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Chapter 27 The Wall of Fire and the Angel of God. Dante's Sleep upon th_tairway, and his Dream of Leah and Rachel. Arrival at the Terrestria_aradise.

  • As when he vibrates forth his earliest rays,
  • In regions where his Maker shed his blood,
  • (The Ebro falling under lofty Libra,
  • And waters in the Ganges burnt with noon,)
  • So stood the Sun; hence was the day departing,
  • When the glad Angel of God appeared to us.
  • Outside the flame he stood upon the verge,
  • And chanted forth, "Beati mundo corde,"
  • In voice by far more living than our own.
  • Then: "No one farther goes, souls sanctified,
  • If first the fire bite not; within it enter,
  • And be not deaf unto the song beyond."
  • When we were close beside him thus he said;
  • Wherefore e'en such became I, when I heard him,
  • As he is who is put into the grave.
  • Upon my clasped hands I straightened me,
  • Scanning the fire, and vividly recalling
  • The human bodies I had once seen burned.
  • Towards me turned themselves my good Conductors,
  • And unto me Virgilius said: "My son,
  • Here may indeed be torment, but not death.
  • Remember thee, remember! and if I
  • On Geryon have safely guided thee,
  • What shall I do now I am nearer God?
  • Believe for certain, shouldst thou stand a full
  • Millennium in the bosom of this flame,
  • It could not make thee bald a single hair.
  • And if perchance thou think that I deceive thee,
  • Draw near to it, and put it to the proof
  • With thine own hands upon thy garment's hem.
  • Now lay aside, now lay aside all fear,
  • Turn hitherward, and onward come securely;"
  • And I still motionless, and 'gainst my conscience!
  • Seeing me stand still motionless and stubborn,
  • Somewhat disturbed he said: "Now look thou, Son,
  • 'Twixt Beatrice and thee there is this wall."
  • As at the name of Thisbe oped his lids
  • The dying Pyramus, and gazed upon her,
  • What time the mulberry became vermilion,
  • Even thus, my obduracy being softened,
  • I turned to my wise Guide, hearing the name
  • That in my memory evermore is welling.
  • Whereat he wagged his head, and said: "How now?
  • Shall we stay on this side?" then smiled as one
  • Does at a child who's vanquished by an apple.
  • Then into the fire in front of me he entered,
  • Beseeching Statius to come after me,
  • Who a long way before divided us.
  • When I was in it, into molten glass
  • I would have cast me to refresh myself,
  • So without measure was the burning there!
  • And my sweet Father, to encourage me,
  • Discoursing still of Beatrice went on,
  • Saying: "Her eyes I seem to see already!"
  • A voice, that on the other side was singing,
  • Directed us, and we, attent alone
  • On that, came forth where the ascent began.
  • "Venite, benedicti Patris mei,"
  • Sounded within a splendour, which was there
  • Such it o'ercame me, and I could not look.
  • "The sun departs," it added, "and night cometh;
  • Tarry ye not, but onward urge your steps,
  • So long as yet the west becomes not dark."
  • Straight forward through the rock the path ascended
  • In such a way that I cut off the rays
  • Before me of the sun, that now was low.
  • And of few stairs we yet had made assay,
  • Ere by the vanished shadow the sun's setting
  • Behind us we perceived, I and my Sages.
  • And ere in all its parts immeasurable
  • The horizon of one aspect had become,
  • And Night her boundless dispensation held,
  • Each of us of a stair had made his bed;
  • Because the nature of the mount took from us
  • The power of climbing, more than the delight.
  • Even as in ruminating passive grow
  • The goats, who have been swift and venturesome
  • Upon the mountain-tops ere they were fed,
  • Hushed in the shadow, while the sun is hot,
  • Watched by the herdsman, who upon his staff
  • Is leaning, and in leaning tendeth them;
  • And as the shepherd, lodging out of doors,
  • Passes the night beside his quiet flock,
  • Watching that no wild beast may scatter it,
  • Such at that hour were we, all three of us,
  • I like the goat, and like the herdsmen they,
  • Begirt on this side and on that by rocks.
  • Little could there be seen of things without;
  • But through that little I beheld the stars
  • More luminous and larger than their wont.
  • Thus ruminating, and beholding these,
  • Sleep seized upon me,—sleep, that oftentimes
  • Before a deed is done has tidings of it.
  • It was the hour, I think, when from the East
  • First on the mountain Citherea beamed,
  • Who with the fire of love seems always burning;
  • Youthful and beautiful in dreams methought
  • I saw a lady walking in a meadow,
  • Gathering flowers; and singing she was saying:
  • "Know whosoever may my name demand
  • That I am Leah, and go moving round
  • My beauteous hands to make myself a garland.
  • To please me at the mirror, here I deck me,
  • But never does my sister Rachel leave
  • Her looking-glass, and sitteth all day long.
  • To see her beauteous eyes as eager is she,
  • As I am to adorn me with my hands;
  • Her, seeing, and me, doing satisfies."
  • And now before the antelucan splendours
  • That unto pilgrims the more grateful rise,
  • As, home-returning, less remote they lodge,
  • The darkness fled away on every side,
  • And slumber with it; whereupon I rose,
  • Seeing already the great Masters risen.
  • "That apple sweet, which through so many branches
  • The care of mortals goeth in pursuit of,
  • To-day shall put in peace thy hungerings."
  • Speaking to me, Virgilius of such words
  • As these made use; and never were there guerdons
  • That could in pleasantness compare with these.
  • Such longing upon longing came upon me
  • To be above, that at each step thereafter
  • For flight I felt in me the pinions growing.
  • When underneath us was the stairway all
  • Run o'er, and we were on the highest step,
  • Virgilius fastened upon me his eyes,
  • And said: "The temporal fire and the eternal,
  • Son, thou hast seen, and to a place art come
  • Where of myself no farther I discern.
  • By intellect and art I here have brought thee;
  • Take thine own pleasure for thy guide henceforth;
  • Beyond the steep ways and the narrow art thou.
  • Behold the sun, that shines upon thy forehead;
  • Behold the grass, the flowerets, and the shrubs
  • Which of itself alone this land produces.
  • Until rejoicing come the beauteous eyes
  • Which weeping caused me to come unto thee,
  • Thou canst sit down, and thou canst walk among them.
  • Expect no more or word or sign from me;
  • Free and upright and sound is thy free-will,
  • And error were it not to do its bidding;
  • Thee o'er thyself I therefore crown and mitre!"