Page images
PDF
EPUB

Appeared to me,- may I again behold it !-
A light along the sea, so swiftly coming,
Its motion by no flight of wing is equalled.

And when therefrom I had withdrawn a little
Mine eyes, that I might question my conductor,
Again I saw it brighter grown and larger.

Thereafter, on all sides of it, appeared
I knew not what of white, and underneath,
Little by little, there came forth another.

My master yet had uttered not a word,
While the first brightness into wings unfolded ;
But, when he clearly recognised the pilot,

He cried aloud ; “Quick, quick, and bow the knee ! Behold the Angel of God! fold up thy hands ! Henceforward shalt thou see such officers !

See, how he scorns all human arguments,
So that no oar he wants, nor other sail
Than his own wings, between so distant shores !

“See, how he holds them, pointed straight to heaven, Fanning the air with the eternal pinions, That do not moult themselves like mortal hair !"

And then, as nearer and more near us came
The Bird of Heaven, more glorious he appeared,
So that the eye could not sustain his presence,

But down I cast it; and he came to shore
With a small vessel, gliding swift and light,
So that the water swallowed nought thereof.

Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot !
Beatitude seemed written in his face !
And more than a hundred spirits sat within.

a

" In exitu Israel out of Egypt !”
Thus sang they all together in one voice,
With whatso in that Psalm is after written.

Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,
Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,
And he departed swiftly as he came.

THE TERRESTRIAL PARADISE.

FROM DANTE.

PURGATORIO, XXVIII.

LONGING already to search in and round
The heavenly forest, dense and living-green,
Which to the eyes tempered the new-born day,

Withouten more delay I left the bank,
Crossing the level country slowly, slowly,
Over the soil, that everywhere breathed fragrance

A gently-breathing air, that no mutation
Had in itself, smote me upon the forehead,
No heavier blow, than of a pleasant breeze,

[ocr errors]

Whereat the tremulous branches readily
Did all of them bow downward towards that side
Where its first shadow casts the Holy Mountain ;
Yet not from their upright direction bent
So that the little birds upon their tops
Should cease the practice of their tuneful art;

But, with full-throated joy, the hours of prime
Singing received they in the midst of foliage
That made monotonous burden to their rhymes,

Even as from branch to branch it gathering swells, Through the pine forests on the shore of Chiassi, When Æolus unlooses the Sirocco.

Already my slow steps had led me on
Into the ancient wood so far, that I
Could see no more the place where I had entered.

And lo! my farther course cut off a river,
Which, towards the left hand, with its little waves,
Bent down the grass, that on its margin sprang.

All waters that on earth most limpid are,
Would seem to have within themselves some mixture,
Compared with that, which nothing doth conceal,

a

Although it moves on with a brown, brown current,
Under the shade perpetual, that never
Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon.

[blocks in formation]

Even as the Blessed, in the new covenant,
Shall rise up quickened, each one from his grave,
Wearing again the garments of the flesh,

So, upon

that celestial chariot. A hundred rose ad vocem tanti senis, Ministers and messengers of life eternal.

They all were saying; Benedictus qui venis,"
And scattering flowers above and round about,

Manibus o dute lilia plenis."

66

I once beheld, at the approach of day,
The orient sky all stained with roseate hues,
And the other heaven with light serene adorned,

And the sun's face uprising, overshadowed,
So that, by temperate influence of vapours,
The eye sustained his aspect for long while ;

Thus in the bosom of a cloud of flowers,
Which from those hands angelic were thrown up,
And down descended inside and without,

With crown of olive o'er a snow-white veil,
Appeared a lady, under a green mantle,
Vested in colours of the living flame.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Even as the snow, among the living rafters
Upon the back of Italy, congeals,
Blown on and beaton by Sclavonian winds,

And then, dissolving, filters through itself,
Whene'er the land, that loses shadow, breathes,
Like as a taper melts before a fire,

Even such I was, without a sigh or tear,
Before the song of those who chime for ever
After the chiming of the eternal spheres ;

But, when I heard in those sweet melodies Compassion for me, more than had they said, “O wherefore, lady, dost thou thus consume him?”.

The ice, that was about my heart congealed,
To air and water changed, and, in my anguish,
Through lips and eyes came gushing from my breast.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Confusion and dismay, together mingled,
Forced such a feeble “ Yes !” out of my mouth,
To understand it one had need of sight.

Even as a cross-bow breaks, when 't is discharged, Too tensely drawn the bow-string and the bow, And with less force the arrow hits the mark ;

So I gave way under this heavy burden,
Gushing forth into bitter tears and sighs,
And the voice, fainting, flagged upon its passage.

« PreviousContinue »