Imagens das páginas

When Love Divine those glorious worlds along 40

Their orbits first impell'd. The sweet spring-tide,
The birds that round me tuned their matin song,

Were cause of hope that from that speckled hide
No harm would spring :7 yet not so that my dread
Return'd not when a Lion8 I espied, 45

That onward came right in my path with head
Aloft and glaring wild with hungry eye,
That ev'n the air seem'd to shrink back afraid.

And a She-wolf, 9 whose leanness seem'd to be

Full fraught with all inordinate desire, 50

And many a soul had fill'd with misery,

Wrought in my spirit such confusion dire—
So fearfully her grisly form did show—
That I all hope resign'd of mounting higher.

And like as one that kindleth with the glow 55

Of gain—and then, to mar his full delight,
There cometh loss—he sinks o'erwhelm'd with woe;

So by that beast was I dishearten'd quite,

That still with stealthy tread approaching nigh

Downward involved me in the shades of night. 60

7 The hour of the day, and the season of the year, induced the hope that the Leopard would prove harmless. This animal is said to retire to its den at sun-rise in the spring. Allegorically, envy is subdued by the tranquillizing influence of the morning, and by love inspired by the season.

Thus hurrying down the shelter'd ground to reach

Before my wearied eyes appeared one

Who thro' long silence seem'd bereft of speech.10 When I descried him in the desert lone,

'Have pity on me!' I cried out, 'whate'er 65

Thou art, or living man, or shade undone.'
He made response; 'Not living man, tho' once

Terrestrial air I drew—Italian-born

Of Lombard ancestors in Mantua fair, When mightiest Julius did the world adorn: 70

I lived at Rome 'neath good Augustus' sway,

When mankind groan'd in bondage all forlorn Of lying gods. 'Twas I who sang the lay

Of just Anchises' son, who came from Troy,

When Ilium's proud towers in ashes lay. 75

Why lingerest thou where grovelling cares annoy 1

What hinders thee to scale the beauteous mountain,

Which is the source and giver of all joy?' 'Art thou then Virgil, that perennial fountain,

Whence welleth out of speech so large a rivet 1' 80

I answer'd all abash'd. 'O light and glory

8 Pride. 9 Avarice.

10 This line is said to refer to the neglect of classical literature in Italy during the dark ages.

Of other bards! now may the long endeavour
And the deep love with which I ponder'd thro'
Thy sacred page avail me! Thou wert ever

My Master and my chief Inspirer!—thou 85

Alone, for 'twas from thee I won the fair
Style that with honour's wreath adorns my brow.

Yon wolf, that made me turn, still hovering there
Thou seest: save me from her, renownèd sage,
Whose presence shakes each pulse, each vein with fear.' 90

'Meet is it thou another pilgrimage

Should'st make,' he answer'd, when he saw my tears, 'Would'st thou escape this desert, and the rage

Of yonder beast.11 For whosoe'er appears

Upon the slope of this delightful hill, 95

Hindering his upward course she rends and tears

And slays outright:—nor gluts her ravenous will,
But after each repast—so dire, so dread
Her devilish nature—grows more hungry still.

With many a bestial creature she doth wed, 100

And shall with more till that Greyhound arise,12
Who will afflict her sore, and bruise her head.

11 Contemplation, and not action, was the vocation of the Poet. It was indirectly—by means of his poem—that he was to benefit his country and mankind.

15 Comparing this passage with Parad. xvii. 76—90, and especially Not of the earth or earthly vanities,

But wisdom, virtue, love his food shall be:

'Twixt either Feltro13 his dominion lies. 105

Deliverer of down-fallen Italy,14

For whom died brave Camilla, virgin pure,

Turnus, Euryalus, and Nisus—he
Thro' every land and town with scourge severe

Back to the mouth of Hell yon wolf shall chase, 1 to

Whence Envy-born she sprang.—Now, pondering, clear My mind discerns that thou thro' Heaven's grace

Wilt follow me thy Guide ordain'd to bear

Thee hence into an everlasting place, Where thou wilt hear the shriekings of despair, 115

And see the ancient spirits rack'd with pain—

Each one a second death invoking there.

the line

'Questi non ciberà terra nè peltro' with the lines

'Parran faville della sua virtute In non curar d' argento, nè d' affanni,' it seems probable that the Veltro, or Greyhound, is intended to denote Can Grande della Scala, who is unquestionably the person referred to in the above passage from the Paradiso. Can Grande was one of Dante's chief friends in exile. He was called 'catulus Veronae.' Other references to him are traced in Purg. xx. 13; xxxiii. 40.

13 Feltro, in the Marca Trivigiana, and Montefeltro, in Romagna. 14 ' Umile Italia.' So interpreted by Buti. Cary and others think

And thou shalt see those others, who are fain

In fire to purge them, hopeful in the end

Among the Blessed entrance to obtain. 120

Unto whose glory if thou would'st ascend,

Another soul15 must come worthier than I:

Thither with her may'st thou thy footsteps wend. For that dread Emperor, who reigns on high,

Suffers me not—for that I did rebel 125

Against His law16—within the empyreal sky To lead thee. There in lofty citadel

Enthronèd He the universe doth sway.

Oh, blest are they with Him elect to dwell!' Outspake I then, and said; 'Poet, I pray 13°

Thee by that Holy One thou did'st not know,

That I from this and greater evil may

that the expression was suggested by Virgil's

'Cum procul obscuros colles, humilemque videmus


JEn. III. 522.

15 Beatrice, the daughter of Folco Portinari, whom Dante met for the first time in A.D. 1274, when he was nine years old. He describes this meeting and its effect upon him at the opening of ' La vita nuova.'

16 Dante's words, 'ribellante alla sua legge,' must be taken to mean simply—as Signor Bianchi remarks—' alieno dalla sua legge o non seguace di essa.' Otherwise the passage is directly at variance with the statement in Canto iv., that the spirits in Limbo, of whom Virgil was one, had not 'sinned.' See Cant. iv, 34, &c.

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