Dante's Purgatory In Plain and Simple English (Digital Donwload)
Ascending Redemption: Dante's Purgatory in Today's Tongue!

Imagine a climb that is as soul-stirring as it is challenging, where every step is a revelation. Fascinating, right? But what if the language feels distant and elusive? Fear not, many have felt the same way you do.

Dante's remarkable ascent up the Mount of Purgatory is more than just a physical journey. Guided initially by the poetic wisdom of Virgil and later by the ethereal Beatrice, this climb represents the challenges, penances, and transformations a soul undergoes in its quest for redemption. Each terrace of the mountain mirrors a vice being purged, an allegory of the Christian's repentant journey towards purification.

Beyond its spiritual depths, the Purgatorio is a testament to human resilience, the power of hope, and the eternal promise of redemption.

For those who've grappled with the intricate verses of Dante's original, BookCaps offers a guiding hand! Experience this transcendent tale through a modern lens that keeps the soul of the classic intact. Embark on Dante's quest with clarity, enriched by a side-by-side presentation with the original, bridging the centuries between you and this timeless journey of transformation!



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Excerpt From Dante's Purgatory In Plain and Simple English

Canto I  

To run o'er better waters hoists its sail

The little vessel of my genius now,

That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel;


The little ship of my talent now

Raises its sail in calmer waters,

Leaving behind such a cruel sea.


And of that second kingdom will I sing

Wherein the human spirit doth purge itself,

And to ascend to heaven becometh worthy.


I shall now sing of that second kingdom

Where the human spirit sheds its sin,

And becomes fit to enter heaven.


But let dead Poesy here rise again,

O holy Muses, since that I am yours,

And here Calliope somewhat ascend,


But let dead poetry come back to life,

You holy Muses, as I belong to you,

Let the muse of poetry come to the fore,


My song accompanying with that sound,

Of which the miserable magpies felt

The blow so great, that they despaired of pardon.


To accompany my words with that music

Which made the miserable magpies feel

So inadequate, they thought they would never recover.


Sweet colour of the oriental sapphire,

That was upgathered in the cloudless aspect

Of the pure air, as far as the first circle,


A sweet colour of eastern sapphire

Filled the clear and pure air

As far up as the first circle,


Unto mine eyes did recommence delight

Soon as I issued forth from the dead air,

Which had with sadness filled mine eyes and breast.


And it began to delight my eyes

As soon as I came out from the dead air,

Which had filled my heart and mind with sorrow.


The beauteous planet, that to love incites,

Was making all the orient to laugh,

Veiling the Fishes that were in her escort.


The beautiful planet (Venus) that inspires love

Was making the whole of the east merry,

Shining over the fish which accompanied her.


To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind

Upon the other pole, and saw four stars

Ne'er seen before save by the primal people.


I turned to the right, and stared

At the other pole, and saw four stars

Which only the first people had ever seen.


Rejoicing in their flamelets seemed the heaven.

O thou septentrional and widowed site,

Because thou art deprived of seeing these!


The heavens seemed to rejoice at their light,

Oh you of the North, you are like widows,

Because you cannot see these stars!


When from regarding them I had withdrawn,

Turning a little to the other pole,

There where the Wain had disappeared already,


When I had stopped looking at them,

I turned a little towards the other pole,

Where the constellation of the Wain had already set,


I saw beside me an old man alone,

Worthy of so much reverence in his look,

That more owes not to father any son.


I saw next to me an old man on his own,

Who looked as though he deserved as much respect

As any son owes to his father.


A long beard and with white hair intermingled

He wore, in semblance like unto the tresses,

Of which a double list fell on his breast.


He had a long beard intertwined with white hair,

Looking like long curls,

And two strands of them tumbled down his chest.


The rays of the four consecrated stars

Did so adorn his countenance with light,

That him I saw as were the sun before him.


The rays of the four holy stars

Lit up his face with such a light

That he looked as though the sun was directly in front of him.


