Midway upon the travel of our life
I found myself within a wood so dark,
For the straight-forward pathway had been lost.
Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this wood, the wild, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought anew'th the fear.
So bitter is it, death is little more;
But of the good to handle, which there I found,
Speak will I of the other things I saw there.
I cannot well edledge how there I entered,
So full was I of slumber at the trice
In which I had forsaken the true way.
But after I had reached a high bergh's foot,
At that tip where the dale had end,
Which had with great shock pierced mine heart,
Upward I looked, and I beheld his shoulders,
Clothed already with beams of that world
Which leadeth others right by every road.
Then was the fear a little stilled
That in mine heart's mere had outheld throughout
The night, which I had forebrought so ruthworthely.
And even as he, who, with andstressful breath,
Forth outset from the sea upon the shore,
wind'th to the water threat'ningly and gazeth;
So did my soul, that still was fleeing onward,
Turn itself back to re-behold the gangway
Which never yet a living soul had left.
After my weary body I had rested,
The way went I with on the wasteland slope,
So that the fast foot ever was the lower.
And lo! almost where the rise began,
A panther light and swift o'erreachingly,
Which with a spotted skin was decked o'er!
And never wayed she from before my sight,
Nay, rather did hinder so much my way,
That many times I to backfare had wound.
The time was the beginning of the morning,
And up the sun was rising with those stars
That with him were, what time the Love Godly
At first in motion set those great fair things;
So were to me a sele of good hope,
The sundered skin of that wild beast,
The stound of time, and the tasty yeartide;
But not so much, that did not give me fear
A manecat's sight which shew itself to me.
He seemed as if against me he were coming
With head uplifted, and with ravenly hunger,
So that it seemed the loft was afraid of him;
And a she-wolf, that with all hungerings
Seemed to be laden in her meagreness,
And many folk has made to live forlorn!
She brought upon me so much heaviness,
With the affright that from her sight came out,
That I the hope foresook of the height.
And as he is who willingly earneth,
And the time comes that maketh him to lose,
Who weep'th in all his thoughts and is braveless,
E'en such made me that wretch withouten frith,
Which, coming on against me by stand
Thrust me back thither where the sun is still.
While I was rushing downward to the lowland,
Before mine eyes did one show himself,
Who seemed from long-lasting stillness hoarse.
When I beheld him in the wasteland vast,
"Have ruth on me," unto him I screamed,
"Whiche'er thou art, be it shade or real man!"
He answered me: "Not man; man once I was,
And both my elders were of Lombardy,
And Mantuers by land both of them.
'Sub Julio' was I born, though it was late,
And lived at Rome under the good August,
Bewhile the time of wrong and lying gods.
Songwright was I, and I sang that upright
Son of Anchises, who came forth from Troy,
After that Ilion the Oversome was burnt.
But thou, why goest thou back to such peeve?
Why climb'st thou not the Bergh Neetbere,
Which is the well and onlet of every happiness?"
"Now, art thou that Vergil and that well
Which spread'th abroad so wide a river of speech?"
I made answer to him with bashful forehead.
"O, of the other writers' ore and light,
Avail me the long striving and great love
That have overwon me to aseek thy roomyield!
Thou art my master, and my writer thou,
Thou art alone the one from whom I took
The fair working that has done ore to me.
Behold the wretch, for which I have wound back;
Do thou ward me from her, famous Sage,
For she doth make my aders and beats tremble."
"Thee it behoves to take another road,"
Answered he, when he beheld me weeping,
"If from this wild stow thou wouldest flee;
Because this beast, at which thou screamest out,
Beareth not any one to overtake her way,
But so doth bother him, that she wreck him;
And hath an umworld so wicked and ruthless,
That never doth she glut her greedy will,
And after food is hungrier than before.
Many the beings with whom she weddeth,
And more they shall be still, until the Greyhound
Comes, who shall make her forfare in her smart.
