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DANTE, Alighieri


LA DIVINA COMMEDIA


INFERNO/HELL

Canto III


La porta dell'inferno

Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.

Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina potestate,
la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore;

dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, o voi ch' intrate.

…..




















The Gate of Hell

Through me the way is to the city dolent;

Through me the way is to eternal dole;

Through me the way among the people lost.

Justice incited my sublime Creator;

Created me divine Omnipotence,

The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

Before me there were no created things,

Only eterne, and I eternal last.

All hope abandon, ye who enter in!

…..

De poort naar de hel

Door mij gaat men binnen in de stad van pijn.

Door mij gaat men naar het eeuwig lijden.

Door mij gaat men tot de mensen die verloren zijn.

Rechtvaardigheid bewoog mijn hoge Maker:

ik ben het werk van de goddelijke Macht,

de hoogste Wijsheid en de eerste Liefde.

Al wat voor mij werd geschapen was eeuwig

en ook ik blijf eeuwig voortbestaan.
Laat varen alle hoop gij die hier binnentreedt.

…..

Vertaling : Frederica BREMER

…..

Maestro, che è quel ch’i’ odo?
e che gent’è che par nel duol sì vinta?”.
Ed elli a me: “Questo misero modo
tegnon l’anime triste di coloro
che visser sanza ‘nfamia e sanza lodo.
Mischiate sono a quel cattivo coro
de li angeli che non furon ribelli

né fur fedeli a Dio, ma per sé fuoro.
Caccianli i ciel per non esser men belli,
né lo profondo inferno li riceve,
ch’alcuna gloria i rei avrebber d’elli”.
E io: “Maestro, che è tanto greve
a lor, che lamentar li fa sì forte?”.
Rispuose: “Dicerolti molto breve.
Questi non hanno speranza di morte
e la lor cieca vita è tanto bassa,
che ‘nvidiosi son d’ogne altra sorte.
Fama di loro il mondo esser non lassa;
misericordia e giustizia li sdegna:
non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda e passa

…..

…..

Master, what is it that I hear? Who are
those people so defeated by their pain?”
And he to me: “This miserable way
is taken by the sorry souls of those
who lived without disgrace and without praise.
They now commingle with the coward angels,
the company of those who were not rebels

nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them even the wicked cannot glory in them.”
And I: “What is it, master, that oppresses
these souls, compelling them to wail so loud?”
He answered: “I shall tell you in few words.
Those who are here can place no hope in death,
and their blind life is so abject that they
are envious of every other fate.
The world will let no fame of theirs endure;
both justice and compassion must disdain them;
let us not talk of them, but look and pass.

…..




Canto XIII: The Thorn forest


…..

Da che fatto fu poi di sangue bruno,
ricominciò a dir: "Perché mi scerpi?
non hai tu spirto di pietade alcuno?

Uomini fummo, e or siam fatti sterpi:
ben dovrebb’esser la tua man più pia,
se state fossimo anime di serpi".

Come d’un stizzo verde ch’arso sia
da l’un de’ capi, che da l’altro geme
e cigola per vento che va via,

sì de la scheggia rotta usciva insieme
parole e sangue; ond’io lasciai la cima
cadere, e stetti come l’uom che teme.

"S’elli avesse potuto creder prima",
rispuose ’l savio mio, "anima lesa,
ciò c’ ha veduto pur con la mia rima,

non averebbe in te la man distesa;
ma la cosa incredibile mi fece
indurlo ad ovra ch’a me stesso pesa.

Ma dilli chi tu fosti, sì che ’n vece
d’alcun’ammenda tua fama rinfreschi
nel mondo sù, dove tornar li lece.
…..


…..

Then dark with dripping blood it gave a howl

and cried again: 'Our damaged branches ache!

Your pillage maims me! Can't you feel at all?

We who were men are now this barren brake.

You'd grant us your respect and stay your hand

were we a thicket not of souls but snakes.'

As wood still green starts burning at one end

and from its unlit end the burning stick

drips sap, and hisses with escaping wind,

so from the broken stump there oozed a mix

of words and blood: a frothy babbling gore.

I dropped the branch. My fear had made me sick.

'Poor wounded soul, could he have grasped before,'

my sage replied, 'what now he sees is true,

and blindly trusted in poetic lore,

then he need not have so insulted you.

But as there was no other way to learn

I urged him to a test that grieved me too.


Tell us who you were, that he, in turn,

can set your honor freshly back in style

among those he will teach when he returns.

…..



Canto XXVII


…..

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse

A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,

Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

…..


…..

