Purgatorio: Canto XIII

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We were upon the summit of the stairs,
Where for the second time is cut away
The Mountain, which ascending shriveth all.

There in like manner doth a cornice bind
The hill all round about, as does the first,
Save that its arc more suddenly is curved.

Shade is there none, nor Sculpture that appears;
So seems the bank, and so the road seems smooth,
With but the livid colour of the stone.

"If to inquire we wait for people here,"
The Poet said, "I fear that peradventure
Too much delay will our election have."

Then steadfast on the sun his eyes he fixed,
Made his right side the centre of his motion,
And turned the left part of himself about.

"O thou sweet light! with trust in whom I enter
Upon this novel journey, do thou lead us,"
Said he, "as one within here should be led.

Thou warmest the world, thou shinest over it;
If other Reason prompt not otherwise,
Thy rays should evermore our leaders be!"

As much as here is counted for a mile,
So much already there had we advanced
In little time, by dint of ready will;

And tow'rds us there were heard to fly, albeit
They were not visible, spirits uttering
Unto Love's table courteous invitations,

The first voice that passed onward in its flight,
"Vinum non habent," said in accents loud,
And went reiterating it behind us.

And ere it wholly grew inaudible
Because of distance, passed another, crying,
"I am Orestes!" and it also stayed not.

"O," said I, "Father, these, what voices are they?"
And even as I asked, behold the third,
Saying: "Love those from whom ye have had evil!"

And the good Master said: "This circle scourges
The sin of envy, and on that account
Are drawn from love the lashes of the scourge.

The bridle of another sound shall be;
I think that thou wilt hear it, as I judge,
Before thou comest to the Pass of Pardon.

But fix thine eyes athwart the air right steadfast,
And people thou wilt see before us sitting,
And each one close against the cliff is seated."

Then wider than at first mine eyes I opened;
I looked before me, and saw shades with mantles
Not from the colour of the stone diverse.

And when we were a little farther onward,
I heard a cry of, "Mary, pray for us!"
A cry of, "Michael, Peter, and all Saints!"

I do not think there walketh still on earth
A man so hard, that he would not be pierced
With pity at what afterward I saw.

For when I had approached so near to them
That manifest to me their acts became,
Drained was I at the eyes by heavy grief.

Covered with sackcloth vile they seemed to me,
And one sustained the other with his shoulder,
And all of them were by the bank sustained.

Thus do the blind, in want of livelihood,
Stand at the doors of churches asking alms,
And one upon another leans his head,

So that in others pity soon may rise,
Not only at the accent of their words,
But at their aspect, which no less implores.

And as unto the blind the sun comes not,
So to the shades, of whom just now I spake,
Heaven's light will not be bounteous of itself;

For all their lids an iron wire transpierces,
And sews them up, as to a sparhawk wild
Is done, because it will not quiet stay.

To me it seemed, in passing, to do outrage,
Seeing the others without being seen;
Wherefore I turned me to my counsel sage.

Well knew he what the mute one wished to say,
And therefore waited not for my demand,
But said: "Speak, and be brief, and to the point."

I had Virgilius upon that side
Of the embankment from which one may fall,
Since by no border 'tis engarlanded;

Upon the other side of me I had
The shades devout, who through the horrible seam
Pressed out the tears so that they bathed their cheeks.

To them I turned me, and, "O people, certain,"
Began I, "of beholding the high light,
Which your desire has solely in its care,

So may grace speedily dissolve the scum
Upon your consciences, that limpidly
Through them descend the river of the mind,

Tell me, for dear 'twill be to me and gracious,
If any soul among you here is Latian,
And 'twill perchance be good for him I learn it."

"O brother mine, each one is citizen
Of one true city; but thy meaning is,
Who may have lived in Italy a pilgrim."

By way of answer this I seemed to hear
A little farther on than where I stood,
Whereat I made myself still nearer heard.

Among the rest I saw a shade that waited
In aspect, and should any one ask how,
Its chin it lifted upward like a blind man.

"Spirit," I said, "who stoopest to ascend,
If thou art he who did reply to me,
Make thyself known to me by place or name."

"Sienese was I," it replied, "and with
The others here recleanse my guilty life,
Weeping to Him to lend himself to us.

Sapient I was not, although I Sapia
Was called, and I was at another's harm
More happy far than at my own good fortune.

And that thou mayst not think that I deceive thee,
Hear if I was as foolish as I tell thee.
The arc already of my years descending,

My fellow-citizens near unto Colle
Were joined in battle with their adversaries,
And I was praying God for what he willed.

