Speaking slowed not our gait, nor did our gait
our speaking; but, still talking, we went on
apace, as, by a fair wind driv'n, a ship.
The shades, meanwhile, who looked like things twice dead,
drew wonder through their hollowed eyes at me,
when they perceived that I was still alive.
And I, continuing my talking, said:
"He, for another's sake, is going up
more slowly than, perhaps, he else would do.
But, if thou know, say where Piccarda is;
and whether I see any here worth noting
among these people who so gaze at me."
"My sister who, 'tween fair and good, was most
I know not which, on high Olympus triumphs,
happy already in the crown she wears."
This he said first, and then: "We 're not forbid
to name each here, since by our abstinence,
our aspects are so greatly milked away.
This Bonagiunta is," his finger showed him,
"the Lucca Bonagiunta; while the face
beyond him, more embroidered than the rest,
had in his arms the Holy Church; of Tours
he was, and now, by fasting, expiates
Bolsena's eels and rare vernaccia wine."
And many more he named me, one by one;
and all, when named, seemed satisfied, hence I,
because of this, saw not a gloomy act.
Using their teeth through hunger, though in vain,
I saw both Ubaldino della Pila,
and Boniface, who pastured with his crook
much folk. I Ser Marchese saw, who once
had time to drink less dryly at Forlì,
yet such he was, that he did not feel sated.
But, as one looks, and more of one man thinks
than of another, so did I at him
of Lucca, who, it seemed, most wished to know me.
He murmured, and I heard I know not what
about 'Gentucca,' uttered where he felt
the wound of Justice which consumes them so.
"O soul, that seemst so fain to speak to me,"
said I, "so do that I may understand,
and with thy words appease thyself and me."
"There is a woman born," he then began,
"nor weareth yet the veil, who, howsoe'er
it be reproached, shall cause my town to please thee.
With this prevision shalt thou now go on;
and if by what I murmured thou wast led
astray, events shall make it clear to thee.
But tell me whether him I here behold,
who those new rhymes produced, which thus begin:
'Ye ladies, who well know what loving is.'"
And him I answered: "I am one, who heed
when Love within me breathes, and outwardly
express myself as in me Love dictates."
"O brother, now I see" said he, "the bar,
which kept this side the sweet new style I hear,
the Notary, Guittone, and myself.
I clearly see that your pens closely follow
in the dictator's wake, which certainly
was not the case with ours; and he who further
sets himself most to look, between these styles
perceives no other difference." Whereupon,
as if content with this, he ceased to speak.
As birds that spend the winter 'long the Nile,
form in the air at times a flock, and then
with greater speed fly on, and in a line
advance; so likewise all the people there,
quickened their steps with faces turned around,
since through their leanness light, and through their will.
And as a man who weary is of running,
lets his companions go, and only walks,
until the panting of his chest has ceased;
ev'n so Forese let the holy flock
pass on, and saying: "When shall I again
behold thee?" came along behind with me.
"I know not," I replied, "how long I 'll live;
but I shall not so soon return, that sooner
I shall not with my will be on the shore;
because the place where I was set to live,
strips itself further day by day of goodness,
and now to dismal ruin seems ordained."
"Now go," said he, "for him I see, who most
hath blame for this, behind a beast's tail dragged
down to the Vale, where none e'er frees himself
from fault. The beast with every step goes faster,
and ever faster, till it hurls him down,
and leaves his body in disgraceful plight.
Those spheres have not much further to revolve,"
(he raised his eyes toward heaven) "ere clear to thee
will that become, which my words can explain
no more. Stay now behind; for in this Realm
so precious is our time, that, coming thus
at even pace with thee, I lose too much."
As at a gallop from a riding troop
a horseman issues forth at times, and goes
to win the honor of the first encounter;
so he with longer strides departed from us;
and on the road with those two I remained,
who of the world such mighty marshals were.
When he had gone so far ahead, that now
mine eyes became such followers of his form,
as of his words my mind, the heavy laden
and living branches of another Tree
appeared before me not so far away,
since toward it I had only then turned round.
Beneath it folk I saw with upraised hands,
who toward the foliage cried I know not what,
like eager children who in vain beseech,
while he, to whom they pray, replieth not,
but with a view to make their longing keen,
holds what they long for up, and hides it not.
They then departed, as if undeceived;
and thereupon to that great Tree we came,
which turns away so many prayers and tears.
"Pass on without approaching! Higher up
a Tree there is, which bitten was by Eve,
and this one is an offshoot sprung from that."
Thus said I know not who among the branches;
hence Virgil, I, and Statius, close together,
advanced along the side which rises up.
"Recall" he said, "those cursèd cloud-born creatures,
who, gorged with food and drink, 'gainst Theseus strove
with double breasts; the Hebrews, too, recall,
who at their drinking showed that they were soft,
whence as his fellows Gideon had them not,
when he on Midian down the hills advanced."
Thus, hugging close one margin of the ring,
we passed, and heard of gluttonies,
which once were followed by distressful gains.
Then, spreading out across the lonely path,
more than a thousand steps had borne us on,
in contemplation each without a word.
"What think ye three, as thus alone ye go?"
a voice cried suddenly; whereat I started,
as scared and sluggish beasts are wont to do.
I raised my head to see who this might be;
and ne'er were metals in a furnace seen,
or glass, as red and bright, as one I saw
who said: "If ye are pleased to mount above,
ye must in this direction turn aside;
this way goes he, who goes in quest of peace."
His aspect had bereft me of my sight;
I therefore turned and stepped behind my Teachers
like one who guides his feet by what he hears.
And as, when heralding the light of dawn,
the breeze of May sheds fragrance as it stirs,
all redolent of grasses and of flowers;
so, 'gainst my brow I felt a zephyr's stroke,
and well perceived the motion of the wing
which made me scent ambrosian odors there.
"Blessèd are they, whom so much Grace illumes,"
I heard one saying, "that the love of taste
stirs not too great a longing in their breast,
but always hunger only as is right!"