Cantando come donna innamorata, 29.1 IPE Her words were done, but without interruption
continüò col fin di sue parole: she sang—like an enamored woman—thus:
"Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata!" M “Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata!”
E come ninfe che si givan sole 29.4 PE And just as nymphs who used to walk alone
per le salvatiche ombre, disïando among the woodland shadows, some desiring
qual di veder, qual di fuggir lo sole, to see and some to flee the sun, so she
allor si mosse contra 'l fiume, andando 29.7 PL moved countercurrent as she walked along
su per la riva; e io pari di lei, the riverbank; and following her short
picciol passo con picciol seguitando. footsteps with my own steps, I matched her pace.
Non eran cento tra ' suoi passi e ' miei, 29.10 Her steps and mine together did not sum
quando le ripe igualmente dier volta, one hundred when the banks, still parallel,
per modo ch'a levante mi rendei. so curved about that I was facing east.
Né ancor fu così nostra via molta, 29.13 Nor had we gone much farther on that path
quando la donna tutta a me si torse, when she turned fully round toward me and said:
dicendo: "Frate mio, guarda e ascolta." “My brother, look and listen”; and I saw
Ed ecco un lustro sùbito trascorse 29.16 a sudden radiance that swept across
da tutte parti per la gran foresta, PL the mighty forest on all sides—and I
tal che di balenar mi mise in forse. was wondering if lightning had not struck.
Ma perché 'l balenar, come vien, resta, 29.19 But since, when lightning strikes, it stops at once,
e quel, durando, più e più splendeva, while that light, lingering, increased its force,
nel mio pensier dicea: "Che cosa è questa?" within my mind I asked: “What thing is this?”
E una melodia dolce correva 29.22 And through the incandescent air there ran
per l'aere luminoso; onde buon zelo sweet melody; at which, just indignation
mi fé riprender l'ardimento d'Eva, PE made me rebuke the arrogance of Eve
che là dove ubidia la terra e 'l cielo, 29.25 because, where earth and heaven were obedient,
femmina, sola e pur testé formata, PE a solitary woman, just created,
non sofferse di star sotto alcun velo; found any veil at all beyond endurance;
sotto 'l qual se divota fosse stata, 29.28 if she had been devout beneath her veil,
avrei quelle ineffabili delizie I should have savored those ineffable
sentite prima e più lunga fïata. delights before, and for a longer time.
Mentr' io m'andava tra tante primizie 29.31 While I moved on, completely rapt, among
de l'etterno piacer tutto sospeso, so many first fruits of eternal pleasure,
e disïoso ancora a più letizie, and longing for still greater joys, the air
dinanzi a noi, tal quale un foco acceso, 29.34 before us altered underneath the green
ci si fé l'aere sotto i verdi rami; branches, becoming like an ardent fire,
e 'l dolce suon per canti era già inteso. and now the sweet sound was distinctly song.
O sacrosante Vergini, se fami, 29.37 D O Virgins, sacrosanct, if I have ever,
freddi o vigilie mai per voi soffersi, for your sake, suffered vigils, cold, and hunger,
cagion mi sprona ch'io mercé vi chiami. great need makes me entreat my recompense.
Or convien che Elicona per me versi, 29.40 PL Now Helicon must pour its fountains for me,
e Uranìe m'aiuti col suo coro D Urania must help me with her choir
forti cose a pensar mettere in versi. to put in verses things hard to conceive.
Poco più oltre, sette alberi d'oro 29.43 Not far beyond, we made out seven trees
falsava nel parere il lungo tratto of gold, though the long stretch of air between
del mezzo ch'era ancor tra noi e loro; those trees and us had falsified their semblance;
ma quand' i' fui sì presso di lor fatto, 29.46 but when I’d drawn so close that things perceived
che l'obietto comun, che 'l senso inganna, through mingled senses, which delude, did not,
non perdea per distanza alcun su atto, now they were nearer, lose their real features,
la virtù ch'a ragion discorso ammanna, 29.49 the power that offers reason matter judged
sì com' elli eran candelabri apprese, those trees to be—what they were—candelabra,
e ne le voci del cantare "Osanna." and what those voices sang to be “Hosanna.”
Di sopra fiammeggiava il bello arnese 29.52 The upper part of those fair candles flamed
più chiaro assai che luna per sereno more radiantly than the midmonth moon
di mezza notte nel suo mezzo mese. shines at midnight in an untroubled sky.
Io mi rivolsi d'ammirazion pieno 29.55 Full of astonishment, I turned to my
al buon Virgilio, ed esso mi rispuose PE good Virgil; but he only answered me
con vista carca di stupor non meno. with eyes that were no less amazed than mine.
