Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO I - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO I - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.) 
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The Italian Text with a Translation in English Blank Verse and a Commentary by Courtney Langdon, vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920).
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Introduction to the Purgatorio
The Shore of the Island of Purgatory. Cato
- To run o’er better water hoists her sails
- the little vessel of my genius now,
- which leaves behind her such a cruel sea;
- and of that second Realm I ’ll sing, wherein
- the human spirit purifies itself,
- and groweth worthy to ascend to Heaven.
- But here let Poetry arise from death,
- since, holy Muses, yours I am; and let
- Calliopë, here somewhat higher soaring,
- with those sweet tones accompany my song,
- whose power the miserable Magpies felt
- so keenly, that of pardon they despaired.
- The oriental sapphire’s tender hue,
- now gathering in the sky’s unclouded face,
- as far as to the first of circles pure,
- began again to give mine eyes delight,
- when forth I issued from the deadly air,
- which with its gloom had filled mine eyes and heart.
- The beauteous planet which incites to love,
- veiling with light the Fishes in her train,
- was causing all the eastern sky to laugh.
- Round to the right I turned, and set my mind
- upon the other pole, and saw four stars,
- never perceived, save by the first of men.
- The sky appeared to enjoy their little flames.
- O region of the North, that widowed art,
- because deprived of gazing thereupon!
- When I had from the sight of them withdrawn,
- turning a little toward the other pole,
- whence now the Wain had wholly disappeared,
- a lone Old Man beside me I perceived,
- deserving of such reverence in his looks,
- that no son owes his father any more.
- Long was the beard he wore, and partly white,
- as likewise was the hair upon his head,
- two locks of which hung down upon his breast.
- And so the rays of those four holy stars
- adorned his face with splendor, that to me course
- he looked as if the sun were facing him.
- “Who, then, are ye, that ’gainst the blind stream’s
- have from the eternal Prison escaped?” he said,
- moving the while those venerable locks.
- “Who led you, or what served you as a lamp,
- when forth ye issued from the night profound,
- which makes the infernal Vale forever black?
- Are broken thus the laws of Hell’s abyss,
- or through new counsel is there change in Heaven,
- that ye, though damned, are come to these my cliffs?”
- My Leader thereupon took hold of me,
- and with his words and with his hands and signs
- imposed respect upon my legs and brow.
- He then replied: “I came not of myself;
- from Heaven came down a Lady, at whose prayer
- I helped this man with my companionship.
- But since thy will it is that our true state
- should be explained to thee more clearly, mine
- it cannot be that this should be denied thee.
- Not yet hath this man his last evening seen;
- but through his folly was so near to it,
- that he was left but very little time.
- As I have told thee, I was sent to save
- his life; nor was there any other way
- than this, to which I have addressed myself.
- I ’ve shown him all the people who are guilty;
- and now I mean those spirits to reveal,
- who ’neath thy jurisdiction cleanse themselves.
- Long would it take to tell thee how I led him;
- virtue descendeth from on high, which helps me
- lead him to see thee and to hear thee speak.
- His coming, therefore, please to welcome; Freedom
- he seeks, which is so dear, as knoweth he
- who gives up life therefor. This thou dost know,
- since death for its sake was not bitter to thee
- in Utica, where thou didst leave the robe,
- which on the Great Day will so brightly shine.
- The eternal edicts are not void through us;
- for this man lives, and I ’m not bound by Minos;
- but of that circle am, wherein the eyes
- of thy chaste Marcia are, O holy breast,
- whose looks implore thee still to hold her thine;
- for love of her, then, yield thee unto us!
- Permit us through thy seven domains to go.
- My grateful praise of thee I ’ll bear to her,
- if to be mentioned there below thou deign.”
- “Marcia so pleased mine eyes,” he then replied,
- “that, while upon the other side I was,
- I granted all the favors she desired.
- Now that she dwells beyond the evil stream,
- no longer can she move me, by the law
- made at the moment when I issued thence.
- But if a Lady of Heaven impel and guide thee,
- as thou hast said, no need of flattering prayers;
- suffice it thee that for her sake thou ask.
- Go, then, and see that with a leafless rush
- thou gird this man, and that thou wash his face,
- so that therefrom all foulness thou remove;
- for ’t were not fit he went, with eyes o’ercast
- by any mist, before the first of those
- who serve as Ministers of Paradise.
- This little isle around its lowest base,
- down yonder where the waves are beating it,
- produces rushes on its yielding ooze.
- No other plant, like one that brought forth leaves,
- or hardened, can maintain its life down there,
- because it yields not when receiving blows.
- Thereafter be not hither your return;
- the sun, which rises now, will show you how
- to climb the Mountain by the easiest slope.”
- Thereat he disappeared; and I arose
- without a word, and to my Leader’s side
- I closely drew, and toward him turned mine eyes.
- And he began: “Son, follow thou my steps;
- let us turn backward, for the shore slopes down
- on this side toward its lowly boundaries.”
- The dawn was vanquishing the morning breeze,
- which fled before it, so that, from afar,
- I recognized the shimmering of the sea.
- We now were going o’er the lonely plain,
- as one who to a road he lost returns,
- and, till he find it, seems to go in vain.
- When we were there, where with the sun the dew
- still struggles on, through being in a place
- where, for the breeze, it slowly melts away,
- my Teacher, having spread out both his hands,
- rested them gently on the tender grass;
- whence I, who of his purpose was aware,
- yielded to him the cheeks my tears had stained;
- he then brought all that natural color back,
- which Hell had on my countenance concealed.
- We came thereafter to that lonely shore,
- which never saw its waters sailed by one
- who afterward experienced a return.
- Here, as the other pleased, he girded me.
- O wondrous sight! For, like the humble plant
- which he had chosen, another instantly
- sprang forth again from where he tore the first.