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Me, only me, and that light's broken glow: Oh empty glory of all human power !
Why is thy mind thus on itself intent," How little green doth on its height endure, Then said my Master, “that thou'rt slow to Save when rough times that follow darkly lour ! walk?
Once Cimabue seeined to hold full sure What boots it thee what's by their whispers His own 'gainst all; the palm now Giotto meant ?
bears, Come behind me, and let the people talk; So that his fame the other's doth obscure. Be thou like tower that bendeth not its height, So, too, one Guido from the other tears And doth the fierce winds of their victory The crown of poesy; and one perchance baulk.
Lives who to drive both from their bigb nest For aye the man in whom thoughts spring to dares. light,
The world's best fame no higher doth advance One on the other, from the goal doth roam, Than breath of wind whose fickle gusts deceive, For this still weakens all the other's might. And changing side, leave name to change and What could I answer more than just “I chance.
[Purg. xi. 85-104.] So spake I, somewhat touched with that same And again :
hue, Which worthy of compassion rendereth some.
Your high repute, as bloom of grass, doth fly, [Purg. v. 7-21.]
Which comes and goes, and that doth mar its A Ittile further on and we find a like
grace coijfession of the love of praise, of which Through which from earth it burgeons verthat sensitiveness was the natural out.
dantly. come. He is in the circle where the pride And then the conscience of the of life is chastened by the bowed.down makes answer:prostration of an enforced lowliness, which he thus describes :
And I to him, " Thy words in my heart trace
Lessons that humble, and bring low my pride. As to give roof or ceiling bearing meet,
[Purg. xi. 115-119.] As corbel fixed, a form is often seen, Of which the knees upthrust the bosom meet,
He does not, however, indulge in indis. And by its pain untrue gives true pain keen
criminate self-accusations. To him who on it looks, so these I saw,
into the circle where souls are purified With good heed gazing on their act and mien. from the sin of envy, by bein for a time 'Tis true their limbs did to each other draw, blinded. They had looked as with an As they upon their back bore more or less, evil eye on the good fortune of others, And he who most of patience owned the law,
and this was their righteous chastisement. “I can no more," seemed crying in distress.
To that fault Dante does not plead guilty, [Purg. x. 130–140.]
as be did in the case of pride. One of these tells him his name and his
“ I too,” I said, “shall part here from mine
eves ; My ancient blood and brave decds nobly done But for brief time, for little the offence By my forefathers, me so haughty made Which they have given by envious jealousies; That I forgot our inother was but one,
The fear which comes o'ermastering all my And towards all men my proud scoin displayed.
[Purg. xi. 61-64.] from the torment working there below, And Dante as he listens, as if conscience For even now I feel that weight immense.
[Purg. xiii. 133-138.] pricked him, bowed his face low as if to hide bis shame. In another of these he But the supreme confession of unworthirecognizes the painter Oderisi of Agubbio, ness comes, as it was meet it should do, who in like manner confesses that he had when the poet stands, after he has passed so gloried in his art as to speak con- through the cleansing fire, face to face temptuously of his rivals.
with his transfigured and glorified Bea.
trice. He sees her first, clothed in a green My courteous praise had then been far more mantle and with a snow-white olive bor
faint While I was living, so by longings made
dered veil: For eminence, on which my heart was bent : Though nothing more to vision was displayed, Of that foul pride the forfeit here is paid. Through secret power that passed from her to Yet had I not attained this place and hour Save that to God, with power to sin, I prayed. I the strong spell of ancient love obeyed. And then he moralizes on the transitori.
