Author:

The Last Leap

ALL is over! fleet career,
Dash of greyhound slipping thongs,
Flight of falcon, bound of deer,
Mad hoof-thunder in our rear,
Cold air rushing up our lungs,
Din of many tongues.

Once again, one struggle good,
One vain effort;—he must dwell
Near the shifted post, that stood
Where the splinters of the wood,
Lying in the torn tracks, tell
How he struck and fell.

Crest where cold drops beaded cling,
Small ear drooping, nostril full,
Glazing to a scarlet ring,
Flanks and haunches quivering,
Sinews stiffening, void and null,
Dumb eyes sorrowful.

Satin coat that seems to shine
Duller now, black braided tress
That a softer hand than mine
Far away was wont to twine,
That in meadows far from this
Softer lips might kiss.

All is over! this is death,
And I stand to watch thee die,
Brave old horse! with bated breath
Hardly drawn through tight-clenched teeth,
Lip indented deep, but eye
Only dull and dry.

Musing on the husk and chaff
Gathered where life’s tares are sown,
Thus I speak, and force a laugh,
That is half a sneer and half
An involuntary groan,
In a stifled tone—

‘Rest, old friend! thy day, though rife
With its toil, hath ended soon;
We have had our share of strife,
Tumblers in the masque of life,
In the pantomime of noon
Clown and pantaloon.

‘With a flash that ends thy pain,
Respite and oblivion blest
Come to greet thee. I in vain
Fall: I rise to fall again:
Thou hast fallen to thy rest—
And thy fall is best

Thora’s Song (‘Ashtaroth’)

We severed in Autumn early,
Ere the earth was torn by the plough;
The wheat and the oats and the barley
Are ripe for the harvest now.
We sunder’d one misty morning
Ere the hills were dimm’d by the rain;
Through the flowers those hills adorning —
Thou comest not back again.

My heart is heavy and weary
With the weight of a weary soul;
The mid-day glare grows dreary,
And dreary the midnight scroll.
The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle,
‘Neath the load of their golden grain;
I sigh for a mate more fickle —
Thou comest not back again.

The warm sun riseth and setteth,
The night bringeth moistening dew,
But the soul that longeth forgetteth
The warmth and the moisture too.
In the hot sun rising and setting
There is naught save feverish pain;
There are tears in the night-dews wetting —
Thou comest not back again.

Thy voice in my ear still mingles
With the voices of whisp’ring trees,
Thy kiss on my cheek still tingles
At each kiss of the summer breeze.
While dreams of the past are thronging
For substance of shades in vain,
I am waiting, watching and longing —
Thou comest not back again.

Waiting and watching ever,
Longing and lingering yet;
Leaves rustle and corn-stalks quiver,
Winds murmur and waters fret.
No answer they bring, no greeting,
No speech, save that sad refrain,
Nor voice, save an echo repeating —
He cometh not back again.

A Mood

A blight, a gloom, I know not what, has crept upon my gladness–
Some vague, remote ancestral touch of sorrow, or of madness;
A fear that is not fear, a pain that has not pain’s insistence;
A sense of longing, or of loss, in some foregone exsistence;
A subtle hurt that never pen has writ nor tongue has spoken–
Such hurt perchance as Nature feels wen a blossomed bough is broken.

Sleep

When to oft sleep we give ourselves away,
And in a dream as in a fairy bark
Drift on and on through the enchanted dark
To purple daybreak — little thought we pay
To that sweet bitter world we know by day.
We are clean quit of it, as is a lark
So high in heaven no human eye can mark
The thin swift pinion cleaving through the gray.
Till we awake ill fate can do no ill,
The resting heart shall not take up again
The heavy load that yet must make it bleed;
For this brief space the loud world’s voice is still,
No faintest echo of it brings us pain.
How will it be when we shall sleep indeed?

The Lonely God

So Eden was deserted, and at eve
Into the quiet place God came to grieve.
His face was sad, His hands hung slackly down
Along his robe; too sorrowful to frown
He paced along the grassy paths and through
The silent trees, and where the flowers grew
Tended by Adam. All the birds had gone
Out to the world, and singing was not one
To cheer the lonely God out of His grief —
The silence broken only when a leaf
Tapt lightly on a leaf, or when the wind,
Slow-handed, swayed the bushes to its mind.

