Purgatorio: Canto XXVII
As when he vibrates
forth his earliest rays,
regions where his Maker shed his blood,
(The Ebro falling under lofty Libra,
And waters in the
Ganges burnt with noon,)
stood the Sun; hence was the day departing,
When the glad Angel of God appeared to us.
Outside the flame
he stood upon the verge,
chanted forth, "Beati mundo corde,"
In voice by far more living than our own.
Then: "No one
farther goes, souls sanctified,
first the fire bite not; within it enter,
And be not deaf unto the song beyond."
When we were close
beside him thus he said;
e'en such became I, when I heard him,
As he is who is put into the grave.
Upon my clasped
hands I straightened me,
the fire, and vividly recalling
The human bodies I had once seen burned.
Towards me turned
themselves my good Conductors,
unto me Virgilius said: "My son,
Here may indeed be torment, but not death.
remember! and if I
Geryon have safely guided thee,
What shall I do now I am nearer God?
certain, shouldst thou stand a full
in the bosom of this flame,
It could not make thee bald a single hair.
And if perchance
thou think that I deceive thee,
near to it, and put it to the proof
With thine own hands upon thy garment's hem.
Now lay aside, now
lay aside all fear,
hitherward, and onward come securely;"
And I still motionless, and 'gainst my conscience!
Seeing me stand
still motionless and stubborn,
disturbed he said: "Now look thou, Son,
'Twixt Beatrice and thee there is this wall."
As at the name of
Thisbe oped his lids
dying Pyramus, and gazed upon her,
What time the mulberry became vermilion,
Even thus, my
obduracy being softened,
turned to my wise Guide, hearing the name
That in my memory evermore is welling.
Whereat he wagged
his head, and said: "How now?
we stay on this side?" then smiled as one
Does at a child who's vanquished by an apple.
Then into the fire
in front of me he entered,
Statius to come after me,
Who a long way before divided us.
When I was in it,
into molten glass
would have cast me to refresh myself,
So without measure was the burning there!
And my sweet
Father, to encourage me,
still of Beatrice went on,
Saying: "Her eyes I seem to see already!"
A voice, that on
the other side was singing,
us, and we, attent alone
On that, came forth where the ascent began.
within a splendour, which was there
Such it o'ercame me, and I could not look.
"The sun departs,"
it added, "and night cometh;
ye not, but onward urge your steps,
So long as yet the west becomes not dark."
through the rock the path ascended
such a way that I cut off the rays
Before me of the sun, that now was low.
And of few stairs
we yet had made assay,
by the vanished shadow the sun's setting
Behind us we perceived, I and my Sages.
And ere in all its
horizon of one aspect had become,
And Night her boundless dispensation held,
Each of us of a
stair had made his bed;
the nature of the mount took from us
The power of climbing, more than the delight.
Even as in
ruminating passive grow
goats, who have been swift and venturesome
Upon the mountain-tops ere they were fed,
Hushed in the
shadow, while the sun is hot,
by the herdsman, who upon his staff
Is leaning, and in leaning tendeth them;
And as the
shepherd, lodging out of doors,
the night beside his quiet flock,
Watching that no wild beast may scatter it,
Such at that hour
were we, all three of us,
like the goat, and like the herdsmen they,
Begirt on this side and on that by rocks.
Little could there
be seen of things without;
through that little I beheld the stars
More luminous and larger than their wont.
and beholding these,
seized upon me,--sleep, that oftentimes
Before a deed is done has tidings of it.
It was the hour, I
think, when from the East
on the mountain Citherea beamed,
Who with the fire of love seems always burning;
beautiful in dreams methought
saw a lady walking in a meadow,
Gathering flowers; and singing she was saying:
"Know whosoever may
my name demand
I am Leah, and go moving round
My beauteous hands to make myself a garland.
To please me at the
mirror, here I deck me,
never does my sister Rachel leave
Her looking-glass, and sitteth all day long.
To see her
beauteous eyes as eager is she,
I am to adorn me with my hands;
Her, seeing, and me, doing satisfies."
And now before the
unto pilgrims the more grateful rise,
As, home-returning, less remote they lodge,
The darkness fled
away on every side,
slumber with it; whereupon I rose,
Seeing already the great Masters risen.
"That apple sweet,
which through so many branches
care of mortals goeth in pursuit of,
To-day shall put in peace thy hungerings."
Speaking to me,
Virgilius of such words
these made use; and never were there guerdons
That could in pleasantness compare with these.
Such longing upon
longing came upon me
be above, that at each step thereafter
For flight I felt in me the pinions growing.
When underneath us
was the stairway all
o'er, and we were on the highest step,
Virgilius fastened upon me his eyes,
And said: "The
temporal fire and the eternal,
thou hast seen, and to a place art come
Where of myself no farther I discern.
By intellect and
art I here have brought thee;
thine own pleasure for thy guide henceforth;
Beyond the steep ways and the narrow art thou.
Behold the sun,
that shines upon thy forehead;
the grass, the flowerets, and the shrubs
Which of itself alone this land produces.
come the beauteous eyes
weeping caused me to come unto thee,
Thou canst sit down, and thou canst walk among them.
Expect no more or
word or sign from me;
and upright and sound is thy free-will,
And error were it not to do its bidding;
Thee o'er thyself I
therefore crown and mitre!"