If I thought that my reply were given

to anyone who might return to the world,

this flame would stand forever still;

but since never from this deep place

has anyone returned alive, if what I hear is true, without fear of infamy I answer thee.

…..




PURGATORIO/PURGATORY

Canto XXVIII


Vago già di cercar dentro e dintorno
la divina foresta spessa e viva,
ch’a li occhi temperava il novo giorno,

sanza più aspettar, lasciai la riva,
prendendo la campagna lento lento
su per lo suol che d’ogne parte auliva.

Un’aura dolce, sanza mutamento
avere in sé, mi feria per la fronte
non di più colpo che soave vento;

per cui le fronde, tremolando, pronte
tutte quante piegavano a la parte
u’ la prim’ombra gitta il santo monte;

non però dal loro esser dritto sparte
tanto, che li augelletti per le cime
lasciasser d’operare ogne lor arte;

ma con piena letizia l’ore prime,
cantando, ricevieno intra le foglie,
che tenevan bordone a le sue rime,

tal qual di ramo in ramo si raccoglie
per la pineta in su ’l lito di Chiassi,
quand’Ëolo scilocco fuor discioglie.

Già m’avean trasportato i lenti passi
dentro a la selva antica tanto, ch’io
non potea rivedere ond’io mi ’ntrassi;

ed ecco più andar mi tolse un rio,
che ’nver’ sinistra con sue picciole onde
piegava l’erba che ’n sua ripa uscìo.

Tutte l’acque che son di qua più monde,
parrieno avere in sé mistura alcuna
verso di quella, che nulla nasconde,

avvegna che si mova bruna bruna
sotto l’ombra perpetüa, che mai
raggiar non lascia sole ivi né luna.

Coi piè ristetti e con li occhi passai
di là dal fiumicello, per mirare
la gran varïazion d’i freschi mai;

e là m’apparve, sì com’elli appare
subitamente cosa che disvia
per maraviglia tutto altro pensare,

una donna soletta che si gia
e cantando e scegliendo fior da fiore
ond’era pinta tutta la sua via.

"Deh, bella donna, che a’ raggi d’amore
ti scaldi, s’i’ vo’ credere a’ sembianti
che soglion esser testimon del core,

vegnati in voglia di trarreti avanti",
diss’io a lei, "verso questa rivera,
tanto ch’io possa intender che tu canti.

Tu mi fai rimembrar dove e qual era
Proserpina nel tempo che perdette
la madre lei, ed ella primavera".

Come si volge, con le piante strette
a terra e intra sé, donna che balli,
e piede innanzi piede a pena mette,

volsesi in su i vermigli e in su i gialli
fioretti verso me, non altrimenti
che vergine che li occhi onesti avvalli;

e fece i prieghi miei esser contenti,
sì appressando sé, che ’l dolce suono
veniva a me co’ suoi intendimenti.

Tosto che fu là dove l’erbe sono
bagnate già da l’onde del bel fiume,
di levar li occhi suoi mi fece dono.

Non credo che splendesse tanto lume
sotto le ciglia a Venere, trafitta
dal figlio fuor di tutto suo costume.

Ella ridea da l’altra riva dritta,
trattando più color con le sue mani,
che l’alta terra sanza seme gitta.
…..


Now keen to search within, to search around

that forest-dense, alive with green, divine-

which tempered the new day before my eyes,

without delay, I left behind the rise

and took the plain, advancing slowly, slowly

across the ground where every part was fragrant.

A gentle breeze, which did not seem to vary

within itself, was striking at my brow

but with no greater force than a kind wind's,

a wind that made the trembling boughs-they all

bent eagerly-incline in the direction

of morning shadows from the holy mountain;

but they were not deflected with such force

as to disturb the little birds upon

the branches in the practice of their arts;

for to the leaves, with song, birds welcomed those first hours of the morning joyously,

and leaves supplied the burden to their rhymes-

just like the wind that sounds from branch to branch

along the shore of Classe, through the pines

when Aeolus has set Sirocco loose.

Now, though my steps were slow, I'd gone so far

into the ancient forest that I could

no longer see where I had made my entry;

and there I came upon a stream that blocked

the path of my advance; its little waves

bent to the left the grass along its banks.

All of the purest waters here on earth,

when matched against that stream, would seem to be

touched by impurity; it hides no thing-

that stream-although it moves, dark, dark, beneath

the never-ending shadows, which allow

no ray of sun or moon to reach those waters.