He shall not feed on either earth or pelf,
But upon wisdom, and on love and goodness;
'Twixt Feltro and Feltro shall his folkship be;
Of that low Italy shall he be the healand,
For whose sake the maid Camilla died,
Euryalus, Turnus, Nisus, of their wounds;
Through every borough shall he hunt her down,
Until he shall have driven her back to Hell,
There from whence nithe first did let her loose.
Therefore I think and deem it for thy best
Thou follow me, and I will be thy leader,
And lead thee hence through the everlasting stow,
Where thou shalt hear the hopeless mourning,
Shalt see the oldendomly ghosts wemless,
Who scream each one for the other death;
And thou shalt see those who gladdened are
Within the fire, because they hope to come,
Whene'er it may be, to the blessed folk;
To whom, then, if thou wishest to go up,
A soul shall be for that than I more worthy;
With her at mine afaring I will leave thee;
Because that Overlord, who reigns above,
In that I was uprising to his law,
Will'th that through me none come into his borough.
He besteereth everywhere, and there he leadeth;
There is his borough and his lofty see;
O happy he whom thereto he chooseth!"
And I to him: "Writer, I thee beg,
By that same God whom thou didst never know,
So that I may andflee this woe and worse,
Thou wouldst lead me there where thou hast said,
That I may see the doorway of Saint Peter,
And those thou makest so wemless."
Then he went on, and I behind him followed.
Day was going out, and the embrowned loft
Released the beings that are on earth
From their weariness; and I the only one
Made myself ready to keep up the war,
Both of the way and likewise of the woe,
Which beminding that err'th not shall track again.
O Yoregodins, O high greatmind, now help me!
O beminding, that didst write down what I saw,
Here thine etheldom shall be sweetled!
And I began: "Writer, who leadest me,
Besee my manhood, if it be fuldoing,
Ere to the cumbersome pathway thou dost entrust me.
Thou sayest, that of Silvius the elder,
While yet bendbere, unto the world
Undying went, and was there bodily.
But if the withersake of evil all
Was knightly, thinking of the high outworking
That would from him flow, and who, and what,
To men of understanding unmeet it seemeth not;
For he was of great Rome, and of her rike
In the nerxnawongly heaven as father chosen;
The which and what, wishing to speak the truth,
Were upbuilt as the holy stow, wherein
Sitt'th the afterfollower of the greatest Peter.
Upon this travel, whence thou givest him vaunt,
Things did he hear, which the onlet were
Both of his win and the popely mantle.
Thither went afterwards the Chosen Vat,
To bring back wem thence unto that Belief,
Which of ferrownere's way is the beginning.
But I, why thither come, or who bewilleth it?
I not Aeneas am, I am not Paul,
Nor I, nor others, think me worthy of it.
Therefore, if I atdeem myself to come,
I fear the coming may be ill-beread;
Thou'rt wise, and knowest better than I speak."
And as he is, who unwilleth what he willed,
And by new thoughts doth his offwill shift,
So that from his draft he cwite withdraw'th,
Such I became, upon that dark hillside,
For, in thinking, I fulfilled the deed,
Which was so very cwick in the beginning.
"If I have well thy speech understood,"
Angained that shade of the Greathearted,
"Thy soul is stained with cravenness,
Which many times a man encumbers so,
It wind'th him back from orebere undertaking,
As wrong sight doth a dere, when he is shy.
That thou mayst free thee from this fright,
I'll tell thee why I came, and what I heard
At the first trice when I grieved for thee.
Among those was I who are in underhang,
And a fair, blessed Lady called to me
In such wise, I besought her to bid me.
Her eyes where shining brighter than the Star;
And she began to say, kindly and low,
With heavenly stem, in her own speech:
'O knightly ghost of Mantua,
Of whom the goodname still lasteth in the world,
And shall last further, long-lasting as the world;
A friend of mine, and not the friend of luck,
Upon the wasteland slope is so behindered
Upon his way, that he has wound through fright,
And may, I fear, already be so lost,
That I too late have risen to his help,
From that which I have heard of him in Heaven.
