Purgatorio: Canto XIII
We were upon the
summit of the stairs,
for the second time is cut away
The mountain, which ascending shriveth all.
There in like
manner doth a cornice bind
hill all round about, as does the first,
Save that its arc more suddenly is curved.
Shade is there
none, nor sculpture that appears;
seems the bank, and so the road seems smooth,
With but the livid colour of the stone.
"If to inquire we
wait for people here,"
Poet said, "I fear that peradventure
Too much delay will our election have."
Then steadfast on
the sun his eyes he fixed,
his right side the centre of his motion,
And turned the left part of himself about.
"O thou sweet
light! with trust in whom I enter
this novel journey, do thou lead us,"
Said he, "as one within here should be led.
Thou warmest the
world, thou shinest over it;
other reason prompt not otherwise,
Thy rays should evermore our leaders be!"
As much as here is
counted for a mile,
much already there had we advanced
In little time, by dint of ready will;
And tow'rds us
there were heard to fly, albeit
were not visible, spirits uttering
Unto Love's table courteous invitations,
The first voice
that passed onward in its flight,
non habent," said in accents loud,
And went reiterating it behind us.
And ere it wholly
of distance, passed another, crying,
"I am Orestes!" and it also stayed not.
"O," said I,
"Father, these, what voices are they?"
even as I asked, behold the third,
Saying: "Love those from whom ye have had evil!"
And the good Master
said: "This circle scourges
sin of envy, and on that account
Are drawn from love the lashes of the scourge.
The bridle of
another sound shall be;
think that thou wilt hear it, as I judge,
Before thou comest to the Pass of Pardon.
But fix thine eyes
athwart the air right steadfast,
people thou wilt see before us sitting,
And each one close against the cliff is seated."
Then wider than at
first mine eyes I opened;
looked before me, and saw shades with mantles
Not from the colour of the stone diverse.
And when we were a
little farther onward,
heard a cry of, "Mary, pray for us!"
A cry of, "Michael, Peter, and all Saints!"
I do not think
there walketh still on earth
man so hard, that he would not be pierced
With pity at what afterward I saw.
For when I had
approached so near to them
manifest to me their acts became,
Drained was I at the eyes by heavy grief.
sackcloth vile they seemed to me,
one sustained the other with his shoulder,
And all of them were by the bank sustained.
Thus do the blind,
in want of livelihood,
at the doors of churches asking alms,
And one upon another leans his head,
So that in others
pity soon may rise,
only at the accent of their words,
But at their aspect, which no less implores.
And as unto the
blind the sun comes not,
to the shades, of whom just now I spake,
Heaven's light will not be bounteous of itself;
For all their lids
an iron wire transpierces,
sews them up, as to a sparhawk wild
Is done, because it will not quiet stay.
To me it seemed, in
passing, to do outrage,
the others without being seen;
Wherefore I turned me to my counsel sage.
Well knew he what
the mute one wished to say,
therefore waited not for my demand,
But said: "Speak, and be brief, and to the point."
I had Virgilius
upon that side
the embankment from which one may fall,
Since by no border 'tis engarlanded;
Upon the other side
of me I had
shades devout, who through the horrible seam
Pressed out the tears so that they bathed their cheeks.
To them I turned
me, and, "O people, certain,"
I, "of beholding the high light,
Which your desire has solely in its care,
So may grace
speedily dissolve the scum
your consciences, that limpidly
Through them descend the river of the mind,
Tell me, for dear
'twill be to me and gracious,
any soul among you here is Latian,
And 'twill perchance be good for him I learn it."
"O brother mine,
each one is citizen
one true city; but thy meaning is,
Who may have lived in Italy a pilgrim."
By way of answer
this I seemed to hear
little farther on than where I stood,
Whereat I made myself still nearer heard.
Among the rest I
saw a shade that waited
aspect, and should any one ask how,
Its chin it lifted upward like a blind man.
"Spirit," I said,
"who stoopest to ascend,
thou art he who did reply to me,
Make thyself known to me by place or name."
"Sienese was I," it
replied, "and with
others here recleanse my guilty life,
Weeping to Him to lend himself to us.
Sapient I was not,
although I Sapia
called, and I was at another's harm
More happy far than at my own good fortune.
And that thou mayst
not think that I deceive thee,
if I was as foolish as I tell thee.
The arc already of my years descending,
near unto Colle
joined in battle with their adversaries,
And I was praying God for what he willed.
Routed were they,
and turned into the bitter
of flight; and I, the chase beholding,
A joy received unequalled by all others;
So that I lifted
upward my bold face
to God, 'Henceforth I fear thee not,'
As did the blackbird at the little sunshine.
Peace I desired
with God at the extreme
my existence, and as yet would not
My debt have been by penitence discharged,
Had it not been
that in remembrance held me
Pettignano in his holy prayers,
Who out of charity was grieved for me.
But who art thou,
that into our conditions
goest, and hast thine eyes unbound
As I believe, and breathing dost discourse?"
"Mine eyes," I
said, "will yet be here ta'en from me,
for short space; for small is the offence
Committed by their being turned with envy.
Far greater is the
fear, wherein suspended
soul is, of the torment underneath,
For even now the load down there weighs on me."
And she to me: "Who
led thee, then, among us
here, if to return below thou thinkest?"
And I: "He who is with me, and speaks not;
And living am I;
therefore ask of me,
elect, if thou wouldst have me move
O'er yonder yet my mortal feet for thee."
"O, this is such a
novel thing to hear,"
answered, "that great sign it is God loves thee;
Therefore with prayer of thine sometimes assist me.
And I implore, by
what thou most desirest,
e'er thou treadest the soil of Tuscany,
Well with my kindred reinstate my fame.
Them wilt thou see
among that people vain
hope in Talamone, and will lose there
More hope than in discovering the Diana;
But there still
more the admirals will lose."