Canto XXIV

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   NOR speech the going, nor the going that
2   Slackened; but talking we went bravely on,
3   Even as a vessel urged by a good wind.
 
4   And shadows, that appeared things doubly dead,
5   From out the sepulchres of their eyes betrayed
6   Wonder at me, aware that I was living.
 
7   And I, continuing my colloquy,
8   Said: Peradventure he goes up more slowly
9   Than he would do, for other people’s sake.
 
10   But tell me, if thou knowest, where is Piccarda;
11   Tell me if any one of note I see
12   Among this folk that gazes at me so.
 
13   My sister, who, ‘twixt beautiful and good,
14   I know not which was more, triumphs rejoicing
15   Already in her crown on high Olympus.
 
16   So said he first, and then: Tis not forbidden
17   To name each other here, so milked away
18   Is our resemblance by our dieting.
 
19   This, pointing with his finger, is Buonagiunta,
20   Buonagiunta, of Lucca; and that face
21   Beyond him there, more peaked than the others,
 
22   Has held the holy Church within his arms;
23   From Tours was he, and purges by his fasting
24   Bolsena’s eels and the Vernaccia wine.
 
25   He named me many others one by one;
26   And all contented seemed at being named,
27   So that for this I saw not one dark look.
 
28   I saw for hunger bite the empty air
29   Ubaldin dalla Pila, and Boniface,
30   Who with his crook had pastured many people.
 
31   I saw Messer Marchese, who had leisure
32   Once at Forli for drinking with less dryness,
33   And he was one who ne’er felt satisfied.
 
34   But as he does who scans, and then doth prize
35   One more than others, did I him of Lucca,
36   Who seemed to take most cognizance of me.
 
37   He murmured, and I know not what Gentucca
38   From that place heard I, where he felt the wound
39   Of justice, that doth macerate them so.
 
40   O soul, I said, that seemest so desirous
41   To speak with me, do so that I may hear thee,
42   And with thy speech appease thyself and me.
 
43   A maid is born, and wears not yet the veil,
44   Began he, who to thee shall pleasant make
45   My city, howsoever men may blame it.
 
46   Thou shalt go on thy way with this prevision;
47   If by my murmuring thou hast been deceived,
48   True things hereafter will declare it to thee.
 
49   But say if him I here behold, who forth
50   Evoked the new-invented rhymes, beginning,
51   Ladies, that have intelligence of love?
 
52   And I to him: One am I, who, whenever
53   Love doth inspire me, note, and in that measure
54   Which he within me dictates, singing go.
 
55   O brother, now I see, he said, the knot
56   Which me, the Notary, and Guittone held
57   Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.
 
58   I do perceive full clearly how your pens
59   Go closely following after him who dictates,
60   Which with our own forsooth came not to pass;
 
61   And he who sets himself to go beyond,
62   No difference sees from one style to another;
63   And as if satisfied, he held his peace.
 
64   Even as the birds, that winter tow’rds the Nile,
65   Sometimes into a phalanx form themselves,
66   Then fly in greater haste, and go in file;
 
67   In such wise all the people who were there,
68   Turning their faces, hurried on their steps,
69   Both by their leanness and their wishes light.
 
70   And as a man, who weary is with trotting,
71   Lets his companions onward go, and walks,
72   Until he vents the panting of his chest;
 
73   So did Forese let the holy flock
74   Pass by, and came with me behind it, saying,
75   When will it be that I again shall see thee?
 
76   How long, I answered, I may live, I know not;
77   Yet my return will not so speedy be,
78   But I shall sooner in desire arrive;
 
79   Because the place where I was set to live
80   From day to day of good is more depleted,
81   And unto dismal ruin seems ordained.
 
82   Now go, he said, for him most guilty of it
83   At a beast’s tail behold I dragged along
84   Towards the valley where is no repentance.
 
85   Faster at every step the beast is going,
86   Increasing evermore until it smites him,
87   And leaves the body vilely mutilated.
 
88   Not long those wheels shall turn, and he uplifted
89   His eyes to heaven, ere shall be clear to thee
90   That which my speech no farther can declare.
 
91   Now stay behind; because the time so precious
92   Is in this kingdom, that I lose too much
93   By coming onward thus abreast with thee.
 
94   As sometimes issues forth upon a gallop
95   A cavalier from out a troop that ride,
96   And seeks the honour of the first encounter,
 
97   So he with greater strides departed from us;
98   And on the road remained I with those two,
99   Who were such mighty marshals of the world.
 
100   And when before us he had gone so far
101   Mine eyes became to him such pursuivants
102   As was my understanding to his words,
 
103   Appeared to me with laden and living boughs
104   Another apple-tree, and not far distant,
105   From having but just then turned thitherward.
 
106   People I saw beneath it lift their hands,
107   And cry I know not what towards the leaves,
108   Like little children eager and deluded,
 
109   Who pray, and he they pray to doth not answer,
110   But, to make very keen their appetite,
111   Holds their desire aloft, and hides it not
 
112   Then they departed as if undeceived;
113   And now we came unto the mighty tree
114   Which prayers and tears so manifold refuses.
 
115   Pass farther onward without drawing near;
116   The tree of which Eve ate is higher up,
117   And out of that one has this tree been raised.
 
118   Thus said I know not who among the branches;
119   Whereat Virgilius, Statius, and myself
120   Went crowding forward on the side that rises.
 
121   Be mindful, said he, of the accursed ones
122   Formed of the cloud-rack, who inebriate
123   Combated Theseus with their double breasts;
 
124   And of the Jews who showed them soft in drinking,
125   Whence Gideon would not have them for companions
126   When he tow’rds Midian the hills descended.
 
127   Thus, closely pressed to one of the two borders,
128   On passed we, hearing sins of gluttony,
129   Followed forsooth by miserable gains;
 
130   Then set at large upon the lonely road,
131   A thousand steps and more we onward went,
132   In contemplation, each without a word.
 
133   What go ye thinking thus, ye three alone?
134   Said suddenly a voice, whereat I started
135   As terrified and timid beasts are wont.
 
136   I raised my head to see who this might be,
137   And never in a furnace was there seen
138   Metals or glass so lucent and so red
 
139   As one I saw who said: If it may please you
140   To mount aloft, here it behoves you turn;
141   This way goes he who goeth after peace.
 
142   His aspect had bereft me of my sight,
143   So that I turned me back unto my Teachers,
144   Like one who goeth as his hearing guides him.
 
145   And as, the harbinger of early dawn,
146   The air of May doth move and breathe out fragrance,
147   Impregnate all with herbage and with flowers,
 
148   So did I feel a breeze strike in the midst
149   My front, and felt the moving of the plumes
150   That breathed around an odour of ambrosia,
 
151   And heard it said: Blessed are they whom grace’,
152   So much illumines, that the love of taste
153   Excites not in their breasts too great desire,
 
154   Hungering at all times so far as is just