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“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.
SELECTIONS FROM THE DIVINE COMEDY.
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
Even before my lips its tale impart.
Shall fruit of infamy to this traitor bear,
“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.
And this the Archbishop Ruggieri. Why
I will thee tell we are such neighbors nigh.
A friend's own trusts, but so his treachery wrought
“ 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.
From me its name of Famine, and where wrath
Yet others waits, a narrow opening hath,
Had strayed, when unto me in sleep was sent
« 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.
And in their front Gualandi's sword had place,
Father and sons' undoing soon was seen ;
Methought the sharp fangs on them closed, and tore
“ 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.
Which had been wont our scanty meal to bring ;
“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 ?'
Nor the next night, until another sun
“ 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,
If thou wilt eat of us : of thee was born
“ 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?'
The three I saw fall one by one; first died
“ Then blind, I groped o'er them to left and right,
And for three days called on their spirits dead;
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.
Giovanna, and she only, for me cares ;
" 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.
Pierced through and through the throat, in flight,
“ 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.
Took me God's Angel up, and he of Hell
Cried out: O thou from Heaven, thou doest well
For one poor tear, that me of him deprives;
“ 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.
which mist and wind
The space from Protomagno to where tower
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;
Towards the royal river, so it flowed
That over every obstacle wild it rode.
Near to its outlet, and it gave a toss
“I made of me when agony me o'ercame;
Along his banks and bottoms he me lapped,
Wilstach's Translation, Purgatorio, Canto V.
BEATRICE DESCENDING FROM HEAVEN.
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,
Of vapory influence tempered, that the eye
E'en so, embosomed in a cloud of flowers,
Which from those hands angelical upward played,
And roseate all the car triumphal made,
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,
Through hidden virtue which from her came forth,
Of ancient love felt now the potent worth.
The heavenly influence that, ere boyhood's days