Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO X - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO X - 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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Purgatory. The First Ring. Pride
Instances of Humility. The Expiation of Pride
- When past the threshold of the Gate we were,
- whose use the evil love of souls impairs,
- because it makes the crooked path seem straight,
- ’t was by its sound I knew that it had closed;
- and, had I turned mine eyes in its direction,
- what would have fittingly excused my fault?
- We mounted through a fissure in the rock,
- which moved about to this side and to that,
- as moves a wave that flees and draweth near.
- “A little skill must here be used by us,”
- my Leader then began, “in keeping close,
- now here, now there, to the receding side.”
- This caused our steps to be so slow and short,
- that to her bed the waning moon had gone
- to rest herself again, ere we had issued
- forth from that needle’s eye; but when set free
- we were, and in the open up above,
- where back the Mountain’s side recedes, I, weary,
- and both of us uncertain of our way,
- stopped short upon a level place up there,
- more lonely than are roads through desert lands.
- From where its margin borders on the void,
- up to the foot of that high rising bank,
- would measure thrice a human body’s length;
- and far as e’er mine eye could wing its flight,
- now on the right, and now upon the left,
- such did this girding ledge appear to me.
- Our feet had not been moving on it yet,
- when I perceived the bank surrounding it —
- which, being perpendicular, could not
- be climbed — white marble was, and so adorned
- with carvings, that not only Polyclètus,
- but Nature, too, would there be put to shame.
- The Angel who to earth came with the word
- of peace, which, wept-for during many years,
- had after its long closure opened Heaven,
- appeared before us there in gentle mien,
- sculptured so truthfully, it did not seem
- that he could be an image that is dumb.
- One would have sworn that he was saying: “Hail!”
- for She was there portrayed in effigy,
- who turned the key that opened Love on high;
- and in her mien and acts she had the words
- “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” impressed
- as clearly as a figure stamped in wax.
- “Keep not thy mind on one place only fixed!”
- my gentle Teacher said, who had me there
- on that side of him, where one has his heart;
- I therefore moved my eyes, and further on
- than Mary, on the side where him I had,
- who urged me to go on, I then beheld
- another story graven in the rock;
- passing by Virgil, therefore, I drew near
- so that it might be set before mine eyes.
- Cut in the marble there the cart and oxen
- were drawing up the holy Ark, which made
- men dread a charge not given them in trust.
- People in front appeared; and all of them,
- forming seven choirs, made one of my two senses
- say “No,” and the other one say “Yes, they sing.”
- So, too, by reason of the incense-smoke,
- which there was pictured forth, my eyes and nose
- became discordant as to Yes and No.
- The humble Psalmist there, with loins girt up,
- came dancing on, before the blessèd Vessel,
- and, doing so, was more and less than king.
- And Michal, opposite to this portrayed,
- was from a palace window looking down,
- as would an angry woman filled with scorn.
- From where I was, I onward moved my feet,
- that I might closely note another tale,
- which after Michal gleamed upon me white.
- The glorious action of that Roman prince
- was storied here, whose worth moved Gregory
- to win his mighty triumph; I refer
- to Emperor Trajan; at his bridle stood
- a widow who, in tears, showed signs of grief.
- The space around him there seemed trampled down
- and thronged with horsemen, while above his head
- eagles, it seemed, upon a field of gold
- were fluttering in the wind. Among all these
- the sorrowing woman seemed to say: “My lord,
- avenge me for the slaying of my son,
- which breaks my heart.” And he to answer her:
- “Wait now till I return.” And she, like one
- whom sorrow makes impatient, said: “But what,
- my lord, if thou shouldst not return?” And he:
- “That one will do it, who shall hold my place.”
- “How shall another’s goodness help thy case,”
- she answered him, “if thou forget thine own?”
- Then he: “Now be thou comforted; for needs
- must I perform my duty ere I leave;
- justice so wills, and pity keeps me here.”
- He to whose vision naught was ever new,
- created this seen language, new to us,
- since not found here on earth. While with delight
- I looked upon the pictures of such great
- humilities, which for their Maker’s sake
- are also dear to see, “On this side, lo,
- much people come, but slow the steps they take;”
- the Poet murmured, “toward the grades above
- these souls will send us forward on our way.”
- Mine eyes, intent on gazing, to behold
- new things, for which with eagerness they long,
- in turning toward him were not slow to move.
- Yet I ’d not have thee, Reader, shrink dismayed
- from thy good purposes, through hearing how
- God wills that what is due be paid. Heed not
- the nature of the torment! Think of what
- comes after! Think that, at the very worst,
- beyond the Judgment-day it cannot go.
- Then I began: “That, Teacher, which toward us
- I see advancing does not look like people,
- nor know I what, my sight is so deceived.”
- And he to me: “Their torment’s heavy nature
- so bows them toward the ground, that my eyes, too,
- struggled therewith at first. But steadily
- gaze there, and disentangle with thine eyes
- what underneath those stones is coming on;
- thou now canst see how each one smites himself.”
- O ye proud Christians, sad and weary creatures,
- who, sick in mental vision, put your trust
- in backward moving steps; perceive ye not
- that worms we are, created but to form
- the angelic butterfly, which flies unscreened
- to judgment? Why, then, is it that your mind
- soars up in pride, since ye are, as it were,
- defective insects, even as is a worm,
- in which formation is not yet complete?
- As, to hold up a ceiling or a roof,
- in lieu of corbel, one perceives at times
- a human figure joining knees to breast,
- which out of unreality gives birth
- to real distress in him who sees it; such
- seemed these to me, when I had given good heed.
- They were, in truth, both more and less bowed down,
- as each had more or less upon his back;
- but he that in his acts most patient was,
- seemed to say, weeping: “I can bear no more!”