Already had I parted from those shades,
and in my Leader's steps was following on,
when one behind me, pointing with his finger,
cried out: "See how the light seems not to shine
upon the left side of that lower man,
who seems to act like one that's still alive!"
Hearing this speech, I turned mine eyes, and saw
that with astonishment they gazed at me,
at me alone, and at the broken light.
"Why is thy mind so sore perplexed," then said
my Teacher, "that thou slackenest thy pace?
What carest thou for what is whispered here?
Follow thou me, and let the people talk!
Firm as a tower remain, which never shakes
its top, however hard the winds may blow!
For from himself he ever turns his mark,
in whom one thought wells up behind another,
for each of them impairs the other's strength."
What could I say in answer, save "I come"?
And this I said, tinged slightly with the color
which sometimes makes one worthy of forgiveness.
Meanwhile a little way ahead of us
some people crosswise o'er the slope were coming,
singing the Miserere verse by verse.
When they became aware that through my body
I gave no passage to the rays of light,
they changed their chant into a long, hoarse "Oh!"
and two of them, acting as messengers,
ran out to meet us, and enquiring said:
"Cause us to know what kind of life is yours."
My Teacher answered: "Ye may go your way,
and unto those that sent you out report
that real flesh this man's body is. And if,
as I suppose, they stopped because they saw
his shadow, they 've been answered well enough;
if they respect him, it may profit them."
I never saw ignited vapors cleave
at nightfall an unclouded sky, or break
so rapidly from August clouds at sunset,
that these returned not up in shorter time;
and, once there, with the rest they veered toward us,
as would a troop that ran without a curb.
"These people who are crowding us are many,"
the Poet said, "and come to beg of thee;
therefore go on, and listen on thy way."
"O soul, that goest to be glad" they cried,
as on they came, "with those limbs which thou hadst
when thou wast born, a little stay thy steps!
Recall if thou hast e'er seen one of us,
that yonder thou mayst carry news of him!
Why, pray, dost thou go on? Ah, why not stop?
We all were slain of old by violence,
and sinners were until our latest hour;
then light from Heaven so caused us to beware,
that we, repentant and forgiving, issued
from life at peace with God, who in our hearts
stirs us with grievous longings to behold Him."
And I: "Howe'er I gaze upon your faces,
none do I recognize; and yet, if aught
within my power can please you, well-born souls,
ask it, and I will do it, by the peace,
which, following the feet of such a Guide,
hath now become my quest from world to world."
And one began: "Each trusts in thy good help
without an oath, provided lack of power
cut not thy good will short. Hence I, who speak
alone before the others, beg of thee,
if e'er thou see the country which extends
between Romagna and the land of Charles,
be courteous to me with thy prayers in Fano,
that supplications due be made for me,
to help me purge away my grievous sins.
It was from there I came; but those deep wounds,
whence flowed the blood wherein my life resided,
were giv'n me in the Antenori's lap,
where I had trusted I should be most safe.
The lord of Esti, who was angry with me
beyond the bounds of justice, had it done.
Yet toward La Mira had I only fled,
when at Oriāgo I was overtaken,
still yonder would I be, where people breathe.
Toward the lagoon I ran, whose reeds and mire
so hampered me, I fell; and there a pool
formed from my veins I saw upon the ground."
Then said another: "So may that desire,
which draws thee to the lofty Mount be granted,
with kindly pity, prithee, help thou mine!
I Montefeltro was, I am Buonconte;
Giovanna cares not for me, nor do others;
hence among these I go with head bowed down.
And I to him: "What force was it, or chance,
caused thee to stray so far from Campaldino,
that never hath thy burial-place been known?"
"Oh!" he replied, "A river called Archiāno
flows crosswise at the Casentino's foot,
and takes its rise among the Apennines,
above the Hermitage. There, where its name
is lost, I came, a fugitive on foot,
pierced through the throat, and staining with my blood
the plain. And there it was I lost my sight,
and ended speech with Mary's name; and there
I fell, and all alone my flesh remained.
The truth I tell, tell thou among the living.
God's Angel took me, while the one from Hell
cried out: 'Why dost thou rob me, thou from Heaven?
Thou bearest hence this man's eternal part,
because of one small tear which takes him from me;
but I shall with the rest deal otherwise!'
Well knowst thou how damp vapors in the air,
as soon as they ascend to where the cold
affects them, into water change again.
He joined that wicked will, which asks for naught
but evil, with intelligence, and stirred
the mists and wind, by power his nature gave.
The valley thereupon, when day was spent,
he covered o'er with fog from Pratomagno
up to the mountain-chain, and made the sky
so lowering o'er it, that the pregnant air
to water turned; the rain poured down, and what
the soil absorbed not, reached the rivulets;
then, having joined the torrent-brooks, it rushed
so swiftly toward the royal stream, that naught
could hold it back. The swift Archiāno then
hard by its outlet found my frozen body;
and, as it swept it on into the Arno,
loosened the cross which with my arms I made
upon my breast, when sorrow's pain o'erwhelmed me;
along its banks and bed it rolled me on;
then covered me, and wrapped me with its spoils."
"Prithee, when to the world thou hast returned,
and when from thy long journey thou art rested,"
after the second spirit said the third,
"do thou remember me, who Pia am!
Sična made me; Maremma me unmade;
he knoweth what this means, who previously
had, in betrothal, ringed me with his gem."