"Who are you? ye who, counter the blind river,

Have fled away from the eternal prison?"

Moving those venerable plumes, he said:


“Who are you? You who have crossed the river of forgetfulness,

And escaped the eternal prison?"

Shaking his marvellous hair, he said:


"Who guided you? or who has been your lamp

In issuing forth out of the night profound,

That ever black makes the infernal valley?


“Who was your guide? Who lit your way

Out of that deep night,

Which keeps the valley of hell eternally black?


The laws of the abyss, are they thus broken?

Or is there changed in heaven some council new,

That being damned ye come unto my crags?"


The laws of hell, have they been broken?

Or has heaven decided on some new path,

So that a person who is dammed can come to my rocks?"


Then did my Leader lay his grasp upon me,

And with his words, and with his hands and signs,

Reverent he made in me my knees and brow;


Then my guide put his hand on me,

And with his words, and by signing with his hands,

He showed me to kneel and bow my head in respect;


Then answered him: "I came not of myself;

A Lady from Heaven descended, at whose prayers

I aided this one with my company.


Then he answered: “I did not decide to come myself;

A lady came down from heaven, and at her request

I helped to guide this one.


But since it is thy will more be unfolded

Of our condition, how it truly is,

Mine cannot be that this should be denied thee.


But since you want to know more

Of who we are, what the truth is,

It's not my place to refuse you.


This one has never his last evening seen,

But by his folly was so near to it

That very little time was there to turn.


This one has not yet died,

But through his foolishness he was so close to it

There was very little time to turn him back.


As I have said, I unto him was sent

To rescue him, and other way was none

Than this to which I have myself betaken.


As I said, I was sent to him

To rescue him, and there was no other way to go

Than the path which I have chosen.


I've shown him all the people of perdition,

And now those spirits I intend to show

Who purge themselves beneath thy guardianship.


I have shown him all the people in hell,

And now I mean to show him those people

Who are shedding their sins under your care.


How I have brought him would be long to tell thee.

Virtue descendeth from on high that aids me

To lead him to behold thee and to hear thee.


It would take too long to tell you how I brought him here.

A goodness which came down from heaven has helped me

To lead him here to see and to hear you.


Now may it please thee to vouchsafe his coming;

He seeketh Liberty, which is so dear,

As knoweth he who life for her refuses.


Now I hope you will welcome him;

He is looking for freedom, which is so dear,

As the person who gives up his life for her knows.


Thou know'st it; since, for her, to thee not bitter

Was death in Utica, where thou didst leave

The vesture, that will shine so, the great day.


You know it, since you did not find your death

In Utica bitter, where you did those things

That will always shine forever.


By us the eternal edicts are not broken;

Since this one lives, and Minos binds not me;

But of that circle I, where are the chaste


We have not broken any eternal laws;

Because this one is alive, and Minos cannot hold me;

I am from that circle, where the pure


Eyes of thy Marcia, who in looks still prays thee,

O holy breast, to hold her as thine own;

For her love, then, incline thyself to us.


Eyes of your Marcia, who still begs you with her looks

To hold her to your holy breast as your own;

Out of love for her, then, welcome us.


Permit us through thy sevenfold realm to go;

I will take back this grace from thee to her,

If to be mentioned there below thou deignest."


Allow us to journey through the seven parts of your realm;

I will tell her of your kindness,

If you give permission to mention you."


"Marcia so pleasing was unto mine eyes

While I was on the other side," then said he,

"That every grace she wished of me I granted;



“Marcia was so beautiful to me

When I was on the other side," he said,

“That I gave her everything she asked for;


Now that she dwells beyond the evil river,

She can no longer move me, by that law

Which, when I issued forth from there, was made.



Now she lives on the other side of the evil river,

She no longer has power over me, through the law

Which was passed when I came out from there.