Bestir thee now, and with thy speech do gling,
And with what needful is for his loosing,
Behelp him so, that I may be soothed.
Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go;
I come from there, where I would fain go back;
Love bewayed me, which willeth me to speak.
When I shall be in bybe of my Lord,
Full often will I lof thee unto him.'
Then inheld she, and thereafter I began:
'O Lady of goodness, thou alone through whom
The mennish kind o'ersteppeth all that's held
Within the heaven that hath the lesser trindels,
So thankful unto me is thy bidding,
To heed, if 'twere already done, were late;
No farther need'st thou open to me thy wish.
But the onlet tell me why thou dost not shun
The here going down into this midst,
From the wide stow thou burnest to go back to.'
'Since thou wouldst fain so inwardly spot,
In short will I thee tell,' she answered me,
'Why I am not afraid to go thither.
Of those things only should one be afraid
Which have the might of doing others harm;
Of the lave, no; since they are not fearful.
God in his ruth such made me
That sadness of yours reacheth me not,
Nor any blaze onslay'th me of this burning.
A kindly Lady is in Heaven, who grieveth
At this hindering, to which I send thee,
So that stern deeming there above is broken.
In her begging she besought Lucia,
And said, "Thy believing one now stand'th in need
Of thee, and unto thee I onbefeal him."
Lucia, foe of all that ruthless is,
Hastened away, and came unto the stow
Where I was sitting with the yorely Rachel.
"Beatrice" said she, "the true lof of God,
Why helpest thou not him, who loved thee so,
For thee he sundered from the ymean herd?
Hear'st thou not the paltriness of his weeping?
Dost thou not see the death that fighteth him
Beside that flood, where ocean hath no name?"
Never were souls in the world so swift
To work their weal and to escape their woe,
As I, after such words as these were uttered,
Came hither downward from my blessed seat,
Trusting in thy worthful speech,
Which oreth thee, and those who've listened to it.'
After she thus had spoken unto me,
Weeping, her shining eyes she wound away;
Whereby she made me swifter in my coming;
And unto thee I came, as she did wish;
I have befreed thee from that wild wretch,
Which barred the fair bergh's short arising.
What is it, then? Why, why dost thou loiter?
Why is such meanness bedded in thine heart?
Daring and hardihood, why hast thou not,
Seeing that three such Ladies blessed
Are caring for thee in the kingstead of Heaven,
And so much good my speech behoteth thee?"
Even as the bloomlets, by a nightly chill,
Bowed down and closed, when the sun whiten'th them,
Uplift themselves all open on their stems;
Such I became with my tired strength,
And such good boldness to my heart there ran,
That I began, like a frightless soul:
"O she so ruthful, who did help me,
And knightly thou, who hast heeded so soon
The words of truth which she did speak to thee!
Thou hast bestowed upon mine heart such craving
To the dare, with these words of thine,
That to my first offwill I have wound back.
Now go, for one only will is in us both,
Thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Master thou."
Thus said I unto him; and when he had bewayed,
I went in on the deep and fiendish way.
"Through me the way into the thrawing borough,
Through me the way to th' e'erlasting smart,
Through me the way that run'th among the lost.
Righthood thronged mine master builder high;
My maker was godly fulmight,
The highest wisdom, and the first love.
Before me nothing but e'erlasting things were made,
And I outhold forevermore.
Let go of every hope, ye who here go in."
These words in dusky hue I did behold
Written upon the crest of a gate;
Whence I: "Their sense is, Master, hard to me!"
And he to me, as one afared:
"Here all misgiving must needs be left,
All cravenness must needs be doused here.
We to the stow have come, where I have told thee
Thou shalt behold the smartful folk
Who have foregone the good of understanding."
And after he had laid his hand on mine
With happy mien, whence I was soothed,
He led me in among the hidden things.
There sighs, and gripes, and screaming loud
withclang through the loft without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.
Tungs diverse, dreadful byleids,
Tungfalls of anger, words of bale,
And stems high and hoarse, with swey of hands,
Made up an uproar that go'th whirling on
For ever in that loft for ever black,
Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breatheth.
