Canto XI

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   OUR Father, thou who dwellest in the heavens,
2   Not circumscribed, but from the greater love
3   Thou bearest to the first effects on high,
4   Praised be thy name and thine omnipotence
5   By every creature, as befitting is
6   To render thanks to thy sweet effluence.
7   Come unto us the peace of thy dominion,
8   For unto it we cannot of ourselves,
9   If it come not, with all our intellect.
10   Even as thine own Angels of their will
11   Make sacrifice to thee, Hosanna singing,
12   So may all men make sacrifice of theirs.
13   Give unto us this day our daily manna,
14   Withouten which in this rough wilderness
15   Backward goes he who toils most to advance.
16   And even as we the trespass we have suffered
17   Pardon in one another, pardon thou
18   Benignly, and regard not our desert.
19   Our virtue, which is easily o’ercome,
20   Put not to proof with the old Adversary,
21   But thou from him who spurs it so, deliver.
22   This last petition verily, dear Lord,
23   Not for ourselves is made, who need it not,
24   But for their sake who have remained behind us.
25   Thus for themselves and us good furtherance
26   Those shades imploring, went beneath a weight
27   Like unto that of which we sometimes dream,
28   Unequally in anguish round and round
29   And weary all, upon that foremost cornice,
30   Purging away the smoke-stains of the world
31   If there good words are always said for us,
32   What may not here be said and done for them,
33   By those who have a good root to their will?
34   Well may we help them wash away the marks
35   That hence they carried, so that clean and light
36   They may ascend unto the starry wheels!
37   Ah! so may pity and justice you disburden
38   Soon, that ye may have power to move the wing,
39   That shall uplift you after your desire,
40   Show us on which hand tow’rd the stairs the way
41   Is shortest, and if more than one the passes,
42   Point us out that which least abruptly falls;
43   For he who cometh with me, through the burden
44   Of Adam’s flesh wherewith he is invested,
45   Against his will is chary of his climbing.
46   The words of theirs which they returned to those
47   That he whom I was following had spoken,
48   It was not manifest from whom they came,
49   But it was said: To the right hand come with us
50   Along the bank, and ye shall find a pass
51   Possible for living person to ascend.
52   And were I not impeded by the stone,
53   Which this proud neck of mine doth subjugate,
54   Whence I am forced to hold my visage down,
55   Him, who still lives and does not name himself,
56   Would I regard, to see if I may know him
57   And make him piteous unto this burden.
58   A Latian was I, and born of a great Tuscan;
59   Guglielmo Aldobrandeschi was my father;
60   I know not if his name were ever with you.
61   The ancient blood and deeds of gallantry
62   Of my progenitors so arrogant made me
63   That, thinking not upon the common mother,
64   All men I held in scorn to such extent
65   I died therefor, as know the Sienese,
66   And every child in Campagnatico.
67   I am Omberto; and not to me alone
68   Has pride done harm, but all my kith and kin
69   Has with it dragged into adversity.
70   And here must I this burden bear for it
71   Till God be satisfied, since I did not
72   Among the living, here among the dead.
73   Listening I downward bent my countenance;
74   And one of them, not this one who was speaking,
75   Twisted himself beneath the weight that cramps him,
76   And looked at me, and knew me, and called out,
77   Keeping his eyes laboriously fixed
78   On me, who all bowed down was going with them.
79   O,asked I him, art thou not Oderisi,
80   Agobbio s honour, and honour of that art
81   Which is in Paris called illuminating?
82   Brother,said he, more laughing are the leaves
83   Touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese;
84   All his the honour now, and mine in part.
85   In sooth I had not been so courteous
86   While I was living, for the great desire
87   Of excellence, on which my heart was bent.
88   Here of such pride is paid the forfeiture;
89   And yet I should not be here, were it not
90   That, having power to sin, I turned to God.
91   O thou vain glory of the human powers,
92   How little green upon thy summit lingers,
93   If ‘t be not followed by an age of grossness!
94   In painting Cimabue thought that he
95   Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry,
96   So that the other’s fame is growing dim.
97   So has one Guido from the other taken
98   The glory of our tongue, and he perchance
99   Is born, who from the nest shall chase them both.
100   Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath
101   Of wind, that comes now this way and now that,
102   And changes name, because it changes side.
103   What fame shalt thou have more, if old peel off
104   From thee thy flesh, than if thou hadst been dead
105   Before thou left the pappo and the dindi,
106   Ere pass a thousand years? which is a shorter
107   Space to the eterne, than twinkling of an eye
108   Unto the circle that in heaven wheels slowest.
109   With him, who takes so little of the road
110   In front of me, all Tuscany resounded;
111   And now he scarce is lisped of in Siena,
112   Where he was lord, what time was overthrown
113   The Florentine delirium, that superb
114   Was at that day as now ’tis prostitute.
115   Your reputation is the colour of grass
116   Which comes and goes, and that discolours it
117   By which it issues green from out the earth.
118   And I: Thy true speech fills my heart with good
119   Humility, and great tumour thou assuagest;
120   But who is he, of whom just now thou spakest?
121   That, he replied, is Provenzan Salvani,
122   And he is here because he had presumed
123   To bring Siena all into his hands.
124   He has gone thus, and goeth without rest
125   E’er since he died; such money renders back
126   In payment he who is on earth too daring.
127   And I: If every spirit who awaits
128   The verge of life before that he repent,
129   Remains below there and ascends not hither,
130   Unless good orison shall him bestead,
131   Until as much time as he lived be passed,
132   How was the coming granted him in largess?
133   When he in greatest splendour lived, said he,
134   Freely upon the Campo of Siena,
135   All shame being laid aside, he placed himself;
136   And there to draw his friend from the duress
137   Which in the prison-house of Charles he suffered,
138   He brought himself to tremble in each vein.
139   I say no more, and know that I speak darkly;
140   Yet little time shall pass before thy neighbours
141   Will so demean themselves that thou canst gloss it.
142   This action has released him from those confines.