But if a Lady of Heaven do move and rule thee,

As thou dost say, no flattery is needful;

Let it suffice thee that for her thou ask me.


But if you are guided and ruled by a lady of heaven,

As you say, then you do not need to offer me anything;

The fact that your request comes from her is enough.


Go, then, and see thou gird this one about

With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face,

So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom,


So go, and make sure that you dress this one

With smooth rushes, and that you wash his face,

So that you clean away all the stains,


For 'twere not fitting that the eye o'ercast

By any mist should go before the first

Angel, who is of those of Paradise.


For it is not right that anyone should go before

The first angel, who is from Paradise,

With his vision clouded in any way.


This little island round about its base

Below there, yonder, where the billow beats it,

Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze;


That little round island down there,

Around its base, where the waves crash on it,

Has rushes growing in its swampy shores;


No other plant that putteth forth the leaf,

Or that doth indurate, can there have life,

Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks.


No other plant that grows,

Or that survives, can live there,

It’s the only one that can cope with the battering.


Thereafter be not this way your return;

The sun, which now is rising, will direct you

To take the mount by easier ascent."


Afterwards don’t come back this way;

The rising sun will guide you

On an easier path up the mountain.


With this he vanished; and I raised me up

Without a word, and wholly drew myself

Unto my Guide, and turned mine eyes to him.


Having said this he vanished, and I stood

Without speaking, and turned directly

To my guide, and looked at him.


And he began: "Son, follow thou my steps;

Let us turn back, for on this side declines

The plain unto its lower boundaries."


And he said, “Son, follow in my footsteps;

Let’s turn back, for on this side

The plain slopes down to its lowest edge.”


The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour

Which fled before it, so that from afar

I recognised the trembling of the sea.


Dawn was driving out the darkness

Which fled from it, so that far off

I could make out the shimmering sea.


Along the solitary plain we went

As one who unto the lost road returns,

And till he finds it seems to go in vain.


We walked across the lonely plain

Like a person going back to a path he has lost,

So that his journey seems aimless until he rediscovers it.


As soon as we were come to where the dew

Fights with the sun, and, being in a part

Where shadow falls, little evaporates,


As soon as we came to a place where the dew

And the sun fought each other, and where, being in shade,

The dew hardly evaporates,


Both of his hands upon the grass outspread

In gentle manner did my Master place;

Whence I, who of his action was aware,


My Master put both of his hands gently,

Palms open, down on the grass;

Then I, who saw what he was doing,


Extended unto him my tearful cheeks;

There did he make in me uncovered wholly

That hue which Hell had covered up in me.


Turned my tearstained cheeks to him,

And there he completely washed off

The filth which had fallen on me in hell.


Then came we down upon the desert shore

Which never yet saw navigate its waters

Any that afterward had known return.


Then we came down to the deserted shore

From where nobody had ever been seen

To set sail and then to return.


There he begirt me as the other pleased;

O marvellous! for even as he culled

The humble plant, such it sprang up again


Suddenly there where he uprooted it.


There he dressed me as the other one had ordered;

It was incredible!Every humble plant he pulled up

Immediately grew again,


Right in the place where it had been.



Canto II  

Already had the sun the horizon reached

Whose circle of meridian covers o'er

Jerusalem with its most lofty point,


The sun had already reached the place

Where it stands directly above, at its highest,

Jerusalem in the east,


And night that opposite to him revolves

Was issuing forth from Ganges with the Scales

That fall from out her hand when she exceedeth;


And the night which orbits opposite him

Was pouring up from the Ganges in the east

With Libra, which disappears past a certain point;


So that the white and the vermilion cheeks

Of beautiful Aurora, where I was,

By too great age were changing into orange.


So that the red and white cheeks

Of beautiful Aurora, where I stood,

Started to turn to orange as the time passed.


We still were on the border of the sea,

Like people who are thinking of their road,

Who go in heart and with the body stay;


We were still standing on the seashore,

Like people who plan the way they will go,

And leave in their minds though their body stays.


