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Upon the side on which the little valley

No barrier hath, a serpent was ; perchance

The same which gave to Eve the bitter food. 'Twixt grass and flowers came on the evil streak,

Turning at times its head about, and licking

Its back like to a beast that smoothes itself. I did not see, and therefore cannot say

How the celestial falcons 'gan to move,

But well I saw that they were both in motion. Hearing the air cleft by their verdant wings,

The serpent fled, and round the Angels wheeled,

Up to their stations flying back alike.
The shade that to the Judge had near approached

When he had called, throughout that whole assault

Had not a moment loosed its gaze on me. “So may the light that leadeth thee on high

Find in thine own free-will as much of wax

As needful is up to the highest azure,” Began it, “if some true intelligence

Of Valdimagra or its neighbourhood

Thou knowest, tell it me, who once was great there. Currado Malaspina was I called ;

I'm not the elder, but from him descended;

To mine I bore the love which here refineth.” “O,” said I unto him, “ through your domains

I never passed, but where is there a dwelling

Throughout all Europe, where they are not known? That fame, which doeth honour to your house,

Proclaims its Signors and proclaims its land,

So that he knows of them who ne'er was there. And, as I hope for heaven, I swear to you

Your honoured family in naught abates

The glory of the purse and of the sword. It is so privileged by use and nature,

That though a guilty head misguide the world,

Sole it goes right, and scorns the evil way." And he: “Now go; for the sun shall not lie

Seven times upon the pillow which the Ram

With all his four feet covers and bestrides, Before that such a courteous opinion

Shall in the middle of thy head be nailed

With greater nails than of another's speech, Unless the course of justice standeth still.”

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125

CANTO IX.

The concubine of old Tithonus now

Gleamed white upon the eastern balcony,

Forth from the arms of her sweet paramour; With gems her forehead all relucent was,

Set in the shape of that cold animal

Which with its tail doth smite amain the nations, And of the steps, with which she mounts, the Night

Had taken two in that place where we were,

And now the third was bending down its wings; When I, who something had of Adam in me,

Vanquished by sleep, upon the grass reclined,

There were all five of us already sat. Just at the hour when her sad lay begins

The little swallow, near unto the morning,

Perchance in memory of her former woes, And when the mind of man, a wanderer

More from the flesh, and less by thought imprisoned,

Almost prophetic in its visions is,
In dreams it seemed to me I saw suspended

An eagle in the sky, with plumes of gold,

With wings wide open, and intent to stoop, And this, it seemed to me, was where had been

By Ganymede his kith and kin abandoned,

When to the high consistory he was rapt. I thought within myself, perchance he strikes

From habit only here, and from elsewhere

Disdains to bear up any in his feet.
Then wheeling somewhat more, it seemed to me,

Terrible as the lightning he descended,

And snatched me upward even to the fire. Therein it seemed that he and I were burning,

And the imagined fire did scorch me so,

That of necessity my sleep was broken. Not otherwise Achilles started up,

Around him turning his awakened eyes,

And knowing not the place in which he was,
What time from Chiron stealthily his mother

Carried him sleeping in her arms to Scyros,
Wherefrom the Greeks withdrew him afterwards,

Than I upstarted, when from off my face

Sleep fled away ; and pallid I became,

As doth the man who freezes with affright. Only my Comforter was at my side,

And now the sun was more than two hours high,

And turned towards the sea-shore was my face. “ Be not intimidated," said my Lord,

“Be reassured, for all is well with us;

Do not restrain, but put forth all thy strength. Thou hast at length arrived at Purgatory;

See there the cliff that closes it around;

See there the entrance, where it seems disjoined. Whilom at dawn, which doth precede the day,

When inwardly thy spirit was asleep

Upon the flowers that deck the land below, There came a Lady and said : “ I am Lucia ;

Let me take this one up, who is asleep;

So will I make his journey easier for him.' Sordello and the other noble shapes

Remained; she took thee, and, as day grew bright,

Upward she came, and I upon her footsteps. She laid thee here; and first her beauteous eyes

That open entrance pointed out to me;

Then she and sleep together went away." In guise of one whose doubts are reassured,

