Canto V

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   I HAD already from those shades departed,
2   And followed in the footsteps of my Guide,
3   When from behind, pointing his finger at me,
 
4   One shouted: See, it seems as if shone not
5   The sunshine on the left of him below,
6   And like one living seems he to conduct him
 
7   Mine eyes I turned at utterance of these words,
8   And saw them watching with astonishment
9   But me, but me, and the light which was broken!
 
10   Why doth thy mind so occupy itself,
11   The Master said, that thou thy pace dost slacken?
12   What matters it to thee what here is whispered?
 
13   Come after me, and let the people talk;
14   Stand like a steadfast tower, that never wags
15   Its top for all the blowing of the winds;
 
16   For evermore the man in whom is springing
17   Thought upon thought, removes from him the mark,
18   Because the force of one the other weakens.
 
19   What could I say in answer but I come?
20   I said it somewhat with that colour tinged
21   Which makes a man of pardon sometimes worthy.
 
22   Meanwhile along the mountain-side across
23   Came people in advance of us a little,
24   Singing the Miserere verse by verse.
 
25   When they became aware I gave no place
26   For passage of the sunshine through my body
27   They changed their song into a long, hoarse Oh!
 
28   And two of them, in form of messengers,
29   Ran forth to meet us, and demanded of us,
30   Of your condition make us cognisant.
 
31   And said my Master: Ye can go your way
32   And carry back again to those who sent you,
33   That this one’s body is of very flesh.
 
34   If they stood still because they saw his shadow,
35   As I suppose, enough is answered them;
36   Him let them honour, it may profit them.
 
37   Vapours enkindled saw I ne’er so swiftly
38   At early nightfall cleave the air serene,
39   Nor, at the set of sun, the clouds of August,
 
40   But upward they returned in briefer time,
41   And, on arriving, with the others wheeled
42   Tow’rds us, like troops that run without a rein.
 
43   This folk that presses unto us is great,
44   And cometh to implore thee, said the Poet;
45   So still go onward, and in going listen.
 
46   O soul that goest to beatitude
47   With the same members wherewith thou wast born,
48   Shouting they came. a little stay thy steps.
 
49   Look,if thou e’er hast any of us seen,
50   So that o’er yonder thou bear news of him;
51   Ah, why dost thou go on ? Ah, why not stay ?
 
52   Long since we all were slain by violence,
53   And sinners even to the latest hour;
54   Then did a light from heaven admonish us,
 
55   So that, both penitent and pardoning, forth
56   From life we issued reconciled to God,
57   Who with desire to see Him stirs our hearts.
 
58   And I: Although I gaze into your faces,
59   No one I recognize; but if may please you
60   Aught I have power to do, ye well-born spirits,
 
61   Speak ye, and I will do it, by that peace
62   Which, following the feet of such a Guide,
63   From world to world makes itself sought by me.
 
64   And one began: Each one has confidence
65   In thy good offices without an oath,
66   Unless the I cannot cut off the I will;
 
67   Whence I,who speak alone before the others,
68   Pray thee, if ever thou dost see the land
69   That ‘twixt Romagna lies and that of Charles,
 
70   Thou be so courteous to me of thy prayers
71   In Fano, that they pray for me devoutly,
72   That I may purge away my grave offences.
 
73   From thence was I; but the deep wounds, through which
74   Issued the blood wherein I had my seat,
75   Were dealt me in bosom of the Antenori,
 
76   There where I thought to be the most secure;
77   ‘Twas he of Este had it done, who held me
78   In hatred far beyond what justice willed.
 
79   But if towards the Mira I had fled,
80   When I was overtaken at Oriaco,
81   I still should be o’er yonder where men breathe.
 
82   I ran to the lagoon, and reeds and mire
83   Did so entangle me I fell, and saw there
84   A lake made from my veins upon the ground.
 
85   Then said another: Ah, be that desire
86   Fulfilled that draws thee to the lofty mountain,
87   As thou with pious pity aidest mine.
 
88   I was of Montefeltro, and am Buonconte;
89   Giovanna, nor none other cares for me;
90   Hence among these I go with downcast front.
 
91   And I to him: What violence or what chance
92   Led thee astray so far from Campaldino,
93   That never has thy sepulture been known?
 
94   Oh,he replied,at Casentino’s foot
95   A river crosses named Archiano, born
96   Above the Hermitage in Apennine.
 
97   There where the name thereof becometh void
98   Did I arrive, pierced through and through the throat,
99   Fleeing on foot, and bloodying the plain;
 
100   There my sight lost I,and my utterance
101   Ceased in the name of Mary, and thereat
102   I fell, and tenantless my flesh remained.
 
103   Truth will I speak, repeat it to the living;
104   God’s Angel took me up, and he of hell
105   Shouted:’O thou from heaven, why dost thou rob me?
 
106   ‘Thou bearest.away the eternal part of him,
107   For one poor little tear, that takes him from me;
108   But with the rest I’ll deal in other fashion!’
 
109   Well knowest thou how in the air is gathered
110   That humid vapour which to water turns,
111   Soon as it rises where the cold doth grasp it.
 
112   He joined that evil will, which aye seeks evil,
113   To intellect, and moved the mist and wind
114   By means of power, which his own nature gave;
 
115   Thereafter when the day was spent, the valley
116   From Pratomagno to the great yoke covered
117   With fog, and made the heaven above intent,
 
118   So that the pregnant air to water changed;
119   Down fell the rain, and to the gullies came
120   Whate’er of it earth tolerated not;
 
121   And as it mingled with the mighty torrents,
122   Towards the royal river with such speed
123   It headlong rushed, that nothing held it back.
 
124   My frozen body near unto its outlet
125   The robust Archian found, and into Arno
126   Thrust it, and loosened from my breast the cross
 
127   I made of me, when agony o’ercame me;
128   It rolled me on the banks and on the bottom,
129   Then with its booty covered and begirt me.
 
130   Ah, when thou hast returned unto the world,
131   And rested thee from thy long journeying,
132   After the second followed the third spirit,
 
133   Do thou remember me who am the Pia;
134   Siena made me, unmade me Maremma;
135   He knoweth it, who had encircled first,
 
136   Espousing me, my finger with his gem.