And lo! as when, upon the approach of morning,

Through the gross vapours Mars grows fiery red

Down in the West upon the ocean floor,


And see!As when morning comes

And we see Mars fiery red through swirling clouds,

Down in the west on the floor of the ocean,


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;


I saw – I hope I see it again! –

A light moving so quickly across the sea,

No flying bird could match it;


From which when I a little had withdrawn

Mine eyes, that I might question my Conductor,

Again I saw it brighter grown and larger.


And when I turned away from it for a moment

To ask my guide a question, when I looked back

I saw that it had already got brighter and larger.


Then on each side of it appeared to me

I knew not what of white, and underneath it

Little by little there came forth another.


Then on each side I saw something white,

I don’t know what, and beneath it

Something similar crept out.


My Master yet had uttered not a word

While the first whiteness into wings unfolded;

But when he clearly recognised the pilot,


My master had not yet said a word,

As those white wings appeared,

But when he knew for sure who it was,


He cried: "Make haste, make haste to bow the knee!

Behold the Angel of God! fold thou thy hands!

Henceforward shalt thou see such officers!


He cried out, “Quickly, down on your knees!

See the Angel of God!Put your hands together!

From now on youshall see messengers like him!


See how he scorneth human arguments,

So that nor oar he wants, nor other sail

Than his own wings, between so distant shores.


See how the constraints which hold humans mean nothing to him,

So that he does not need oars, or any other sails

Apart from his own wings, to travel such a great distance.


See how he holds them pointed up to heaven,

Fanning the air with the eternal pinions,

That do not moult themselves like mortal hair!"


Look how he points his wings up to heaven,

Beating the air with his everlasting wings

That do not moult like the things of earth!”


Then as still nearer and more near us came

The Bird Divine, more radiant he appeared,

So that near by the eye could not endure him,


Then as the Divine Bird came closer and closer

His light appeared brighter and brighter

Until, when nearby, one couldn’t look at him,


But down I cast it; and he came to shore

With a small vessel, very swift and light,

So that the water swallowed naught thereof.


So I looked down; and he came to the shore

With a small boat, very quick and light,

So that it didn’t sink into the water at all.


Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot;

Beatitude seemed written in his face,

And more than a hundred spirits sat within.


On the stern was the Heavenly Pilot,

Who seemed to have goodness written in his face,

And over a hundred spirits sat in the boat.


"In exitu Israel de Aegypto!"

They chanted all together in one voice,

With whatso in that psalm is after written.


“The children of Israel are leaving Eygpt!”

They all sang together,

Following it with the rest of that psalm.


Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,

Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,

And he departed swiftly as he came.


Then he made the sign of the Cross over them,

And they all climbed ashore,

And he left as quickly as he had come.


The throng which still remained there unfamiliar

Seemed with the place, all round about them gazing,

As one who in new matters makes essay.


The crowd left behind did not seem

To know where they were, looking all around

Like people assessing a new situation.


On every side was darting forth the day.

The sun, who had with his resplendent shafts

From the mid-heaven chased forth the Capricorn,


All around the sun was shining,

Having with its splendid light

Risen up to the middle of the sky,


When the new people lifted up their faces

Towards us, saying to us: "If ye know,

Show us the way to go unto the mountain."


And the new arrivals lifted their faces

Towards us, saying, “If you know the way,

Direct us towards the mountain.”


And answer made Virgilius: "Ye believe

Perchance that we have knowledge of this place,

But we are strangers even as yourselves.


And Virgil answered: “You think

That we might know about this place,

But we are strangers just like you.


Just now we came, a little while before you,

Another way, which was so rough and steep,

That mounting will henceforth seem sport to us."


We arrived just a little while before you,

By another path, which was so rough and steep

That any climbing will seem a game from now on.”


