Purgatorio: Canto XIX
It was the hour
when the diurnal heat
more can warm the coldness of the moon,
Vanquished by earth, or peradventure Saturn,
their Fortuna Major
in the orient before the dawn
Rise by a path that long remains not dim,
There came to me in
dreams a stammering woman,
in her eyes, and in her feet distorted,
With hands dissevered and of sallow hue.
I looked at her;
and as the sun restores
frigid members which the night benumbs,
Even thus my gaze did render voluble
Her tongue, and
made her all erect thereafter
little while, and the lost countenance
As love desires it so in her did colour.
When in this wise
she had her speech unloosed,
'gan to sing so, that with difficulty
Could I have turned my thoughts away from her.
"I am," she sang,
"I am the Siren sweet
mariners amid the main unman,
So full am I of pleasantness to hear.
I drew Ulysses from
his wandering way
my song, and he who dwells with me
Seldom departs so wholly I content him."
Her mouth was not
yet closed again, before
a Lady saintly and alert
Close at my side to put her to confusion.
Virgilius! who is this?"
she said; and he was drawing near
With eyes still fixed upon that modest one.
She seized the
other and in front laid open,
her garments, and her belly showed me;
This waked me with the stench that issued from it.
I turned mine eyes,
and good Virgilius said:
least thrice have I called thee; rise and come;
Find we the opening by which thou mayst enter."
I rose; and full
already of high day
all the circles of the Sacred Mountain,
And with the new sun at our back we went.
him, I my forehead bore
unto one who has it laden with thought,
Who makes himself the half arch of a bridge,
When I heard say,
"Come, here the passage is,"
in a manner gentle and benign,
Such as we hear not in this mortal region.
With open wings,
which of a swan appeared,
he turned us who thus spake to us,
Between the two walls of the solid granite.
He moved his
pinions afterwards and fanned us,
those 'qui lugent' to be blessed,
For they shall have their souls with comfort filled.
"What aileth thee,
that aye to earth thou gazest?"
me my Guide began to say, we both
Somewhat beyond the Angel having mounted.
And I: "With such
misgiving makes me go
vision new, which bends me to itself,
So that I cannot from the thought withdraw me."
behold," he said, "that old enchantress,
sole above us henceforth is lamented?
Didst thou behold how man is freed from her?
Suffice it thee,
and smite earth with thy heels,
eyes lift upward to the lure, that whirls
The Eternal King with revolutions vast."
Even as the hawk,
that first his feet surveys,
turns him to the call and stretches forward,
Through the desire of food that draws him thither,
Such I became, and
such, as far as cleaves
rock to give a way to him who mounts,
Went on to where the circling doth begin.
On the fifth circle
when I had come forth,
I saw upon it who were weeping,
Stretched prone upon the ground, all downward turned.
heard them say with sighings so profound,
That hardly could the words be understood.
"O ye elect of God,
and Hope both render less severe,
Direct ye us towards the high ascents."
"If ye are come
secure from this prostration,
wish to find the way most speedily,
Let your right hands be evermore outside."
Thus did the Poet
ask, and thus was answered
them somewhat in front of us; whence I
In what was spoken divined the rest concealed,
And unto my Lord's
eyes mine eyes I turned;
he assented with a cheerful sign
To what the sight of my desire implored.
When of myself I
could dispose at will,
that creature did I draw myself,
Whose words before had caused me to take note,
Saying: "O Spirit,
in whom weeping ripens
without which to God we cannot turn,
Suspend awhile for me thy greater care.
Who wast thou, and
why are your backs turned upwards,
me, and if thou wouldst that I procure thee
Anything there whence living I departed."
And he to me:
"Wherefore our backs the heaven
to itself, know shalt thou; but beforehand
'Scias quod ego fui successor Petri.'
Between Siestri and
river beautiful, and of its name
The title of my blood its summit makes.
A month and little
more essayed I how
the great cloak on him from mire who keeps it,
For all the other burdens seem a feather.
Tardy, ah woe is
me! was my conversion;
when the Roman Shepherd I was made,
Then I discovered life to be a lie.
I saw that there
the heart was not at rest,
farther in that life could one ascend;
Whereby the love of this was kindled in me.
Until that time a
wretched soul and parted
God was I, and wholly avaricious;
Now, as thou seest, I here am punished for it.
What avarice does
is here made manifest
the purgation of these souls converted,
And no more bitter pain the Mountain has.
Even as our eye did
not uplift itself
being fastened upon earthly things,
So justice here has merged it in the earth.
As avarice had
extinguished our affection
every good, whereby was action lost,
So justice here doth hold us in restraint,
imprisoned by the feet and hands;
so long as it pleases the just Lord
Shall we remain immovable and prostrate."
I on my knees had
fallen, and wished to speak;
even as I began, and he was 'ware,
Only by listening, of my reverence,
"What cause," he
said, "has downward bent thee thus?"
I to him: "For your own dignity,
Standing, my conscience stung me with remorse."
legs, and upward raise thee, brother,"
answered: "Err not, fellow-servant am I
With thee and with the others to one power.
If e'er that holy,
sayeth 'neque nubent,' thou hast heard,
Well canst thou see why in this wise I speak.
Now go; no longer
will I have thee linger,
thy stay doth incommode my weeping,
With which I ripen that which thou hast said.
On earth I have a
grandchild named Alagia,
in herself, unless indeed our house
Malevolent may make her by example,
And she alone
remains to me on earth."