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Purgatorio: Canto I

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To run o'er better waters hoists its sail
The little vessel of my genius now,
That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel;

And of that second kingdom will I sing
Wherein the human spirit doth purge itself,
And to ascend to heaven becometh worthy.

But let dead Poesy here rise again,
O holy Muses, since that I am yours,
And here Calliope somewhat ascend,

My song accompanying with that sound,
Of which the miserable magpies felt
The blow so great, that they despaired of pardon.

Sweet colour of the oriental sapphire,
That was upgathered in the cloudless aspect
Of the pure air, as far as the first circle,

Unto mine eyes did recommence delight
Soon as I issued forth from the dead air,
Which had with sadness filled mine eyes and breast.

The beauteous planet, that to love incites,
Was making all the orient to laugh,
Veiling the Fishes that were in her escort.

To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind
Upon the other pole, and saw four stars
Ne'er seen before save by the primal people.

Rejoicing in their flamelets seemed the heaven.
O thou septentrional and widowed site,
Because thou art deprived of seeing these!

When from regarding them I had withdrawn,
Turning a little to the other pole,
There where the Wain had disappeared already,

I saw beside me an old man alone,
Worthy of so much reverence in his look,
That more owes not to father any son.

A long beard and with white hair intermingled
He wore, in semblance like unto the tresses,
Of which a double list fell on his breast.

The rays of the four consecrated stars
Did so adorn his countenance with light,
That him I saw as were the sun before him.

"Who are you? ye who, counter the blind river,
Have fled away from the eternal prison?"
Moving those venerable plumes, he said:

"Who guided you? or who has been your lamp
In issuing forth out of the night profound,
That ever black makes the infernal valley?

The laws of the abyss, are they thus broken?
Or is there changed in heaven some council new,
That being damned ye come unto my crags?"

Then did my Leader lay his grasp upon me,
And with his words, and with his hands and signs,
Reverent he made in me my knees and brow;

Then answered him: "I came not of myself;
A Lady from Heaven descended, at whose prayers
I aided this one with my company.

But since it is thy will more be unfolded
Of our condition, how it truly is,
Mine cannot be that this should be denied thee.

This one has never his last evening seen,
But by his folly was so near to it
That very little time was there to turn.

As I have said, I unto him was sent
To rescue him, and other way was none
Than this to which I have myself betaken.

I've shown him all the people of perdition,
And now those spirits I intend to show
Who purge themselves beneath thy guardianship.

How I have brought him would be long to tell thee.
Virtue descendeth from on high that aids me
To lead him to behold thee and to hear thee.

Now may it please thee to vouchsafe his coming;
He seeketh Liberty, which is so dear,
As knoweth he who life for her refuses.

Thou know'st it; since, for her, to thee not bitter
Was death in Utica, where thou didst leave
The vesture, that will shine so, the great day.

By us the eternal edicts are not broken;
Since this one lives, and Minos binds not me;
But of that circle I, where are the chaste

Eyes of thy Marcia, who in looks still prays thee,
O holy breast, to hold her as thine own;
For her love, then, incline thyself to us.

Permit us through thy sevenfold realm to go;
I will take back this grace from thee to her,
If to be mentioned there below thou deignest."

"Marcia so pleasing was unto mine eyes
While I was on the other side," then said he,
"That every grace she wished of me I granted;

Now that she dwells beyond the evil river,
She can no longer move me, by that law
Which, when I issued forth from there, was made.

But if a Lady of Heaven do move and rule thee,
As thou dost say, no flattery is needful;
Let it suffice thee that for her thou ask me.

Go, then, and see thou gird this one about
With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face,
So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom,

For 'twere not fitting that the eye o'ercast
By any mist should go before the first
Angel, who is of those of Paradise.

This little island round about its base
Below there, yonder, where the billow beats it,
Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze;

No other plant that putteth forth the leaf,
Or that doth indurate, can there have life,
Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks.

Thereafter be not this way your return;
The sun, which now is rising, will direct you
To take the mount by easier ascent."

With this he vanished; and I raised me up
Without a word, and wholly drew myself
Unto my Guide, and turned mine eyes to him.

And he began: "Son, follow thou my steps;
Let us turn back, for on this side declines
The plain unto its lower boundaries."

The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour
Which fled before it, so that from afar
I recognised the trembling of the sea.

Along the solitary plain we went
As one who unto the lost road returns,
And till he finds it seems to go in vain.

As soon as we were come to where the dew
Fights with the sun, and, being in a part
Where shadow falls, little evaporates,

Both of his hands upon the grass outspread
In gentle manner did my Master place;
Whence I, who of his action was aware,

Extended unto him my tearful cheeks;
There did he make in me uncovered wholly
That hue which Hell had covered up in me.

Then came we down upon the desert shore
Which never yet saw navigate its waters
Any that afterward had known return.

There he begirt me as the other pleased;
O marvellous! for even as he culled
The humble plant, such it sprang up again

Suddenly there where he uprooted it.

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La Divina Commedia: Purgatorio: Canto I

Per correr miglior acque alza le vele
  omai la navicella del mio ingegno,
  che lascia dietro a se' mar si` crudele;

e cantero` di quel secondo regno
  dove l'umano spirito si purga
  e di salire al ciel diventa degno.

Ma qui la morta poesi` resurga,
  o sante Muse, poi che vostro sono;
  e qui Caliope` alquanto surga,

seguitando il mio canto con quel suono
  di cui le Piche misere sentiro
  lo colpo tal, che disperar perdono.

Dolce color d'oriental zaffiro,
  che s'accoglieva nel sereno aspetto
  del mezzo, puro infino al primo giro,

a li occhi miei ricomincio` diletto,
  tosto ch'io usci' fuor de l'aura morta
  che m'avea contristati li occhi e 'l petto.

