Fire of Purification

Translated by Henry Francis Cary Selections from “The Divine Comedy” Purgatory: Canto XXVII. NOW was the sun so stationed, as when first His early radiance quivers on the heights, Where streamed his Maker’s blood; while Libra hangs Above Hesperian Ebro; and new fires, Meridian, flash on Ganges’ yellow tide. So day was sinking, when the angel of God Appeared before us. Joy was in his mien. Forth of the flame he stood upon the brink; And with a voice, whose lively clearness far Surpassed our human, “Blessed are the pure In heart,” he sang: then near him as we came, “Go ye not further, holy spirits!” he cried, “Ere the fire pierce you: enter in; and list Attentive to the song ye hear from thence.” I, when I heard his saying, was as one Laid in the grave. My hands together clasped, And upward stretching, on the fire I looked; And busy fancy conjured up the forms Erewhile beheld alive consumed in flames. The escorting spirits turned with gentle looks Toward me; and the Mantuan spake: “My son, Here torment thou may’st feel, but canst not death. Remember thee, remember thee, if I Safe e’en on Geryon brought thee; now I come More near to God, wilt thou not trust me now? Of this be sure; though in its womb that flame A thousand years contained thee, from thy head No hair should perish. If thou doubt my truth, Approach; and with thy hands thy vesture’s hem Stretch forth, and for thyself confirm belief. Lay now all fear, oh! lay all fear aside. Turn hither, and come onward undismayed.” I still, though conscience urged, no step advanced.* * * * * Into the fire before me then he walked: And Statius, who erewhile no little space Had parted us, he prayed to come behind. I would have cast me into molten glass To cool me, when I entered; so intense Raged the conflagrant mass. The sire beloved, To comfort me, as he proceeded, still Of Beatrice talked. “Her eyes,” saith he, “E’en now I seem to view.” From the other side A voice, that sang, did guide us; and the voice Following, with heedful ear, we issued forth, There where the path led upward. “Come,” we heard, “Come, blessèd of my Father.” Such the sounds, That hailed us from within a light, which shone So radiant, I could not endure the view. “The sun,” it added, “hastes: and evening comes. Delay not: ere the western sky is hung With blackness, strive ye for the pass.” Our way Upright within the rock arose, and faced Such part of heaven, that from before my steps The beams were shrouded of the sinking sun.

1285
Sub Title: 
VIII. Selections from “The Divine Comedy”

More from Poet

Translated by Henry Francis Cary Selections from “The Divine Comedy” Paradise: Canto XXXI. IN fashion, as a snow-white rose, lay then Before my view the saintly multitude, Which is his own blood Christ espoused. Meanwhile, That other host, that soar aloft to gaze And celebrate his glory, whom...

Translated by Henry Francis Cary Selections from “The Divine Comedy” Paradise: Canto XIV. AND lo! forthwith there rose up round about A lustre, over that already there; Of equal clearness, like the brightening up Of the horizon. As at evening hour Of twilight, new appearances through heaven...

Translated by Henry Francis Cary Selections from “The Divine Comedy” Paradise: Canto VII. WHAT I have heard, Is plain, thou say’st: but wherefore God this way For our redemption chose, eludes my search. “Brother! no eye of man not perfected, Nor fully ripened in the flame...

Translated by Henry Francis Cary Selections from “The Divine Comedy” Purgatory: Canto XXVII. NOW was the sun so stationed, as when first His early radiance quivers on the heights, Where streamed his Maker’s blood; while Libra hangs Above Hesperian Ebro; and new fires, Meridian, flash on Ganges’...

Translated by Henry Francis Cary Selections from “The Divine Comedy” Purgatory: Canto XVI. “YE, who live, Do so each cause refer to heaven above, E’en as its motion, of necessity, Drew with it all that moves. If this were so, Free choice in you were none; nor justice...