[Purg. xxx. 37-39.] ness of human fame in words which That intuitive consciousness of the touched at once the poet and two, at least, presence of her who was at once beautiful of his dearest friends :
and terrible in her purity filled him, at
first, as it had filled him in his boyhood, ceased to flow, as in the misery of that with an overpowering awe, which made congelation of the soul. But the healing him look for help to the poet who had came from the angelic ministers who thus far been his guide:
accompanied Beatrice, and sang their I to the left with wistful look did start, –
anthem of In te Domine speravi. As when an infant seeks his mother's breast,
So stood I tearless, sighless, for a time, When fear and anguish vex his troubled While yet they sang whose praise ascends on heart,
high, To say to Virgil, “Trembling, fear-opprest
After the high spheres' everlasting chime, Is every drop of blood in every vein ;
But when I heard in their sweet melody The signs of that old flame stand forth confest. How me they pitied, more than if they said
[Purg. xxx. 43–48.]
Why seek’st thou, lady, him to mortify?” But Virgil was there no longer. Human The ice that all around my heart was laid, guidance, the teaching of the wise, the Passed into wind and water, and with pain
Through mouih and eyes from breast its issue traditions of a venerable past, these bad
made. done their work, and he finds himself
[Purg. xxx. 91-99.] alone face to face with her whom he had loved as a woman, with an absorbing and But the stern work of the illumined passionate devotion, and who now met conscience which Beatrice represents has him on her chariot of glory as the em- yet to be done, and she speaks to her bodied form of heavenly wisdom, the over-pitiful attendants :: transfigured and glorified conscience of humanity. He stood awe-stricken, and Ye in the day eternal know no rest, the bitter tears flowed fast and cleansed So that nor night nor sleep from you can steal his cheeks, and then a voice came from Therefore my answer greater care must seal
One step the world upon its path hath prest; her which thrilled the abysmal depths of That he may hear me well who there doth personality. “Dante,” it said – it is the
weep, one solitary passage in the whole poem in And so a grief to guilt proportioned feel. which the poet names himseli –
[Purg. xxx. 103-108.] Dante, weep not because thy Virgil's gone ; She presses on him the remembrance of Weep not as yet; as yet weep thou no more, For other sword-wounds must thy tears flow which he had consecrated to his reveren.
his early days, naming the very book down.
tial love for her:
[Purg. xxx, 55-57.] He turns on hearing himself thus ad- He, when his New Life he did first attain, dressed by name, and then
Potentially was such that every good
In him had power a wondrous height to gain ; I saw the lady whom I erst discerned,
But all the more perverse and wild and rude Veiled underneath the angelic festal show : Becomes the soil, with ill seed, left untilled, Her eyes on me, across the stream she turned ; As 'tis with more of natural strength endued. Although the veil that from her head did flow, Awhile my face was strong his life to build, By the wreath circled to Minerva dear,
And I, unveiling to him my young eyes, Allowed no glimpse of that which lay below. In the straight path to lead him on was skilled. Queenlike in look and gesture yet severe, But soon as I had reached the point where lies She then resumed, as one whose speech flows Our second age, and I my life had changed, free,
He left me, following other fantasies. Yet keeps behind a speech too sharp to bear, And when I had from flesh to spirit ranged, “ Behold, in me thy Beatrice see !
And loveliness and beauty in me grew, How didst thou think it meet to climb the hill? I was to him less dear and more estranged. Didst thou not know that here the blessed His feet he turned to way that was not true, be?”
Following of good the semblance counterfeit Mine eyes then fell upon the waters still, Which ne'er to promise gives fulfilment due. But there myself beholding, to the grass Nought it availed the spirit to entreat, I turned, and shame upon my brow weighed Wherein in visions oft and otherwise, ill.
I called him back, but little heed to meet. As mother to her son for proud doth pass, So low he fell that ways, however wise, So she to me, for with a bitter twang
Were all too feeble found his soul to save, Tastes pity, which in sternness doth o'erpass. Save showing him the lost ones' miseries.
[Purg. xxx. 54-81.] For this I trod the gateways of the grave,
And unto him who thus far was his guide The immediate result of this was, that The prayers were borne with which my tears I the poe: felt as if his heart was frost.
gave. bound, as are the Apennines when the The sov'reign will of God would be defied snow lies heavy on the trees. His tears | If Letbe should be passed, and such a food
Be tasted, yet no reckoning be supplied And then comes the confession which Of penitence that pours its tears in blood. Beatrice sought for: [Purg. xxx. 115-145.]
