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Chapter 10 Farinata and Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti. Discourse on th_nowledge of the Damned.

  • Now onward goes, along a narrow path
  • Between the torments and the city wall,
  • My Master, and I follow at his back.
  • "O power supreme, that through these impious circles
  • Turnest me," I began, "as pleases thee,
  • Speak to me, and my longings satisfy;
  • The people who are lying in these tombs,
  • Might they be seen? already are uplifted
  • The covers all, and no one keepeth guard."
  • And he to me: "They all will be closed up
  • When from Jehoshaphat they shall return
  • Here with the bodies they have left above.
  • Their cemetery have upon this side
  • With Epicurus all his followers,
  • Who with the body mortal make the soul;
  • But in the question thou dost put to me,
  • Within here shalt thou soon be satisfied,
  • And likewise in the wish thou keepest silent."
  • And I: "Good Leader, I but keep concealed
  • From thee my heart, that I may speak the less,
  • Nor only now hast thou thereto disposed me."
  • "O Tuscan, thou who through the city of fire
  • Goest alive, thus speaking modestly,
  • Be pleased to stay thy footsteps in this place.
  • Thy mode of speaking makes thee manifest
  • A native of that noble fatherland,
  • To which perhaps I too molestful was."
  • Upon a sudden issued forth this sound
  • From out one of the tombs; wherefore I pressed,
  • Fearing, a little nearer to my Leader.
  • And unto me he said: "Turn thee; what dost thou?
  • Behold there Farinata who has risen;
  • From the waist upwards wholly shalt thou see him."
  • I had already fixed mine eyes on his,
  • And he uprose erect with breast and front
  • E'en as if Hell he had in great despite.
  • And with courageous hands and prompt my Leader
  • Thrust me between the sepulchres towards him,
  • Exclaiming, "Let thy words explicit be."
  • As soon as I was at the foot of his tomb
  • Somewhat he eyed me, and, as if disdainful,
  • Then asked of me, "Who were thine ancestors?"
  • I, who desirous of obeying was,
  • Concealed it not, but all revealed to him;
  • Whereat he raised his brows a little upward.
  • Then said he: "Fiercely adverse have they been
  • To me, and to my fathers, and my party;
  • So that two several times I scattered them."
  • "If they were banished, they returned on all sides,"
  • I answered him, "the first time and the second;
  • But yours have not acquired that art aright."
  • Then there uprose upon the sight, uncovered
  • Down to the chin, a shadow at his side;
  • I think that he had risen on his knees.
  • Round me he gazed, as if solicitude
  • He had to see if some one else were with me,
  • But after his suspicion was all spent,
  • Weeping, he said to me: "If through this blind
  • Prison thou goest by loftiness of genius,
  • Where is my son? and why is he not with thee?"
  • And I to him: "I come not of myself;
  • He who is waiting yonder leads me here,
  • Whom in disdain perhaps your Guido had."
  • His language and the mode of punishment
  • Already unto me had read his name;
  • On that account my answer was so full.
  • Up starting suddenly, he cried out: "How
  • Saidst thou,—he had? Is he not still alive?
  • Does not the sweet light strike upon his eyes?"
  • When he became aware of some delay,
  • Which I before my answer made, supine
  • He fell again, and forth appeared no more.
  • But the other, magnanimous, at whose desire
  • I had remained, did not his aspect change,
  • Neither his neck he moved, nor bent his side.
  • "And if," continuing his first discourse,
  • "They have that art," he said, "not learned aright,
  • That more tormenteth me, than doth this bed.
  • But fifty times shall not rekindled be
  • The countenance of the Lady who reigns here,
  • Ere thou shalt know how heavy is that art;
  • And as thou wouldst to the sweet world return,
  • Say why that people is so pitiless
  • Against my race in each one of its laws?"
  • Whence I to him: "The slaughter and great carnage
  • Which have with crimson stained the Arbia, cause
  • Such orisons in our temple to be made."
  • After his head he with a sigh had shaken,
  • "There I was not alone," he said, "nor surely
  • Without a cause had with the others moved.
  • But there I was alone, where every one
  • Consented to the laying waste of Florence,
  • He who defended her with open face."
  • "Ah! so hereafter may your seed repose,"
  • I him entreated, "solve for me that knot,
  • Which has entangled my conceptions here.
  • It seems that you can see, if I hear rightly,
  • Beforehand whatsoe'er time brings with it,
  • And in the present have another mode."
  • "We see, like those who have imperfect sight,
  • The things," he said, "that distant are from us;
  • So much still shines on us the Sovereign Ruler.
  • When they draw near, or are, is wholly vain
  • Our intellect, and if none brings it to us,
  • Not anything know we of your human state.
  • Hence thou canst understand, that wholly dead
  • Will be our knowledge from the moment when
  • The portal of the future shall be closed."
  • Then I, as if compunctious for my fault,
  • Said: "Now, then, you will tell that fallen one,
  • That still his son is with the living joined.
  • And if just now, in answering, I was dumb,
  • Tell him I did it because I was thinking
  • Already of the error you have solved me."
  • And now my Master was recalling me,
  • Wherefore more eagerly I prayed the spirit
  • That he would tell me who was with him there.
  • He said: "With more than a thousand here I lie;
  • Within here is the second Frederick,
  • And the Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not."
  • Thereon he hid himself; and I towards
  • The ancient poet turned my steps, reflecting
  • Upon that saying, which seemed hostile to me.
  • He moved along; and afterward thus going,
  • He said to me, "Why art thou so bewildered?"
  • And I in his inquiry satisfied him.
  • "Let memory preserve what thou hast heard
  • Against thyself," that Sage commanded me,
  • "And now attend here;" and he raised his finger.
  • "When thou shalt be before the radiance sweet
  • Of her whose beauteous eyes all things behold,
  • From her thou'lt know the journey of thy life."
  • Unto the left hand then he turned his feet;
  • We left the wall, and went towards the middle,
  • Along a path that strikes into a valley,
  • Which even up there unpleasant made its stench.