Purgatorio: Canto XXXI
"O thou who art
beyond the sacred river,"
to me the point of her discourse,
That edgewise even had seemed to me so keen,
continuing without pause,
say if this be true; to such a charge,
Thy own confession needs must be conjoined."
My faculties were
in so great confusion,
the voice moved, but sooner was extinct
Than by its organs it was set at large.
Awhile she waited;
then she said: "What thinkest?
me; for the mournful memories
In thee not yet are by the waters injured."
dismay together mingled
such a Yes! from out my mouth, that sight
Was needful to the understanding of it.
Even as a cross-bow
breaks, when 'tis discharged
tensely drawn the bowstring and the bow,
And with less force the arrow hits the mark,
So I gave way
beneath that heavy burden,
in a torrent tears and sighs,
And the voice flagged upon its passage forth.
Whence she to me:
"In those desires of mine
led thee to the loving of that good,
Beyond which there is nothing to aspire to,
What trenches lying
traverse or what chains
thou discover, that of passing onward
Thou shouldst have thus despoiled thee of the hope?
allurements or what vantages
the forehead of the others showed,
That thou shouldst turn thy footsteps unto them?"
After the heaving
of a bitter sigh,
had I the voice to make response,
And with fatigue my lips did fashion it.
Weeping I said:
"The things that present were
their false pleasure turned aside my steps,
Soon as your countenance concealed itself."
And she: "Shouldst
thou be silent, or deny
thou confessest, not less manifest
Would be thy fault, by such a Judge 'tis known.
But when from one's
own cheeks comes bursting forth
accusal of the sin, in our tribunal
Against the edge the wheel doth turn itself.
But still, that
thou mayst feel a greater shame
thy transgression, and another time
Hearing the Sirens thou mayst be more strong,
Cast down the seed
of weeping and attend;
shalt thou hear, how in an opposite way
My buried flesh should have directed thee.
Never to thee
presented art or nature
so great as the fair limbs wherein
I was enclosed, which scattered are in earth.
And if the highest
pleasure thus did fail thee
reason of my death, what mortal thing
Should then have drawn thee into its desire?
verily at the first shaft
things fallacious to have risen up
To follow me, who was no longer such.
Thou oughtest not
to have stooped thy pinions downward
wait for further blows, or little girl,
Or other vanity of such brief use.
The callow birdlet
waits for two or three,
to the eyes of those already fledged,
In vain the net is spread or shaft is shot."
Even as children
silent in their shame
listening with their eyes upon the ground,
And conscious of their fault, and penitent;
So was I standing;
and she said: "If thou
hearing sufferest pain, lift up thy beard
And thou shalt feel a greater pain in seeing."
resistance is a robust holm
either by a native wind
Or else by that from regions of Iarbas,
Than I upraised at
her command my chin;
when she by the beard the face demanded,
Well I perceived the venom of her meaning.
And as my
countenance was lifted up,
eye perceived those creatures beautiful
Had rested from the strewing of the flowers;
And, still but
little reassured, mine eyes
Beatrice turned round towards the monster,
That is one person only in two natures.
Beneath her veil,
beyond the margent green,
seemed to me far more her ancient self
To excel, than others here, when she was here.
So pricked me then
the thorn of penitence,
of all other things the one which turned me
Most to its love became the most my foe.
self-conviction stung me at the heart
I fell, and what I then became
She knoweth who had furnished me the cause.
Then, when the
heart restored my outward sense,
lady I had found alone, above me
I saw, and she was saying, "Hold me, hold me."
Up to my throat she
in the stream had drawn me,
dragging me behind her, she was moving
Upon the water lightly as a shuttle.
When I was near
unto the blessed shore,
me," I heard so sweetly sung,
Remember it I cannot, much less write it.
The beautiful lady
opened wide her arms,
my head, and plunged me underneath,
Where I was forced to swallow of the water.
Then forth she drew
me, and all dripping brought
the dance of the four beautiful,
And each one with her arm did cover me.
'We here are
Nymphs, and in the Heaven are stars;
Beatrice descended to the world,
We as her handmaids were appointed her.
We'll lead thee to
her eyes; but for the pleasant
that within them is, shall sharpen thine
The three beyond, who more profoundly look.'
Thus singing they
began; and afterwards
the Griffin's breast they led me with them,
Where Beatrice was standing, turned towards us.
"See that thou dost
not spare thine eyes," they said;
the emeralds have we stationed thee,
Whence Love aforetime drew for thee his weapons."
longings, hotter than the flame,
mine eyes upon those eyes relucent,
That still upon the Griffin steadfast stayed.
As in a glass the
sun, not otherwise
them was the twofold monster shining,
Now with the one, now with the other nature.
Think, Reader, if
within myself I marvelled,
I beheld the thing itself stand still,
And in its image it transformed itself.
amazement filled and jubilant,
soul was tasting of the food, that while
It satisfies us makes us hunger for it,
revealing of the highest rank
bearing, did the other three advance,
Singing to their angelic saraband.
"Turn, Beatrice, O
turn thy holy eyes,"
was their song, "unto thy faithful one,
Who has to see thee ta'en so many steps.
In grace do us the
grace that thou unveil
face to him, so that he may discern
The second beauty which thou dost conceal."
O splendour of the
living light eternal!
underneath the shadow of Parnassus
Has grown so pale, or drunk so at its cistern,
He would not seem
to have his mind encumbered
to paint thee as thou didst appear,
Where the harmonious heaven o'ershadowed thee,
When in the open
air thou didst unveil?