The souls who had, from seeing me draw breath,

Become aware that I was still alive,

Pallid in their astonishment became;


Seeing that I was breathing the souls

Realised that I was still alive,

And they grew pale with astonishment;


And as to messenger who bears the olive

The people throng to listen to the news,

And no one shows himself afraid of crowding,


And just as people crowd round a messenger

Carrying an olive branch to hear the news,

With nobody holding back,


So at the sight of me stood motionless

Those fortunate spirits, all of them, as if

Oblivious to go and make them fair.


So seeing me those lucky spirits

Stood motionless, every one,

None of them moving toward their salvation.


One from among them saw I coming forward,

As to embrace me, with such great affection,

That it incited me to do the like.


I saw one of them coming towards me

As if to hug me, looking so affectionate

That I was inspired to do the same.


O empty shadows, save in aspect only!

Three times behind it did I clasp my hands,

As oft returned with them to my own breast!


Oh empty spirits, visible but with no form!

Three times I threw my arms around it,

And just as often they only hugged myself!


I think with wonder I depicted me;

Whereat the shadow smiled and backward drew;

And I, pursuing it, pressed farther forward.


I think I must have looked astonished;

The shadow smiled and stepped back;

Chasing after it I moved forward.


Gently it said that I should stay my steps;

Then knew I who it was, and I entreated

That it would stop awhile to speak with me.


It gently told me to stay where I was,

Then I knew who it was, and I begged

It to stop for a while and talk to me.


It made reply to me: "Even as I loved thee

In mortal body, so I love thee free;

Therefore I stop; but wherefore goest thou?"


It answered me “Just as I loved you when I had a human body,

So I love you now I am a spirit;

So I will stop; but where are you going?”


"My own Casella! to return once more

There where I am, I make this journey," said I;

"But how from thee has so much time be taken?"


“My dear Casella!To get back

To my earthly home, that’s where I am going,” I said;

But why have you taken so long to get here?”


And he to me: "No outrage has been done me,

If he who takes both when and whom he pleases

Has many times denied to me this passage,


He said to me, “No wrong has been done to me,

If the one who takes people as and when he chooses

Has frequently refused to carry me,


For of a righteous will his own is made.

He, sooth to say, for three months past has taken

Whoever wished to enter with all peace;


For his decisions are righteous.

It is certain that for the past three months

He has carried all those who wished to enter peacefully;


Whence I, who now had turned unto that shore

Where salt the waters of the Tiber grow,

Benignantly by him have been received.


And now I, who had now turned to the shore

Where the Tiber flows into the sea,

Have been kindly welcomed by him.


Unto that outlet now his wing is pointed,

Because for evermore assemble there

Those who tow'rds Acheron do not descend."


He points his wing towards that estuary,

Because eternally those who do not

Go down to hell gather there.”


And I: "If some new law take not from thee

Memory or practice of the song of love,

Which used to quiet in me all my longings,


I said, “If some new law has not taken from you

The memory or the ability to perform a love song,

Which used to calm all my desires,


Thee may it please to comfort therewithal

Somewhat this soul of mine, that with its body

Hitherward coming is so much distressed."


Maybe you could use one to comfort

This soul of mine a little, for its journey here

With its body has much disturbed it.”


"Love, that within my mind discourses with me,"

Forthwith began he so melodiously,

The melody within me still is sounding.


At once he began to sing so melodiously,

“Love, that speaks inside my mind,”

That the tune still resonates inside me.


My Master, and myself, and all that people

Which with him were, appeared as satisfied

As if naught else might touch the mind of any.


My master, and I, and all those people

Who were with him, were as happy

As if we had nothing else on our minds.


We all of us were moveless and attentive

Unto his notes; and lo! the grave old man,

Exclaiming: "What is this, ye laggard spirits?


We all stayed still and listening

To his music; and then there was the stern old man,

Exclaiming, “What’s all this, you lazy spirits?


What negligence, what standing still is this?

