Under the hemisphere opposed to that,
Which the great continent doth overspread,
And underneath whose canopy expir’d
The Man, that was born sinless, and so liv’d.
Thy feet are planted on the smallest sphere,
Whose other aspect is Judecca. Morn
Here rises, when there evening sets: and he,
Whose shaggy pile was scal’d, yet standeth fix’d,
As at the first. On this part he fell down
From heav’n; and th’ earth, here prominent before,
Through fear of him did veil her with the sea,
And to our hemisphere retir’d. Perchance
To shun him was the vacant space left here
By what of firm land on this side appears,
That sprang aloof.” There is a place beneath,
From Belzebub as distant, as extends
The vaulted tomb, discover’d not by sight,
But by the sound of brooklet, that descends
This way along the hollow of a rock,
Which, as it winds with no precipitous course,
The wave hath eaten. By that hidden way
My guide and I did enter, to return
To the fair world: and heedless of repose
We climbed, he first, I following his steps,
Till on our view the beautiful lights of heav’n
Dawn, through a circular opening in the cave:
Thus issuing we again beheld the stars.
Verse 1. In the midway.] That the era of the Poem is intended by these words to be fixed to the thirty fifth year of the poet’s age, A.D. 1300, will appear more plainly in Canto xxi. where that date is explicitly marked.
v. 16. That planet’s beam.] The sun.
v. 29. The hinder foot.] It is to be remembered, that in ascending a hill the weight of the body rests on the hinder foot.
v. 30. A panther.] Pleasure or luxury.
v. 36. With those stars.] The sun was in Aries, in which sign he supposes it to have begun its course at the creation.
v. 43. A lion.] Pride or ambition.
v. 45. A she wolf.] Avarice.
v. 56. Where the sun in silence rests.] Hence Milton appears to have taken his idea in the Samson Agonistes:
sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon, &c
The same metaphor will recur, Canto V. v. 29.
Into a place I came
Where light was silent all.
v. 65. When the power of Julius.] This is explained by the commentators to mean “Although it was rather late with respect to my birth before Julius Caesar assumed the supreme authority, and made himself perpetual dictator.”
v. 98. That greyhound.] This passage is intended as an eulogium on the liberal spirit of his Veronese patron Can Grande della Scala.
v. 102. ’Twizt either Feltro.] Verona, the country of Can della Scala, is situated between Feltro, a city in the Marca Trivigiana, and Monte Feltro, a city in the territory of Urbino.