Purgatorio: Canto XXIV
Nor speech the
going, nor the going that
but talking we went bravely on,
Even as a vessel urged by a good wind.
And shadows, that
appeared things doubly dead,
out the sepulchres of their eyes betrayed
Wonder at me, aware that I was living.
And I, continuing
"Peradventure he goes up more slowly
Than he would do, for other people's sake.
But tell me, if
thou knowest, where is Piccarda;
me if any one of note I see
Among this folk that gazes at me so."
"My sister, who,
'twixt beautiful and good,
know not which was more, triumphs rejoicing
Already in her crown on high Olympus."
So said he first,
and then: "'Tis not forbidden
name each other here, so milked away
Is our resemblance by our dieting.
with his finger, "is Buonagiunta,
of Lucca; and that face
Beyond him there, more peaked than the others,
Has held the holy
Church within his arms;
Tours was he, and purges by his fasting
Bolsena's eels and the Vernaccia wine."
He named me many
others one by one;
all contented seemed at being named,
So that for this I saw not one dark look.
I saw for hunger
bite the empty air
dalla Pila, and Boniface,
Who with his crook had pastured many people.
I saw Messer
Marchese, who had leisure
at Forli for drinking with less dryness,
And he was one who ne'er felt satisfied.
But as he does who
scans, and then doth prize
more than others, did I him of Lucca,
Who seemed to take most cognizance of me.
He murmured, and I
know not what Gentucca
that place heard I, where he felt the wound
Of justice, that doth macerate them so.
"O soul," I said,
"that seemest so desirous
speak with me, do so that I may hear thee,
And with thy speech appease thyself and me."
"A maid is born,
and wears not yet the veil,"
he, "who to thee shall pleasant make
My city, howsoever men may blame it.
Thou shalt go on
thy way with this prevision;
by my murmuring thou hast been deceived,
True things hereafter will declare it to thee.
But say if him I
here behold, who forth
the new-invented rhymes, beginning,
'Ladies, that have intelligence of love?'"
And I to him: "One
am I, who, whenever
doth inspire me, note, and in that measure
Which he within me dictates, singing go."
"O brother, now I
see," he said, "the knot
me, the Notary, and Guittone held
Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.
I do perceive full
clearly how your pens
closely following after him who dictates,
Which with our own forsooth came not to pass;
And he who sets
himself to go beyond,
difference sees from one style to another;"
And as if satisfied, he held his peace.
Even as the birds,
that winter tow'rds the Nile,
into a phalanx form themselves,
Then fly in greater haste, and go in file;
In such wise all
the people who were there,
their faces, hurried on their steps,
Both by their leanness and their wishes light.
And as a man, who
weary is with trotting,
his companions onward go, and walks,
Until he vents the panting of his chest;
So did Forese let
the holy flock
by, and came with me behind it, saying,
"When will it be that I again shall see thee?"
"How long," I
answered, "I may live, I know not;
my return will not so speedy be,
But I shall sooner in desire arrive;
Because the place
where I was set to live
day to day of good is more depleted,
And unto dismal ruin seems ordained."
"Now go," he said,
"for him most guilty of it
a beast's tail behold I dragged along
Towards the valley where is no repentance.
Faster at every
step the beast is going,
evermore until it smites him,
And leaves the body vilely mutilated.
Not long those
wheels shall turn," and he uplifted
eyes to heaven, "ere shall be clear to thee
That which my speech no farther can declare.
Now stay behind;
because the time so precious
in this kingdom, that I lose too much
By coming onward thus abreast with thee."
As sometimes issues
forth upon a gallop
cavalier from out a troop that ride,
And seeks the honour of the first encounter,
So he with greater
strides departed from us;
on the road remained I with those two,
Who were such mighty marshals of the world.
And when before us
he had gone so far
eyes became to him such pursuivants
As was my understanding to his words,
Appeared to me with
laden and living boughs
apple-tree, and not far distant,
From having but just then turned thitherward.
People I saw
beneath it lift their hands,
cry I know not what towards the leaves,
Like little children eager and deluded,
Who pray, and he
they pray to doth not answer,
to make very keen their appetite,
Holds their desire aloft, and hides it not.
Then they departed
as if undeceived;
now we came unto the mighty tree
Which prayers and tears so manifold refuses.
onward without drawing near;
tree of which Eve ate is higher up,
And out of that one has this tree been raised."
Thus said I know
not who among the branches;
Virgilius, Statius, and myself
Went crowding forward on the side that rises.
"Be mindful," said
he, "of the accursed ones
of the cloud-rack, who inebriate
Combated Theseus with their double breasts;
And of the Jews who
showed them soft in drinking,
Gideon would not have them for companions
When he tow'rds Midian the hills descended."
pressed to one of the two borders,
passed we, hearing sins of gluttony,
Followed forsooth by miserable gains;
Then set at large
upon the lonely road,
thousand steps and more we onward went,
In contemplation, each without a word.
"What go ye
thinking thus, ye three alone?"
suddenly a voice, whereat I started
As terrified and timid beasts are wont.
I raised my head to
see who this might be,
never in a furnace was there seen
Metals or glass so lucent and so red
As one I saw who
said: "If it may please you
mount aloft, here it behoves you turn;
This way goes he who goeth after peace."
His aspect had
bereft me of my sight,
that I turned me back unto my Teachers,
Like one who goeth as his hearing guides him.
And as, the
harbinger of early dawn,
air of May doth move and breathe out fragrance,
Impregnate all with herbage and with flowers,
So did I feel a
breeze strike in the midst
front, and felt the moving of the plumes
That breathed around an odour of ambrosia;
And heard it said:
"Blessed are they whom grace
much illumines, that the love of taste
Excites not in their breasts too great desire,
Hungering at all
times so far as is just."