answered me,
'Why I am not afraid to enter here. Of those things only should one be afraid
Which have the power of doing others harm;
Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful. «o
God in his mercy such created me
That misery of yours attains me not.
Nor any flame assails me of this burning. A gentle Lady is in Heaven, who grieves
At this impediment, to which I send thee, <>s
So that stern judgment there above is broken. In her entreaty she besought Lucia,
And said, "Thy faithful one now stands in need
Of thee, and unto thee I recommend him." Lucia, foe of all that cruel is, K»
Hastened away, and came unto the place
Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel. "Beatrice," said she, "the true praise of God,
Why succourest thou not him, who loved thee so,
For thee he issued from the vulgar herd? i°j
Dost thou not hear the pity of his plaint?
Dost thou not see the death that combats him
Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt?" Never were persons in the world so swift
To work their weal and to escape their woe, «<
As I, after such words as these were uttered, Came hither downward from my blessed seat,
Confiding in thy dignified discourse,
Which honours thee, and those who've listened to it'
After she thus had spoken unto me,
Weeping, her shining eyes she turned away;
And unto thee I came, as she desired;
I have delivered thee from that wild beast,
Which barred the beautiful mountain's short ascent.
What is it, then? Why, why dost thou delay?
Seeing that three such Ladies benedight
Are caring for thee in the court of Heaven,
And so much good my speech doth promise thee?"
Even as the flowerets, by nocturnal chill,
Bowed down and closed, when the sun whitens them,
Such I became with my exhausted strength,
And such good courage to my heart there coursed,
"O she compassionate, who succoured me,
And courteous thou, who hast obeyed so soon
Thou hast my heart so with desire disposed
To the adventure, with these words of thine,
Now go, for one sole will is in us both,
Thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Master thou."
I entered on the deep and savage way.
"Through me the way is to the city dolent;
Through me the way is to eternal dole;
Through me the way among the people lost. Justice incited my sublime Creator;
Created me divine Omnipotence,
The highest Wisdom and the primal Love. Before me there were no created things,
Only eterne, and I eternal last.
All hope abandon, ye who enter in!" These words in sombre colour I beheld
Written upon the summit of a gate;
Whence I: "Their sense is, Master, hard to me!"
And he to me, as one experienced:
"Here all suspicion needs must be abandoned.
All cowardice must needs be here extinct. <t
We to the place have come, where I have told thee
Thou shalt behold the people dolorous
Who have foregone the good of intellect." And after he had laid his hand on mine
With joyful mien, whence I was comforted,
He led me in among the secret things. There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
Resounded through the air without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat. Languages diverse, horrible dialects, n
Accents of anger, words of agony,
And voices high and hoarse, with sound of hands, Made up a tumult that goes whirling on
For ever in that air for ever black,
Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breathes. And I, who had my head with horror bound,
Said : "Master, what is this which now I hear?
What folk is this, which seems by pain so vanquished?" And he to me: "This miserable mode
Maintain the melancholy souls of those «
Who lived withouten infamy or praise. Commingled are they with that caitiff choir
Of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
Nor faithful were to God, but were for self. The heavens expelled them, not to be less fair; 4»
Nor them the nethermorc abyss receives,
For glory none the damned would have from them." And I: "O Master, what so grievous is
To these, that maketh them lament so sore?"
He answered : "I will tell thee very briefly. 45
These have no longer any hope of death;
And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envious are of every other fate. No fame of them the world permits to be;
Misericord and Justice both disdain them. 5
Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass." And I, who looked again, beheld a banner,
Which, whirling round, ran on so rapidly,
That of all pause it seemed to me indignant; And after it there came so long a train ss
Of people, that I ne'er would have believed
That ever Death so many had undone.