And so along the base of a round hill,
Rolling in fern, He bent His way until
He neared the little hut which Adam made,
And saw its dusky rooftree overlaid
With greenest leaves. Here Adam and his spouse
Were wont to nestle in their little house
Snug at the dew-time: here He, standing sad,
Sighed with the wind, nor any pleasure had
In heavenly knowledge, for His darlings twain
Had gone from Him to learn the feel of pain,
And what was meant by sorrow and despair, —
Drear knowledge for a Father to prepare.

There he looked sadly on the little place;
A beehive round it was, without a trace
Of occupant or owner; standing dim
Among the gloomy trees it seemed to Him
A final desolation, the last word
Wherewith the lips of silence had been stirred.
Chaste and remote, so tiny and so shy,
So new withal, so lost to any eye,
So pac’t of memories all innocent
Of days and nights that in it had been spent
In blithe communion, Adam, Eve, and He,
Afar from Heaven and its gaudery;
And now no more! He still must be the God
But not the friend; a Father with a rod
Whose voice was fear, whose countenance a threat,
Whose coming terror, and whose going wet
With penitential tears; not evermore
Would they run forth to meet Him as before
With careless laughter, striving each to be
First to His hand and dancing in their glee
To see Him coming — they would hide instead
At His approach, or stand and hang the head,
Speaking in whispers, and would learn to pray
Instead of asking, ‘Father, if we may.’

Never again to Eden would He haste
At cool of evening, when the sun had paced
Back from the tree-tops, slanting from the rim
Of a low cloud, what time the twilight dim
Knit tree to tree in shadow, gathering slow
Till all had met and vanished in the flow
Of dusky silence, and a brooding star
Stared at the growing darkness from afar,
While haply now and then some nested bird
Would lift upon the air a sleepy word
Most musical, or swing its airy bed
To the high moon that drifted overhead.

‘Twas good to quit at evening His great throne,
To lay His crown aside, and all alone
Down through the quiet air to stoop and glide
Unkenned by angels: silently to hide
In the green fields, by dappled shades, where brooks
Through leafy solitudes and quiet nooks
Flowed far from heavenly majesty and pride,
From light astounding and the wheeling tide
Of roaring stars. Thus does it ever seem
Good to the best to stay aside and dream
In narrow places, where the hand can feel
Something beside, and know that it is real.
His angels! silly creatures who could sing
And sing again, and delicately fling
The smoky censer, bow and stand aside
All mute in adoration: thronging wide,
Till nowhere could He look but soon He saw
An angel bending humbly to the law
Mechanic; knowing nothing more of pain,
Than when they were forbid to sing again,
Or swing anew the censer, or bow down
In humble adoration of His frown.
This was the thought in Eden as He trod —
. . . It is a lonely thing to be a God.

So long! afar through Time He bent His mind,
For the beginning, which He could not find,
Through endless centuries and backwards still
Endless forever, till His ‘stonied will
Halted in circles, dizzied in the swing
Of mazy nothingness. — His mind could bring
Not to subjection, grip or hold the theme
Whose wide horizon melted like a dream
To thinnest edges. Infinite behind
The piling centuries were trodden blind
In gulfs chaotic — so He could not see
When He was not who always had To Be.

Not even godly fortitude can stare
Into Eternity, nor easy bear
The insolent vacuity of Time:
It is too much, the mind can never climb
Up to its meaning, for, without an end,
Without beginning, plan, or scope, or trend
To point a path, there nothing is to hold
And steady surmise: so the mind is rolled
And swayed and drowned in dull Immensity.
Eternity outfaces even Me
With its indifference, and the fruitless year
Would swing as fruitless were I never there.

And so for ever, day and night the same,
Years flying swiftly nowhere, like a game
Played random by a madman, without end
Or any reasoned object but to spend
What is unspendable — Eternal Woe!
O Weariness of Time that fast or slow
Goes never further, never has in view
An ending to the thing it seeks to do,
And so does nothing: merely ebb and flow,
From nowhere into nowhere, touching so
The shores of many stars and passing on,
Careless of what may come or what has gone.