And I, who had mine head with dreadding bound,
Said: "Master, what is this which now I hear?
What folk is this, which seems by smart so torn?"
And he to me: "This ruthworth' being
Do keep the blackbrowed souls of those
Who lived without illname or lof.
Mingled are they with that wretched singband
Of errand-ghosts, who uprose not,
Nor true they were to God, but were for self.
The heav'ns outthrew them, not to be less fair;
Nor them the nethermore depth receiveth,
For no wee merth the damned would have from them."
And I: "O Master, what so grievous is
To these, that mak'th them mourn so sore?"
He answered: "I will tell it thee in short.
These have no longer any hope of death;
And this blind life of theirs is so belowered,
They nithful are of every other doom.
No name of them the world allow'th to be;
Ruth and Righthood both loathe them.
Let us not speak of them, but look, and go by."
And I, who looked again, beheld a flag,
Which, whirling round, ran on so swiftly,
That to rest at all it seemed to me unwilling;
And after it there came so long a row
Of folk, that I would never have believed
That ever Death so many had undone.
When some among them I had acknown,
I looked, and I beheld the shade of him
Who made through cravenness the great atdeeming.
Forthwith I understood, and was ywit,
That this the foll'wing was of the baleful wretches
Hateful to God and to his foes.
These scoundrels, who never were alive,
Were naked, and were stung so greatly
By gadflies and by hornets that were there.
These did their faces swill with blood,
Which, with their tears ammingled, at their feet
By the ghastly worms was gathered up.
And when to gazing farther I betook me.
People I saw on a great river's bank;
Whence said I: "Master, now bestow unto me,
That I may know who these are, and what law
Maketh them seem so ready to go over,
As I bemark athwart the dusky light."
And he to me: "These things shall all be known
To thee, as soon as we our footsteps stay
Upon the woeful shore of Acheron."
Then with mine eyes ashamed and downward cast,
Fearing my words might irksome be to him,
From speech withheld I till we reached the stream.
And lo! towards us coming in a boat
An old man, hoary with the hair of eld,
Shouting: "Woe unto you, ye addled souls!
Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens;
I come to lead you to the other shore,
To th' everlasting shades in heat and frost.
And thou, that yonder standest, living soul,
Withdraw thee from these folks, the which are dead!"
But when he saw that I did not withdraw,
He said: "By other ways, by other hav'ns
Thou to the shore shalt come, not here, for crossway;
A lighter skiff is need' to carry thee."
And unto him the Leader: "Anger thee not, Charon;
It is so willed there where is might to do
That which is willed; and farther ask thou not."
Thereat were stilled the fleecy cheeks
Of him the ferryman of the wrathful fen,
Who round about his eyes had wheels of blaze.
But all those souls who weary were and naked
Their hue did shift and gnashed their teeth together,
As soon as they had heard those gruesome words.
God they did smear and their forefathers,
The mennish kin, the stow, the time, the seed
Of their sowing and of their births!
Thereafter all together they drew back,
Bitterly weeping, to the accursed shore,
Which waiteth every man who fear'th not God.
Charon the wraith, with th' eyes of glede,
Beckoning to them, collect'th them all together,
Beat'th with his oar whoever lag'th behind.
As in the fall-time the leaves fall off,
First one and then another, till the bough
Unto the earth agiveth all his overflow;
In like wise th' evil seeds of Adam
Throw themselves from that shore one by one,
At tokens, as a fowl unto his bait.
So they go forth across the dusky wave,
And ere upon the other side they land,
Again on this side a new crowd gather'th.
"My son," the knightly Master said to me,
"All those who forefare in the wrath of God
Here meet together out of every land;
And ready're they to go o'er the stream,
As heavenly Righthood spur'th them on,
So that their fear is made 'nto craving.
This way there never goeth a good soul;
And hence if Charon gripe'th 'gainst thee,
Well mayst thou know now what his speech doth mean."
