v. 63. The Sybil’s sentence.] Virg. Aen. iii. 445.
v. 89. One moment.] “A moment seems to me more tedious, than five-and-twenty ages would have appeared to the Argonauts, when they had resolved on their expedition.
v. 92. Argo’s shadow]
Quae simul ac rostro ventosnm proscidit aequor,
Tortaque remigio spumis incanduit unda,
Emersere feri candenti e gurgite vultus
Aequoreae monstrum Nereides admirantes.
Catullus, De Nupt. Pel. et Thet. 15.
v. 109. Three orbs of triple hue, clipt in one bound.] The Trinity.
v. 118. That circling.] The second of the circles, “Light of Light,” in which he dimly beheld the mystery of the incarnation.
In the years 1805 and 1806, I published the first part of the following translation, with the text of the original. Since that period, two impressions of the whole of the Divina Commedia, in Italian, have made their appearance in this country. It is not necessary that I should add a third: and I am induced to hope that the Poem, even in the present version of it, may not be without interest for the mere English reader.
The translation of the second and third parts, “The Purgatory” and “The Paradise,” was begun long before the first, and as early as the year 1797; but, owing to many interruptions, not concluded till the summer before last. On a retrospect of the time and exertions that have been thus employed, I do not regard those hours as the least happy of my life, during which (to use the eloquent language of Mr. Coleridge) “my individual recollections have been suspended, and lulled to sleep amid the music of nobler thoughts;” nor that study as misapplied, which has familiarized me with one of the sublimest efforts of the human invention.
To those, who shall be at the trouble of examining into the degree of accuracy with which the task has been executed, I may be allowed to suggest, that their judgment should not be formed on a comparison with any single text of my Author; since, in more instances than I have noticed, I have had to make my choice out of a variety of readings and interpretations, presented by different editions and commentators.
In one or two of those editions is to be found the title of “The Vision,” which I have adopted, as more conformable to the genius of our language than that of “The Divine Comedy.” Dante himself, I believe, termed it simply “The Comedy;” in the first place, because the style was of the middle kind: and in the next, because the story (if story it may be called) ends happily.
Instead of a Life of my Author, I have subjoined, in chronological order, a view not only of the principal events which befell him, but of the chief public occurrences that happened in his time: concerning both of which the reader may obtain further information, by turning to the passages referred to in the Poem and Notes.