Run to the mountain to strip off the slough,

That lets not God be manifest to you."


What is this unmoving negligence?

Run to the mountain to tear off the skin

That stops you from being able to see God.”


Even as when, collecting grain or tares,

The doves, together at their pasture met,

Quiet, nor showing their accustomed pride,


It was just like the doves which, collecting

Grain or seeds, meet together in their field,

Quiet, not strutting as usual,


If aught appear of which they are afraid,

Upon a sudden leave their food alone,

Because they are assailed by greater care;


When something happens to scare them,

And they suddenly abandon their food,

Because a greater concern has grabbed them;


So that fresh company did I behold

The song relinquish, and go tow'rds the hill,

As one who goes, and knows not whitherward;


Nor was our own departure less in haste.


So I saw these new arrivals

Leave the song, and go towards the hill,

As one who goes, not knowing where;


Nor did we leave any more slowly.



Canto III  

Inasmuch as the instantaneous flight

Had scattered them asunder o'er the plain,

Turned to the mountain whither reason spurs us,


Their instant flight

Scattered them widely across the plain,

And I turned to the mountain which sense told us to make for,


I pressed me close unto my faithful comrade,

And how without him had I kept my course?

Who would have led me up along the mountain?


And I stuck close to my faithful comrade,

For how otherwise would I have found the way?

Who would have shown me the path up the mountain?


He seemed to me within himself remorseful;

O noble conscience, and without a stain,

How sharp a sting is trivial fault to thee!


He seemed to me to be feeling guilty;

Oh you noble and faultless conscience,

How terrible the tiniest things seem to you!


After his feet had laid aside the haste

Which mars the dignity of every act,

My mind, that hitherto had been restrained,


Afte he had stopped the rushing

Which makes everything undignified,

My mind, that up to then had been held back,


Let loose its faculties as if delighted,

And I my sight directed to the hill

That highest tow'rds the heaven uplifts itself.


Let itself run free in joy,

And I looked up at the hill,

That reaches up closest to heaven.


The sun, that in our rear was flaming red,

Was broken in front of me into the figure

Which had in me the stoppage of its rays;


The sun, that was burning red behind us,

Was casting my shadow in front of me

Where my body blocked its light.


Unto one side I turned me, with the fear

Of being left alone, when I beheld

Only in front of me the ground obscured.


I turned to one side, afraid

Of being left alone, and I saw

That only in front of me was the ground shaded.


"Why dost thou still mistrust?" my Comforter

Began to say to me turned wholly round;

"Dost thou not think me with thee, and that I guide thee?


“Why are you still uncertain?” my comforter

Began to say as I turned right round;

“Do you not think I am still with you and guiding you?


'Tis evening there already where is buried

The body within which I cast a shadow;

'Tis from Brundusium ta'en, and Naples has it.


It’s already evening where the body is buried

With which I used to cast a shadow;

It has been taken from Brindisi, it is in Naples.


Now if in front of me no shadow fall,

Marvel not at it more than at the heavens,

Because one ray impedeth not another


Now if I do not cast any shadow,

Don’t be any more amazed than if in the sky

One ray of light does not block another.


To suffer torments, both of cold and heat,

Bodies like this that Power provides, which wills

That how it works be not unveiled to us.


Heaven gives us bodies like this to suffer

The torture of cold and heat, and it

Does not wish to show us its reasoning.


Insane is he who hopeth that our reason

Can traverse the illimitable way,

Which the one Substance in three Persons follows!


Only a madman would hope to understand

The way in which one God in three people

Chose to construct things!


Mortals, remain contented at the 'Quia;'

For if ye had been able to see all,

No need there were for Mary to give birth;


Mortals, you should be content with what you have;

If you could see everything,

Mary would never have had to give birth.


And ye have seen desiring without fruit,

Those whose desire would have been quieted,

Which evermore is given them for a grief.


