Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO II - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO II - 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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The Shore of the Island of Purgatory
The Angel Pilot and Arriving Souls
- And now already had the sun arrived
- at that horizon, whose meridian circle
- rests with its zenith o’er Jerusalem;
- and Night, which circles opposite thereto,
- was issuing from the Ganges with the Scales,
- which, when she gains, are falling from her hands;
- so that the white and pure vermilion cheeks
- of beautiful Aurora, where I was,
- were turning orange through excessive age.
- Along the seaside we were lingering still,
- like folk who, taking thought about their road,
- go on in heart, but with their body stay;
- when lo, as, at the approach of morning, Mars,
- because of heavy vapors, groweth red
- down in the West above the ocean’s floor;
- even so I saw — may I again behold it! —
- a light which o’er the sea so swiftly moved,
- that no flight is as rapid as its motion;
- from which when I a moment had withdrawn
- mine eyes, to ask a question of my Leader,
- again I saw it grown more bright and large.
- And on each side of it there then appeared
- I knew not what white thing, and underneath
- little by little came another forth.
- Meanwhile my Teacher uttered not a word
- until the first white objects looked like wings;
- then, having recognized the Pilot well,
- he cried: “See, see now that thou bend thy knees!
- This is God’s Angel; fold thy hands! Henceforth
- shalt thou behold such officers as this.
- See how he so scorns human instruments,
- as to wish neither oar, nor other sail
- than his own wings, between such distant shores!
- See how he holds them straight up toward the sky,
- stroking the air with those eternal plumes,
- which do not moult as mortal feathers do!”
- And then, as more and more the Bird divine
- drew near to us, the brighter he appeared;
- therefore mine eyes endured him not near by,
- but down I cast them; with a little boat
- he came ashore, so agile and so light,
- the water swallowed up no part of it.
- Such on its stern the heavenly Pilot stood,
- that he would bless one, were he but described;
- more than a hundred spirits sat within.
- “When Israel out of Egypt came,” they all
- in unison were singing there together,
- with what is written after in that psalm.
- Then, having signed them with the holy Cross,
- whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,
- he went away as swiftly as he came.
- The crowd which stayed seemed strangers to the place,
- and gazed around them there, as doth a man,
- who with unwonted things acquaints himself.
- The sun, which from the middle of the sky
- had hunted Capricorn with arrows bright,
- was shooting forth the day on every side,
- when those new people raised their brows toward us,
- and said: “If ye know how, point out to us
- the road that one should take to reach the Mount.”
- And Virgil answered: “Ye, perchance, believe
- that we have had experience of this place;
- but we are pilgrim-strangers like yourselves.
- We came just now, a little while before you,
- but by another way, so rough and hard,
- that going up will now seem play to us.”
- The souls who, by my breathing, had become
- aware that I was still a living being,
- in their astonishment turned death-like pale;
- and as around a messenger who bears
- the olive, people surge to hear the news,
- and, as to crowding, none of them seem shy;
- so one and all those fortune-favored souls
- fixed on my face their gaze, as if forgetting
- to go and make their spirits beautiful.
- Then one among them I beheld advance,
- in such a loving manner, to embrace me,
- that it persuaded me to do the like.
- O, save in your appearance, empty shades!
- Three times behind it did I clasp my hands,
- and to my breast therewith as oft returned.
- With wonder, I believe, I painted me;
- smiling because of this, the shade drew back,
- while, following after, I pressed further on.
- With gentle words he told me to desist;
- then who it was I knew, and begged of him
- to stop a little while and speak with me.
- “As thee I loved, when in my mortal body,”
- he answered me, “even so, when freed, I love thee;
- therefore I stop; but wherefore goest thou?”
- “Casella mine,” said I, “I take this journey,
- that where I am I may return again;
- but why from thee hath so much time been taken?”
- And he to me: “No outrage hath been done me,
- if he, who takes both when and whom he likes,
- hath more than once refused me passage here;
- for to a Righteous Will is his conformed;
- yet peacefully, these three months, hath he taken
- whoever wished to enter into his boat.
- Hence I, who now was toward the sea-shore bent,
- where Tiber’s water mingles with the salt,
- was with benignity received by him
- at yonder river’s mouth, toward which his wings
- ev’n now are turned; for those who go not down
- toward Acheron, always assemble there.”
- And I: “If some new law take not from thee
- the memory or the practice of the song
- of love, which used to quiet all my longings,
- be pleased a little to console therewith
- my spirit, which, because of coming here
- when in its body, is so sore distressed!”
- “The love that talketh with me in my mind,”
- he thereupon began to sing so sweetly,
- that still within me is its sweetness heard.
- My Teacher, I, and those that with him were,
- seemed as contented, as if none of us
- had any other thing upon his mind.
- Absorbed in listening to his notes, we all
- were motionless; when lo, the grave Old Man,
- who cried: “Ye laggard spirits, what is this?
- What means this negligence and standing still?
- Run to the Mount, and strip ye off the slough,
- which lets not God be visible to you.”
- Ev’n as, when picking grains of wheat or tares,
- doves, met together at their feeding, calm,
- and not displaying their accustomed pride,
- if anything appear that frightens them,
- all of a sudden leave their food alone,
- because assailed by greater cause for care;
- even so I saw that new-come family
- give up the song, and toward the hillside move,
- like one who goes, but whither knoweth not;
- nor was in less haste our departure made.