Indi rendei l'aspetto a l'alte cose 29.58 I Then I looked at the extraordinary
che si movieno incontr' a noi sì tardi, things that were moving toward us—but so slowly
che foran vinte da novelle spose. that even brides just wed would move more quickly.
La donna mi sgridò: "Perché pur ardi 29.61 PE The woman chided me: “Why are you only
sì ne l'affetto de le vive luci, so eager to behold the living lights
e ciò che vien di retro a lor non guardi?" and not in seeing what comes after them?”
Genti vid' io allor, come a lor duci, 29.64 Then I saw people following those candles,
venire appresso, vestite di bianco;N as if behind their guides, and they wore white—
e tal candor di qua già mai non fuci. whiteness that, in this world, has never been.
L'acqua imprendëa dal sinistro fianco, 29.67 The water, to my left, reflected flames,
e rendea me la mia sinistra costa, and it reflected, too, my left-hand side
s'io riguardava in lei, come specchio anco. if I gazed into it, as in a mirror.
Quand' io da la mia riva ebbi tal posta, 29.70 When I was at a point along my shore
che solo il fiume mi facea distante, where all that sundered me from them was water,
per veder meglio ai passi diedi sosta, I stayed my steps in order to see better,
e vidi le fiammelle andar davante, 29.73 and I could see the candle flames move forward,
lasciando dietro a sé l'aere dipinto, leaving the air behind them colored like
e di tratti pennelli avean sembiante; the strokes a painter’s brush might have described,
sì che lì sopra rimanea distinto 29.76 so that the air above that retinue
di sette liste, tutte in quei colori was streaked with seven bands in every hue
onde fa l'arco il Sole e Delia il cinto. PE of which the rainbow’s made and Delia’s girdle.
Questi ostendali in dietro eran maggiori 29.79 These pennants stretched far back, beyond my vision;
che la mia vista; e, quanto a mio avviso, as for the width they filled, I judged the distance
diece passi distavan quei di fori. between the outer ones to be ten paces.
Sotto così bel ciel com' io diviso, 29.82 I Beneath the handsome sky I have described,
ventiquattro seniori, a due a due, twenty-four elders moved on, two by two,
coronati venien di fiordaliso.N and they had wreaths of lilies on their heads.
Tutti cantavan: "Benedicta tue 29.85 And all were singing: “You, among the daughters
ne le figlie d'Adamo, e benedette PE of Adam, benedicta are; and may
sieno in etterno le bellezze tue!" your beauties blessed be eternally.”
Poscia che i fiori e l'altre fresche erbette 29.88 After the flowers and the other fresh
a rimpetto di me da l'altra sponda plants facing me, along the farther shore,
libere fuor da quelle genti elette, had seen those chosen people disappear,
sì come luce luce in ciel seconda, 29.91 then—as in heaven, star will follow star—
vennero appresso lor quattro animali,N the elders gone, four animals came on;
coronati ciascun di verde fronda. and each of them had green leaves as his crown;
Ognuno era pennuto di sei ali; 29.94 each had six wings as plumage, and those plumes
le penne piene d'occhi; e li occhi d'Argo, C were full of eyes; they would be very like
se fosser vivi, sarebber cotali. the eyes of Argus, were his eyes alive.
A descriver lor forme più non spargo 29.97 Reader, I am not squandering more rhymes
rime, lettor; ch'altra spesa mi strigne, in order to describe their forms; since I
tanto ch'a questa non posso esser largo; must spend elsewhere, I can’t be lavish here;
ma leggi Ezechïel, che li dipigne 29.100 PE but read Ezekiel, for he has drawn
come li vide da la fredda parte those animals approaching from the north;
venir con vento e con nube e con igne; with wings and cloud and fire, he painted them.
e quali i troverai ne le sue carte, 29.103 And just as you will find them in his pages,
tali eran quivi, salvo ch'a le penne such were they here, except that John’s with me
Giovanni è meco e da lui si diparte. PE as to their wings; with him, John disagrees.
Lo spazio dentro a lor quattro contenne 29.106 The space between the four of them contained
un carro, in su due rote, trïunfale,N a chariot—triumphal—on two wheels,
ch'al collo d'un grifon tirato venne. C tied to a griffin’s neck and drawn by him.
Esso tendeva in sù l'una e l'altra ale 29.109 C His wings, stretched upward, framed the middle band
tra la mezzana e le tre e tre liste, with three bands on each outer side, so that,
sì ch'a nulla, fendendo, facea male. though he cleaved air, he left the bands intact.
Tanto salivan che non eran viste; 29.112 His wings—so high that they were lost to sight;
le membra d'oro avea quant' era uccello, his limbs were gold as far as he was bird;
e bianche l'altre, di vermiglio miste. the rest of him was white mixed with bloodred.