And you have seen those who desire without reward,

Who were desperate to be requited,

And they have been given that as a torture for eternity.


I speak of Aristotle and of Plato,

And many others;"--and here bowed his head,

And more he said not, and remained disturbed.


“I am talking of Aristotle and Plato,

And many others;” and he bowed his head,

And did not say any more, and remained upset.


We came meanwhile unto the mountain's foot;

There so precipitate we found the rock,

That nimble legs would there have been in vain.


In the meantime we came to the foot of the mountain;

And we found that the rock was so steep

That agility would have been useless.


'Twixt Lerici and Turbia, the most desert,

The most secluded pathway is a stair

Easy and open, if compared with that.


“Between Lerici and Turbia, the most empty,

There is a secret pathway, a stairway

Which is easy and clear, compared to that.


"Who knoweth now upon which hand the hill

Slopes down," my Master said, his footsteps staying,

"So that who goeth without wings may mount?"


“Who now knows which way the hill slopes down,”

My master said, slowing his footsteps,

“So who can climb it without wings?”


And while he held his eyes upon the ground

Examining the nature of the path,

And I was looking up around the rock,


And while he examined the ground,

Looking at the path,

And I was looking up at the cliff,


On the left hand appeared to me a throng

Of souls, that moved their feet in our direction,

And did not seem to move, they came so slowly.


On the left hand a crowd of souls

Appeared, who were walking towards us,

Hardly seeming to move, they walked so slowly.


"Lift up thine eyes," I to the Master said;

"Behold, on this side, who will give us counsel,

If thou of thine own self can have it not."


“Look up,” I said to the Master;

“Look over there, they can advise us,

If you yourself have no ideas.”


Then he looked at me, and with frank expression

Replied: "Let us go there, for they come slowly,

And thou be steadfast in thy hope, sweet son."


Then he looked at me, and openly

Answered, “Let’s go over, for they are coming slowly,

And keep your hopes up, sweet son.”


Still was that people as far off from us,

After a thousand steps of ours I say,

As a good thrower with his hand would reach,


Still those people were a good stone’s throw

From us, after we had walked a thousand steps, I guess,

As far as a good thrower could reach,


When they all crowded unto the hard masses

Of the high bank, and motionless stood and close,

As he stands still to look who goes in doubt.


Then they all crowded up against

The hard cliffs, and stood still,

Like one who stops doubtfully to find his way.


"O happy dead!O spirits elect already!"

Virgilius made beginning, "by that peace

Which I believe is waiting for you all,


“You happy dead!Spirits already chosen!”

Virgil began, “in the name of the peace

Which I believe is waiting for you all,


Tell us upon what side the mountain slopes,

So that the going up be possible,

For to lose time irks him most who most knows."


Tell us which side the mountain slopes on,

So that we can climb up,

For wasting time is the greatest irritation to the wise man.”


As sheep come issuing forth from out the fold

By ones and twos and threes, and the others stand

Timidly, holding down their eyes and nostrils,


Like sheep which come out from the flock

In ones and twos and threes, whilst the others stand

Afraid, with their heads hung down,


And what the foremost does the others do,

Huddling themselves against her, if she stop,

Simple and quiet and the wherefore know not;


And copying the leaders,

Huddling next to her, if she stops,

Simple and quiet, not knowing what was happening;


So moving to approach us thereupon

I saw the leader of that fortunate flock,

Modest in face and dignified in gait.


So coming forward to approach us

I saw the leader of that fortunate group,

With a humble face and a dignified walk.


As soon as those in the advance saw broken

The light upon the ground at my right side,

So that from me the shadow reached the rock,


As soon as those at the front saw that

The light on the ground on my right hand side was dark,

So that I cast a shadow upon the rock,


They stopped, and backward drew themselves somewhat;

And all the others, who came after them,

Not knowing why nor wherefore, did the same.


They stopped, and stepped back a little;

And all the others, who were following,

Although they did not know why, did the same.