Then after I had drawn one bitter sigh This was terrible enough. It was, as it Scarce had I voice wherewith to answer her, were, Dante's anticipation of the time And my lips struggled hard to make reply; when the books shall be opened, and the Weeping. I said, " The things that present were things done in the body shall be made with their false pleasure led my steps aside, manifest to Christ and to his angels.
Soon as thy face was hidden from me there." But this was not all. The voice of the
[Purg. xxxi. 1-30.] judge, which is also the voice of the be. Confession brings, as ever, the sense loved, for Beatrice unites both characters, of pardon and absolution; but the wound must say to the accused, as Nathan did to has yet to be probed, and reproof and David, “ Thou art the man.” The sinner warning are needed for the coming years, must confess his guilt, as David confessed lest they should reproduce the failures of it, Against Thee, Thee only, have I the past : sinned and done this evil in Thy sight.”. And she, “ Hadst thou been silent or denied And so Beatrice speaks to the lover of what thou confessest, not less known had been her youth:
Thy guilt, so great the Judge by whom thou'rt • O thou who art beyond the sacred stream,'
tried. Turning her utterance then point-blank to me,
But when a man's own mouth is open seen Which even edgewise keen and sharp did seem.
Himself of sin accusing, then the wheel
In our court turns against the sword-edge keen ! She then began again immediately:- Howe'er this be, that thou more shame may'st
feel Say, say, if this be true; with charge like this For that thine error, and in future years, Tbine own confession should commingled be. Hearing the Sirens more thine heart mayst
steel ; At first he stands speechless in his dis. List thou, and cease awhile to sow in tears, may
So shalt thou hear how, buried in the tomb, My powers their wonted strength so much did I should have been thy guide to other spheres. miss,
Never to thee did such full rapture come
From art or nature as from that fair frame That my voice moved, and yet all-broken fled.
Wherein I dwelt, now finding earth its home. But the question is pressed home. The And if to thee, through my departure, came confession of the sinner must be articu. The loss of highest joy, what mortal thing late and audible :
Should thus have stirred thee with hot pas
sion's flame? Awhile she bore it; then “What think’st By the first stroke that did experience bring thou,” said,
Of earth's false shows, thou shouldst have up“ Answer me now; for those thy memories sad ward striven, Are by the stream not yet extinguished.” Thy flight to me, no longer such, to wing. Confusion and dismay together bade
Ill was it when thy pinions down were driven A yes from out my lips in such wise flow To wait new blows - some girl of little price, That to hear it sight's help must needs be had. Or other vain thing, for but brief use given.