This being fulfilled, all th' land, the dark
Shook so wildly, that of that dread
Bethinking batheth me still with sweat.
The land of tears gave forth a blast of wind,
And flashed a bright red light,
Which o'ermastered in me every feeling,
And as a man whom sleep hath snared I fell.
Broke the deep sleep within mine head
A heavy thunder, so that I upstarted,
Like to a soul who by ywield is wakened;
And round about I b'wayed my rested eyes,
Risen upright, and steadfastly I gazed,
To acknow the stow wherein I was.
True is it, that upon the brink I found me
Of the gaping smartly dale,
That gather'th thunder of the endless screams.
Very dark, deep it was, and foggy,
So that by fast'ning on his depths my sight
Nothing whatever I did spot therein.
"Let us go down now into the blind world,"
Began the Writer, fallow utterly;
"I will be first, and thou shalt th' other be."
And I, who of his hue was well aware,
Said: "How shall I come, if thou art afraid,
Who'rt wont to be a soothing to my fears?"
And he to me: "The fright of these folk
Who are below here in my sight doth show
That ruth the which for dread thou'st taken.
Let us go on, for the long way driveth us."
Thus he went in, and thus he made me go
Into the first ring that begird'th the deep.
There, as it seemed to me from listening,
Was weeping none, but only sighs,
That set the everlasting loft aquake.
And this arose from sorrow without tousle,
Which the crowds had, that many were and great,
Of children and of women and of men.
To me the Master good: "Thou dost not ask
What ghosts these are, which thou beholdest?
Now will I have thee know, ere thou go farther,
That they sinned not; and if they had winst,
'Tis not enough, as they had not christening
Which is the gateway of the B'lief thou holdest;
And if they were before the Christendom,
In the right wise they abead'd not God;
And among such as these am I myself.
For such shortcomings, not for other guilt,
Lost are we and are only so far scolded,
That without hope we do live on in craving."
Great grief fastened on my heart when this I heard,
As some folk of much worthiness
I knew, who in that Forehell were withheld.
"Tell me, my Master, tell me, thou my Lord,"
Began I, craving to be afast
Of that Faith which o'ercometh every dwild,
"Came any one by his own winst hence,
Or by another's, who was blessed thereafter?"
And he, who understood my hidden speech,
Answered me: "I was new in this stand,
When I saw hither come a Mighty One,
With token of win bewreathed.
Hence he drew forth the shade of the First Elder,
And that of his son Abel, and of Noah,
Of Moses the lawgiver, and the hearsome
Abraham, forefather, and David, king,
Israel with his father and his children,
And Rachel, for whose sake he did so much,
And others many, and he made them blessed;
And thou must know, that earlier than these
Ne'er had any mennish ghosts been nered."
We stopped not going on for that he spake,
But still were walking onward through the woods,
The woods, say I, of thick-crowded ghosts.
Not very far as yet our way had gone
This side the peak, when I saw a fire
That overcame an halfworld of darkness.
We were a little 'ferron from it still,
But not so far that I in deal acknew not
That orebere folk did hold that place.
"O thou who orest every craft and witship,
Who may these be, which have an ore so great,
That from the likeness of the lave it dealeth them?"
And he to me: "The orebere name,
That's heard of them above there in thy life,
Win'th ruth in Heaven, that so furth'reth them."
In the mean time a stem was heard by me:
"All ore be to the lordly Writer;
His shade cometh again, that was gone 'way."
After the stem had stopped and stillness had,
Four mighty shades I saw anearing us;
A look had they nor sorrowful nor glad.
To say to me began my ruthful Master:
"Him with that warblade in his hand behold,
Who come'th before the three, even as their lord.
That one is Homer, foremost Writer;
He who cometh next is Horace, the scold;
The third is Ovid, and the last is Lucan.
Since to each of these with me belong'th
In the name that lonely stem hath spoken,
They do me ore, and in that do well."
Thus I beheld the fair lore get together
Of that lord of the song unmatched,
Who o'er the others like an eagle soarséth.