Lo bel pianeto che d'amar conforta
  faceva tutto rider l'oriente,
  velando i Pesci ch'erano in sua scorta.

I' mi volsi a man destra, e puosi mente
  a l'altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle
  non viste mai fuor ch'a la prima gente.

Goder pareva 'l ciel di lor fiammelle:
  oh settentrional vedovo sito,
  poi che privato se' di mirar quelle!

Com'io da loro sguardo fui partito,
  un poco me volgendo a l 'altro polo,
  la` onde il Carro gia` era sparito,

vidi presso di me un veglio solo,
  degno di tanta reverenza in vista,
  che piu` non dee a padre alcun figliuolo.

Lunga la barba e di pel bianco mista
  portava, a' suoi capelli simigliante,
  de' quai cadeva al petto doppia lista.

Li raggi de le quattro luci sante
  fregiavan si` la sua faccia di lume,
  ch'i' 'l vedea come 'l sol fosse davante.

"Chi siete voi che contro al cieco fiume
  fuggita avete la pregione etterna?"
  diss'el, movendo quelle oneste piume.

"Chi v'ha guidati, o che vi fu lucerna,
  uscendo fuor de la profonda notte
  che sempre nera fa la valle inferna?

Son le leggi d'abisso cosi` rotte?
  o e` mutato in ciel novo consiglio,
  che, dannati, venite a le mie grotte?"

Lo duca mio allor mi die` di piglio,
  e con parole e con mani e con cenni
  reverenti mi fe' le gambe e 'l ciglio.

Poscia rispuose lui: "Da me non venni:
  donna scese del ciel, per li cui prieghi
  de la mia compagnia costui sovvenni.

Ma da ch'e` tuo voler che piu` si spieghi
  di nostra condizion com'ell'e` vera,
  esser non puote il mio che a te si nieghi.

Questi non vide mai l'ultima sera;
  ma per la sua follia le fu si` presso,
  che molto poco tempo a volger era.

Si` com'io dissi, fui mandato ad esso
  per lui campare; e non li` era altra via
  che questa per la quale i' mi son messo.

Mostrata ho lui tutta la gente ria;
  e ora intendo mostrar quelli spirti
  che purgan se' sotto la tua balia.

Com'io l'ho tratto, saria lungo a dirti;
  de l'alto scende virtu` che m'aiuta
  conducerlo a vederti e a udirti.

Or ti piaccia gradir la sua venuta:
  liberta` va cercando, ch'e` si` cara,
  come sa chi per lei vita rifiuta.

Tu 'l sai, che' non ti fu per lei amara
  in Utica la morte, ove lasciasti
  la vesta ch'al gran di` sara` si` chiara.

Non son li editti etterni per noi guasti,
  che' questi vive, e Minos me non lega;
  ma son del cerchio ove son li occhi casti

di Marzia tua, che 'n vista ancor ti priega,
  o santo petto, che per tua la tegni:
  per lo suo amore adunque a noi ti piega.

Lasciane andar per li tuoi sette regni;
  grazie riportero` di te a lei,
  se d'esser mentovato la` giu` degni."

"Marzia piacque tanto a li occhi miei
  mentre ch'i' fu' di la`", diss'elli allora,
  "che quante grazie volse da me, fei.

Or che di la` dal mal fiume dimora,
  piu` muover non mi puo`, per quella legge
  che fatta fu quando me n'usci' fora.

Ma se donna del ciel ti muove e regge,
  come tu di', non c'e` mestier lusinghe:
  bastisi ben che per lei mi richegge.

Va dunque, e fa che tu costui ricinghe
  d'un giunco schietto e che li lavi 'l viso,
  si` ch'ogne sucidume quindi stinghe;

che' non si converria, l'occhio sorpriso
  d'alcuna nebbia, andar dinanzi al primo
  ministro, ch'e` di quei di paradiso.

Questa isoletta intorno ad imo ad imo,
  la` giu` cola` dove la batte l'onda,
  porta di giunchi sovra 'l molle limo;

null'altra pianta che facesse fronda
  o indurasse, vi puote aver vita,
  pero` ch'a le percosse non seconda.

Poscia non sia di qua vostra reddita;
  lo sol vi mosterra`, che surge omai,
  prendere il monte a piu` lieve salita>>.

Cosi` spari`; e io su` mi levai
  sanza parlare, e tutto mi ritrassi
  al duca mio, e li occhi a lui drizzai.

El comincio`: "Figliuol, segui i miei passi:
  volgianci in dietro, che' di qua dichina
  questa pianura a' suoi termini bassi."

L'alba vinceva l'ora mattutina
  che fuggia innanzi, si` che di lontano
  conobbi il tremolar de la marina.

Noi andavam per lo solingo piano
  com'om che torna a la perduta strada,
  che 'nfino ad essa li pare ire in vano.

Quando noi fummo la` 've la rugiada
  pugna col sole, per essere in parte
  dove, ad orezza, poco si dirada,

ambo le mani in su l'erbetta sparte
  soavemente 'l mio maestro pose:
  ond'io, che fui accorto di sua arte,

porsi ver' lui le guance lagrimose:
  ivi mi fece tutto discoverto
  quel color che l'inferno mi nascose.

Venimmo poi in sul lito diserto,
  che mai non vide navicar sue acque
  omo, che di tornar sia poscia esperto.

Quivi mi cinse si` com'altrui piacque:
  oh maraviglia! che' qual elli scelse
  l'umile pianta, cotal si rinacque

subitamente la` onde l'avelse.

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