The callow bird makes trial once or twice, The state of unnerved prostration into But all in vain the net is spread, or dart which be fell leads, as it was meant to Shot from the bow, before the fledged one's bead, to penitential tears :
eyes.” E'en as a crossbow, when both string and bow
We cannot wonder that the poet who Are overstrained, and with full force no more
has thus thrown his self-reproach with The arrow to its destined mark doth go,
such wonderful dramatic force into the So I gave way beneath that burden sore, lips of another should paint also his own Pouring full flood of many tears and sighs, self-humiliation. And my voice failed ere half its course was o'er. Whence she to me, “To my desires to rise
As little children, dumb for shame of heart, That led thee on to love the highest good,
· Will listening stand with eyes upon the ground, Beyond which nought that men can strive for, Owning their faults with penitential smart, lies,
So thus stood I. What pits that lay athwart, what chains with
[Purg. xxxi. 37-67.] stood, So that thy hope of passing further on,
Here, for the present, I stop, great as
is the fascination which would lead me on Thou so hadst laid aside, as all subdued ? And what allurements or what vantage shone
at once to the close of that wonderful Upon the brow of others to thine eye
scene which restores to the sinner bis lost So that thy steps to seek for them were won?” | purity and peace. We are dealing now,
not with the process of restoration, but told by Sordello that the Mountain of with the confession which was its ante. Purification can only be ascended while cedent and condition. It may well be the sunlight falls on it :asked, I think, whether the whole wide But see how day e'en now doth downward region of literature presents anything more intensely autobiographical. We
We cannot take our upward course by night, read it in its dramatic form, which half And it were well some shelter fair to prove. veils from us its intense reality; but we
[Purg. vii. 43–45] have to remember that it was his pen that wrote it all — that it was the man, proud, which is painted with a jewelled beauty
They find that shelter in a fair valley reserved, reticent, craving for the praises of men and sensitive to their censure, that that reminds us of Fra Angelico, and thus laid bare the secrets of his soul.' The which we have to picture to ourselves as reproofs of Beatrice are, as I have said,
lit up with the glow of the westering
sun; those of his own illumined and transfig. ured conscience. The • Purgatorio "Gold, silver, rimson, white-lead's whitest bit, takes its place, in spite of all differences The Indian wood so lucent and serene, of form and characier, side by side with | Bright emeralds at the moment when they the “Confessions of Augustine.” One
split, who has entered into its meaning will at Placed in that vale the plants and flowers beleast have learnt one lesson. He will would each and all be found surpassed in hue,
tween, have felt the power of Dante's intense As less by greater overpowered is seen. truthfulness. The theories which see in Nor did we Nature's painting oniy view, the “Commedia,” from first to last, the But of a thousand fragrant odors sweet symbolic cypher of a crypto-heresy, the She made a mingled perfume strange and new. writings of a man in a mask, veiling a
[Purg. vii. 73-81.] pantheistic license under the garb of a scholastic theology, will seem absolutely and these also come on the mind which
But evening has its human memories, jocredible.* Starting from the point thus gained, we of its outward splendor, and to consider
has been opened to enter into the depthis may venture, without undue boldness, to the beauty of the lilies of the field that are trace in the cleansing processes which he more wonderful than Solomon in all his describes the results, in greater or less glory, with a chastening and purifying inmeasure, of his own experience, the rec
fluence: ord of what he had found purifying and healing in its influences upon his soul. The hour was come which yearning doth renew
Of his joy in the serene influences of To those far out at sea, and melts their heart, light and sky I have already spoken as
The clay that they have bid sweet friends adieu. one of those influences. It is worth while which makes the wanderer young with love to to note how often he returns in the “ Pur. If he perchance hear vesper bell afar, gatorio” to descriptions of a like charac, That seems to mourn as day's life doth depart. ter, sometimes in their purely natural
[Purg. viii. 1-6.] beauty, more often in the tender human
Th memories which are associated with them.
slumber of the night that follows is So, while he still: stands by the sea on
succeeded by another dawn. Day unto which he had seen the trembling of the day uttereih speech, and night unto night waters, he notes the change that dawn declareth knowledge to the soul that has brought with it.
eyes to see and ears to hear. And here
the outward beauty touched yet another So that the clear white and the crimson rose
chord, and there is an apocalypse to the Which on Aurora's beauteous cheeks are seen inward eye such as Dante, we must be. Where I stood, passed, with time, to orange lieve, had known in the glories of a sun. glows.
rise on the Apennines. And, lo, as when the morning draweth nigh, She who, of yore, shared old Tithonus’ bed, Through the thick vapor Mars grows fiery :ed | Already whitened all the Orient far, Down in the West where Ocean's wide plains As from her sweet friend's arms her steps were lie. [Purg. ii. 5-15.]
