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Chapter 33 Lament over the State of the Church. Final Reproaches o_eatrice. The River Eunoe.

  • "Deus venerunt gentes," alternating
  • Now three, now four, melodious psalmody
  • The maidens in the midst of tears began;
  • And Beatrice, compassionate and sighing,
  • Listened to them with such a countenance,
  • That scarce more changed was Mary at the cross.
  • But when the other virgins place had given
  • For her to speak, uprisen to her feet
  • With colour as of fire, she made response:
  • "'Modicum, et non videbitis me;
  • Et iterum,' my sisters predilect,
  • 'Modicum, et vos videbitis me.'"
  • Then all the seven in front of her she placed;
  • And after her, by beckoning only, moved
  • Me and the lady and the sage who stayed.
  • So she moved onward; and I do not think
  • That her tenth step was placed upon the ground,
  • When with her eyes upon mine eyes she smote,
  • And with a tranquil aspect, "Come more quickly,"
  • To me she said, "that, if I speak with thee,
  • To listen to me thou mayst be well placed."
  • As soon as I was with her as I should be,
  • She said to me: "Why, brother, dost thou not
  • Venture to question now, in coming with me?"
  • As unto those who are too reverential,
  • Speaking in presence of superiors,
  • Who drag no living utterance to their teeth,
  • It me befell, that without perfect sound
  • Began I: "My necessity, Madonna,
  • You know, and that which thereunto is good."
  • And she to me: "Of fear and bashfulness
  • Henceforward I will have thee strip thyself,
  • So that thou speak no more as one who dreams.
  • Know that the vessel which the serpent broke
  • Was, and is not; but let him who is guilty
  • Think that God's vengeance does not fear a sop.
  • Without an heir shall not for ever be
  • The Eagle that left his plumes upon the car,
  • Whence it became a monster, then a prey;
  • For verily I see, and hence narrate it,
  • The stars already near to bring the time,
  • From every hindrance safe, and every bar,
  • Within which a Five-hundred, Ten, and Five,
  • One sent from God, shall slay the thievish woman
  • And that same giant who is sinning with her.
  • And peradventure my dark utterance,
  • Like Themis and the Sphinx, may less persuade thee,
  • Since, in their mode, it clouds the intellect;
  • But soon the facts shall be the Naiades
  • Who shall this difficult enigma solve,
  • Without destruction of the flocks and harvests.
  • Note thou; and even as by me are uttered
  • These words, so teach them unto those who live
  • That life which is a running unto death;
  • And bear in mind, whene'er thou writest them,
  • Not to conceal what thou hast seen the plant,
  • That twice already has been pillaged here.
  • Whoever pillages or shatters it,
  • With blasphemy of deed offendeth God,
  • Who made it holy for his use alone.
  • For biting that, in pain and in desire
  • Five thousand years and more the first-born soul
  • Craved Him, who punished in himself the bite.
  • Thy genius slumbers, if it deem it not
  • For special reason so pre-eminent
  • In height, and so inverted in its summit.
  • And if thy vain imaginings had not been
  • Water of Elsa round about thy mind,
  • And Pyramus to the mulberry, their pleasure,
  • Thou by so many circumstances only
  • The justice of the interdict of God
  • Morally in the tree wouldst recognize.
  • But since I see thee in thine intellect
  • Converted into stone and stained with sin,
  • So that the light of my discourse doth daze thee,
  • I will too, if not written, at least painted,
  • Thou bear it back within thee, for the reason
  • That cinct with palm the pilgrim's staff is borne."
  • And I: "As by a signet is the wax
  • Which does not change the figure stamped upon it,
  • My brain is now imprinted by yourself.
  • But wherefore so beyond my power of sight
  • Soars your desirable discourse, that aye
  • The more I strive, so much the more I lose it?"
  • "That thou mayst recognize," she said, "the school
  • Which thou hast followed, and mayst see how far
  • Its doctrine follows after my discourse,
  • And mayst behold your path from the divine
  • Distant as far as separated is
  • From earth the heaven that highest hastens on."
  • Whence her I answered: "I do not remember
  • That ever I estranged myself from you,
  • Nor have I conscience of it that reproves me."
  • "And if thou art not able to remember,"
  • Smiling she answered, "recollect thee now
  • That thou this very day hast drunk of Lethe;
  • And if from smoke a fire may be inferred,
  • Such an oblivion clearly demonstrates
  • Some error in thy will elsewhere intent.
  • Truly from this time forward shall my words
  • Be naked, so far as it is befitting
  • To lay them open unto thy rude gaze."
  • And more coruscant and with slower steps
  • The sun was holding the meridian circle,
  • Which, with the point of view, shifts here and there
  • When halted (as he cometh to a halt,
  • Who goes before a squadron as its escort,
  • If something new he find upon his way)
  • The ladies seven at a dark shadow's edge,
  • Such as, beneath green leaves and branches black,
  • The Alp upon its frigid border wears.
  • In front of them the Tigris and Euphrates
  • Methought I saw forth issue from one fountain,
  • And slowly part, like friends, from one another.
  • "O light, O glory of the human race!
  • What stream is this which here unfolds itself
  • From out one source, and from itself withdraws?"
  • For such a prayer, 'twas said unto me, "Pray
  • Matilda that she tell thee;" and here answered,
  • As one does who doth free himself from blame,
  • The beautiful lady: "This and other things
  • Were told to him by me; and sure I am
  • The water of Lethe has not hid them from him."
  • And Beatrice: "Perhaps a greater care,
  • Which oftentimes our memory takes away,
  • Has made the vision of his mind obscure.
  • But Eunoe behold, that yonder rises;
  • Lead him to it, and, as thou art accustomed,
  • Revive again the half-dead virtue in him."
  • Like gentle soul, that maketh no excuse,
  • But makes its own will of another's will
  • As soon as by a sign it is disclosed,
  • Even so, when she had taken hold of me,
  • The beautiful lady moved, and unto Statius
  • Said, in her womanly manner, "Come with him."
  • If, Reader, I possessed a longer space
  • For writing it, I yet would sing in part
  • Of the sweet draught that ne'er would satiate me;
  • But inasmuch as full are all the leaves
  • Made ready for this second canticle,
  • The curb of art no farther lets me go.
  • From the most holy water I returned
  • Regenerate, in the manner of new trees
  • That are renewed with a new foliage,
  • Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars.