Purgatorio: Canto XXX
Septentrion of the highest heaven
never either setting knew or rising,
Nor veil of other cloud than that of sin,
And which made
every one therein aware
his own duty, as the lower makes
Whoever turns the helm to come to port)
the veracious people,
came at first between it and the Griffin,
Turned themselves to the car, as to their peace.
And one of them, as
if by Heaven commissioned,
"Veni, sponsa, de Libano"
Shouted three times, and all the others after.
Even as the Blessed
at the final summons
rise up quickened each one from his cavern,
Uplifting light the reinvested flesh,
So upon that
hundred rose 'ad vocem tanti senis,'
Ministers and messengers of life eternal.
They all were
saying, "Benedictus qui venis,"
scattering flowers above and round about,
"Manibus o date lilia plenis."
Ere now have I
beheld, as day began,
eastern hemisphere all tinged with rose,
And the other heaven with fair serene adorned;
And the sun's face,
that by tempering influence of vapours
For a long interval the eye sustained it;
Thus in the bosom
of a cloud of flowers
from those hands angelical ascended,
And downward fell again inside and out,
Over her snow-white
veil with olive cinct
a lady under a green mantle,
Vested in colour of the living flame.
And my own spirit,
that already now
long a time had been, that in her presence
Trembling with awe it had not stood abashed,
knowledge having by mine eyes,
occult virtue that from her proceeded
Of ancient love the mighty influence felt.
As soon as on my
vision smote the power
that had already pierced me through
Ere from my boyhood I had yet come forth,
To the left hand I
turned with that reliance
which the little child runs to his mother,
When he has fear, or when he is afflicted,
To say unto
Virgilius: "Not a drachm
blood remains in me, that does not tremble;
I know the traces of the ancient flame."
But us Virgilius of
left, Virgilius, sweetest of all fathers,
Virgilius, to whom I for safety gave me:
Nor whatsoever lost
the ancient mother
my cheeks now purified from dew,
That weeping they should not again be darkened.
Virgilius has departed
not weep yet, do not weep yet awhile;
For by another sword thou need'st must weep."
E'en as an admiral,
who on poop and prow
to behold the people that are working
In other ships, and cheers them to well-doing,
Upon the left hand
border of the car,
at the sound I turned of my own name,
Which of necessity is here recorded,
I saw the Lady, who
underneath the angelic festival,
Direct her eyes to me across the river.
Although the veil,
that from her head descended,
with the foliage of Minerva,
Did not permit her to appear distinctly,
In attitude still
she, like unto one who speaks,
And keeps his warmest utterance in reserve:
"Look at me well;
in sooth I'm Beatrice!
didst thou deign to come unto the Mountain?
Didst thou not know that man is happy here?"
Mine eyes fell
downward into the clear fountain,
seeing myself therein, I sought the grass,
So great a shame did weigh my forehead down.
As to the son the
mother seems superb,
she appeared to me; for somewhat bitter
Tasteth the savour of severe compassion.
Silent became she,
and the Angels sang
"In te, Domine, speravi:"
But beyond 'pedes meos' did not pass.
Even as the snow
among the living rafters
the back of Italy congeals,
Blown on and drifted by Sclavonian winds,
dissolving, trickles through itself
the land that loses shadow breathes,
So that it seems a fire that melts a taper;
E'en thus was I
without a tear or sigh,
the song of those who sing for ever
After the music of the eternal spheres.
But when I heard in
their sweet melodies
for me, more than had they said,
"O wherefore, lady, dost thou thus upbraid him?"
The ice, that was
about my heart congealed,
air and water changed, and in my anguish
Through mouth and eyes came gushing from my breast.
She, on the
right-hand border of the car
firmly standing, to those holy beings
Thus her discourse directed afterwards:
"Ye keep your watch
in the eternal day,
that nor night nor sleep can steal from you
One step the ages make upon their path;
Therefore my answer
is with greater care,
he may hear me who is weeping yonder,
So that the sin and dole be of one measure.
Not only by the
work of those great wheels,
destine every seed unto some end,
According as the stars are in conjunction,
But by the largess
of celestial graces,
have such lofty vapours for their rain
That near to them our sight approaches not,
Such had this man
become in his new life
that every righteous habit
Would have made admirable proof in him;
But so much more
malignant and more savage
the land untilled and with bad seed,
The more good earthly vigour it possesses.
Some time did I
sustain him with my look;
unto him my youthful eyes,
I led him with me turned in the right way.
As soon as ever of
my second age
was upon the threshold and changed life,
Himself from me he took and gave to others.
When from the flesh
to spirit I ascended,
beauty and virtue were in me increased,
I was to him less dear and less delightful;
And into ways
untrue he turned his steps,
the false images of good,
That never any promises fulfil;
Nor prayer for
inspiration me availed,
means of which in dreams and otherwise
I called him back, so little did he heed them.
So low he fell,
that all appliances
his salvation were already short,
Save showing him the people of perdition.
For this I visited
the gates of death,
unto him, who so far up has led him,
My intercessions were with weeping borne.
God's lofty fiat
would be violated,
Lethe should be passed, and if such viands
Should tasted be, withouten any scot
Of penitence, that
gushes forth in tears."