When they together had talked somewhat,
They turned to me with ybears of greeting,
And on beholding this, my Master smiled;
And furthermore of ore, much more, they did me,
In that they made me one of their own band;
So that the sixth was I, 'mid so much wit.
Thus we went on as far as to the light,
Things saying 'tis becoming to keep still,
As was the saying of them where I was.
Unto an ethel burgh's foot did we come,
Seven times begirded with lofty walls,
Shielded round by a fair wee brook;
This we passed over even as fast ground;
Through gateways seven I went in with these Sages;
We came into a meadow of fresh green.
Folks were there with earnest eyes and slow,
Of great fulmight in their foreside;
They spake but seldom, and with kindly stems.
Thus we withdrew ourselves upon one side
Into an opening lightened and lofty,
So that they all of them were seebere.
There athwart, upon the green glass shielding,
Were shewn to me the mighty ghosts,
Whom to have seen I feel ahoven.
I saw Electra with many fellows,
'Mongst whom I knew both Hector and Aeneas,
Caesar in shieldfit with eyes of griffin;
I saw Camilla and Penthesilea
On the other side, and saw the King Latinus,
Who with Lavinia his daughter sat;
I saw that Brutus who drove Tarquin forth,
Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia,
And saw alone, aside, the Saladin.
When I had lifted up my brows a little,
The Master I beheld of those who know,
Sit with his witlorely kinship.
All gaze upon him, and all do him ore.
There I beheld both Socrates and Plato,
Who nearer him before the others stand;
Democritus, who put'th the world on fall,
Diogenes, Anaxagoras, and Thales,
Zeno, Empedocles, and Heraclitus;
Of ownships I saw the goodly gath'rer,
Hight Dioscorides; and Orpheus saw I,
Tully and Livy, and zedely Seneca,
Euclid, earthmeter, and Ptolemy,
Galen, Hippocrates, and Avicenna,
Averroes, who the great Feedback made.
I cannot give full likeness of them all ,
Because so driveth me onward the long underwarp,
That many times the word come'th short of deedsake.
The sixfold fellowship in two is dealt;
Another way doth drive me my wise Leader
Forth from the stillness to the loft that quaketh;
And to a stow I come where nothing shine'th.
Thus I went down out of the first ring
Down to the other, that less room begird'th,
And so much greater smart, that goad'th to wailing.
There standeth Minos fright'ningly, and snarleth;
Beseeth the misdeeds at the going-in;
Deemeth, and send'th by how he girdeth him.
I say, that when the ghost, the evil-born
Cometh before him, wholly it owneth up;
And this Acknower of Misdeeds
See'th what stow in Hell is meet for it;
Gird'th himself with his tail as many times
As stands he wisheth it should be thrust down.
Always before him many of them stand;
They go by laps each one unto the deeming;
They speak, and hear, and then are downward hurled.
"O thou, that to this smartful innhouse
Comest," said Minos to me, when he saw me,
Leaving the carr'ing-out of so great a working,
"Look how thou goest in, and in whom thou trustest;
Let not the gateway's greatness fool thee."
And unto him my Leader: "Why scream'st thou too?
Do not impede his travel doom-bestowed;
It is so willed there where is might to do
That which is willed; and ask no further frain."
And now to grow begin the smartful leethmarks
Hearbere unto me; now am I come
There where much wailing strike'th upon me.
I came into a stow dumb of all light,
Which bellow'th as the sea doth in a storm,
If by gainstanding winds 'tis fought.
The hellish stormwind that never resteth
Hurtle'th the ghosts onward in his robbery;
Whirling them round, and smiting, it stirreth them.
When they oncome before the cliff,
There are the shrieks, the weepings, and the wailings,
There they do smear the godly might.
I understood that unto such a tousle
The fleshly evildoers were forordealed,
Who take all rake for less than craving.
And as the wings of starlings bear them on
In the cold tide in large a band and full,
So doth that blast the ghosts acurse;
It hither, thither, downward, upward, driveth them;
No hope doth sooth them ne'er for evermore,
Not of rest, but e'en of lesser smart.