And who to confidence his fear doth change,

After the truth has been discovered to him, So did I change ; and when without disquiet

My Leader saw me, up along the cliff

He moved, and I behind him, tow'rd the height. Reader, thou seest well how I exalt

My theme, and therefore if with greater art

I fortify it, marvel not thereat.
Nearer approached we, and were in such place,

That there, where first appeared to me a rift

Like to a crevice that disparts a wall, I saw a portal, and three stairs beneath,

Diverse in colour, to go up to it,

And a gate-keeper, who yet spake no word. And as I opened more and more mine eyes,

I saw him seated on the highest stair,

Such in the face that I endured it not.
And in his hand he had a naked sword,

Which so reflected back the sunbeams tow'rds us,
That oft in vain I lifted up mine eyes.

“ Tell it from where you are, what is't you wish ? "

Began he to exclaim; “ where is the escort ?

Take heed your coming hither harm you not !” “ A Lady of Heaven, with these things conversant,"

My Master answered him, “but even now

Said to us, “Thither go; there is the portal.' ” “ And may she speed your footsteps in all good,”

Again began the courteous janitor ;

“ Come forward then unto these stairs of ours.” Thither did we approach ; and the first stair

Was marble white, so polished and so smooth,

I mirrored myself therein as I appear. The second, tinct of deeper hue than perse,

Was of a calcined and uneven stone,

Cracked all asunder lengthwise and across. The third, that uppermost rests massively,

Porphyry seemed to me, as flaming red

As blood that from a vein is spirting forth. Both of his feet was holding upon this

The Angel of God, upon the threshold seated,

Which seemed to me a stone of diamond. Along the three stairs upward with good will

Did my Conductor draw me, saying: “Ask

Humbly that he the fastening may undo." Devoutly at the holy feet I cast me,

For mercy's sake besought that he would open,

But first upon my breast three times I smote. Seven P's upon my forehead he described

With the sword's point, and, “ Take heed that thou wash

These wounds, when thou shalt be within,” he said. Ashes, or earth that dry is excavated,

Of the same colour were with his attire,

And from beneath it he drew forth two keys. One was of gold, and the other was of silver ;

First with the white, and after with the yellow,

Plied he the door, so that I was content. “ Whenever faileth either of these keys

So that it turn not rightly in the lock,"

He said to us, “this entrance doth not open. More precious one is, but the other needs

More art and intellect ere it unlock,

For it is that which doth the knot unloose.
From Peter I have them ; and he bade me err

Rather in opening than in keeping shut,
If people but fall down before my feet.”

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135

Then pushed the portals of the sacred door,

Exclaiming : “Enter; but I give you warning

That forth returns whoever looks behind.” And when upon their hinges were turned round

The swivels of that consecrated gate,

Which are of metal, massive and sonorous, Roared not so loud, nor so discordant seemed

Tarpeia, when was ta'en from it the good

Metellus, wherefore meagre it remained. At the first thunder-peal I turned attentive,

And “Te Deum laudamusseemed to hear

In voices mingled with sweet melody. Exactly such an image rendered me

That which I heard, as we are wont to catch,

When people singing with the organ stand ; For now we hear, and now hear not, the words.

140

145

CANTO X.

'WHEN we had crossed the threshold of the door

Which the perverted love of souls disuses,

Because it makes the crooked way seem straight, Re-echoing I heard it closed again;

And if I had turned back mine eyes upon it,

What for my failing had been fit excuse? We mounted upward through a rifted rock,

Which undulated to this side and that,

Even as a wave receding and advancing. “ Here it behoves us use a little art,"

Began my Leader, “to adapt ourselves

Now here, now there, to the receding side.” And this our footsteps so infrequent made,

That sooner had the moon's decreasing disk

Regained its bed to sink again to rest,
Than we were forth from out that needle's eye ;

But when we free and in the open were,

There where the mountain backward piles itself, I wearied out, and both of us uncertain

About our way, we stopped upon a plain

More desolate than roads across the deserts.
From where its margin borders on the void,

To foot of the high bank that ever rises,
A human body three times told would measure ;

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