O solitude unspeakable! to be
For ever with oneself! never see
An equal face, or feel an equal hand,
To sit in state and issue reprimand,
Admonishment or glory, and to smile
Disdaining what has happenèd the while!
O to be breast to breast against a foe!
Against a friend! to strive and not to know
The laboured outcome: love nor be aware
How much the other loved, and greatly care
With passion for that happy love or hate,
Nor know what joy or dole was hid in fate.
For I have ranged the spacy width and gone
Swift north and south, striving to look upon
An ending somewhere. Many days I sped
Hard to the west, a thousand years I fled
Eastwards in fury, but I could not find
The fringes of the Infinite. Behind
And yet behind, and ever at the end
Came new beginnings, paths that did not wend
To anywhere were there: and ever vast
And vaster spaces opened — till at last
Dizzied with distance, thrilling to a pain
Unnameable, I turned to Heaven again.
And there My angels were prepared to fling
The cloudy incense, there prepared to sing
My praise and glory — O, in fury I
Then roared them senseless, then threw down the sky
And stamped upon it, buffeted a star
With my great fist, and flung the sun afar:
Shouted My anger till the mighty sound
Rung to the width, frighting the furthest bound
And scope of hearing: tumult vaster still,
Throning the echo, dinned My ears, until
I fled in silence, seeking out a place
To hide Me from the very thought of Space.

And so, He thought, in Mine own Image I
Have made a man, remote from Heaven high
And all its humble angels: I have poured
My essence in his nostrils: I have cored
His heart with My own spirit; part of Me,
His mind with laboured growth unceasingly
Must strive to equal Mine; must ever grow
By virtue of My essence till he know
Both good and evil through the solemn test
Of sin and retribution, till, with zest,
He feels his godhead, soars to challenge Me
In Mine own Heaven for supremacy.

Through savage beasts and still more savage clay,
Invincible, I bid him fight a way
To greater battles, crawling through defeat
Into defeat again: ordained to meet
Disaster in disaster; prone to fall,
I prick him with My memory to call
Defiance at his victor and arise
With anguished fury to his greater size
Through tribulation, terror, and despair.
Astounded, he must fight to higher air,
Climb battle into battle till he be
Confronted with a flaming sword and Me.

So growing age by age to greater strength,
To greater beauty, skill and deep intent:
With wisdom wrung from pain, with energy
Nourished in sin and sorrow, he will be
Strong, pure and proud an enemy to meet,
Tremendous on a battle-field, or sweet
To walk by as friend with candid mind.
–Dear enemy or friend so hard to find,
I yet shall find you, yet shall put My breast
In enmity or love against your breast:
Shall smite or clasp with equal ecstasy
The enemy or friend who grows to Me.

The topmost blossom of his growing I
Shall take unto Me, cherish and lift high
Beside myself upon My holy throne: —
It is not good for God to be alone.
The perfect woman of his perfect race
Shall sit beside Me in the highest place
And be my Goddess, Queen, Companion, Wife,
The rounder of My majesty, the life
Of My ambition. She will smile to see
Me bending down to worship at her knee
Who never bent before, and she will say,
‘Dear God, who was it taught Thee how to pray?"

And through eternity, adown the slope
Of never-ending time, compact of hope,
Of zest and young enjoyment, I and She
Will walk together, sowing jollity
Among the raving stars, and laughter through
The vacancies of Heaven, till the blue
Vast amplitudes of space lift up a song,
The echo of our presence, rolled along
And ever rolling where the planets sing
The majesty and glory of the King.
Then conquered, thou, Eternity, shalt lie
Under My hand as little as a fly.

I am the Master: I the mighty God
And you My workshop. Your pavilions trod
By Me and Mine shall never cease to be,
For you are but the magnitude of Me,
The width of My extension, the surround
Of My dense splendour. Rolling, rolling round,
To steeped infinity, and out beyond
My own strong comprehension, you are bond
And servile to My doings. Let you swing
More wide and ever wide, you do but fling
Around the instant Me, and measure still
The breadth and proportion of My Will.

