Purgatorio: Canto XXII

Previous Contents Next

Already was the Angel left behind us,
The Angel who to the sixth round had turned us,
Having erased one mark from off my face;

And those who have in justice their desire
Had said to us, "Beati," in their voices,
With "sitio," and without more ended it.

And I, more light than through the other passes,
Went onward so, that without any labour
I followed upward the swift-footed spirits;

When thus Virgilius began: "The love
Kindled by virtue aye another kindles,
Provided outwardly its flame appear.

Hence from the hour that Juvenal descended
Among us into the infernal Limbo,
Who made apparent to me thy affection,

My kindliness towards thee was as great
As ever bound one to an unseen person,
So that these stairs will now seem short to me.

But tell me, and forgive me as a friend,
If too great confidence let loose the rein,
And as a friend now hold discourse with me;

How was it possible within thy breast
For Avarice to find place, 'mid so much wisdom
As thou wast filled with by thy diligence?"

These words excited Statius at first
Somewhat to laughter; afterward he answered:
"Each word of thine is love's dear sign to me.

Verily oftentimes do things appear
Which give fallacious matter to our doubts,
Instead of the true causes which are hidden!

Thy question shows me thy belief to be
That I was niggard in the other life,
It may be from the circle where I was;

Therefore know thou, that Avarice was removed
Too far from me; and this extravagance
Thousands of lunar periods have punished.

And were it not that I my thoughts uplifted,
When I the passage heard where thou exclaimest,
As if indignant, unto human Nature,

'To what impellest thou not, O cursed hunger
Of gold, the appetite of mortal men?'
Revolving I should feel the dismal joustings.

Then I perceived the hands could spread too wide
Their wings in spending, and repented me
As well of that as of my other sins;

How many with shorn hair shall rise again
Because of ignorance, which from this sin
Cuts off repentance living and in death!

And know that the transgression which rebuts
By direct opposition any sin
Together with it here its verdure dries.

Therefore if I have been among that folk
Which mourns its Avarice, to purify me,
For its opposite has this befallen me."

"Now when thou sangest the relentless weapons
Of the twofold affliction of Jocasta,"
The singer of the Songs Bucolic said,

"From that which Clio there with thee preludes,
It does not seem that yet had made thee faithful
That faith without which no good works suffice.

If this be so, what candles or what sun
Scattered thy darkness so that thou didst trim
Thy sails behind the Fisherman thereafter?"

And he to him: "Thou first directedst me
Towards Parnassus, in its grots to drink,
And first concerning God didst me enlighten.

Thou didst as he who walketh in the night],
Who bears his light behind, which helps him not,
But wary makes the persons after him,

When thou didst say: 'The age renews itself,
Justice returns, and man's primeval time,
And a new progeny descends from heaven.'

Through thee I Poet was, through thee a Christian;
But that thou better see what I design,
To colour it will I extend my hand.

Already was the world in every part
Pregnant with the true creed, disseminated
By messengers of the eternal kingdom;

And thy assertion, spoken of above,
With the new preachers was in unison;
Whence I to visit them the custom took.

Then they became so holy in my sight,
That, when Domitian persecuted them,
Not without tears of mine were their laments;

And all the while that I on earth remained,
Them I befriended, and their upright customs
Made me disparage all the other sects.

And ere I led the Greeks unto the rivers
Of Thebes, in poetry, I was baptized,
But out of fear was covertly a Christian,

For a long time professing paganism;
And this lukewarmness caused me the fourth circle
To circuit round more than four centuries.

Thou, therefore, who hast raised the covering
That hid from me whatever good I speak of,
While in ascending we have time to spare,

Tell me, in what place is our friend Terentius,
Caecilius, Plautus, Varro, if thou knowest;
Tell me if they are damned, and in what alley."

"These, Persius and myself, and others many,"
Replied my Leader, "with that Grecian are
Whom more than all the rest the Muses suckled,

In the first circle of the prison blind;
Ofttimes we of the Mountain hold discourse
Which has our nurses ever with itself.

Euripides is with us, Antiphon,
Simonides, Agatho, and many other
Greeks who of old their brows with laurel decked.

There some of thine own people may be seen,
Antigone, Deiphile and Argia,
And there Ismene mournful as of old.

There she is seen who pointed out Langia;
There is Tiresias' daughter, and there Thetis,
And there Deidamia with her sisters."

