Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO IV - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO IV - 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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Antepurgatory. The First Ledge
Those who Neglected Repentance until Death
- Whene’er, because of pleasure or of pain
- received by any faculty of ours,
- our soul is wholly centered thereupon,
- it seems to heed no other faculty;
- and this is ’gainst that wrong belief which holds
- that one soul in us o’er another burns.
- Therefore, when anything is heard or seen,
- which toward it holds the soul intently turned,
- time passes by, and one perceives it not;
- since one thing is the faculty which harks,
- and that which holdeth all the soul another;
- this last is bound, as ’t were, the former free.
- Of this I real experience had, while hearing
- and wondering at that spirit; for the sun
- had climbed up fifty full degrees at least,
- though I had not perceived it, when we came
- to where those souls cried out to us together:
- “The place which you were asking for is here.”
- Oft doth a farmer, when the grapes grow dark,
- close up a wider opening in a hedge
- with but a little forkful of his thorns,
- than was the entrance there, through which my Leader,
- and I behind him, mounted all alone,
- when once the crowd had gone away from us.
- One climbs Sanlèo, and descends to Noli;
- one wins the summit of Bismàntova,
- helped solely by one’s feet; but one up here
- would have to fly; with the swift wings, I mean,
- and plumes of great desire, behind the Guide,
- who gave me hope and furnished me with light.
- As up within the cloven rock we climbed,
- its walls on each side closely hemmed us in,
- while under us the ground both feet and hands
- required. When on the high cliff’s upper edge
- we were, and out upon the open slope,
- “Which way, my Teacher, shall we go?” said I.
- And he to me: “Take thou no backward step;
- keep gaining ground behind me up the Mount,
- until some guide who knows appear to us.”
- So high the summit was, that it surpassed
- our sight, and steeper far the slope, than were
- a line from center to mid-quadrant drawn.
- Weary was I, when I began to speak:
- “O gentle Father, turn around, and see
- how I remain alone, unless thou stop!”
- “Draw thyself up, my son, as far as there!”
- he said, and somewhat higher pointed out
- a ledge on that side circling all the hill.
- His words so spurred me, that I forced myself
- to crawl behind him on my hands and knees,
- until the girding ledge was ’neath my feet.
- There both of us sat down, and faced the East,
- whence we had made the ascent; for looking back
- upon a traversed course is wont to help.
- First to the shores below I turned mine eyes;
- then raised them to the sun, and was amazed
- that we were smitten by it on our left.
- The Poet well perceived that I was gazing
- dumbfounded at the chariot of the light,
- which now was rising ’tween the North and us.
- “If Castor” said he then to me, “and Pollux
- were in the company of yonder mirror,
- which up and down in turn conducts its light,
- thou wouldst the Zodiac’s ruddy part behold
- revolving still more closely to the Bears,
- unless it issued from its ancient path.
- If thou wouldst understand how this can be,
- collect thy thoughts within thee, and imagine
- both Zion and this Mount so placed on earth,
- that both of them one sole horizon have,
- and different hemispheres; and thou wilt see
- how that the road which Phaëthon could not take,
- alas for him, must pass this Mount on one,
- while passing that one on the other side,
- if thine intelligence but clearly heed.”
- “Surely, my Teacher, never have I seen”
- said I, “as clearly as I now perceive,
- where once my mind appeared to be at fault,
- how the mid-circle of supernal motion,
- which in a certain art is called Equator,
- and ever ’tween the sun and winter stays,
- lies toward the North, for reasons giv’n by thee,
- as far on this side as the Hebrew people
- ever beheld it toward the heated parts.
- But, if it please thee, I would gladly know
- how far we have to go; because the Mount
- higher ascends than eyes of mine can rise.”
- “Such is this Mountain” said he then to me,
- “that, always hard to climb at first below,
- it pains one less, the higher one ascends.
- Hence, when so pleasant to thee it shall seem,
- that going up shall be to thee as easy
- as floating with the current in a boat,
- thou then shalt have attained this pathway’s end.
- Hope there to rest thee from thy breathless toil!
- No more I answer; this I know for truth.”
- When he had ended what he had to say,
- the voice of one near by cried out: “Perhaps,
- ere that shall happen, thou wilt need to sit!”
- On hearing this, we both of us turned round,
- and saw a massive boulder on our left,
- which neither I nor he had seen before.
- Thither we drew; and there some persons were,
- who lingered in the shade behind the rock,
- as one is wont to do through indolence.
- And one of them, who weary seemed to me,
- was sitting with his arms around his knees,
- and down between the latter held his face.
- “O my sweet Lord,” said I then, “turn thine eyes
- on yonder man, who shows himself to be
- more lazy than if sloth his sister were!”
- Then turning round toward us, and giving heed,
- he moved his face no more than o’er his thigh,
- and said: “Go up now, thou that active art!”
- I then knew who it was; nor did the strain,
- which quickened still my breath a little, hinder
- my going to him; yet, when at his side
- I was, he barely raised his head, and said:
- “Hast thou at last seen why it is the sun
- driveth his car o’er thy left shoulder here?”
- His lazy actions and his few short words
- impelled my lips to smile a little; then,
- “Belacqua,” I began, “I grieve for thee
- no more; but tell me why thou sittest here?
- Art waiting for a guide, or hast thou now
- merely resumed thy customary mood?”
- And he: “What, brother, is the use of climbing?
- The Bird of God who at the Gate is seated,
- would not allow me to approach the pangs.
- The sky must first turn round me here outside,
- as long as ever in my life it did,
- since I delayed good sighs until the end,
- unless before then I be helped by prayers
- arising from a heart that lives in grace;
- of what avail are those unheard in Heaven?”
- But now the Poet, climbing on ahead,
- was saying: “Come now on with me! Thou see’st
- that our meridian by the sun is touched,
- and that already from the Ganges’ banks
- Night covers up Morocco with her feet.”