Purgatorio: Canto XVI
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, and of a night deprived
Of every planet under a poor sky,
As much as may be tenebrous
Ne'er made unto my sight so thick a veil
As did that smoke which there enveloped
Nor to the feeling of so rough a texture
For not an eye it suffered to stay open;
Whereat mine escort
Drew near to me and offered me his shoulder
E'en as a blind man goes behind his guide,
Lest he should wander, or should strike
Aught that may harm or peradventure kill him
So went I through the bitter and foul air,
Listening unto my Leader
, who said only,
"Look that from me thou be not separated
Voices I heard, and every one appeared
To supplicate for peace and misericord
The Lamb of God
who takes away our sins.
Still "Agnus Dei
" their exordium was;
One word there was in all, and metre one,
So that all harmony appeared among them.
"Master," I said, "are spirits those I hear?"
And he to me: "Thou apprehendest truly,
And they the knot of Anger
"Now who art thou, that cleavest
through our smoke
And art discoursing
of us even as though
Thou didst by calends
still divide the time?"
After this manner by a voice was spoken;
Whereon my Master
said: "Do thou reply,
And ask if on this side the way go upward."
And I: "O creature
that dost cleanse thyself
To return beautiful to Him
who made thee,
Thou shalt hear marvels if thou follow me."
"Thee will I follow far as is allowed me,"
He answered; "and if smoke prevent our seeing,
Hearing shall keep us joined
Thereon began I: "With that swathing band
Which death unwindeth am I going upward,
And hither came I through the infernal anguish.
And if God
in his grace has me infolded
So that he wills that I behold his court
By method wholly out of modern usage,
not from me who ere death thou wast,
But tell it me, and tell me if I go
Right for the pass, and be thy words our escort."
was I, and I was Marco
The world I knew, and loved that excellence,
At which has each one now unbent his bow
For mounting upward, thou art going right."
Thus he made answer, and subjoined: "I pray thee
To pray for me when thou shalt be above."
And I to him: "My faith
I pledge to thee
To do what thou dost ask me; but am bursting
Inly with doubt, unless I rid me of it.
First it was simple, and is now made double
By thy opinion, which makes certain to me,
Here and elsewhere, that which I couple with it.
The world forsooth
is utterly deserted
By every virtue
, as thou tellest me,
And with iniquity is big and covered;
But I beseech thee point me out the cause,
That I may see it, and to others show it;
For one in the heavens, and here below one puts it."
A sigh profound, that grief forced into Ai
He first sent forth, and then began he: "Brother
The world is blind, and sooth thou comest from it!
Ye who are living
every cause refer
Still upward to the heavens, as if all things
They of necessity
moved with themselves.
If this were so, in you would be destroyed
will, nor any justice would there be
In having joy for good, or grief for evil.
your movements do initiate,
I say not all; but granting that I say it,
Light has been given you for good and evil,
And free volition
; which, if some fatigue
In the first battles with the heavens it suffers,
Afterwards conquers all, if well 'tis nurtured.
To greater force and to a better Nature
Though free, ye subject are, and that creates
The mind in you the heavens have not in charge.
Hence, if the present
world doth go astray,
In you the cause is, be it sought in you;
And I therein will now be thy true spy.
Forth from the hand of Him
, who fondles it
Before it is, like to a little girl
Weeping and laughing in her childish
Issues the simple soul, that nothing knows,
Save that, proceeding from a joyous Maker
Gladly it turns to that which gives it pleasure
Of trivial good at first it tastes the savour
Is cheated by it, and runs after it,
If guide or rein turn not aside its love.
Hence it behoved
laws for a rein to place,
Behoved a king
to have, who at the least
Of the true
city should discern
The laws exist, but who sets hand to them?
No one; because the shepherd who precedes
, but cleaveth not the hoof
Wherefore the people that perceives its guide
Strike only at the good for which it hankers
Feeds upon that, and farther seeketh not.
Clearly canst thou perceive that evil guidance
The cause is that has made the world depraved,
And not that Nature
is corrupt in you.
, that reformed the world, accustomed was
to have, which one road and the other,
Of God and of the world, made manifest
One has the other quenched
, and to the crosier
The sword is joined, and ill beseemeth it
That by main force one with the other go,
Because, being joined, one feareth not the other;
If thou believe not, think upon the grain,
For by its seed each herb
In the land laved by Po and Adige,
Valour and courtesy used to be found,
Before that Frederick
had his controversy
Now in security can pass that way
Whoever will abstain
, through sense of shame,
From speaking with the good
, or drawing near them.
True, three old men are left, in whom upbraids
The ancient age the new, and late they deem it
That God restore them to the better life:
Currado da Palazzo
, and good Gherardo
And Guido da Castel, who better named is,
In fashion of the French, the simple Lombard
Say thou henceforward that the Church of Rome
Confounding in itself two governments
Falls in the mire
, and soils itself
mine," I said, "thou reasonest
And now discern I why the sons of Levi
Have been excluded
from the heritage
But what Gherardo
is it, who, as sample
Of a lost race
, thou sayest has remained
of the barbarous age?"
"Either thy speech deceives me, or it tempts me,"
He answered me; "for speaking Tuscan
It seems of good Gherardo
naught thou knowest.
By other surname do I know him not,
Unless I take it from his daughter Gaia
be with you, for I come no farther
Behold the dawn
, that through the smoke
Already whitening; and I must depart--
Yonder the Angel
is--ere he appear."
Thus did he speak, and would no farther hear me.
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