Then stooping to the hut — a beehive round —
God entered in and saw upon the ground
The dusty garland, Adam, (learned to weave)
Had loving placed upon the head of Eve
Before the terror came, when joyous they
Could look for God at closing of the day
Profound and happy. So the Mighty Guest
Rent, took, and placed the blossoms in His breast.
‘This,’ said He gently, ‘I shall show My queen
When she hath grown to Me in space serene,
And say "’twas worn by Eve."’ So, smiling fair,
He spread abroad His wings upon the air.

Emily Dickinson

We think of hidden in a white dress
among the folded linens and sachets
of well-kept cupboards, or just out of sight
sending jellies and notes with no address
to all the wondering Amherst neighbors.
Eccentric as New England weather
the stiff wind of her mind, stinging or gentle,
blew two half imagined lovers off.
Yet legend won’t explain the sheer sanity
of vision, the serious mischief
of language, the economy of pain.

On Rabbi Kook’s Street

On Rabbi Kook’s Street
I walk without this good man–
A streiml he wore for prayer
A silk top hat he wore to govern,
fly in the wind of the dead
above me, float on the water
of my dreams.

I come to the Street of Prophets–there are none.
And the Street of Ethiopians–there are a few. I’m
looking for a place for you to live after me
padding your solitary nest for you,
setting up the place of my pain with the sweat of my brow
examining the road on which you’ll return
and the window of your room, the gaping wound,
between closed and opened, between light and dark.

There are smells of baking from inside the shanty,
there’s a shop where they distribute Bibles free,
free, free. More than one prophet
has left this tangle of lanes
while everything topples above him and he becomes someone else.

On Rabbi Kook’s street I walk
–your bed on my back like a cross–
though it’s hard to believe
a woman’s bed will become the symbol of a new religion.

Do Not Accept

Do not accept these rains that come too late.
Better to linger. Make your pain
An image of the desert. Say it’s said
And do not look to the west. Refuse

To surrender. Try this year too
To live alone in the long summer,
Eat your drying bread, refrain
From tears. And do not learn from

Experience. Take as an example my youth,
My return late at night, what has been written
In the rain of yesteryear. It makes no difference

Now. See your events as my events.
Everything will be as before: Abraham will again
Be Abram. Sarah will be Sarai.

trans. Benjamin & Barbara Harshav

Zeroing In

"I am a landscape," he said.
"a landscape and a person walking in that landscape.
There are daunting cliffs there,
And plains glad in their way
of brown monotony. But especially
there are sinkholes, places
of sudden terror, of small circumference
and malevolent depths."
"I know," she said. "When I set forth
to walk in myself, as it might be
on a fine afternoon, forgetting,
sooner or later I come to where sedge
and clumps of white flowers, rue perhaps,
mark the bogland, and I know
there are quagmires there that can pull you
down, and sink you in bubbling mud."
"We had an old dog," he told her, "when I was a boy,
a good dog, friendly. But there was an injured spot
on his head, if you happened
just to touch it he’d jump up yelping
and bite you. He bit a young child,
they had to take him down to the vet’s and destroy him."
"No one knows where it is," she said,
"and even by accident no one touches it.
It’s inside my landscape, and only I, making my way
preoccupied through my life, crossing my hills,
sleeping on green moss of my own woods,
I myself without warning touch it,
and leap up at myself -"
"- or flinch back
just in time."
&nbs p;&nbsp ;"Yes, we learn that.
It’s not a terror, it’s pain we’re talking about:
those places in us, like your dog’s bruised head,
that are bruised forever, that time
never assuages, never."

St. Peter And The Angel

Delivered out of raw continual pain,
smell of darkness, groans of those others
to whom he was chained–

unchained, and led
past the sleepers,
door after door silently opening–
out!
     And along a long street’s
majestic emptiness under the moon:

one hand on the angel’s shoulder, one
feeling the air before him,
eyes open but fixed…

And not till he saw the angel had left him,
alone and free to resume
the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of
what he had still to do,
not till then did he recognize
this was no dream. More frightening
than arrest, than being chained to his warders:
he could hear his own footsteps suddenly.
Had the angel’s feet
made any sound? He could not recall.
No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit.
He himself must be
the key, now, to the next door,
the next terrors of freedom and joy.