Non che Roma di carro così bello 29.115 PL Not only did no chariot so handsome
rallegrasse Affricano, o vero Augusto, PE gladden Rome’s Africanus or Augustus
ma quel del Sol saria pover con ello;N himself—even the Sun’s own cannot match it;
quel del Sol che, svïando, fu combusto 29.118 the Sun’s—which, gone astray, was burnt to cinders
per l'orazion de la Terra devota, PL because Earth offered up her pious prayers,
quando fu Giove arcanamente giusto. D when Jove, in ways not known to us, was just.
Tre donne in giroN da la destra rota 29.121 I Three circling women, then advancing, danced
venian danzando; l'una tanto rossa at the right wheel; the first of them, so red
ch'a pena fora dentro al foco nota; that even in a flame she’d not be noted;
l'altr' era come se le carni e l'ossa 29.124 the second seemed as if her flesh and bone
fossero state di smeraldo fatte; were fashioned out of emerald; the third
la terza parea neve testé mossa; seemed to be newly fallen snow. And now
e or parëan da la bianca tratte, 29.127 the white one seemed to lead them, now the red;
or da la rossa; e dal canto di questa and from the way in which the leader chanted,
l'altre toglien l'andare e tarde e ratte. the others took their pace, now slow, now rapid.
Da la sinistra quattro facean festa, 29.130 Upon the left, four other women, dressed
in porpore vestite,N dietro al modo in crimson, danced, depending on the cadence
d'una di lor ch'avea tre occhi in testa. of one of them, with three eyes in her head.
Appresso tutto il pertrattato nodo 29.133 Behind all of the group I have described
vidi due vecchi in abito dispari, I saw two elders, different in their dress
ma pari in atto e onesto e sodo. but like in manner—grave and decorous.
L'un si mostrava alcun de' famigliari 29.136 PE The first seemed to be one of the disciples
di quel sommo Ipocràte che natura of great Hippocrates, whom nature made
a li animali fé ch'ell' ha più cari; for those who are her dearest living beings;
mostrava l'altro la contraria cura 29.139 PE the other showed an opposite concern—
con una spada lucida e aguta, his sword was bright and sharp, and even on
tal che di qua dal rio mi fé paura. this near side of the river, I felt fear.
Poi vidi quattro in umile paruta; 29.142 Then I saw four of humble aspect; and,
e di retro da tutti un vecchio solo PE when all the rest had passed, a lone old man,
venir, dormendo, con la faccia arguta. his features keen, advanced, as if in sleep.
E questi sette col primaio stuolo 29.145 The clothes these seven wore were like the elders’
erano abitüati, ma di gigli in the first file, except that these had no
dintorno al capo non facëan brolo, garlands of lilies round their brow; instead,
anzi di rose e d'altri fior vermigli; 29.148 roses and other red flowers wreathed their heads;
giurato avria poco lontano aspetto one seeing them less closely would have sworn
che tutti ardesser di sopra da' cigli. that all of them had flames above their eyebrows.
E quando il carroN a me fu a rimpetto, 29.151 And when the chariot stood facing me,
un tuon s'udì, e quelle genti degne I heard a bolt of thunder; and it seemed
parvero aver l'andar più interdetto, to block the path of that good company,
fermandosi ivi con le prime insegne. 29.154 which halted there, its emblems in the lead.
+People: (PE)
  • 29.1 Matelda
  • 29.4 Matelda
  • 29.24 Eva
  • 29.26 Eva
  • 29.56 Virgilio
  • 29.61 Matelda
  • 29.78 Delia
  • 29.86 Adamo
  • 29.100 Ezechiele
  • 29.105 San Giovanni
  • 29.116 Scipione
  • 29.116 Augusto
  • 29.136 San Luca
  • 29.137 Ippocrate
  • 29.139 San Paolo
  • 29.143 San Giovanni
+Places: (PL)
  • 29.7 Lete
  • 29.17 Paradiso terrestre
  • 29.40 Elicona
  • 29.115 Roma
  • 29.119 Terra
+Creatures: (C)
  • 29.95 Argo
  • 29.108 grifone
  • 29.109 grifone
+Deities: (D)
  • 29.37 Muse
  • 29.41 Urania
  • 29.120 Dio
+Structures: (S)
+Images: (I)
  • 29.1 Botticelli, Procession
  • 29.58 Vellutello, Lethe
  • 29.82 Flaxman, Elders
  • 29.82 Doré, Elders
  • 29.121 Doré, Theological Virtues
+Music: (M)
  • 29.3 Beati quorum