Divine Comedy

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And as he is, who unwills what he willed, And by new thoughts doth his intention change, So that from his design he quite withdraws,

Such I became, upon that dark hillside, Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise, Which was so very prompt in the beginning.

"If I have well thy language understood," Replied that shade of the Magnanimous, "Thy soul attainted is with cowardice,

Which many times a man encumbers so, It turns him back from honoured enterprise, As false sight doth a beast, when he is shy.

That thou mayst free thee from this apprehension, I'll tell thee why I came, and what I heard At the first moment when I grieved for thee.

Among those was I who are in suspense, And a fair, saintly Lady called to me In such wise, I besought her to command me.

Her eyes where shining brighter than the Star; And she began to say, gentle and low, With voice angelical, in her own language:

'O spirit courteous of Mantua, Of whom the fame still in the world endures, And shall endure, long-lasting as the world;

A friend of mine, and not the friend of fortune, Upon the desert slope is so impeded Upon his way, that he has turned through terror,

And may, I fear, already be so lost, That I too late have risen to his succour, From that which I have heard of him in Heaven.

Bestir thee now, and with thy speech ornate, And with what needful is for his release, Assist him so, that I may be consoled.

Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go; I come from there, where I would fain return; Love moved me, which compelleth me to speak.

When I shall be in presence of my Lord, Full often will I praise thee unto him.' Then paused she, and thereafter I began:

'O Lady of virtue, thou alone through whom The human race exceedeth all contained Within the heaven that has the lesser circles,

So grateful unto me is thy commandment, To obey, if 'twere already done, were late; No farther need'st thou ope to me thy wish.

But the cause tell me why thou dost not shun The here descending down into this centre, From the vast place thou burnest to return to.'

'Since thou wouldst fain so inwardly discern, Briefly will I relate,' she answered me, 'Why I am not afraid to enter here.

Of those things only should one be afraid Which have the power of doing others harm; Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful.

God in his mercy such created me That misery of yours attains me not, Nor any flame assails me of this burning.

A gentle Lady is in Heaven, who grieves At this impediment, to which I send thee, So that stern judgment there above is broken.

In her entreaty she besought Lucia, And said, "Thy faithful one now stands in need Of thee, and unto thee I recommend him."

Lucia, foe of all that cruel is, Hastened away, and came unto the place Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel.

"Beatrice" said she, "the true praise of God, Why succourest thou not him, who loved thee so, For thee he issued from the vulgar herd?

Dost thou not hear the pity of his plaint? Dost thou not see the death that combats him Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt?"

Never were persons 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, Confiding in thy dignified discourse, Which honours thee, and those who've listened to it.'

After she thus had spoken unto me, Weeping, her shining eyes she turned away; Whereby she made me swifter in my coming;

And unto thee I came, as she desired; I have delivered thee from that wild beast, Which barred the beautiful mountain's short ascent.

What is it, then? Why, why dost thou delay? Why is such baseness bedded in thy heart? Daring and hardihood why hast thou not,

Seeing that three such Ladies benedight Are caring for thee in the court of Heaven, And so much good my speech doth promise thee?"

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