Canto VI

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   WHENE’ER is broken up the game of Zara,
2   He who has lost remains behind despondent,
3   The throws repeating, and in sadness learns;
4   The people with the other all depart;
5   One goes in front, and one behind doth pluck
6   And at his side one brings himself to mind;
7   He pauses not, and this and that one hears;
8   They crowd no more to whom his hand he stretches,
9   And from the throng he thus defends himself.
10   Even such was I in that dense multitude,
11   Turning to them this way and that my face,
12   And, promising, I freed myself therefrom.
13   There was the Aretine, who from the arms
14   Untamed of Ghin di Tacco had his death,
15   And he who fleeing from pursuit was drowned.
16   There was imploring with his hands outstretched
17   Frederick Novello, and that one of Pisa
18   Who made the good Marzucco seem so strong.
19   I saw Count Orso; and the soul divided
20   By hatred and by envy from its body,
21   As it declared, and not for crime committed,
22   Pierre de la Brosse I say; and here provide
23   While still on earth the Lady of Brabant,
24   So that for this she be of no worse flock!
25   As soon as I was free from all those shades
26   Who only prayed that some one else may pray,
27   So as to hasten their becoming holy,
28   Began I: It appears that thou deniest,
29   O light of mine, expressly in some text,
30   That orison can bend decree of Heaven;
31   And ne’ertheless these people pray for this.
32   Might then their expectation bootless be
33   Or is to me thy saying not quite clear?
34   And he to me: My writing is explicit,
35   And not fallacious is the hope of these,
36   If with sane intellect ’tis well regarded;
37   For top of judgment doth not vail itself,
38   Because the fire of love fulfils at once
39   What he must satisfy who here installs him.
40   And there, where I affirmed that proposition,
41   Defect was not amended by a prayer,
42   Because the prayer from God was separate.
43   Verily, in so deep a questioning
44   Do not decide, unless she tell it thee,
45   Who light ‘twixt truth and intellect shall be.
46   I know not if thou understand; I speak
47   Of Beatrice; her shalt thou see above,
48   Smiling and happy, on this mountain’s top.
49   And I: Good Leader, let us make more haste,
50   For I no longer tire me as before;
51   And see, e’en now the hill a shadow casts.
52   We will go forward with this day he answered,
53   As far as now is possible for us;
54   But otherwise the fact is than thou thinkest.
55   Ere thou art up there, thou shalt see return
56   Him, who now hides himself behind the hill,
57   So that thou dost not interrupthis rays.
58   But yonder there behold ! a soul that stationed
59   All, all alone is looking hitherward;
60   It will point out to us the quickest way.
61   We came up unto it;O Lombard soul,
62   How lofty and disdainful thou didst bear thee,
63   And grand and slow in moving of thine eyes!
64   Nothing whatever did it say to us,
65   But let us go our way, eying us only
66   After the manner of a couchant lion;
67   Still near to it Virgilius drew, entreating
68   That it would point us out the best ascent;
69   And it replied not unto his demand,
70   But of our native land and of our life
71   It questioned us; and the sweet Guide began:
72   Mantua,–and the shade, all in itself recluse,
73   Rose tow’rds him from the place where first it was.
74   Saying: O Mantuan, I am Sordello
75   Of thine own land! and one embraced the other.
76   Ah! servile Italy, grief’s hostelry!
77   A ship without a pilot in great tempest!
78   No Lady thou of Provinces, but brothel!
79   That noble soul was so impatient, only
80   At the sweet sound of his own native land,
81   To make its citizen glad welcome there;
82   And now within thee are not without war
83   Thy living ones, and one doth gnaw the other
84   Of those whom one wall and one fosse shut in!
85   Search, wretched one, all round about the shores
86   Thy seaboard, and then look within thy bosom,
87   If any part of thee enjoyeth peace!
88   What boots it, that for thee Justinian
89   The bridle mend, if empty be the saddle?
90   Withouten this the shame would be the less.
91   Ah ! people, thou that oughtest to be devout,
92   And to let Caesar sit upon the saddle,
93   If well thou hearest what God teacheth thee,
94   Behold how fell this wild beast has become,
95   Being no longer by the spur corrected,
96   Since thou hast laid thy hand upon the bridle.
97   O German Albert ! who abandonest
98   Her that has grown recalcitrant and savage,
99   And oughtest to bestride her saddle-bow,
100   May a just judgment from the stars down fall
101   Upon thy blood, and be it new and open,
102   That thy successor may have fear thereof;
103   Because thy father and thyself have suffered,
104   By greed of those transalpine lands distrained,
105   The garden of the empire to be waste.
106   Come and behold Montecchi and Cappelletti,
107   Monaldi and Fillippeschi, careless man!
108   Those sad already, and these doubt-depressed!
109   Come, cruel one ! come and behold the oppression
110   Of thy nobility, and cure their wounds,
111   And thou shalt see how safe is Santafiore!
112   Come and behold thy Rome, that is lamenting,
113   Widowed, alone, and day and night exclaims,
114   My Caesar, why hast thou forsaken me?
115   Come and behold how loving are thepeople;
116   And if for us no pity moveth thee,
117   Come and be made ashamed of thy renown !
118   And if it lawful be, O Jove Supreme!
119   Who upon earth for us wast crucified,
120   Are thy just eyes averted otherwhere?
121   Or preparation is ‘t, that, in the abyss
122   Of thine own counsel, for some good thou makest
123   From our perception utterly cut off?
124   For all the towns of Italy are full
125   Of tyrants, and becometh a Marcellus
126   Each peasant churl who plays the partisan!
127   My Florence ! well mayst thou contented be
128   With this digression, which concerns thee not,
129   Thanks to thy people who such forethought take!
130   Many at heart have justice, but shoot slowly,
131   That unadvised they come not to the bow,
132   But on their very lips thy people have it!
133   Many refuse to bear the common burden;
134   But thy solicitous people answereth
135   Without being asked, and crieth: I submit.
136   Now be thou joyful, for thou hast good reason;
137   Thou affluent, thou in peace, thou full of wisdom!
138   If I speak true, the event conceals it not.
139   Athens and Lacedaemon, they who made
140   The ancient laws, and were so civilized,
141   Made towards living well a little sign
142   Compared with thee, who makest such fine-spun
143   Provisions, that to middle of November
144   Reaches not what thou in October spinnest.
145   How oft, within the time of thy remembrance,
146   Laws, money, offices, and usages
147   Hast thou remodelled, and renewed thy members?
148   And if thou mind thee well, and see the light,
149   Thou shalt behold thyself like a sick woman,
150   Who cannot find repose upon her down,
151   But by her tossing wardeth off her pain.