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Chapter 24 Buonagiunta da Lucca. Pope Martin IV, and others. Inquiry int_he State of Poetry.

  • Nor speech the going, nor the going that
  • Slackened; but talking we went bravely on,
  • Even as a vessel urged by a good wind.
  • And shadows, that appeared things doubly dead,
  • From out the sepulchres of their eyes betrayed
  • Wonder at me, aware that I was living.
  • And I, continuing my colloquy,
  • Said: "Peradventure he goes up more slowly
  • Than he would do, for other people's sake.
  • But tell me, if thou knowest, where is Piccarda;
  • Tell me if any one of note I see
  • Among this folk that gazes at me so."
  • "My sister, who, 'twixt beautiful and good,
  • I know not which was more, triumphs rejoicing
  • Already in her crown on high Olympus."
  • So said he first, and then: "'Tis not forbidden
  • To name each other here, so milked away
  • Is our resemblance by our dieting.
  • This," pointing with his finger, "is Buonagiunta,
  • Buonagiunta, of Lucca; and that face
  • Beyond him there, more peaked than the others,
  • Has held the holy Church within his arms;
  • From Tours was he, and purges by his fasting
  • Bolsena's eels and the Vernaccia wine."
  • He named me many others one by one;
  • And all contented seemed at being named,
  • So that for this I saw not one dark look.
  • I saw for hunger bite the empty air
  • Ubaldin dalla Pila, and Boniface,
  • Who with his crook had pastured many people.
  • I saw Messer Marchese, who had leisure
  • Once at Forli for drinking with less dryness,
  • And he was one who ne'er felt satisfied.
  • But as he does who scans, and then doth prize
  • One more than others, did I him of Lucca,
  • Who seemed to take most cognizance of me.
  • He murmured, and I know not what Gentucca
  • From that place heard I, where he felt the wound
  • Of justice, that doth macerate them so.
  • "O soul," I said, "that seemest so desirous
  • To speak with me, do so that I may hear thee,
  • And with thy speech appease thyself and me."
  • "A maid is born, and wears not yet the veil,"
  • Began he, "who to thee shall pleasant make
  • My city, howsoever men may blame it.
  • Thou shalt go on thy way with this prevision;
  • If by my murmuring thou hast been deceived,
  • True things hereafter will declare it to thee.
  • But say if him I here behold, who forth
  • Evoked the new-invented rhymes, beginning,
  • 'Ladies, that have intelligence of love?'"
  • And I to him: "One am I, who, whenever
  • Love doth inspire me, note, and in that measure
  • Which he within me dictates, singing go."
  • "O brother, now I see," he said, "the knot
  • Which me, the Notary, and Guittone held
  • Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.
  • I do perceive full clearly how your pens
  • Go closely following after him who dictates,
  • Which with our own forsooth came not to pass;
  • And he who sets himself to go beyond,
  • No difference sees from one style to another;"
  • And as if satisfied, he held his peace.
  • Even as the birds, that winter tow'rds the Nile,
  • Sometimes into a phalanx form themselves,
  • Then fly in greater haste, and go in file;
  • In such wise all the people who were there,
  • Turning their faces, hurried on their steps,
  • Both by their leanness and their wishes light.
  • And as a man, who weary is with trotting,
  • Lets his companions onward go, and walks,
  • Until he vents the panting of his chest;
  • So did Forese let the holy flock
  • Pass by, and came with me behind it, saying,
  • "When will it be that I again shall see thee?"
  • "How long," I answered, "I may live, I know not;
  • Yet my return will not so speedy be,
  • But I shall sooner in desire arrive;
  • Because the place where I was set to live
  • From day to day of good is more depleted,
  • And unto dismal ruin seems ordained."
  • "Now go," he said, "for him most guilty of it
  • At a beast's tail behold I dragged along
  • Towards the valley where is no repentance.
  • Faster at every step the beast is going,
  • Increasing evermore until it smites him,
  • And leaves the body vilely mutilated.
  • Not long those wheels shall turn," and he uplifted
  • His eyes to heaven, "ere shall be clear to thee
  • That which my speech no farther can declare.
  • Now stay behind; because the time so precious
  • Is in this kingdom, that I lose too much
  • By coming onward thus abreast with thee."
  • As sometimes issues forth upon a gallop
  • A cavalier from out a troop that ride,
  • And seeks the honour of the first encounter,
  • So he with greater strides departed from us;
  • And on the road remained I with those two,
  • Who were such mighty marshals of the world.
  • And when before us he had gone so far
  • Mine eyes became to him such pursuivants
  • As was my understanding to his words,
  • Appeared to me with laden and living boughs
  • Another apple-tree, and not far distant,
  • From having but just then turned thitherward.
  • People I saw beneath it lift their hands,
  • And cry I know not what towards the leaves,
  • Like little children eager and deluded,
  • Who pray, and he they pray to doth not answer,
  • But, to make very keen their appetite,
  • Holds their desire aloft, and hides it not.
  • Then they departed as if undeceived;
  • And now we came unto the mighty tree
  • Which prayers and tears so manifold refuses.
  • "Pass farther onward without drawing near;
  • The tree of which Eve ate is higher up,
  • And out of that one has this tree been raised."
  • Thus said I know not who among the branches;
  • Whereat Virgilius, Statius, and myself
  • Went crowding forward on the side that rises.
  • "Be mindful," said he, "of the accursed ones
  • Formed of the cloud-rack, who inebriate
  • Combated Theseus with their double breasts;
  • And of the Jews who showed them soft in drinking,
  • Whence Gideon would not have them for companions
  • When he tow'rds Midian the hills descended."
  • Thus, closely pressed to one of the two borders,
  • On passed we, hearing sins of gluttony,
  • Followed forsooth by miserable gains;
  • Then set at large upon the lonely road,
  • A thousand steps and more we onward went,
  • In contemplation, each without a word.
  • "What go ye thinking thus, ye three alone?"
  • Said suddenly a voice, whereat I started
  • As terrified and timid beasts are wont.
  • I raised my head to see who this might be,
  • And never in a furnace was there seen
  • Metals or glass so lucent and so red
  • As one I saw who said: "If it may please you
  • To mount aloft, here it behoves you turn;
  • This way goes he who goeth after peace."
  • His aspect had bereft me of my sight,
  • So that I turned me back unto my Teachers,
  • Like one who goeth as his hearing guides him.
  • And as, the harbinger of early dawn,
  • The air of May doth move and breathe out fragrance,
  • Impregnate all with herbage and with flowers,
  • So did I feel a breeze strike in the midst
  • My front, and felt the moving of the plumes
  • That breathed around an odour of ambrosia;
  • And heard it said: "Blessed are they whom grace
  • So much illumines, that the love of taste
  • Excites not in their breasts too great desire,
  • Hungering at all times so far as is just."