Purgatorio: Canto III
Inasmuch as the
scattered them asunder o'er the plain,
Turned to the mountain whither reason spurs us,
I pressed me close
unto my faithful comrade,
how without him had I kept my course?
Who would have led me up along the mountain?
He seemed to me
within himself remorseful;
noble conscience, and without a stain,
How sharp a sting is trivial fault to thee!
After his feet had
laid aside the haste
mars the dignity of every act,
My mind, that hitherto had been restrained,
Let loose its
faculties as if delighted,
I my sight directed to the hill
That highest tow'rds the heaven uplifts itself.
The sun, that in
our rear was flaming red,
broken in front of me into the figure
Which had in me the stoppage of its rays;
Unto one side I
turned me, with the fear
being left alone, when I beheld
Only in front of me the ground obscured.
"Why dost thou
still mistrust?" my Comforter
to say to me turned wholly round;
"Dost thou not think me with thee, and that I guide thee?
'Tis evening there
already where is buried
body within which I cast a shadow;
'Tis from Brundusium ta'en, and Naples has it.
Now if in front of
me no shadow fall,
not at it more than at the heavens,
Because one ray impedeth not another
To suffer torments,
both of cold and heat,
like this that Power provides, which wills
That how it works be not unveiled to us.
Insane is he who
hopeth that our reason
traverse the illimitable way,
Which the one Substance in three Persons follows!
contented at the 'Quia;'
if ye had been able to see all,
No need there were for Mary to give birth;
And ye have seen
desiring without fruit,
whose desire would have been quieted,
Which evermore is given them for a grief.
I speak of
Aristotle and of Plato,
many others;"--and here bowed his head,
And more he said not, and remained disturbed.
We came meanwhile
unto the mountain's foot;
so precipitate we found the rock,
That nimble legs would there have been in vain.
'Twixt Lerici and
Turbia, the most desert,
most secluded pathway is a stair
Easy and open, if compared with that.
"Who knoweth now
upon which hand the hill
down," my Master said, his footsteps staying,
"So that who goeth without wings may mount?"
And while he held
his eyes upon the ground
the nature of the path,
And I was looking up around the rock,
On the left hand
appeared to me a throng
souls, that moved their feet in our direction,
And did not seem to move, they came so slowly.
"Lift up thine
eyes," I to the Master said;
on this side, who will give us counsel,
If thou of thine own self can have it not."
Then he looked at
me, and with frank expression
"Let us go there, for they come slowly,
And thou be steadfast in thy hope, sweet son."
Still was that
people as far off from us,
a thousand steps of ours I say,
As a good thrower with his hand would reach,
When they all
crowded unto the hard masses
the high bank, and motionless stood and close,
As he stands still to look who goes in doubt.
"O happy dead! O
spirits elect already!"
made beginning, "by that peace
Which I believe is waiting for you all,
Tell us upon what
side the mountain slopes,
that the going up be possible,
For to lose time irks him most who most knows."
As sheep come
issuing forth from out the fold
ones and twos and threes, and the others stand
Timidly, holding down their eyes and nostrils,
And what the
foremost does the others do,
themselves against her, if she stop,
Simple and quiet and the wherefore know not;
So moving to
approach us thereupon
saw the leader of that fortunate flock,
Modest in face and dignified in gait.
As soon as those in
the advance saw broken
light upon the ground at my right side,
So that from me the shadow reached the rock,
They stopped, and
backward drew themselves somewhat;
all the others, who came after them,
Not knowing why nor wherefore, did the same.
asking, I confess to you
is a human body which you see,
Whereby the sunshine on the ground is cleft.
Marvel ye not
thereat, but be persuaded
not without a power which comes from Heaven
Doth he endeavour to surmount this wall."
The Master thus;
and said those worthy people:
ye then, and enter in before us,"
Making a signal with the back o' the hand
And one of them
began: "Whoe'er thou art,
going turn thine eyes, consider well
If e'er thou saw me in the other world."
I turned me tow'rds
him, and looked at him closely;
was he, beautiful, and of noble aspect,
But one of his eyebrows had a blow divided.
When with humility
I had disclaimed
having seen him, "Now behold!" he said,
And showed me high upon his breast a wound.
Then said he with a
smile: "I am Manfredi,
grandson of the Empress Costanza;
Therefore, when thou returnest, I beseech thee
Go to my daughter
beautiful, the mother
Sicily's honour and of Aragon's,
And the truth tell her, if aught else be told.
After I had my body
these two mortal stabs, I gave myself
Weeping to Him, who willingly doth pardon.
iniquities had been;
Infinite Goodness hath such ample arms,
That it receives whatever turns to it.
Had but Cosenza's
pastor, who in chase
me was sent by Clement at that time,
In God read understandingly this page,
The bones of my
dead body still would be
the bridge-head, near unto Benevento,
Under the safeguard of the heavy cairn.
Now the rain bathes
and moveth them the wind,
the realm, almost beside the Verde,
Where he transported them with tapers quenched.
By malison of
theirs is not so lost
Love, that it cannot return,
So long as hope has anything of green.
True is it, who in
Holy Church, though penitent at last,
Must wait upon the outside this bank
Thirty times told
the time that he has been
his presumption, unless such decree
Shorter by means of righteous prayers become.
See now if thou
hast power to make me happy,
making known unto my good Costanza
How thou hast seen me, and this ban beside,
For those on earth
can much advance us here."