I halted, and I set my eyes upon

the farther bank, to look at the abundant

variety of newly-flowered boughs;

and there, just like a thing that, in appearing

most suddenly, repels all other thoughts,

so great is the astonishment it brings,

I saw a solitary woman moving,

singing, and gathering up flower on flower-

the flowers that colored all of her pathway.

"I pray you, lovely lady, you who warm

yourself with rays of love, if I may trust

your looks-which often evidence the heart-

may it please you," I asked of her, "to move

ahead and closer to this river, so

that I may understand what you are singing.

You have reminded me of where and what-

just when her mother was deprived of her

and she deprived of spring-Proserpina was."

As, when she turns, a woman, dancing, keeps

her soles close to the ground and to each other

and scarcely lets one foot precede the other,

so did she turn, upon the little red

and yellow flowers, to me, no differently

than would a virgin, lowering chaste eyes.

I had beseeched, and I was satisfied,

for she approached so close that the sweet sound

that reached me then became intelligible.

No sooner had she reached the point where that

fair river's waves could barely bathe the grass,

than she gave me this gift: lifting her eyes.

I do not think a light so bright had shone

beneath the lids of Venus when her son

pierced her in extraordinary fashion.

Erect, along the farther bank, she smiled,

her hands entwining varicolored flowers,

which that high land, needing no seed, engenders.
…..




PARADISO / PARADISE

Canto I


…..
La provedenza, che cotanto assetta,

del suo lume fa 'l ciel sempre quïeto

nel qual si volge quel c'ha maggior fretta;


e ora lì, come a sito decreto,

cen porta la virtù di quella corda

che ciò che scocca drizza in segno lieto.


Vero è che, come forma non s'accorda

molte fïate a l'intenzion de l'arte,

perch' a risponder la materia è sorda,


così da questo corso si diparte

talor la creatura, c'ha podere

di piegar, così pinta, in altra parte;


e sì come veder si può cadere

foco di nube, sì l'impeto primo

l'atterra torto da falso piacere.


Non dei più ammirar, se bene stimo,

lo tuo salir, se non come d'un rivo

se d'alto monte scende giuso ad imo.


Maraviglia sarebbe in te se, privo

d'impedimento, giù ti fossi assiso,

com' a terra quïete in foco vivo."

Quinci rivolse inver' lo cielo il viso.

…..

…..
The Providence that has arrayed all this

forever quiets—with Its light—that heaven

in which the swiftest of the spheres revolves;


to there, as toward a destined place, we now

are carried by the power of the bow

that always aims its shaft at a glad mark.


Yet it is true that, even as a shape

may, often, not accord with art’s intent,

since matter may be unresponsive, deaf,


so, from this course, the creature strays at times

because he has the power, once impelled,

to swerve elsewhere; as lightning from a cloud


is seen to fall, so does the first impulse,

when man has been diverted by false pleasure,

turn him toward earth. You should—if I am right—


not feel more marvel at your climbing than

you would were you considering a stream

that from a mountain’s height falls to its base.


It would be cause for wonder in you if,

no longer hindered, you remained below,

as if, on earth, a living flame stood still.”

Then she again turned her gaze heavenward.

…..




Canto XXX

…..
e vidi lume in forma di rivera

fulvido di fulgore, intra due rive

dipinte di mirabil primavera.

Di tal fiumana uscian faville vive,

e d’ogne parte si mettien ne’ fiori,

66 quasi rubin che oro circunscrive;

poi, come inebrïate da li odori,

riprofondavan sé nel miro gurge,

e s’una intrava, un’altra n’uscia fori.
…..

…..
and I saw light that took a river’s form—

light flashing, reddish-gold, between two banks

painted with wonderful spring flowerings.

Out of that stream there issued living sparks,

which settled on the flowers on all sides,

like rubies set in gold; and then, as if

intoxicated with the odors, they

again plunged into the amazing flood:

as one spark sank, another spark emerged.

…..



…..

My son, you've seen the temporary fire

and the eternal fire; you have reached

the place past which my powers cannot see.

I've brought you here through intellect and art;

from now on, let your pleasure be your guide;

you're past the steep and past the narrow paths.

Look at the sun that shines upon your brow;

look at the grasses, flowers, and the shrubs

born here, spontaneously, of the earth.

Among them, you can rest or walk until

the coming of the glad and lovely eyes--

those eyes that weeping, sent me to your side.

Await no further word or sign from me:

your will is free, erect, and whole-- to act

against that will would be to err: therefore

I crown and miter you over yourself

…..

As soon as that majestic force,

which had already pierced me once

before I had outgrown my childhood, struck my eyes,

I turned to my left with the confidence

a child has running to his mamma

when he is afraid or in distress

to say to Virgil: 'Not a single drop of blood

remains in me that does not tremble--

I know the signs of the ancient flame.'