Inferno Canto02

Lo giorno se n’andava, e l’aere bruno
toglieva li animai che sono in terra
da le fatiche loro; e io sol uno

The day was now departing; the dark air
released the living beings of the earth
from work and weariness; and I myself

m’apparecchiava a sostener la guerra
sì del cammino e sì de la pietate,
che ritrarrà la mente che non erra .

alone prepared to undergo the battle
both of the journeying and of the pity,
which memory, mistaking not, shall show.

O muse, o alto ingegno, or m’aiutate;
o mente che scrivesti ciò ch’io vidi,
qui si parrà la tua nobilitate .

O Muses, o high genius, help me now;
o memory that set down what I saw,
here shall your excellence reveal itself!

Io cominciai: «Poeta che mi guidi,
guarda la mia virtù s’ell’è possente,
prima ch’a l’alto passo tu mi fidi .

I started: "Poet, you who are my guide,
see if the force in me is strong enough
before you let me face that rugged pass.

Tu dici che di Silvio il parente,
corruttibile ancora, ad immortale
secolo andò, e fu sensibilmente .

You say that he who fathered Sylvius,
while he was still corruptible, had journeyed
into the deathless world with his live body.

Però, se l’avversario d’ogne male
cortese i fu, pensando l’alto effetto
ch’uscir dovea di lui e ‘l chi e ‘l quale ,

For, if the Enemy of every evil
was courteous to him, considering
all he would cause and who and what he was,

non pare indegno ad omo d’intelletto;
ch’e’ fu de l’alma Roma e di suo impero
ne l’empireo ciel per padre eletto :

that does not seem incomprehensible,
since in the empyrean heaven he was chosen
to father honored Rome and her empire;

la quale e ‘l quale, a voler dir lo vero,
fu stabilita per lo loco santo
u’ siede il successor del maggior Piero .

and if the truth be told, Rome and her realm
were destined to become the sacred place,
the seat of the successor of great Peter.

Per quest’andata onde li dai tu vanto,
intese cose che furon cagione
di sua vittoria e del papale ammanto .

And through the journey you ascribe to him,
he came to learn of things that were to bring
his victory and, too, the papal mantle.

Andovvi poi lo Vas d’elezione,
per recarne conforto a quella fede
ch’è principio a la via di salvazione .

Later the Chosen Vessel travelled there,
to bring us back assurance of that faith
with which the way to our salvation starts.

Ma io perché venirvi? o chi ‘l concede?
Io non Enea, io non Paulo sono:
me degno a ciò né io né altri ‘l crede .

But why should I go there? Who sanctions it?
For I am not Aeneas, am not Paul;
nor I nor others think myself so worthy.

Per che, se del venire io m’abbandono,
temo che la venuta non sia folle.
Se’ savio; intendi me’ ch’i’ non ragiono ».

Therefore, if I consent to start this journey,
I fear my venture may be wild and empty.
You’re wise; you know far more than what I say."

E qual è quei che disvuol ciò che volle
e per novi pensier cangia proposta,
sì che dal cominciar tutto si tolle ,

And just as he who unwills what he wills
and shifts what he intends to seek new ends
so that he’s drawn from what he had begun,

tal mi fec’io ‘n quella oscura costa,
perché, pensando, consumai la ‘mpresa
che fu nel cominciar cotanto tosta.

so was I in the midst of that dark land,
because, with all my thinking, I annulled
the task I had so quickly undertaken.

«S’i’ ho ben la parola tua intesa»,
rispuose del magnanimo quell’ombra;
«l’anima tua è da viltade offesa ;

"If I have understood what you have said,"
replied the shade of that great-hearted one,
"your soul has been assailed by cowardice,

la qual molte fiate l’omo ingombra
sì che d’onrata impresa lo rivolve,
come falso veder bestia quand’ombra .

which often weighs so heavily on a man-
distracting him from honorable trials-
as phantoms frighten beasts when shadows fall.

Da questa tema acciò che tu ti solve,
dirotti perch’io venni e quel ch’io ‘ntesi
nel primo punto che di te mi dolve .

That you may be delivered from this fear,
I’ll tell you why I came and what I heard
when I first felt compassion for your pain.

