Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Purgatory eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 107 pages of information about Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Purgatory.

CANTO XIX

It was the hour, when of diurnal heat
No reliques chafe the cold beams of the moon,
O’erpower’d by earth, or planetary sway
Of Saturn; and the geomancer sees
His Greater Fortune up the east ascend,
Where gray dawn checkers first the shadowy cone;
When ’fore me in my dream a woman’s shape
There came, with lips that stammer’d, eyes aslant,
Distorted feet, hands maim’d, and colour pale.

I look’d upon her; and as sunshine cheers
Limbs numb’d by nightly cold, e’en thus my look
Unloos’d her tongue, next in brief space her form
Decrepit rais’d erect, and faded face
With love’s own hue illum’d.  Recov’ring speech
She forthwith warbling such a strain began,
That I, how loth soe’er, could scarce have held
Attention from the song.  “I,” thus she sang,
“I am the Siren, she, whom mariners
On the wide sea are wilder’d when they hear: 
Such fulness of delight the list’ner feels. 
I from his course Ulysses by my lay
Enchanted drew.  Whoe’er frequents me once
Parts seldom; so I charm him, and his heart
Contented knows no void.”  Or ere her mouth
Was clos’d, to shame her at her side appear’d
A dame of semblance holy.  With stern voice
She utter’d; “Say, O Virgil, who is this?”
Which hearing, he approach’d, with eyes still bent
Toward that goodly presence:  th’ other seiz’d her,
And, her robes tearing, open’d her before,
And show’d the belly to me, whence a smell,
Exhaling loathsome, wak’d me.  Round I turn’d
Mine eyes, and thus the teacher:  “At the least
Three times my voice hath call’d thee.  Rise, begone. 
Let us the opening find where thou mayst pass.”

I straightway rose.  Now day, pour’d down from high,
Fill’d all the circuits of the sacred mount;
And, as we journey’d, on our shoulder smote
The early ray.  I follow’d, stooping low
My forehead, as a man, o’ercharg’d with thought,
Who bends him to the likeness of an arch,
That midway spans the flood; when thus I heard,
“Come, enter here,” in tone so soft and mild,
As never met the ear on mortal strand.

With swan-like wings dispread and pointing up,
Who thus had spoken marshal’d us along,
Where each side of the solid masonry
The sloping, walls retir’d; then mov’d his plumes,
And fanning us, affirm’d that those, who mourn,
Are blessed, for that comfort shall be theirs.

“What aileth thee, that still thou look’st to earth?”
Began my leader; while th’ angelic shape
A little over us his station took.

“New vision,” I replied, “hath rais’d in me
Surmisings strange and anxious doubts, whereon
My soul intent allows no other thought
Or room or entrance.”—­“Hast thou seen,” said he,
“That old enchantress, her, whose wiles alone
The spirits o’er us weep for?  Hast thou seen

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Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Purgatory from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.