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.
Welcom’d those hours of prime, and warbled shrill
Amid the leaves, that to their jocund lays
inept tenor; even as from branch to branch,
Along the piney forests on the shore
Of Chiassi, rolls the gath’ring melody,
When Eolus hath from his cavern loos’d
The dripping south.  Already had my steps,
Though slow, so far into that ancient wood
Transported me, I could not ken the place
Where I had enter’d, when behold! my path
Was bounded by a rill, which to the left
With little rippling waters bent the grass,
That issued from its brink.  On earth no wave
How clean soe’er, that would not seem to have
Some mixture in itself, compar’d with this,
Transpicuous, clear; yet darkly on it roll’d,
Darkly beneath perpetual gloom, which ne’er
Admits or sun or moon light there to shine.

My feet advanc’d not; but my wond’ring eyes
Pass’d onward, o’er the streamlet, to survey
The tender May-bloom, flush’d through many a hue,
In prodigal variety:  and there,
As object, rising suddenly to view,
That from our bosom every thought beside
With the rare marvel chases, I beheld
A lady all alone, who, singing, went,
And culling flower from flower, wherewith her way
Was all o’er painted.  “Lady beautiful! 
Thou, who (if looks, that use to speak the heart,
Are worthy of our trust), with love’s own beam
Dost warm thee,” thus to her my speech I fram’d: 
“Ah! please thee hither towards the streamlet bend
Thy steps so near, that I may list thy song. 
Beholding thee and this fair place, methinks,
I call to mind where wander’d and how look’d
Proserpine, in that season, when her child
The mother lost, and she the bloomy spring.”

As when a lady, turning in the dance,
Doth foot it featly, and advances scarce
One step before the other to the ground;
Over the yellow and vermilion flowers
Thus turn’d she at my suit, most maiden-like,
Valing her sober eyes, and came so near,
That I distinctly caught the dulcet sound. 
Arriving where the limped waters now
Lav’d the green sward, her eyes she deign’d to raise,
That shot such splendour on me, as I ween
Ne’er glanced from Cytherea’s, when her son
Had sped his keenest weapon to her heart. 
Upon the opposite bank she stood and smil’d
through her graceful fingers shifted still
The intermingling dyes, which without seed
That lofty land unbosoms.  By the stream
Three paces only were we sunder’d:  yet
The Hellespont, where Xerxes pass’d it o’er,
(A curb for ever to the pride of man)
Was by Leander not more hateful held
For floating, with inhospitable wave
’Twixt Sestus and Abydos, than by me
That flood, because it gave no passage thence.

“Strangers ye come, and haply in this place,
That cradled human nature in its birth,
Wond’ring, ye not without suspicion view
My smiles:  but that sweet strain of psalmody,
‘Thou, Lord! hast made me glad,’ will give ye light,
Which may uncloud your minds.  And thou, who stand’st
The foremost, and didst make thy suit to me,
Say if aught else thou wish to hear:  for I
Came prompt to answer every doubt of thine.”

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