Silent already were the poets both,
Attent once more in looking round about,
From the ascent and from the walls released;

And four handmaidens of the day already
Were left behind, and at the pole the fifth
Was pointing upward still its burning horn,

What time my Guide: "I think that tow'rds the edge
Our dexter shoulders it behoves us turn,
Circling the mount as we are wont to do."

Thus in that region custom was our ensign;
And we resumed our way with less suspicion
For the assenting of that worthy soul

They in advance went on, and I alone
Behind them, and I listened to their speech,
Which gave me lessons in the art of song.

But soon their sweet discourses interrupted
A tree which midway in the road we found,
With apples sweet and grateful to the smell.

And even as a fir-tree tapers upward
From bough to bough, so downwardly did that;
I think in order that no one might climb it.

On that side where our pathway was enclosed
Fell from the lofty rock a limpid water,
And spread itself abroad upon the leaves.

The Poets twain unto the tree drew near,
And from among the foliage a voice
Cried: "Of this food ye shall have scarcity."

Then said: "More thoughtful Mary was of making
The marriage feast complete and honourable,
Than of her mouth which now for you responds;

And for their drink the ancient Roman women
With water were content; and Daniel
Disparaged food, and understanding won.

The primal age was beautiful as gold;
Acorns it made with hunger savorous,
And nectar every rivulet with thirst.

Honey and locusts were the aliments
That fed the Baptist in the wilderness;
Whence he is glorious, and so magnified

As by the Evangel is revealed to you."

Previous Contents Next

La Divina Commedia di Dante: Purgatorio: Canto XXII

Gia` era l'angel dietro a noi rimaso,
  l'angel che n'avea volti al sesto giro,
  avendomi dal viso un colpo raso;

e quei c'hanno a giustizia lor disiro
  detto n'avea beati, e le sue voci
  con 'sitiunt', sanz'altro, cio` forniro.

E io piu` lieve che per l'altre foci
  m'andava, si` che sanz'alcun labore
  seguiva in su` li spiriti veloci;

quando Virgilio incomincio`: "Amore,
  acceso di virtu`, sempre altro accese,
  pur che la fiamma sua paresse fore;

onde da l'ora che tra noi discese
  nel limbo de lo 'nferno Giovenale,
  che la tua affezion mi fe' palese,

mia benvoglienza inverso te fu quale
  piu` strinse mai di non vista persona,
  si` ch'or mi parran corte queste scale.

Ma dimmi, e come amico mi perdona
  se troppa sicurta` m'allarga il freno,
  e come amico omai meco ragiona:

come pote' trovar dentro al tuo seno
  loco avarizia, tra cotanto senno
  di quanto per tua cura fosti pieno?".

Queste parole Stazio mover fenno
  un poco a riso pria; poscia rispuose:
  "Ogne tuo dir d'amor m'e` caro cenno.

Veramente piu` volte appaion cose
  che danno a dubitar falsa matera
  per le vere ragion che son nascose.

La tua dimanda tuo creder m'avvera
  esser ch'i' fossi avaro in l'altra vita,
  forse per quella cerchia dov'io era.

Or sappi ch'avarizia fu partita
  troppo da me, e questa dismisura
  migliaia di lunari hanno punita.

E se non fosse ch'io drizzai mia cura,
  quand'io intesi la` dove tu chiame,
  crucciato quasi a l'umana natura:

'Per che non reggi tu, o sacra fame
  de l'oro, l'appetito de' mortali?',
  voltando sentirei le giostre grame.

Allor m'accorsi che troppo aprir l'ali
  potean le mani a spendere, e pente'mi
  cosi` di quel come de li altri mali.

Quanti risurgeran coi crini scemi
  per ignoranza, che di questa pecca
  toglie 'l penter vivendo e ne li stremi!

E sappie che la colpa che rimbecca
  per dritta opposizione alcun peccato,
  con esso insieme qui suo verde secca;

pero`, s'io son tra quella gente stato
  che piange l'avarizia, per purgarmi,
  per lo contrario suo m'e` incontrato".

"Or quando tu cantasti le crude armi
  de la doppia trestizia di Giocasta",
  disse 'l cantor de' buccolici carmi,

"per quello che Clio` teco li` tasta,
  non par che ti facesse ancor fedele
  la fede, sanza qual ben far non basta.