Routed were they, and turned into the bitter
Passes of flight; and I, the chase beholding,
A joy received unequalled by all others;

So that I lifted upward my bold face
Crying to God, 'Henceforth I fear thee not,'
As did the blackbird at the little sunshine.

Peace I desired with God at the extreme
Of my existence, and as yet would not
My debt have been by penitence discharged,

Had it not been that in remembrance held me
Pier Pettignano in his holy prayers,
Who out of charity was grieved for me.

But who art thou, that into our conditions
Questioning goest, and hast thine eyes unbound
As I believe, and breathing dost discourse?"

"Mine eyes," I said, "will yet be here ta'en from me,
But for short space; for small is the offence
Committed by their being turned with envy.

Far greater is the fear, wherein suspended
My soul is, of the torment underneath,
For even now the load down there weighs on me."

And she to me: "Who led thee, then, among us
Up here, if to return below thou thinkest?"
And I: "He who is with me, and speaks not;

And living am I; therefore ask of me,
Spirit elect, if thou wouldst have me move
O'er yonder yet my mortal feet for thee."

"O, this is such a novel thing to hear,"
She answered, "that great sign it is God loves thee;
Therefore with prayer of thine sometimes assist me.

And I implore, by what thou most desirest,
If e'er thou treadest the soil of Tuscany,
Well with my kindred reinstate my fame.

Them wilt thou see among that people vain
Who hope in Talamone, and will lose there
More hope than in discovering the Diana;

But there still more the admirals will lose."

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La Divina Commedia di Dante: Purgatorio: Canto XIII

Noi eravamo al sommo de la scala,
  dove secondamente si risega
  lo monte che salendo altrui dismala.

Ivi cosi` una cornice lega
  dintorno il poggio, come la primaia;
  se non che l'arco suo piu` tosto piega.

Ombra non li` e` ne' segno che si paia:
  parsi la ripa e parsi la via schietta
  col livido color de la petraia.

"Se qui per dimandar gente s'aspetta",
  ragionava il poeta, "io temo forse
  che troppo avra` d'indugio nostra eletta".

Poi fisamente al sole li occhi porse;
  fece del destro lato a muover centro,
  e la sinistra parte di se' torse.

"O dolce lume a cui fidanza i' entro
  per lo novo cammin, tu ne conduci",
  dicea, "come condur si vuol quinc'entro.

Tu scaldi il mondo, tu sovr'esso luci;
  s'altra ragione in contrario non ponta,
  esser dien sempre li tuoi raggi duci".

Quanto di qua per un migliaio si conta,
  tanto di la` eravam noi gia` iti,
  con poco tempo, per la voglia pronta;

e verso noi volar furon sentiti,
  non pero` visti, spiriti parlando
  a la mensa d'amor cortesi inviti.

La prima voce che passo` volando
  'Vinum non habent' altamente disse,
  e dietro a noi l'ando` reiterando.

E prima che del tutto non si udisse
  per allungarsi, un'altra 'I' sono Oreste'
  passo` gridando, e anco non s'affisse.

"Oh!", diss'io, "padre, che voci son queste?".
  E com'io domandai, ecco la terza
  dicendo: 'Amate da cui male aveste'.

E 'l buon maestro: "Questo cinghio sferza
  la colpa de la invidia, e pero` sono
  tratte d'amor le corde de la ferza.

Lo fren vuol esser del contrario suono;
  credo che l'udirai, per mio avviso,
  prima che giunghi al passo del perdono.

Ma ficca li occhi per l'aere ben fiso,
  e vedrai gente innanzi a noi sedersi,
  e ciascun e` lungo la grotta assiso".

Allora piu` che prima li occhi apersi;
  guarda'mi innanzi, e vidi ombre con manti
  al color de la pietra non diversi.

E poi che fummo un poco piu` avanti,
  udia gridar: 'Maria, ora per noi':
  gridar 'Michele' e 'Pietro', e 'Tutti santi'.

Non credo che per terra vada ancoi
  omo si` duro, che non fosse punto
  per compassion di quel ch'i' vidi poi;

che', quando fui si` presso di lor giunto,
  che li atti loro a me venivan certi,
  per li occhi fui di grave dolor munto.

Di vil ciliccio mi parean coperti,
  e l'un sofferia l'altro con la spalla,
  e tutti da la ripa eran sofferti.

