What other could I answer save “I come?”
I said it, somewhat with that colour ting’d
Which ofttimes pardon meriteth for man.
Meanwhile traverse along the hill there came,
A little way before us, some who sang
The “Miserere” in responsive Strains.
When they perceiv’d that through my body I
Gave way not for the rays to pass, their song
Straight to a long and hoarse exclaim they chang’d;
And two of them, in guise of messengers,
Ran on to meet us, and inquiring ask’d:
“Of your condition we would gladly learn.”
To them my guide. “Ye may return, and
Tidings to them who sent you, that his frame
Is real flesh. If, as I deem, to view
His shade they paus’d, enough is answer’d them.
Him let them honour, they may prize him well.”
Ne’er saw I fiery vapours with such speed
Cut through the serene air at fall of night,
Nor August’s clouds athwart the setting sun,
That upward these did not in shorter space
Return; and, there arriving, with the rest
Wheel back on us, as with loose rein a troop.
“Many,” exclaim’d the bard, “are
these, who throng
Around us: to petition thee they come.
Go therefore on, and listen as thou go’st.”
“O spirit! who go’st on to blessedness
With the same limbs, that clad thee at thy birth.”
Shouting they came, “a little rest thy step.
Look if thou any one amongst our tribe
Hast e’er beheld, that tidings of him there
Thou mayst report. Ah, wherefore go’st thou on?
Ah wherefore tarriest thou not? We all
By violence died, and to our latest hour
Were sinners, but then warn’d by light from heav’n,
So that, repenting and forgiving, we
Did issue out of life at peace with God,
Who with desire to see him fills our heart.”
Then I: “The visages of all I scan
Yet none of ye remember. But if aught,
That I can do, may please you, gentle spirits!
Speak; and I will perform it, by that peace,
Which on the steps of guide so excellent
Following from world to world intent I seek.”
In answer he began: “None here distrusts
Thy kindness, though not promis’d with an oath;
So as the will fail not for want of power.
Whence I, who sole before the others speak,
Entreat thee, if thou ever see that land,
Which lies between Romagna and the realm
Of Charles, that of thy courtesy thou pray
Those who inhabit Fano, that for me
Their adorations duly be put up,
By which I may purge off my grievous sins.
From thence I came. But the deep passages,
Whence issued out the blood wherein I dwelt,
Upon my bosom in Antenor’s land
Were made, where to be more secure I thought.
The author of the deed was Este’s prince,
Who, more than right could warrant, with his wrath
Pursued me. Had I towards Mira fled,
When overta’en at Oriaco, still
Might I have breath’d. But to the marsh I sped,
And in the mire and rushes tangled there
Fell, and beheld my life-blood float the plain.”