Purgatorio: Canto XXVI
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While on the brink
thus one before the other
We went upon our way, oft the good Master
Said: "Take thou heed
! suffice it that I warn thee."
On the right shoulder smote me now the sun,
That, raying out, already the whole west
Changed from its azure
aspect into white.
And with my shadow did I make the flame
Appear more red; and even to such a sign
Shades saw I many, as they went, give heed.
This was the cause that gave them a beginning
To speak of me; and to themselves began they
To say: "That seems not a factitious
Then towards me, as far as they could come,
Came certain of them, always with regard
Not to step forth where they would not be burned
"O thou who goest, not from being slower
perhaps, behind the others,
Answer me, who in thirst
and fire am burning.
Nor to me only is thine answer needful
For all of these have greater thirst for it
Than for cold water Ethiop
Tell us how is it that thou makest thyself
A wall unto the sun, as if thou hadst not
Entered as yet into the net of death
Thus one of them addressed me, and I straight
Should have revealed
myself, were I not bent
On other novelty
that then appeared.
For through the middle
of the burning road
There came a people face to face with these,
Which held me in suspense
with gazing at them.
There see I hastening
upon either side
Each of the shades
, and kissing
Without a pause, content with brief salute
Thus in the middle of their brown battalions
Muzzle to muzzle one ant meets another
to spy their journey or their fortune.
No sooner is the friendly
Or ever the first footstep
Each one endeavours to outcry
The new-come people: "Sodom and Gomorrah
The rest: "Into the cow Pasiphae
So that the bull unto her lust
Then as the cranes, that to Riphaean Mountains
Might fly in part, and part towards the sands
These of the frost, those of the sun avoidant,
One folk is going, and the other coming,
And weeping they return to their first songs,
And to the cry that most befitteth them;
And close to me approached, even as before,
The very same who had entreated me,
Attent to listen in their countenance
I, who their inclination
twice had seen,
Began: "O souls secure in the possession,
Whene'er it may be, of a state of peace,
Neither unripe nor ripened
My members upon earth, but here are with me
With their own blood and their articulations.
I go up here to be no longer blind;
A Lady is above, who wins this grace
Whereby the mortal through your world I bring.
But as your greatest longing satisfied
May soon become, so that the Heaven
may house you
Which full of love is, and most amply
Tell me, that I again in books may write it,
Who are you, and what is that multitude
Which goes upon its way behind your backs?"
Not otherwise with wonder is bewildered
, and staring round is dumb,
When rough and rustic
to the town he goes,
Than every shade became in its appearance
But when they of their stupor were disburdened
Which in high hearts is quickly quieted,
"Blessed be thou, who of our border-lands
who first had questioned us,
"Experience freightest for a better life.
The folk that comes not with us have offended
In that for which once Caesar
Heard himself called in contumely, 'Queen
Therefore they separate, exclaiming, 'Sodom
Themselves reproving, even as thou hast heard,
And add unto their burning by their shame.
Our own transgression
But because we observed not human law,
Following like unto beasts
In our opprobrium
by us is read,
When we part company, the name of her
herself in bestial wood.
Now knowest thou our acts, and what our crime was;
Wouldst thou perchance
by name know who we are,
There is not time to tell, nor could I do it.
Thy wish to know me shall in sooth be granted;
I'm Guido Guinicelli
, and now purge
Having repented ere the hour extreme."
The same that in the sadness of Lycurgus
Two sons became, their mother re-beholding
Such I became, but rise not to such height,
The moment I heard name himself the father
Of me and of my betters, who had ever
Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of love
And without speech and hearing thoughtfully
For a long time I went, beholding him,
Nor for the fire did I approach him nearer.
When I was fed with looking, utterly
Myself I offered ready for his service,
With affirmation that compels belief.
And he to me: "Thou leavest footprints
In me, from what I hear, and so distinct,
Lethe cannot efface them, nor make dim.
But if thy words just now the truth have sworn
Tell me what is the cause why thou displayest
In word and look that dear thou holdest me?"
And I to him: "Those dulcet
lays of yours
Which, long as shall endure
our modern fashion
Shall make for ever dear their very ink
"O brother," said he, "he whom I point out,"
And here he pointed at a spirit in front,
"Was of the mother tongue a better smith
Verses of love and proses of romance
He mastered all; and let the idiots
Who think the Lemosin
To clamour more than truth they turn their faces,
And in this way establish
Ere art or Reason
has by them been heard.
Thus many ancients with Guittone
From cry to cry still giving him applause
Until the truth has conquered with most persons.
Now, if thou hast such ample privilege
'Tis granted thee to go unto the cloister
Wherein is Christ
of the college
To him repeat for me a Paternoster
So far as needful to us of this world,
Where power of sinning
is no longer ours."
Then, to give place perchance
to one behind,
Whom he had near, he vanished
in the fire
As fish in water going to the bottom
I moved a little tow'rds him pointed out,
And said that to his name my own desire
place was making ready.
He of his own free will
began to say:
'Tan m' abellis vostre cortes deman,
So pleases me your courteous demand,
Que jeu nom' puesc ni vueill a vos cobrire;
I cannot and I will not hide me from you.
Jeu sui Arnaut, que plor e vai chantan;
I am Arnaut, who weep and singing go;
Consiros vei la passada folor,
Contrite I see the folly of the past,
E vei jauzen lo jorn qu' esper denan.
And joyous see the hoped-for day before me.
Ara vus prec per aquella valor,
Therefore do I implore you, by that power
Que vus condus al som de la scalina,
Which guides you to the summit of the stairs,
Sovenga vus a temprar ma dolor.'
Be mindful to assuage my suffering!
Then hid him in the fire that purifies
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