Her brow was bright with many a jewelled star. Not without significance is the poet
[Purg. ix. 1.] • I refer, I need hardly say, to the theories put forth And Dante – by the elder Rossetti in his “Spirito Anti-Papale," and elaborated even more systematically by Aroux, in his
as by his Adam-flesh down-weighed “Dante, Hérétique, Révolutionnaire et Socialiste." Conquered by sleep upon the grass reclined,
where he and his companions had been the disciple who no longer needs his resting.
guidance, and in the new abounding joy It was the hour when swallow to the wind
with which that disciple yields himself to Chants her sad songs as morning's dawn draws its influence, all the more suggestive from
the intermingling with that imagined ideal Perchance as old woes vex and haunt her mind. of what might be in the soul's future, of And when our soul more alien from the sphere the memories which sprang from his own Of flesh, and less by many a hot thought solitary walks in the pine woods of Ra
driven, As half-divine looks forth in vision clear,
[Purg. ix. 1-13.] And when the whole ascent below us lay,
And we stood where no step upmounteth Or take Virgil's words, as he addresses
higher, the visible sun, not without a scarcely Virgil on me his eyes intent did stay, veiled reference to the true Light that And said, “The temporal and the eternal fire lighieth every man:
Thou hast beheld, my son, and hast attained
Where to see further I may not aspire O pleasant light, with trust in whom I take
To bring thee here my skill and art I've This our new path, do thou our footsteps guide
strained ; E’en as 'tis meet, lest we the way forsake. Thou warm'st the world, thy beams shine far Now let thine own will take the true guide's
place : and wide; Unless some good cause bid the contrary,
In steep and strait paths thou’rt no more de
tained. Thy rays should be to us as leaders tried.
Behold the sun that shines upon thy face, [Purg. xiii. 16–21.]
See the green grass, the flowers, the tender Or his warning counsel to the poet trees, whom he has led up the mountain which the fair land brings forth itself to slopes :
Until shall come, now bright with thoughts at The heavens call on you, wheeling round on
The eyes, which, weeping, led me thee to seek, And show to you their beauteous orbs eterne, Thou mayst sit still, or wander among these. And yet your gaze upon the earth doth lie. Look not for me to signal or to speak :
[Purg. xiv. 148–150.] Free, upright, healthy is thine own will now, Or Dante's own memory of the sweet So place I crown and mitre on thy brow.
And not to do its bidding now were weak. influences of spring :
[Purg. xxvii. 124-142.] And e'en as comes, proclaiming day's clear
And then the poet opens a new canto rise, The breath of May, with odors fresh and sweet
for that new experience: Impregnate, that from grass and flowers arise, Eager, within it and around, each way, So felt I then the gentle breezes meet
To search that heavenly forest, dense and My brow, and heard of wings the rustling
green, sound, Wafting ambrosial airs the sense to greet.
That tempered to mine eye the new-born day, [Purg. xxiv. 145-150.]
Waiting no more, where I till then had been,
Upon the bank I went on slowly, slow, Or of his vision of the night when he On ground which fragrance breathed' o'er all
the scene. and Virgil and Statius are seated on the And a sweet breeze toward me then did blow rock-hewo steps :
With calm unvarying course upon my face, So were we three seen then in silence deep,
Not with more force than gentlest gale doth
know. I as the goat, and eke as goatherds they, On either side hemmed in by craggy steep:
Thereat the leaves, set trembling all apace,
Bent themselves one and all towards the side Little we saw of what beyond us lay, But through that little I beheld each star,
Where its first shade the Holy Mount doth Larger than is their wont, with brighter ray. [Purg. xxvii. 88-93.]
Yet from the upright swerved they not aside,
spray As far as proving the point in Dante's Çeased by their wonted task-work to abide, character which I have sought to illus. But with full heart of joy, the breeze of day trate, my induction is already more than They welcomed now within their leafy bower,
Which to their songs its music deep did play, sufficiently complete. But the supreme Like that which through the pine wood runs witness to the healing power of the out. each hour, ward beauty of nature to the eye that has From branch to branch, upon Chiassi's shore, been purged and illumined is found in the When Æolus lets loose Sirocco's power. parting words with which Virgil leaves
[Purg. xxviii, 1–21.]