But Virgil had departed, leaving us bereft:

Virgil, sweetest of fathers,

Virgil, to whom I gave myself for my salvation.

And not all our ancient mother lost

could save my cheeks, washed in the dew,

from being stained again with tears.”
…..



LA VITA NUOVA


VII

…..
Now all is spent of that first wealth of joy

that sprang to earth from Love's bright treasury;

I live in poverty,

in writing's place comes insecurity.

And therefore I have sought to be like those

who cover up their poverty for shame:

I dress in happiness

but in my heart I weep and waste away.
…..

XIX
…..

The mind of God receives an angel's prayer

that says: 'My Lord, on earth is seen

a living miracle proceeding from

a soul whose light reaches as far as here.'

Heaven, that lacks its full perfection only

in lacking her, asks for her of its Lord,

and every saint is begging for this favour.

Compassion for his creatures still remains,

for God replies, referring to my lady:

'My chosen ones, now suffer peacefully,

and while it pleases me, let your hope stay

with one down there who dreads the loss of her,

who when in hell shall say unto the damned,

"I have beheld the hope of heaven's blessed."'
…..



XXVI
Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare

Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare
la donna mia, quand'ella altrui saluta,
ch'ogne lingua devèn, tremando, muta,
e li occhi no l'ardiscon di guardare.

Ella si va, sentendosi laudare,
benignamente d'umiltà vestuta,
e par che sia una cosa venuta
da cielo in terra a miracol mostrare.

Mostrasi sì piacente a chi la mira
che dà per li occhi una dolcezza al core,
che 'ntender no la può chi no la prova;

e par che de la sua labbia si mova
un spirito soave pien d'amore,
che va dicendo a l'anima: Sospira.



So gentle and virtuous she appears

So gentle and virtuous she appears,
My lady, when greeting other people
That every tongue tremblingly grows silent,
And eyes do not dare gaze upon her.

She passes by, hearing herself praised,
Graciously clothed with humility,
And she appears to be a creature who has come
From heaven to earth to show forth a miracle.

She shows herself so pleasing to her beholders,
That she gives through the eyes a sweetness to the heart,
Which no one can understand who does not feel it;

And it appears that from her lip moves
A tender spirit full of love,
Which says again and again to the soul: "Sigh.





Beauty of her face – XXVII

Vede perfettamente ogne salute
chi la mia donna tra le donne vede;
quelle che vanno con lei son tenute
di bella grazia a Dio render merzede.
E sua bieltate è di tanta vertute,
che nulla invidia a l'altre ne procede,
anzi le face andar seco vestute
di gentilezza d'amore e di fede.
La vista sua fa ogne cosa umile;
e non fa sola sé parer piacente,
ma ciascuna per lei riceve onore.
Ed è ne li atti suoi tanto gentile,
che nessun la si può recare a mente,
che non sospiri in dolcezza d'amore.




For certain he hath seen all perfectness
Who among other ladies hath seen mine:
They that go with her humbly should combine
To thank their God for such peculiar grace.
So perfect is the beauty of her face
That is begets in no wise any sigh
Of envy, but draws round her a clear line
Of love, and blessed faith, and gentleness.
Merely the sight of her makes all things bow:
Not she herself alone is holier
Than all; but hers, through her, are raised above.
From all her acts such lovely graces flow
That truly one may never think of her
Without a passion of exceeding love.




XXXIV
Gentil pensero che parla di vui

Gentil pensero che parla di vui
sen vene a dimorar meco sovente,
e ragiona d’amor sì dolcemente,
che face consentir lo core in lui.

L’anima dice al cor: "Chi è costui,
che vene a consolar la nostra mente,
ed è la sua vertù tanto possente,
ch’altro penser non lascia star con nui?

Ei le risponde: "Oi anima pensosa,
questi è uno spiritel novo d’amore,
che reca innanzi me li suoi desiri;

e la sua vita, e tutto ’l suo valore,
mosse de li occhi di quella pietosa
che si turbava de’ vostri martiri ".



There is a gentle thought

There is a gentle thought that often springs
to life in me, because it speaks of you.
Its reasoning about love’s so sweet and true,
the heart is conquered, and accepts these things.

‘Who is this’ the mind enquires of the heart,
‘who comes here to seduce our intellect?
Is his power so great we must reject
every other intellectual art?

The heart replies ‘O, meditative mind
this is love’s messenger and newly sent
to bring me all Love’s words and desires.

