Inferno: Canto II
Day was departing,
and the embrowned air
the animals that are on earth
From their fatigues; and I the only one
Made myself ready
to sustain the war,
of the way and likewise of the woe,
Which memory that errs not shall retrace.
O Muses, O high
genius, now assist me!
memory, that didst write down what I saw,
Here thy nobility shall be manifest!
And I began: "Poet,
who guidest me,
my manhood, if it be sufficient,
Ere to the arduous pass thou dost confide me.
Thou sayest, that
of Silvius the parent,
yet corruptible, unto the world
Immortal went, and was there bodily.
But if the
adversary of all evil
courteous, thinking of the high effect
That issue would from him, and who, and what,
To men of intellect
unmeet it seems not;
he was of great Rome, and of her empire
In the empyreal heaven as father chosen;
The which and what,
wishing to speak the truth,
stablished as the holy place, wherein
Sits the successor of the greatest Peter.
Upon this journey,
whence thou givest him vaunt,
did he hear, which the occasion were
Both of his victory and the papal mantle.
afterwards the Chosen Vessel,
bring back comfort thence unto that Faith,
Which of salvation's way is the beginning.
But I, why thither
come, or who concedes it?
not Aeneas am, I am not Paul,
Nor I, nor others, think me worthy of it.
Therefore, if I
resign myself to come,
fear the coming may be ill-advised;
Thou'rt wise, and knowest better than I speak."
And as he is, who
unwills what he willed,
by new thoughts doth his intention change,
So that from his design he quite withdraws,
Such I became, upon
that dark hillside,
in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
Which was so very prompt in the beginning.
"If I have well thy
that shade of the Magnanimous,
"Thy soul attainted is with cowardice,
Which many times a
man encumbers so,
turns him back from honoured enterprise,
As false sight doth a beast, when he is shy.
That thou mayst
free thee from this apprehension,
tell thee why I came, and what I heard
At the first moment when I grieved for thee.
Among those was I
who are in suspense,
a fair, saintly Lady called to me
In such wise, I besought her to command me.
Her eyes where
shining brighter than the Star;
she began to say, gentle and low,
With voice angelical, in her own language:
'O spirit courteous
whom the fame still in the world endures,
And shall endure, long-lasting as the world;
A friend of mine,
and not the friend of fortune,
the desert slope is so impeded
Upon his way, that he has turned through terror,
And may, I fear,
already be so lost,
I too late have risen to his succour,
From that which I have heard of him in Heaven.
Bestir thee now,
and with thy speech ornate,
with what needful is for his release,
Assist him so, that I may be consoled.
Beatrice am I, who
do bid thee go;
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,
often will I praise thee unto him.'
Then paused she, and thereafter I began:
'O Lady of virtue,
thou alone through whom
human race exceedeth all contained
Within the heaven that has the lesser circles,
So grateful unto me
is thy commandment,
obey, if 'twere already done, were late;
No farther need'st thou ope to me thy wish.
But the cause tell
me why thou dost not shun
here descending down into this centre,
From the vast place thou burnest to return to.'
'Since thou wouldst
fain so inwardly discern,
will I relate,' she answered me,
'Why I am not afraid to enter here.
Of those things
only should one be afraid
have the power of doing others harm;
Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful.
God in his mercy
such created me
misery of yours attains me not,
Nor any flame assails me of this burning.
A gentle Lady is in
Heaven, who grieves
this impediment, to which I send thee,
So that stern judgment there above is broken.
In her entreaty she
said, "Thy faithful one now stands in need
Of thee, and unto thee I recommend him."
Lucia, foe of all
that cruel is,
away, and came unto the place
Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel.
she, "the true praise of God,
succourest thou not him, who loved thee so,
For thee he issued from the vulgar herd?
Dost thou not hear
the pity of his plaint?
thou not see the death that combats him
Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt?"
Never were persons
in the world so swift
work their weal and to escape their woe,
As I, after such words as these were uttered,
downward from my blessed seat,
in thy dignified discourse,
Which honours thee, and those who've listened to it.'
After she thus had
spoken unto me,
her shining eyes she turned away;
Whereby she made me swifter in my coming;
And unto thee I
came, as she desired;
have delivered thee from that wild beast,
Which barred the beautiful mountain's short ascent.
What is it, then?
Why, why dost thou delay?
is such baseness bedded in thy heart?
Daring and hardihood why hast thou not,
Seeing that three
such Ladies benedight
caring for thee in the court of Heaven,
And so much good my speech doth promise thee?"
Even as the
flowerets, by nocturnal chill,
down and closed, when the sun whitens them,
Uplift themselves all open on their stems;
Such I became with
my exhausted strength,
such good courage to my heart there coursed,
That I began, like an intrepid person:
compassionate, who succoured me,
courteous thou, who hast obeyed so soon
The words of truth which she addressed to thee!
Thou hast my heart
so with desire disposed
the adventure, with these words of thine,
That to my first intent I have returned.
Now go, for one
sole will is in us both,
Leader, and thou Lord, and Master thou."
Thus said I to him; and when he had moved,
I entered on the
deep and savage way.