"Without your asking, I confess to you

This is a human body which you see,

Whereby the sunshine on the ground is cleft.


“Before you ask, I admit that

You can see a human body,

Which casts a shadow on the ground.


Marvel ye not thereat, but be persuaded

That not without a power which comes from Heaven

Doth he endeavour to surmount this wall."


Do not be amazed, but rest assured

I would not try to climb this wall

Without the permission of heaven."


The Master thus; and said those worthy people:

"Return ye then, and enter in before us,"

Making a signal with the back o' the hand


Then the Master spoke to those good people:

“Go back then, and go in ahead of us,"

Making a sign with the back of their hands,


And one of them began: "Whoe'er thou art,

Thus going turn thine eyes, consider well

If e'er thou saw me in the other world."


And one of them began, “Whoever you are,

As you go along look at me, and think

If you ever saw me in the other world."


I turned me tow'rds him, and looked at him closely;

Blond was he, beautiful, and of noble aspect,

But one of his eyebrows had a blow divided.


I turned towards him, and looked at him closely;

He was blonde, beautiful, and he looked noble,

But one of his eyebrows will split by a blow.


When with humility I had disclaimed

E'er having seen him, "Now behold!" he said,

And showed me high upon his breast a wound.



When I had politely denied

Ever having seen him, he said, “Now look!"

And he showed me a wound high on his chest.


Then said he with a smile: "I am Manfredi,

The grandson of the Empress Costanza;

Therefore, when thou returnest, I beseech thee


Then he said, smiling, “I am Manfredi,

Grandson of the Empress Costanza;

And so, when you go back, I beg you


Go to my daughter beautiful, the mother

Of Sicily's honour and of Aragon's,

And the truth tell her, if aught else be told.


To go to my beautiful daughter, the mother

Of the honour of Sicily and Aragon,

And tell her the truth, if you tell her anything.


After I had my body lacerated

By these two mortal stabs, I gave myself

Weeping to Him, who willingly doth pardon.


After my body was sliced

With these two mortal wounds, I weepingly

Gave myself over to the one who is glad to forgive.


Horrible my iniquities had been;

But Infinite Goodness hath such ample arms,

That it receives whatever turns to it.



My sins were horrible;

But the Infinite Goodness is so generous

That anyone who turns to it is welcomed.


Had but Cosenza's pastor, who in chase

Of me was sent by Clement at that time,

In God read understandingly this page,


If only Cosenza's pastor, who was sent

By Clement to chase me that time,

Had understood this aspect of God,


The bones of my dead body still would be

At the bridge-head, near unto Benevento,

Under the safeguard of the heavy cairn.


My bones would still be

By the head of the bridge, near Benevento,

Lying safe under the heavy stones.


Now the rain bathes and moveth them the wind,

Beyond the realm, almost beside the Verde,

Where he transported them with tapers quenched.


Now the rain washes them and the wind blows them,

Beyond the kingdom, almost beside the Verde,

Where he carried them with darkened candles.


By malison of theirs is not so lost

Eternal Love, that it cannot return,

So long as hope has anything of green.


Their curse cannot drive away

Eternal Love so far that it cannot return,

As long as there is a little hope left.


True is it, who in contumacy dies

Of Holy Church, though penitent at last,

Must wait upon the outside this bank


It is true that someone who dies in contempt of

The Holy Church, although sorry at the end,

Must wait outside on this bank


Thirty times told the time that he has been

In his presumption, unless such decree

Shorter by means of righteous prayers become.


For thirty times the length of time he was

Rebellious, unless this order

Can be made shorter through righteous prayers.


See now if thou hast power to make me happy,

By making known unto my good Costanza

How thou hast seen me, and this ban beside,


For those on earth can much advance us here."


Now see if you have the ability to make me happy,

By telling my good Costanza

How you have seen me, and how I am banned,


For those who live on earth can give us here much help."
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