Cosi` li ciechi a cui la roba falla
  stanno a' perdoni a chieder lor bisogna,
  e l'uno il capo sopra l'altro avvalla,

perche' 'n altrui pieta` tosto si pogna,
  non pur per lo sonar de le parole,
  ma per la vista che non meno agogna.

E come a li orbi non approda il sole,
  cosi` a l'ombre quivi, ond'io parlo ora,
  luce del ciel di se' largir non vole;

che' a tutti un fil di ferro i cigli fora
  e cusce si`, come a sparvier selvaggio
  si fa pero` che queto non dimora.

A me pareva, andando, fare oltraggio,
  veggendo altrui, non essendo veduto:
  per ch'io mi volsi al mio consiglio saggio.

Ben sapev'ei che volea dir lo muto;
  e pero` non attese mia dimanda,
  ma disse: "Parla, e sie breve e arguto".

Virgilio mi venia da quella banda
  de la cornice onde cader si puote,
  perche' da nulla sponda s'inghirlanda;

da l'altra parte m'eran le divote
  ombre, che per l'orribile costura
  premevan si`, che bagnavan le gote.

Volsimi a loro e "O gente sicura",
  incominciai, "di veder l'alto lume
  che 'l disio vostro solo ha in sua cura,

se tosto grazia resolva le schiume
  di vostra coscienza si` che chiaro
  per essa scenda de la mente il fiume,

ditemi, che' mi fia grazioso e caro,
  s'anima e` qui tra voi che sia latina;
  e forse lei sara` buon s'i' l'apparo".

"O frate mio, ciascuna e` cittadina
  d'una vera citta`; ma tu vuo' dire
  che vivesse in Italia peregrina".

Questo mi parve per risposta udire
  piu` innanzi alquanto che la` dov'io stava,
  ond'io mi feci ancor piu` la` sentire.

Tra l'altre vidi un'ombra ch'aspettava
  in vista; e se volesse alcun dir 'Come?',
  lo mento a guisa d'orbo in su` levava.

"Spirto", diss'io, "che per salir ti dome,
  se tu se' quelli che mi rispondesti,
  fammiti conto o per luogo o per nome".

"Io fui sanese", rispuose, "e con questi
  altri rimendo qui la vita ria,
  lagrimando a colui che se' ne presti.

Savia non fui, avvegna che Sapia
  fossi chiamata, e fui de li altrui danni
  piu` lieta assai che di ventura mia.

E perche' tu non creda ch'io t'inganni,
  odi s'i' fui, com'io ti dico, folle,
  gia` discendendo l'arco d'i miei anni.

Eran li cittadin miei presso a Colle
  in campo giunti co' loro avversari,
  e io pregava Iddio di quel ch'e' volle.

Rotti fuor quivi e volti ne li amari
  passi di fuga; e veggendo la caccia,
  letizia presi a tutte altre dispari,

tanto ch'io volsi in su` l'ardita faccia,
  gridando a Dio: "Omai piu` non ti temo!",
  come fe' 'l merlo per poca bonaccia.

Pace volli con Dio in su lo stremo
  de la mia vita; e ancor non sarebbe
  lo mio dover per penitenza scemo,

se cio` non fosse, ch'a memoria m'ebbe
  Pier Pettinaio in sue sante orazioni,
  a cui di me per caritate increbbe.

Ma tu chi se', che nostre condizioni
  vai dimandando, e porti li occhi sciolti,
  si` com'io credo, e spirando ragioni?".

"Li occhi", diss'io, "mi fieno ancor qui tolti,
  ma picciol tempo, che' poca e` l'offesa
  fatta per esser con invidia volti.

Troppa e` piu` la paura ond'e` sospesa
  l'anima mia del tormento di sotto,
  che gia` lo 'ncarco di la` giu` mi pesa".

Ed ella a me: "Chi t'ha dunque condotto
  qua su` tra noi, se giu` ritornar credi?".
  E io: "Costui ch'e` meco e non fa motto.

E vivo sono; e pero` mi richiedi,
  spirito eletto, se tu vuo' ch'i' mova
  di la` per te ancor li mortai piedi".

"Oh, questa e` a udir si` cosa nuova",
  rispuose, "che gran segno e` che Dio t'ami;
  pero` col priego tuo talor mi giova.

E cheggioti, per quel che tu piu` brami,
  se mai calchi la terra di Toscana,
  che a' miei propinqui tu ben mi rinfami.

Tu li vedrai tra quella gente vana
  che spera in Talamone, e perderagli
  piu` di speranza ch'a trovar la Diana;

ma piu` vi perderanno li ammiragli".

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