And as the cranes go chanting forth their lays,
Making in loft a long row of themselves,
So saw I coming, uttering many wailings,
Shadows borne onward by th' aforesaid stress.
Whereupon said I: "Master, who are those
folk, whom the black loft doth flail so?"
"The first of those, of whom knowledge
Thou fain wouldst have," then said he unto me,
"The o'erseerin was of many tungs.
To fleshly evils she was so forsaken,
That lustful she made lawful in her law,
To foredo the witing to which she had been led.
She is Semiramis, of whom we read
That she did follow Ninus, and was his helpmeet;
She held the land which now the Sultan leadeth.
The next is she who killed herself for love,
And broke belief with the ashes of Sichaeus;
Then there's Cleopatra the lusty."
Helen I saw, for whom so many ruthless
Yeartides wound; and saw the great Achilles,
Who at the last stound fought with Love.
Paris I saw, Tristan; and more than a thousand
Shades did he name and betoken with his finger,
Whom Love had cut of from our life.
After that I had listened to my Teacher,
Naming the ladies of eld and knights,
Ruth got the upper hand, and I was nigh bewildered.
And I began: "O Writer, willingly
Speak would I to those two, who go together,
And seem upon the wind to be so light."
And, he to me: "Thou'lt mark, when they shall be
Nearer to us; and then do thou bid them
By love which leadeth them, and they will come."
Soon as the wind in our warding sway'th them,
My stem uplift I: "O ye weary souls!
Come speak to us, if no one doth forbid it."
As turtle-doves, called onward by their craving,
With open and steady wings to the sweet nest
Come through the loft by their flying borne,
So came they from the band where Dido is,
Approaching us athwart the evil loft,
So strong was the loving call.
"O living being ruthful and goodwilling,
Who beseeking goest through the loft, the lost
Us, who have stained the world with blood,
If were the King of the Worldall our friend,
We would bid unto him to give thee frith,
Since thou hast ruth on our bewarped woe.
Of what it cwemeth thee to hear and speak,
That will we hear, and we will speak to thee,
While the wind is still, as it is now.
Sitteth the borough, wherein I was born,
Upon the sea-shore where the Po goeth down
To rest in frith with all his following.
Love, that a kindly heart doth swiftly grip,
Gripped this man for the fair soul
That was ta'en from me, and still the wise upsetteth me.
Love, that outsunder'th none beloved from loving,
Gripped me with lusting of this man so strongly,
That, as thou seest, it doth not yet forsake me;
Love has led us on unto one death;
Caina waiteth him who cwenched our life!"
These words were borne along from them to us.
As soon as I had heard those tousled souls,
I bowed my sight, and so long held it down
Until the Writer said to me: "What think'st thou?"
When I made answer, I began: "Alack!
How many gladn'ing thoughts, how much of craving,
Hath led these unto the smartful way!"
Then unto them I wound me, and I spake,
And I began: "Thy thrests, Francesca,
Sad and ruthful unto weeping make me.
But tell me, at the time of those sweet sighs,
By what and in what wise did Love allow,
That ye should know your dingy cravings?"
And she to me: "There is no greater sorrow
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In sadness, and that thy Teacher knoweth.
But, if to acknow the earliest root
Of love in us thou cravest greatly,
I will do even as he who weep'th and speaketh.
One day we reading were for our gladness
Of Lancelot, how Love him underthralled.
Alone we were and without any fear.
Full many a time our eyes together drew
That reading, and drove the hue out from our sights;
But one point only was it that o'ercame us.
When as we read of the much-longed-for smile
Being by such an ethel lover kissed,
This one, who ne'er from me shall be sundered,
Kissed me upon the mouth all quaking.
Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.
That day no farther did we read therein."
And all the while one ghost did utter this,
The other one did weep so, that, for ruth,
I swooned away as if I had been dying,
And fell, even as a dead body falleth.