صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


“Now shalt thou look upon the mighty hosts of Paradise.”

The poet's dazzled eyes saw then a river of light from which issued living sparks sunk down into the flowers like rubies set in gold. Instructed by Beatrice he drank of the stream and the river changed into a lake; then he saw the Courts of Heaven made manifest, and the splendor of God. The ample Rose unfolded its leaves before him, breathing praise and perfume, and as he gazed into it Beatrice pointed out the radiant spirits and the thronged seats, one of which was reserved for the Emperor Henry of Luxembourg, from whom Dante expected so much, and who died before aught was accomplished. As Dante gazed, the hosts with wings of gold and faces of living flame, singing anthems, alternately sank into the Rose, like a swarm of bees sinking into summer flowers, and rose again to view the Divine splendor. Turning to question Beatrice again, Dante found in her place Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, an old man full of the tenderest pity, who pointed out to him Beatrice in her own place, the third round of the first rank. As from afar, Dante pleaded with the beautiful lady who had left her place in heaven to go even unto the gates of hell for his sake, to aid him still ; she seemed to smile upon him before she again turned her gaze upon the Eternal Fountain of Light. Saint Bernard explained to the poet the divisions of the Rose and the seats of the saints, and then addressed a prayer to the Virgin, asking that Dante be permitted to look upon the Almighty Father. As he prayed, Beatrice and all the blessed ones clasped their hands to her who likes so well prayers of divine fervor. At a gesture from Bernard, the poet looked upward. Then what a radiant vision met his eyes! Three circles he saw of threefold color and one dimension. As he looked, one seemed to take our image, and again was lost in the infinite glory of the Light Divine. As he tried to describe it, imagination failed him, though his will remained, moving on with the even motion of the sun and stars.



In the frozen lake of Cocytus in the ninth circle of the Inferno, where were punished the traitors to kindred, country, friends, or benefactors, the poets beheld Count Ugolino, a Guelph, who, because of his treachery, was taken prisoner by the people with his sons and grandsons and thrust into a tower, where they were left to starve. Ugolino was frozen in the ice, where he forever gnawed the head of the Archbishop Ruggieri, his enemy. At the request of Dante he stopped to tell his story.

Thy will 'tis I renew
A desperate sorrow that doth crush my heart

Even before my lips its tale impart.
But if my words may be a seed that, sowed,

Shall fruit of infamy to this traitor bear,
Then, though I weep, speech too shall be my care.

“Who thou may'st be I know not, nor what mode

Hath brought thee here below, but then I glean,

From words of thine, thou art a Florentine.
That I Count Ugolino was, know thou,

And this the Archbishop Ruggieri. Why

I will thee tell we are such neighbors nigh.
Needs not to say that him I did allow

A friend's own trusts, but so his treachery wrought
That first my liberty, then my life, it sought.

“ But that which thou canst not have hitherto learned

That is, how cruel was my death, I thee

Will tell ; judge thou if he offended me.
Within the Mew, a tower which well hath earned

From me its name of Famine, and where wrath

Yet others waits, a narrow opening hath,
Through which of several moons the broken light

Had strayed, when unto me in sleep was sent
A dream whereby the future's veil was rent.

« This ill dream me this man set forth in might :

He wolf and whelps upon those mounts pursued

Which Pisa 'twixt and Lucca's domes obtrude.
Hounds had he with him, lank and shrewd and keen,

And in their front Gualandi's sword had place,
Sismondi's lash and sour Lanfranchi's mace.

Father and sons' undoing soon was seen ;

Methought the sharp fangs on them closed, and tore
Their flanks, which now the hue of crimson wore.

“ Before the dawn I woke and heard my sons,

The helpless children with me, in their sleep,

Cry out for bread, cries pushed from sobbings deep. Right cruel art thou, if not e'en now runs

To tears thy grief at what my heart forbode,

If tears of thine at misery's tale e'er flowed.
And then they woke, and came the hour around

Which had been wont our scanty meal to bring ;
But from our dreams dumb terrors seemed to spring;

“When from below we heard the dreadful sound

Of nails; the horrible tower was closed; all dumb

I let my gaze into my sons' eyes come. Weep I did not, like stone my feelings lay.

They wept, and spoke my little Anselm : 'Pray

Why lookest so ? Father, what ails thee, say ?'
Shed I no tear, nor answered all that day

Nor the next night, until another sun
His journey through the wide world had begun.