Se cosi` e`, qual sole o quai candele
  ti stenebraron si`, che tu drizzasti
  poscia di retro al pescator le vele?".

Ed elli a lui: "Tu prima m'inviasti
  verso Parnaso a ber ne le sue grotte,
  e prima appresso Dio m'alluminasti.

Facesti come quei che va di notte,
  che porta il lume dietro e se' non giova,
  ma dopo se' fa le persone dotte,

quando dicesti: 'Secol si rinova;
  torna giustizia e primo tempo umano,
  e progenie scende da ciel nova'.

Per te poeta fui, per te cristiano:
  ma perche' veggi mei cio` ch'io disegno,
  a colorare stendero` la mano:

Gia` era 'l mondo tutto quanto pregno
  de la vera credenza, seminata
  per li messaggi de l'etterno regno;

e la parola tua sopra toccata
  si consonava a' nuovi predicanti;
  ond'io a visitarli presi usata.

Vennermi poi parendo tanto santi,
  che, quando Domizian li perseguette,
  sanza mio lagrimar non fur lor pianti;

e mentre che di la` per me si stette,
  io li sovvenni, e i lor dritti costumi
  fer dispregiare a me tutte altre sette.

E pria ch'io conducessi i Greci a' fiumi
  di Tebe poetando, ebb'io battesmo;
  ma per paura chiuso cristian fu'mi,

lungamente mostrando paganesmo;
  e questa tepidezza il quarto cerchio
  cerchiar mi fe' piu` che 'l quarto centesmo.

Tu dunque, che levato hai il coperchio
  che m'ascondeva quanto bene io dico,
  mentre che del salire avem soverchio,

dimmi dov'e` Terrenzio nostro antico,
  Cecilio e Plauto e Varro, se lo sai:
  dimmi se son dannati, e in qual vico".

"Costoro e Persio e io e altri assai",
  rispuose il duca mio, "siam con quel Greco
  che le Muse lattar piu` ch'altri mai,

nel primo cinghio del carcere cieco:
  spesse fiate ragioniam del monte
  che sempre ha le nutrice nostre seco.

Euripide v'e` nosco e Antifonte,
  Simonide, Agatone e altri piue
  Greci che gia` di lauro ornar la fronte.

Quivi si veggion de le genti tue
  Antigone, Deifile e Argia,
  e Ismene si` trista come fue.

Vedeisi quella che mostro` Langia;
  evvi la figlia di Tiresia, e Teti
  e con le suore sue Deidamia".

Tacevansi ambedue gia` li poeti,
  di novo attenti a riguardar dintorno,
  liberi da saliri e da pareti;

e gia` le quattro ancelle eran del giorno
  rimase a dietro, e la quinta era al temo,
  drizzando pur in su` l'ardente corno,

quando il mio duca: "Io credo ch'a lo stremo
  le destre spalle volger ne convegna,
  girando il monte come far solemo".

Cosi` l'usanza fu li` nostra insegna,
  e prendemmo la via con men sospetto
  per l'assentir di quell'anima degna.

Elli givan dinanzi, e io soletto
  di retro, e ascoltava i lor sermoni,
  ch'a poetar mi davano intelletto.

Ma tosto ruppe le dolci ragioni
  un alber che trovammo in mezza strada,
  con pomi a odorar soavi e buoni;

e come abete in alto si digrada
  di ramo in ramo, cosi` quello in giuso,
  cred'io, perche' persona su` non vada.

Dal lato onde 'l cammin nostro era chiuso,
  cadea de l'alta roccia un liquor chiaro
  e si spandeva per le foglie suso.

Li due poeti a l'alber s'appressaro;
  e una voce per entro le fronde
  grido`: "Di questo cibo avrete caro".

Poi disse: "Piu` pensava Maria onde
  fosser le nozze orrevoli e intere,
  ch'a la sua bocca, ch'or per voi risponde.

E le Romane antiche, per lor bere,
  contente furon d'acqua; e Daniello
  dispregio` cibo e acquisto` savere.

Lo secol primo, quant'oro fu bello,
  fe' savorose con fame le ghiande,
  e nettare con sete ogne ruscello.

Mele e locuste furon le vivande
  che nodriro il Batista nel diserto;
  per ch'elli e` glorioso e tanto grande

quanto per lo Vangelio v'e` aperto".

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.