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CANTO II.

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DAY was departing, and the embrowned air

Released the animals that are on earth

From their fatigues; and I the only one Made myself ready to sustain the war,

Both of the way and likewise of the woe,

Which memory that errs not shall retrace. O Muses, 0 high genius, now assist me!

O memory, that didst write down what I saw,

Here thy nobility shall be manifest! And I began : “Poet, who guidest me,

Regard my manhood, if it be sufficient,

Ere to the arduous pass thou dost confide me. Thou sayest, that of Silvius the parent,

While yet corruptible, unto the world

Immortal went, and was there bodily.
But if the adversary of all evil

Was courteous, thinking of the high effect
That issue would from him, and who, and what,

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To men of intellect unmeet it seems not;

For he was of great Rome, and of her empire

In the empyreal heaven as father chosen; The which and what, wishing to speak the truth,

Were stablished as the holy place, wherein

Sits the successor of the greatest Peter.
Upon this journey, whence thou givest him vaunt,

Things did he hear, which the occasion were

Both of his victory and the papal mantle. Thither went afterwards the Chosen Vessel,

To bring back comfort thence unto that Faith,

Which of salvation's way is the beginning. But I, why thither come, or who concedes it?

I not Æneas am, I am not Paul,

Nor I, nor others, think me worthy of it. Therefore, if I resign myself to come,

I fear the coming may be ill-advised;

Thou ’rt wise, and knowest better than I speak.” And as he is, who unwills what he willed,

And by new thoughts doth his intention change,

So that from his design he quite withdraws,
Such I became, upon that dark hillside,

Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
Which was so very prompt in the beginning.

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“If I have well thy language understood,”

Replied that shade of the Magnanimous,

“Thy soul attainted is with cowardice, Which many times a man encumbers so,

It turns him back from honored enterprise,

As false sight doth a beast, when he is shy. That thou mayst free thee from this apprehension,

I'll tell thee why I came, and what I heard 50

At the first moment when I grieved for thee. Among those was I who are in suspense,

And a fair, saintly Lady called to me

In such wise, I besought her to command me. Her eyes were shining brighter than the Star ; 55

And she began to say, gentle and low,

With voice angelical, in her own language: O spirit courteous of Mantua,

Of whom the fame still in the world endures,

And shall endure, long-lasting as the world; 60 A friend of mine, and not the friend of fortune,

Upon the desert slope is so impeded :

Upon his way, that he has turned through terror, And may, I fear, already be so lost,

That I too late have risen to his succor,
From that which I have heard of him in Heaven.

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Bestir thee now, and with thy speech ornate,

And with what needful is for his release,

Assist him so, that I may be consoled. Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go;

I come from there, where I would fain return;

Love moved me, which compelleth me to speak. When I shall be in presence of my Lord,

Full often will I praise thee unto him.'

Then paused she, and thereafter I began : ‘O Lady of virtue, thou alone through whom

The human race exceedeth all contained

Within the heaven that has the lesser circles, So grateful unto me is thy commandment,

To obey, if ’t were already done, were late ;

No farther need’st thou ope to me thy wish. But the cause tell me why thou dost not shun

The here descending down into this centre,

From the vast place thou burnest to return to.' “Since thou wouldst fain so inwardly discern,

Briefly will I relate,' she answered me,

“Why I am not afraid to enter here. Of those things only should one be afraid

Which have the power of doing others harm;
Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful.

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God in his mercy such created me

That misery of yours attains me not,

Nor any flame assails me of this burning. A gentle Lady is in Heaven, who grieves

At this impediment, to which I send thee, 95

So that stern judgment there above is broken. In her entreaty she besought Lucia,

And said, “Thy faithful one now stands in need

Of thee, and unto thee I recommend him.” Lucia, foe of all that cruel is,

Hastened away, and came unto the place

Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel. .“ Beatrice,” said she, “the true praise of God,

Why succorest thou not him, who loved thee so,

For thee he issued from the vulgar herd ? 105 Dost thou not hear the pity of his plaint ?

Dost thou not see the death that combats him

Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt ? ” Never were persons in the world so swift

To work their weal and to escape their woe, 110

As I, after such words as these were uttered,
Came hither downward from my blessed seat,

Confiding in thy dignified discourse,
Which honors thee, and those who've listened to it.'

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