Canto XIX

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   IT was the hour When the diurnal heat
2   NO more Can Warm the coldness Of the moon,
3   Vanquished by earth, or peradventure Saturn
 
4   When geomancers their Fortuna Major
5   See in the Orient before the dawn
6   Rise by a path that long remains not dim,
 
7   There came to me in dreams a stammering woman
8   Squint in her eyes, and in her feet distorted,
9   With hands dissevered and of sallow hue.
 
10   I looked at her; and as the sun restores
11   The frigid members which the night benumbs,
12   Even thus my gaze did render voluble
 
13   Her tongue, and made her all erect thereafter
14   In little while, and the lost countenance
15   As love desires it so in her did colour
 
16   When in this wise She had her speech unloosed,
17   She ‘gan to sing so, that with difficulty
18   Could I have turned my thoughts away from her
 
19   I am,She Sang, I am the Siren sweet
20   Who mariners amid the main unman
21   So full am I of pleasantness to hear
 
22   I drew Ulysses from his wandering way
23   Unto my song, and he who dwells With me
24   Seldom departs so wholly I content him.
 
25   Her mouth was not yet closed again, before
26   Appeared a Lady saintly and alert
27   Close at my side to put her to confusion.
 
28   Virgilius, a Virgilius! who is this?
29   Sternly she said; and he was drawing near
30   With eyes still fixed upon that modest one.
 
31   She seized the other and in front laid open,
32   Rending her garments, and her belly showed me;
33   This waked me with the stench that issued from it.
 
34   I turned mine eyes, and good Virgilius said:
35   At least thrice have I called thee; rise and come;
36   Find we the opening by which thou mayst enter.
 
37   I rose; and full already of high day
38   Were all the circles of the Sacred Mountain,
39   And with the new sun at our back we went.
 
40   Following behind him, I my forehead bore
41   Like unto one who has it laden with thought,
42   Who makes himself the half arch of a bridge,
 
43   When I heard say,Come, here the passage is,
44   Spoken in a manner gentle and benign,
45   Such as we hear not in this mortal region.
 
46   With open wings, which of a swan appeared,
47   Upward he turned us who thus spake to us
48   Between the two walls of the solid granite.
 
49   He moved his pinions afterwards and fanned us,
50   Affirming those qui lugent to be blessed,
51   For they shall have their souls with comfort
 
52   What aileth thee, that aye to earth thou gazest?
53   To me my Guide began to say, we both
54   Somewhat beyond the Angel having mounted.
 
55   And I: With such misgiving makes me go
56   A vision new, which bends me to itself,
57   So that I cannot from the thought withdraw me.
 
58   Didst thou behold,he said, that old enchantress,
59   Who sole above us henceforth is lamented?
60   Didst thou behold how man is freed from her?
 
61   Suffice it thee, and smite earth with thy heels,
62   Thine eyes lift upward to the lure, that whirls
63   The Eternal King with revolutions vast.
 
64   Even as the hawk, that first his feet surveys,
65   Then turns him to the call and stretches forward,
66   Through the desire of food that draws him thither,
 
67   Such I became, and such, as far as cleaves
68   The rock to give a way to him who mounts,
69   Went on to where the circling doth begin.
 
70   On the fifth circle when I had come forth,
71   People I saw upon it who were weeping,
72   Stretched prone upon the ground, all downward turned.
 
73   Aedhaesit pavemento anima mea,
74   I heard them say with sighings so profound,
75   That hardly could the words be understood.
 
76   O ye elect of God, whose sufferings
77   Justice and Hope both render less severe,
78   Direct ye us towards the high ascents.
 
79   If ye are come secure from this prostration,
80   And wish to find the way most speedily,
81   Let your right hands be evermore outside.
 
82   Thus did the Poet ask, and thus was answered
83   By them somewhat in front of us; whence I
84   In what was spoken divined the rest concealed,
 
85   And unto my Lord’s eyes mine eyes I turned;
86   Whence he assented with a cheerful sign
87   To what the sight of my desire implored.
 
88   When of myself I could dispose at will,
89   Above that creature did I draw myself,
90   Whose words before had caused me to take note,
 
91   Saying: O Spirit, in whom weeping ripens
92   That without which to God we cannot turn,
93   Suspend awhile for me thy greater care.
 
94   Who wast thou, and why are your backs turned upwards
95   Tell me, and if thou wouldst that I procure thee
96   Anything there whence living I departed.
 
97   And he to me: Wherefore our backs the heaven
98   Turns to itself, know shalt thou; but beforehand
99   Scias quod ego fui successor Petri.
 
100   Between Siestri and Chiaveri descends
101   A river beautiful, and of its name
102   The title of my blood its summit makes.
 
103   A month and little more essayed I how
104   Weighs the great cloak on him from mire who keeps it,
105   For all the other burdens seem a feather.
 
106   Tardy, ah woe is me! was my conversion;
107   But when the Roman Shepherd I was made,
108   Then I discovered life to be a lie.
 
109   I saw that there the heart was not at rest,
110   Nor farther in that life could one ascend;
111   Whereby the love of this was kindled in me.
 
112   Until that time a wretched soul and parted
113   From God was I, and wholly avaricious;
114   Now, as thou seest, I here am punished for it
 
115   What avarice does is here made manifest
116   In the purgation of these souls converted,
117   And no more bitter pain the Mountain has.
 
118   Even as our eye did not uplift itself
119   Aloft, being fastened upon earthly things,
120   So justice here has merged it in the earth.
 
121   As avarice had extinguished our affection
122   For every good, whereby was action lost,
123   So justice here doth hold us in restraint,
 
124   Bound and imprisoned by the feet and hands;
125   And so long as it pleases the just Lord
126   Shall we remain immovable and prostrate.
 
127   I on my knees had fallen, and wished to speak;
128   But even as I began, and he was ‘ware,
129   Only by listening, of my reverence,
 
130   What cause,he said, has downward bent thee thus?
131   And I to him: For your own dignity,
132   Standing, my conscience stung me with remorse.
 
133   Straighten thy legs, and upward raise thee, brother,
134   He answered: Err not, fellow-servant am I
135   With thee and with the others to one power.
 
136   If e’er that holy, evangelic sound,
137   Which sayeth neque nubent, thou hast heard,
138   Well canst thou see why in this wise I speak.
 
139   Now go; no longer will I have thee linger,
140   Because thy stay doth incommode my weeping,
141   With which I ripen that which thou hast said.
 
142   On earth I have a grandchild named Alagia,
143   Good in herself, unless indeed our house
144   Malevolent may make her by example,
 
145   And she alone remains to me on earth.