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Chapter 26 Sodomites. Guido Guinicelli and Arnaldo Daniello.

  • While on the brink thus one before the other
  • We went upon our way, oft the good Master
  • Said: "Take thou heed! suffice it that I warn thee."
  • On the right shoulder smote me now the sun,
  • That, raying out, already the whole west
  • Changed from its azure aspect into white.
  • And with my shadow did I make the flame
  • Appear more red; and even to such a sign
  • Shades saw I many, as they went, give heed.
  • This was the cause that gave them a beginning
  • To speak of me; and to themselves began they
  • To say: "That seems not a factitious body!"
  • Then towards me, as far as they could come,
  • Came certain of them, always with regard
  • Not to step forth where they would not be burned.
  • "O thou who goest, not from being slower
  • But reverent perhaps, behind the others,
  • Answer me, who in thirst and fire am burning.
  • Nor to me only is thine answer needful;
  • For all of these have greater thirst for it
  • Than for cold water Ethiop or Indian.
  • Tell us how is it that thou makest thyself
  • A wall unto the sun, as if thou hadst not
  • Entered as yet into the net of death."
  • Thus one of them addressed me, and I straight
  • Should have revealed myself, were I not bent
  • On other novelty that then appeared.
  • For through the middle of the burning road
  • There came a people face to face with these,
  • Which held me in suspense with gazing at them.
  • There see I hastening upon either side
  • Each of the shades, and kissing one another
  • Without a pause, content with brief salute.
  • Thus in the middle of their brown battalions
  • Muzzle to muzzle one ant meets another
  • Perchance to spy their journey or their fortune.
  • No sooner is the friendly greeting ended,
  • Or ever the first footstep passes onward,
  • Each one endeavours to outcry the other;
  • The new-come people: "Sodom and Gomorrah!"
  • The rest: "Into the cow Pasiphae enters,
  • So that the bull unto her lust may run!"
  • Then as the cranes, that to Riphaean mountains
  • Might fly in part, and part towards the sands,
  • These of the frost, those of the sun avoidant,
  • One folk is going, and the other coming,
  • And weeping they return to their first songs,
  • And to the cry that most befitteth them;
  • And close to me approached, even as before,
  • The very same who had entreated me,
  • Attent to listen in their countenance.
  • I, who their inclination twice had seen,
  • Began: "O souls secure in the possession,
  • Whene'er it may be, of a state of peace,
  • Neither unripe nor ripened have remained
  • My members upon earth, but here are with me
  • With their own blood and their articulations.
  • I go up here to be no longer blind;
  • A Lady is above, who wins this grace,
  • Whereby the mortal through your world I bring.
  • But as your greatest longing satisfied
  • May soon become, so that the Heaven may house you
  • Which full of love is, and most amply spreads,
  • Tell me, that I again in books may write it,
  • Who are you, and what is that multitude
  • Which goes upon its way behind your backs?"
  • Not otherwise with wonder is bewildered
  • The mountaineer, and staring round is dumb,
  • When rough and rustic to the town he goes,
  • Than every shade became in its appearance;
  • But when they of their stupor were disburdened,
  • Which in high hearts is quickly quieted,
  • "Blessed be thou, who of our border-lands,"
  • He recommenced who first had questioned us,
  • "Experience freightest for a better life.
  • The folk that comes not with us have offended
  • In that for which once Caesar, triumphing,
  • Heard himself called in contumely, 'Queen.'
  • Therefore they separate, exclaiming, 'Sodom!'
  • Themselves reproving, even as thou hast heard,
  • And add unto their burning by their shame.
  • Our own transgression was hermaphrodite;
  • But because we observed not human law,
  • Following like unto beasts our appetite,
  • In our opprobrium by us is read,
  • When we part company, the name of her
  • Who bestialized herself in bestial wood.
  • Now knowest thou our acts, and what our crime was;
  • Wouldst thou perchance by name know who we are,
  • There is not time to tell, nor could I do it.
  • Thy wish to know me shall in sooth be granted;
  • I'm Guido Guinicelli, and now purge me,
  • Having repented ere the hour extreme."
  • The same that in the sadness of Lycurgus
  • Two sons became, their mother re-beholding,
  • Such I became, but rise not to such height,
  • The moment I heard name himself the father
  • Of me and of my betters, who had ever
  • Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of love;
  • And without speech and hearing thoughtfully
  • For a long time I went, beholding him,
  • Nor for the fire did I approach him nearer.
  • When I was fed with looking, utterly
  • Myself I offered ready for his service,
  • With affirmation that compels belief.
  • And he to me: "Thou leavest footprints such
  • In me, from what I hear, and so distinct,
  • Lethe cannot efface them, nor make dim.
  • But if thy words just now the truth have sworn,
  • Tell me what is the cause why thou displayest
  • In word and look that dear thou holdest me?"
  • And I to him: "Those dulcet lays of yours
  • Which, long as shall endure our modern fashion,
  • Shall make for ever dear their very ink!"
  • "O brother," said he, "he whom I point out,"
  • And here he pointed at a spirit in front,
  • "Was of the mother tongue a better smith.
  • Verses of love and proses of romance,
  • He mastered all; and let the idiots talk,
  • Who think the Lemosin surpasses him.
  • To clamour more than truth they turn their faces,
  • And in this way establish their opinion,
  • Ere art or reason has by them been heard.
  • Thus many ancients with Guittone did,
  • From cry to cry still giving him applause,
  • Until the truth has conquered with most persons.
  • Now, if thou hast such ample privilege
  • 'Tis granted thee to go unto the cloister
  • Wherein is Christ the abbot of the college,
  • To him repeat for me a Paternoster,
  • So far as needful to us of this world,
  • Where power of sinning is no longer ours."
  • Then, to give place perchance to one behind,
  • Whom he had near, he vanished in the fire
  • As fish in water going to the bottom.
  • I moved a little tow'rds him pointed out,
  • And said that to his name my own desire
  • An honourable place was making ready.
  • He of his own free will began to say:
  • 'Tan m' abellis vostre cortes deman,
  • Que jeu nom' puesc ni vueill a vos cobrire;
  • Jeu sui Arnaut, que plor e vai chantan;
  • Consiros vei la passada folor,
  • E vei jauzen lo jorn qu' esper denan.
  • Ara vus prec per aquella valor,
  • Que vus condus al som de la scalina,
  • Sovenga vus a temprar ma dolor.'*
  • Then hid him in the fire that purifies them.
  • * So pleases me your courteous demand,
  • I cannot and I will not hide me from you.
  • I am Arnaut, who weep and singing go;
  • Contrite I see the folly of the past,
  • And joyous see the hoped-for day before me.
  • Therefore do I implore you, by that power
  • Which guides you to the summit of the stairs,
  • Be mindful to assuage my suffering!