Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO XVII - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO XVII - 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 Third Ring. Anger
Instances of Punished Anger. The Angel of Peace. Love
- Reader, remind thyself, if e’er a fog
- o’ertook thee on a mountain, one through which
- thou couldst not see in any other way
- than moles do through the membrane o’er their eyes,
- how, when the damp, thick mists begin to thin,
- the sun’s orb feebly pierces them; and quickly
- will thine imagination come to see
- how I first saw the sun again, which now
- was at its setting. Thus, as I mine own
- was matching with my Teacher’s trusty steps,
- from such a cloud I came into the beams,
- already dead upon the shores below.
- O thou Imagination, which at times
- dost steal us so from outer things, that though
- a thousand trumpets blow, one hears them not,
- what moveth thee, if sense contribute naught?
- A light which takes in Heaven its form impels thee,
- freely, or by a Will which sends it down.
- The vision of her cruelty, who changed
- her form into the bird, which most delights
- in song, appeared in my imagination;
- and hereupon my mind was so shut up
- within itself, that nothing that was then
- received by it, came to it from without.
- Then into my high fantasy there rained
- one crucified, contemptuous and proud
- in aspect, and as such he met his death.
- Around him were the great Ahasuerus,
- Esther his wife, and righteous Mordecai,
- who so whole-hearted was in word and deed.
- And as this picture of its own accord
- broke up, as doth a bubble when it lacks
- the water it was formed withal; a maid
- rose in my vision next, who bitterly
- was weeping, and was saying: “Why, O Queen,
- didst thou through anger wish to be no more?”
- Lavinia not to lose, thyself hast slain;
- and now hast lost me! Mother, this is I,
- who, ere I mourn another’s loss, mourn thine.”
- As sleep is broken, when unwonted light
- strikes closed eyes suddenly, and, being broken,
- quivers before it wholly dies away;
- ev’n so did my imagining break up,
- as soon as on my face there smote a light
- brighter by far than we are wont to see.
- I turned around to notice where I was,
- when lo, a voice which said: “The ascent is here,”
- from every other interest turned my mind;
- and made my will so eager to behold
- the speaker, that, when such, it never rests
- until it sees its object face to face.
- But as before the sun, which whelms our eyes,
- and veils its figure, through excess of light,
- so likewise here my visual powers failed.
- “A godlike spirit this, who, though unasked,
- is pointing out to us our upward path,
- and with his own light is himself concealing.
- With us he deals as one would with himself;
- for he that waits till asked, when seeing need,
- inclines already meanly to refuse.
- To such a bidding let us now accord
- our feet, and try to climb ere darkness come;
- for later one could not, till day returned.”
- Thus said my Leader then, and I with him
- turned toward a flight of stairs our feet; and I,
- when on its first step, near me felt, as ’t were,
- the motion of a wing, and on my face
- a fanning, while a voice said: “Blessèd are
- the Peaceful, who are free from evil wrath!”
- So high above us now were those last beams
- which by the night are followed, that the stars
- were coming out on many sides. And “O
- my strength, why dost thou fade away so fast?”
- I to myself was saying, for a truce,
- I felt, was set the powers of my legs.
- We now were where the flight of stairs went up
- no further, and as motionless we were,
- as is a vessel when the shore is reached;
- and for a while I waited to find out
- if aught upon the new ring could be heard;
- then, toward my Teacher turning round, I said:
- “Say, my dear Father, what offense is purged
- in this ring, here where now we are? Although
- our feet keep still, let not thy talking cease.”
- And he to me: “The love of good, when scant
- of what it should have been, is here atoned;
- here beats again the ill-retarded oar.
- But now, in order that thou understand
- more clearly still, turn thou thy mind to me,
- and some good fruit thou ’lt gather from our stay.
- Neither Creator,” he began, “nor creature
- was e’er devoid of either innate love,
- or that which conscious is; and this thou knowst.
- The innate love is always free from error;
- but the other kind can err through evil aim,
- or through deficient, or excessive strength.
- While well directed toward the primal goods,
- and toward the secondary self-restrained,
- it cannot be the cause of sinful pleasure;
- but when it turns toward evil things, or runs
- to good, with more or less zeal than it ought,
- the creature then against his Maker works.
- From this, then, thou canst understand that love
- must be the seed in you of every virtue,
- and every deed that merits punishment.
- And now, since love can never turn its face
- from its own subject’s welfare, from self-hate
- all are secure; and since one cannot think
- of any self as being from the First
- divided, and existing of itself,
- all hearts are thus debarred from hating Him.
- It follows, that, if I in arguing
- judge well, one’s neighbor’s is the harm one loves,
- and this is born in three ways in your clay.
- There ’s he, who on the abasement of his neighbor
- his hope of rising sets, and only longs
- that from his greatness he may be brought low;
- and he, who fears the loss of power, favor,
- renown and honor, should another rise,
- and grieves so, that he loves the contrary;
- then he, who by injustice seems so shamed,
- that greedy he becometh for revenge;
- and such must needs prepare for others’ harm.
- This triform love is wept for here below;
- but now I ’d have thee hear about the other,
- which runs to love in a corrupted way.
- All apprehend confusedly a good
- wherein the mind can rest, and long for it;
- and therefore every one attempts to reach it.
- If slothful be the love impelling you
- to see or win it, after just repentance,
- this present cornice tortures you for that.
- Another good there is, which never makes
- man happy; it is not real happiness,
- nor the Good Essence, fruit and root of all
- that ’s good. The love that yields too much to that,
- is wept for in three rings above us here;
- but why it ’s reckoned threefold I say not,
- that thou mayst seek the reason for thyself.”