Purgatorio: Canto V
I had already from
those shades departed,
followed in the footsteps of my Guide,
When from behind, pointing his finger at me,
One shouted: "See,
it seems as if shone not
sunshine on the left of him below,
And like one living seems he to conduct him."
Mine eyes I turned
at utterance of these words,
saw them watching with astonishment
But me, but me, and the light which was broken!
"Why doth thy mind
so occupy itself,"
Master said, "that thou thy pace dost slacken?
What matters it to thee what here is whispered?
Come after me, and
let the people talk;
like a steadfast tower, that never wags
Its top for all the blowing of the winds;
For evermore the
man in whom is springing
upon thought, removes from him the mark,
Because the force of one the other weakens."
What could I say in
answer but "I come"?
said it somewhat with that colour tinged
Which makes a man of pardon sometimes worthy.
Meanwhile along the
people in advance of us a little,
Singing the Miserere verse by verse.
When they became
aware I gave no place
passage of the sunshine through my body,
They changed their song into a long, hoarse "Oh!"
And two of them, in
form of messengers,
forth to meet us, and demanded of us,
"Of your condition make us cognisant."
And said my Master:
"Ye can go your way
carry back again to those who sent you,
That this one's body is of very flesh.
If they stood still
because they saw his shadow,
I suppose, enough is answered them;
Him let them honour, it may profit them."
saw I ne'er so swiftly
early nightfall cleave the air serene,
Nor, at the set of sun, the clouds of August,
But upward they
returned in briefer time,
on arriving, with the others wheeled
Tow'rds us, like troops that run without a rein.
"This folk that
presses unto us is great,
cometh to implore thee," said the Poet;
"So still go onward, and in going listen."
"O soul that goest
the same members wherewith thou wast born,"
Shouting they came, "a little stay thy steps,
Look, if thou e'er
hast any of us seen,
that o'er yonder thou bear news of him;
Ah, why dost thou go on? Ah, why not stay?
Long since we all
were slain by violence,
sinners even to the latest hour;
Then did a light from heaven admonish us,
So that, both
penitent and pardoning, forth
life we issued reconciled to God,
Who with desire to see Him stirs our hearts."
And I: "Although I
gaze into your faces,
one I recognize; but if may please you
Aught I have power to do, ye well-born spirits,
Speak ye, and I
will do it, by that peace
following the feet of such a Guide,
From world to world makes itself sought by me."
And one began:
"Each one has confidence
thy good offices without an oath,
Unless the I cannot cut off the I will;
Whence I, who speak
alone before the others,
thee, if ever thou dost see the land
That 'twixt Romagna lies and that of Charles,
Thou be so
courteous to me of thy prayers
Fano, that they pray for me devoutly,
That I may purge away my grave offences.
From thence was I;
but the deep wounds, through which
the blood wherein I had my seat,
Were dealt me in bosom of the Antenori,
There where I
thought to be the most secure;
he of Este had it done, who held me
In hatred far beyond what justice willed.
But if towards the
Mira I had fled,
I was overtaken at Oriaco,
I still should be o'er yonder where men breathe.
I ran to the
lagoon, and reeds and mire
so entangle me I fell, and saw there
A lake made from my veins upon the ground."
Then said another:
"Ah, be that desire
that draws thee to the lofty mountain,
As thou with pious pity aidest mine.
I was of
Montefeltro, and am Buonconte;
nor none other cares for me;
Hence among these I go with downcast front."
And I to him: "What
violence or what chance
thee astray so far from Campaldino,
That never has thy sepulture been known?"
"Oh," he replied,
"at Casentino's foot
river crosses named Archiano, born
Above the Hermitage in Apennine.
There where the
name thereof becometh void
I arrive, pierced through and through the throat,
Fleeing on foot, and bloodying the plain;
There my sight lost
I, and my utterance
in the name of Mary, and thereat
I fell, and tenantless my flesh remained.
Truth will I speak,
repeat it to the living;
Angel took me up, and he of hell
Shouted: 'O thou from heaven, why dost thou rob me?
Thou bearest away
the eternal part of him,
one poor little tear, that takes him from me;
But with the rest I'll deal in other fashion!'
Well knowest thou
how in the air is gathered
humid vapour which to water turns,
Soon as it rises where the cold doth grasp it.
He joined that evil
will, which aye seeks evil,
intellect, and moved the mist and wind
By means of power, which his own nature gave;
the day was spent, the valley
Pratomagno to the great yoke covered
With fog, and made the heaven above intent,
So that the
pregnant air to water changed;
fell the rain, and to the gullies came
Whate'er of it earth tolerated not;
And as it mingled
with the mighty torrents,
the royal river with such speed
It headlong rushed, that nothing held it back.
My frozen body near
unto its outlet
robust Archian found, and into Arno
Thrust it, and loosened from my breast the cross
I made of me, when
agony o'ercame me;
rolled me on the banks and on the bottom,
Then with its booty covered and begirt me."
"Ah, when thou hast
returned unto the world,
rested thee from thy long journeying,"
After the second followed the third spirit,
"Do thou remember
me who am the Pia;
made me, unmade me Maremma;
He knoweth it, who had encircled first,
Espousing me, my
finger with his gem."