Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO VII - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO VII - 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 Vale of Flowers
Princes intent on Earthly Glory
- After their words of greeting, dignified
- and glad, had three and four times been repeated,
- Sordello, drawing back, said: “Who are ye?”
- “Or ever yet the spirits, who deserved
- to rise to God, were toward this Mount directed,
- my bones were buried by Octavian’s order.
- Virgil am I; and through no other guilt
- did I lose Heaven, than through not having faith.”
- ’T was thus my Leader thereupon replied.
- Like one who sudden sees before him aught
- he wonders at, and, as he says: “It is . . .”
- and “No, it ’s not,” believes and disbelieves;
- such did the former seem; and then his head
- he bowed, and, humbly turning back to him,
- embraced him where inferior men take hold.
- “O glory of the Latins,” said he then,
- “through whom our language showed what it could do,
- eternal honor of my native town,
- what merit, or what grace shows thee to me?
- Tell me, if I deserve to hear thy words,
- if thou from Hell art come, and from what cloister.”
- “Through all the circles of the woeful Realm”
- he answered him, “have I come hither; virtue
- from Heaven impelled me, and therewith I come.
- ’T was not for doing aught, but for not doing,
- I lost the sight of that exalted Sun
- thou longest for, and which was known by me
- too late. There is a place below, not sad
- because of pain, but only gloom, where moans
- sound not as wailings, but are merely sighs.
- There with those little innocents I dwell,
- who, not delivered yet from human guilt,
- were bitten by the teeth of death; and there
- with those I dwell, who did not clothe themselves
- with the three holy virtues, but who knew
- the others without vice, and practiced all.
- But give us, if thou know and can, some sign,
- whereby the sooner we may reach the place,
- where Purgatory hath its real beginning.”
- “No fixed place is assigned us;” he replied,
- “I may go upward and around; I ’ll join thee,
- and be thy guide as far as I can go.
- But see already how the day declines,
- and one at night can not ascend; it, hence,
- were well to think of some fair resting place.
- Here to the right are souls that dwell apart;
- if thou permit me, I will lead thee to them,
- and not without delight will they be known.”
- “How, then, is this?” was answered, “Should one wish
- to mount by night, would some one hinder him?
- Or would one not ascend, through lack of power?
- Then with his finger good Sordello marked
- the ground, and: “See!” he said, “When once the sun
- is gone, thou couldst not even cross this line;
- though not because aught else than gloom of night
- would hinder one from climbing; that it is
- puzzles the will with impotence. One could,
- however, downward go again therewith,
- and walking o’er the hillside, wander round
- while still the horizon kept the day confined.”
- My Lord then said, as if in wonder lost:
- “Do thou, then, lead us thither, where thou saidst
- that one while waiting can enjoy himself.”
- But little had we gone away from there,
- when I perceived the hill was hollowed out,
- as here on earth our hillside valleys are.
- “Thither,” that shade said, “we ’ll betake ourselves
- where of itself the hillside forms a lap;
- and there will we await the coming day.”
- A winding path there was, nor steep nor level,
- which led us to a border of the dell,
- where more than half away the hillside falls.
- Gold and fine silver, scarlet and white lead,
- indigo blue, wood’s clear and shining brown,
- and green of emeralds when newly flaked,
- would each in hue be vanquished by the grass
- and flowers found growing in that bosomed dell,
- as by the greater vanquished is the less.
- Nature not only had been painting there;
- but with the fragrance of a thousand scents
- was making up a blend unknown on earth.
- Here, seated on the grass among the flowers,
- “Salve, Regina” singing, souls I saw,
- who, for the dell, could not be seen outside.
- “Before the waning sunlight nest itself,”
- began the Mantuan who had guided us,
- “desire me not to lead you among these.
- Much better from this border shall ye learn
- to know the acts and faces of them all,
- than greeted ’mong them in the dale below.
- The one that sitteth highest up, and seems
- to have neglected what he should have done,
- and with his mouth joins not the others’ songs,
- was Emperor Rudolph, he who might have healed
- the wounds that so have left Italia dead,
- that by another she reviveth late.
- He who appears to cheer him, ruled the land,
- where rise the waters which the Moldau gives
- the Elbe, and the Elbe gives the sea.
- Named Ottocar, he was, in swaddling clothes,
- far better than is Wenceslaus, his son,
- on whom, a bearded man, feed lust and ease.
- That small-nosed man, who close in counsel seems
- with him that hath so kind a countenance,
- died fleeing, and disflowering the Lily.
- Look at him, yonder, how he smites his breast!
- And see the other one, who for his cheek
- hath, sighing, made a cushion of his hand.
- Father and father-in-law of France’s bane,
- they know the latter’s foul and vicious life;
- hence comes the sorrow that so pierces them.
- The one who so large-limbed appears, and joins
- in song with him who hath the manly nose,
- was girded with the cord of every worth;
- and if the youth, who seated is behind him,
- had, following after him, remained as king,
- worth would, indeed, have gone from vase to vase;
- which of the other heirs can not be said.
- The kingdoms James and Frederick hold; but none
- is owner of the better heritage.
- Seldom doth human righteousness ascend
- among the branches; this is willed by Him
- who gives it, that of Him it may be asked.
- My words concern the large-nosed man no less
- than the other, Peter, who is singing with him,
- whence both Apulia and Provence are grieved.
- That plant is as inferior to its seed,
- as of her husband Constance still vaunts more
- than Beatrice and Margaret do of theirs.
- Behold the king, known for his simple life,
- Henry of England, seated there alone;
- he in his branches better issue hath.
- He that among them lower on the ground
- is sitting, and looks up, is Marquis William,
- for whom both Alexandria and her war
- make Montferràt and Canavèsë weep.”