“ Then came a small ray into our sad, sad den,

And when in their four faces I beheld

That carking grief which mine own visage held, Mine hands for grief I bit, and they, who then

Deemed that I did it from desire to eat,

Stood up each one at once upon his feet,
And said: 'Father, 't will give us much less pain

If thou wilt eat of us : of thee was born
This hapless flesh, and be it by thee torn.'

“ Myself I calmed that they might not so grieve;

Mute that day and the next we were ; 0 thou

Most cruel earth, that didst not open now ! When we the fourth day's agony did receive

Stretched at my feet himself my Gaddo threw,

And said : “My father, canst thou nothing do?'
There died he, and, as now sees me thy sight,

The three I saw fall one by one; first died
One on the fifth; deaths two the sixth me tried.

[ocr errors]

“ Then blind, I groped o'er them to left and right,

And for three days called on their spirits dead;
Then grief before the power of fasting fled."

Wilstach's Translation, Inferno. Canto XXXIII. BUONCONTE DI MONTEFELTRO.

On the second terrace of the Ante-Purgatory, on the Purgatorial Mount, were the spirits of those whose lives were ended by violence. Among those who here addressed Dante was Buonconte di Montefeltro, who was slain in the battle of Campaldino, and whose body was never found.

Another then : "Ah, be thy cherished aim

Attained that to the lofty Mount thee draws,

As thou with pity shalt advance my cause.
Of Montefeltro I Buonconte am;

Giovanna, and she only, for me cares ;
Hence among those am I whom waiting wears."

[ocr errors]

" What violence or what chance led thee so wide

From Campaldino," I of him inquired,

“ That's still unknown thy burial-place retired?" « Oh, Casentino's foot," he thus replied,

“ Archiano's stream o'erflows, which hath its rise

Above the Hermitage under Apennine skies.
There where its name is lost did I arrive,

Pierced through and through the throat, in flight,
Upon the plain made with my life-blood bright;

“ There sight I lost, and did for speech long strive;

At last I uttered Mary's name, and fell

A lifeless form, mine empty flesh a shell.
Truth will I speak, below do thou it hymn;

Took me God's Angel up, and he of Hell

Cried out: O thou from Heaven, thou doest well
To rob from me the eternal part of him

For one poor tear, that me of him deprives;
In other style I'll deal with other lives!'

“ Well know'st thou how in air is gathered dim

That humid vapor which to water turns

Soon as the cold its rising progress learns.
The fiend that ill-will joined (which aye seeks ill)
To intellectual power,

which mist and wind
Moved by control which faculties such can find,
And afterwards, when the day was spent, did fill

The space from Protomagno to where tower
The Mounts with fog ; and high Heaven's covering power

The pregnant atmosphere moist to water changed.

Down fell the rain, and to the ditches fled,

Whate'er of it the soil's thirst had not sped;
And, as it with the mingling torrents ranged

Towards the royal river, so it flowed

That over every obstacle wild it rode.
The robust river found my stiffened frame

Near to its outlet, and it gave a toss
To Arno, loosening from my breast the cross

“I made of me when agony me o'ercame;

Along his banks and bottoms he me lapped,
Then in his muddy spoils he me enwrapped.”

Wilstach's Translation, Purgatorio, Canto V.


DANTE and Vergil mounted to the Terrestial Paradise, where, while they talked with Matilda, the Car of the Church Triumphant appeared in the greatest splendor. As it stopped before Dante it was enveloped in a shower of roses from the hands of a hundred angels.

I have beheld ere now, when dawn would pale,

The eastern hemisphere's tint of roseate sheen,

And all the opposite heaven one gem serene,
And the uprising sun, beneath such powers

Of vapory influence tempered, that the eye
For a long space its fiery shield could try :

E'en so, embosomed in a cloud of flowers,

Which from those hands angelical upward played,

And roseate all the car triumphal made,
And showered a snow-white veil with olive bound,

Appeared a Lady, green her mantle, name

Could not describe her robe unless 't were flame. and mine own spirit, which the past had found

Often within her presence, free from awe,

And which could never from me trembling draw,
And sight no knowledge giving me at this time,

Through hidden virtue which from her came forth,

Of ancient love felt now the potent worth.
As soon as on my vision smote sublime

The heavenly influence that, ere boyhood's days
Had fled, had thrilled me and awoke my praise,

« السابقةمتابعة »