His life, and all the strength that he can find,
from her sweet eyes are mercifully lent,
who feels compassion for our inner fires.’




RIME O CANZONIERE

Sestina


Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra

son giunto, lasso!, ed al bianchir de’ colli,

quando si perde lo color ne l’erba;

e ’l mio disio però non cangia il verde,

si è barbato ne la dura petra

che parla e sente come fosse donna.


Similemente questa nova donna

si sta gelata come neve a l’ombra;

che non la move, se non come petra,

il dolce tempo che riscalda i colli

e che li fa tornar di bianco in verde

perché li copre di fioretti e d’erba.


Quand’ella ha in testa una ghirlanda d’erba,

trae de la mente nostra ogn’altra donna;

perché si mischia il crespo giallo e ’l verde

sì bel, ch’Amor lì viene a stare a l’ombra,

che m’ha serrato intra piccioli colli

più forte assai che la calcina petra.


La sua bellezza ha più vertù che petra,

e ’l colpo suo non può sanar per erba;

ch’io son fuggito per piani e per colli,

per potere scampar da cotal donna;

e dal suo lume non mi può far ombra

poggio né muro mai né fronda verde.


Io l’ho veduta già vestita a verde

sì fatta, ch’ella avrebbe messo in petra

l’amor ch’io porto pur a la sua ombra;

ond’io l’ho chesta in un bel prato d’erba

innamorata, com’anco fu donna,

e chiuso intorno d’altissimi colli.


Ma ben ritorneranno i fiumi a’ colli

prima che questo legno molle e verde

s’infiammi, come suol far bella donna,

di me; che mi torrei dormire in petra

tutto il mio tempo e gir pascendo l’erba,

sol per veder do’ suoi panni fanno ombra.


Quandunque i colli fanno più nera ombra,

sotto un bel verde la giovane donna

la fa sparer, com’uom petra sott’erba.


I have come, alas, to the great circle of shadow,

to the short day and to the whitening hills,

when the colour is all lost from the grass,

though my desire will not lose its green,

so rooted is it in this hardest stone,

that speaks and feels as though it were a woman.


And likewise this heaven-born woman

stays frozen, like the snow in shadow,

and is unmoved, or moved like a stone,

by the sweet season that warms all the hills,

and makes them alter from pure white to green,

so as to clothe them with the flowers and grass.


When her head wears a crown of grass

she draws the mind from any other woman,

because she blends her gold hair with the green

so well that Amor lingers in their shadow,

he who fastens me in these low hills,

more certainly than lime fastens stone.


Her beauty has more virtue than rare stone.

The wound she gives cannot be healed with grass,

since I have travelled, through the plains and hills,

to find my release from such a woman,

yet from her light had never a shadow

thrown on me, by hill, wall, or leaves’ green.


I have seen her walk all dressed in green,

so formed she would have sparked love in a stone,

that love I bear for her very shadow,

so that I wished her, in those fields of grass,

as much in love as ever yet was woman,

closed around by all the highest hills.


The rivers will flow upwards to the hills

before this wood, that is so soft and green,

takes fire, as might ever lovely woman,

for me, who would choose to sleep on stone,

all my life, and go eating grass,

only to gaze at where her clothes cast shadow.


Whenever the hills cast blackest shadow,

with her sweet green, the lovely woman

hides it, as a man hides stone in grass.


Translation: A.S. KLINE



Of Beatrice de Portinari

Last All Saints' holy-day, even now gone by,

I met a gethering of damozels:

She that came first, as one doth who excels,

Had Love wtih her, bearing her company:

A flame burn'd forward through her steadfast eye,

As when in living fire a spirit dwells:

So, gazing with the boldness which prevails

O'er doubt, I saw an angel visibly.

As she pass'd on, she bow'd her mild approof

And salutation to all men of worth,

Lifting the soul to solemn thoughts aloof.

In Heaven itself that lady had her birth,

I think, and is with us for our behoof:

Blessed are they that meet her on the earth.

translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


To the Lady Pietra degli Scrovigni

My curse be on the day when first I saw

The brightness in those treacherous eyes of thine,-

The hour when from my heart thou cam'st to draw

My soul away, that both might fail and pine -

My curse be on the skill that smooth'd each line

Of my vain songs, - the music and just law

Of art, by which it was my dear design

That the whole world should yield thee love and awe.

Yea, let me curse mine own obduracy,

Which firmly holds what doth itself confound -

To wit, thy fair perverted face of scorn:

For whose sake Love is oftentimes forsworn

So that men mock at him; but most at me

Who would hold fortune's wheel and turn it round.


translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti