Purgatorio: Canto XIV
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"Who is this one that goes about our Mountain
Or ever Death
has given him power of flight
And opes his eyes and shuts them at his will
"I know not who, but know he's not alone;
Ask him thyself, for thou art nearer to him,
And gently, so that he may speak, accost him."
Thus did two spirits, leaning tow'rds each other,
Discourse about me there on the right hand;
Then held supine their faces to address me.
And said the one: "O soul, that, fastened still
Within the body, tow'rds the heaven art going,
console us, and declare
Whence comest and who art thou; for thou mak'st us
As much to marvel at this grace of thine
As must a thing that never yet has been."
And I: "Through midst of Tuscany
A streamlet that is born in Falterona
And not a hundred miles of course suffice
From thereupon do I this body bring
To tell you who I am were speech in vain
Because my name as yet makes no great noise
"If well thy meaning I can penetrate
With intellect of mine," then answered me
He who first spake, "thou speakest of the Arno
And said the other to him: "Why concealed
This one the appellation of that river
Even as a man doth of things horrible
And thus the shade that questioned was of this
Himself acquitted: "I know not; but truly
'Tis fit the name of such a valley perish;
For from its fountain-head (where is so pregnant
The Alpine Mountain
whence is cleft Peloro
That in few places it that mark surpasses)
To where it yields itself in restoration
Of what the heaven doth of the sea dry up,
Whence have the rivers that which goes with them,
is like an enemy avoided
By all, as is a serpent
, through misfortune
Of place, or through bad habit that impels
On which account have so transformed their Nature
The dwellers in that miserable valley
It seems that Circe
had them in her pasture.
'Mid ugly swine, of acorns
Than other food for human use created,
It first directeth its impoverished
findeth it thereafter, coming downward,
More snarling than their puissance demands,
And turns from them disdainfully its muzzle.
It goes on falling, and the more it grows,
The more it finds the dogs becoming wolves
and misadventurous ditch
Descended then through many a hollow gulf
It finds the foxes so replete with fraud
They fear no cunning that may master them.
Nor will I cease because another hears me;
And well 'twill be for him, if still he mind him
Of what a truthful spirit to me unravels.
I behold, who doth become
A hunter of those wolves upon the bank
Of the wild stream
, and terrifies them all.
He sells their flesh
, it being yet alive;
Thereafter slaughters them like ancient beeves;
Many of life, himself of praise, deprives.
he issues from the dismal forest;
He leaves it such, a thousand years
In its primeval
state 'tis not re-wooded
As at the announcement of impending ills
The face of him who listens is disturbed,
From whate'er side the peril seize upon him;
So I beheld that other soul, which stood
Turned round to listen, grow disturbed and sad,
When it had gathered to itself the word.
The speech of one and aspect of the other
Had me desirous
made to know their names,
And question mixed with prayers I made thereof,
Whereat the spirit which first spake to me
Began again: "Thou wishest I should bring me
To do for thee what thou'lt not do for me;
But since God
willeth that in thee shine forth
Such grace of his, I'll not be chary with thee;
Know, then, that I Guido del Duca
My blood was so with envy set on fire
That if I had beheld a man make merry
Thou wouldst have seen me sprinkled o'er with pallor
From my own sowing such the straw I reap!
O human race! why dost thou set thy heart
Where interdict of partnership must be?
This is Renier
; this is the boast and honour
Of the house of Calboli
, where no one since
Has made himself the heir of his desert.
And not alone his blood is made devoid,
and mount, and sea-shore and the Reno
Of good required for truth and for diversion;
For all within these boundaries is full
Of venomous roots, so that too tardily
By cultivation now would they diminish.
Where is good Lizio
, and Arrigo Manardi
, and Guido di Carpigna
into bastards turned?
When in Bologna
will a Fabbro
When in Faenza
a Bernardin di Fosco
The noble scion of ignoble
Be not astonished, Tuscan
, if I weep,
When I remember, with Guido da Prata
Ugolin d' Azzo
, who was living with us,
and his company,
The house of Traversara
, and th' Anastagi
And one race and the other is extinct;
, the toils and ease
That filled our souls with love and courtesy,
There where the hearts have so malicious grown!
! why dost thou not flee,
Seeing that all thy family is gone,
And many people, not to be corrupted?
does well in not begetting
And ill does Castrocaro
, and Conio
In taking trouble to beget such Counts
Will do well the Pagani
, when their Devil
Shall have departed; but not therefore pure
of them e'er remain.
O Ugolin de' Fantoli
Thy name is, since no longer is awaited
One who, degenerating, can obscure it!
But go now, Tuscan
, for it now delights me
To weep far better than it does to speak,
So much has our discourse
my mind distressed."
We were aware that those beloved souls
Heard us depart; therefore, by keeping silent,
They made us of our pathway
When we became alone by going onward,
Thunder, when it doth cleave the air, appeared
A voice, that counter to us came, exclaiming:
"Shall slay me whosoever findeth me!"
And fled as the reverberation dies
If suddenly the cloud asunder bursts
As soon as hearing had a truce from this,
Behold another, with so great a crash,
That it resembled thunderings following fast:
"I am Aglaurus
, who became a stone!"
And then, to press myself close to the Poet
I backward, and not forward, took a step.
Already on all sides the air was quiet;
And said he to me: "That was the hard curb
That ought to hold a man within his bounds;
But you take in the bait so that the hook
Of the old Adversary
draws you to him,
And hence availeth little curb or call.
The heavens are calling you, and wheel around you,
to you their eternal beauties,
And still your eye is looking
on the ground;
Whence He, who all discerns, chastises
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