v. 50. The Naiads.] Dante, it is observed, has been led into a mistake by a corruption in the text of Ovid’s Metam. I. vii. 75, where he found-Carmina Naiades non intellecta priorum;
instead of Carmina Laiades, &c. as it has been since corrected. Lombardi refers to Pansanias, where “the Nymphs” are spoken of as expounders of oracles for a vindication of the poet’s accuracy. Should the reader blame me for not departing from the error of the original (if error it be), he may substitute
Events shall be the Oedipus will solve, &c.
v. 67. Elsa’s numbing waters.] The Elsa, a little stream, which flows into the Arno about twenty miles below Florence, is said to possess a petrifying quality.
v. 78. That one brings home his staff inwreath’d with palm.] “For the same cause that the pilgrim, returning from Palestine, brings home his staff, or bourdon, bound with palm,” that is, to show where he has been.
Che si reca ’I bordon di palma cinto.
“In regard to the word bourdon, why it has been applied to a pilgrim’s staff, it is not easy to guess. I believe, however that this name has been given to such sort of staves, because pilgrims usually travel and perform their pilgrimages on foot, their staves serving them instead of horses or mules, then called bourdons and burdones, by writers in the middle ages.” Mr. Johnes’s Translation of Joinville’s Memoirs. Dissertation xv, by M. du Cange p. 152. 4to. edit. The word is thrice used by Chaucer in the Romaunt of the Rose.
His glory, by whose might all things are mov’d,
Pierces the universe, and in one part
Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less. In heav’n,
That largeliest of his light partakes, was I,
Witness of things, which to relate again
Surpasseth power of him who comes from thence;
For that, so near approaching its desire
Our intellect is to such depth absorb’d,
That memory cannot follow. Nathless all,
That in my thoughts I of that sacred realm
Could store, shall now be matter of my song.
Benign Apollo! this last labour aid,
And make me such a vessel of thy worth,
As thy own laurel claims of me belov’d.
Thus far hath one of steep Parnassus’ brows
Suffic’d me; henceforth there is need of both
For my remaining enterprise Do thou
Enter into my bosom, and there breathe
So, as when Marsyas by thy hand was dragg’d
Forth from his limbs unsheath’d. O power divine!
If thou to me of shine impart so much,
That of that happy realm the shadow’d form
Trac’d in my thoughts I may set forth to view,
Thou shalt behold me of thy favour’d tree
Come to the foot, and crown myself with leaves;
For to that honour thou, and my high theme
Will fit me. If but seldom, mighty Sire!
To grace his triumph gathers thence a wreath