Io era tra color che son sospesi,
e donna mi chiamò beata e bella,
tal che di comandare io la richiesi .

I was among those souls who are suspended;
a lady called to me, so blessed, so lovely
that I implored to serve at her command.

Lucevan li occhi suoi più che la stella;
e cominciommi a dir soave e piana,
con angelica voce, in sua favella :

Her eyes surpassed the splendor of the star’s;
and she began to speak to me-so gently
and softly-with angelic voice. She said:

"O anima cortese mantoana,
di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura,
e durerà quanto ‘l mondo lontana ,

‘O spirit of the courteous Mantuan,
whose fame is still a presence in the world
and shall endure as long as the world lasts,

l’amico mio, e non de la ventura,
ne la diserta piaggia è impedito
sì nel cammin, che volt’è per paura ;

my friend, who has not been the friend of fortune,
is hindered in his path along that lonely
hillside; he has been turned aside by terror.

e temo che non sia già sì smarrito,
ch’io mi sia tardi al soccorso levata,
per quel ch’i’ ho di lui nel cielo udito .

From all that I have heard of him in Heaven,
he is, I fear, already so astray
that I have come to help him much too late.

Or movi, e con la tua parola ornata
e con ciò c’ha mestieri al suo campare
l’aiuta, sì ch’i’ ne sia consolata .

Go now; with your persuasive word, with all
that is required to see that he escapes,
bring help to him, that I may be consoled.

I’ son Beatrice che ti faccio andare;
vegno del loco ove tornar disio;
amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare .

For I am Beatrice who send you on;
I come from where I most long to return;
Love prompted me, that Love which makes me speak.

Quando sarò dinanzi al segnor mio,
di te mi loderò sovente a lui".
Tacette allora, e poi comincia’ io :

When once again I stand before my Lord,
then I shall often let Him hear your praises.’
Now Beatrice was silent. I began:

"O donna di virtù, sola per cui
l’umana spezie eccede ogne contento
di quel ciel c’ha minor li cerchi sui ,

‘O Lady of virtue, the sole reason why
the human race surpasses all that lies
beneath the heaven with the smallest spheres,

tanto m’aggrada il tuo comandamento,
che l’ubidir, se già fosse, m’è tardi;
più non t’è uo’ ch’aprirmi il tuo talento .

so welcome is your wish, that even if
it were already done, it would seem tardy;
all you need do is let me know your will.

Ma dimmi la cagion che non ti guardi
de lo scender qua giuso in questo centro
de l’ampio loco ove tornar tu ardi ".

But tell me why you have not been more prudent-
descending to this center, moving from
that spacious place where you long to return?’

"Da che tu vuo’ saver cotanto a dentro,
dirotti brievemente", mi rispuose,
"perch’io non temo di venir qua entro .

‘Because you want to fathom things so deeply,
I now shall tell you promptly,’ she replied,
‘why I am not afraid to enter here.

Temer si dee di sole quelle cose
c’hanno potenza di fare altrui male;
de l’altre no, ché non son paurose .

One ought to be afraid of nothing other
than things possessed of power to do us harm,
but things innocuous need not be feared.

I’ son fatta da Dio, sua mercé, tale,
che la vostra miseria non mi tange,
né fiamma d’esto incendio non m’assale .

God, in His graciousness, has made me so
that this, your misery, cannot touch me;
I can withstand the fires flaming here.

Donna è gentil nel ciel che si compiange
di questo ‘mpedimento ov’io ti mando,
sì che duro giudicio là sù frange .

In Heaven there’s a gentle lady-one
who weeps for the distress toward which I send you,
so that stern judgment up above is shattered.

Questa chiese Lucia in suo dimando
e disse: – Or ha bisogno il tuo fedele
di te, e io a te lo raccomando -.

And it was she who called upon Lucia,
requesting of her: "Now your faithful one
has need of you, and I commend him to you."

Lucia, nimica di ciascun crudele,
si mosse, e venne al loco dov’i’ era,
che mi sedea con l’antica Rachele .

Lucia, enemy of every cruelty,
arose and made her way to where I was,
sitting beside the venerable Rachel.

Disse: – Beatrice, loda di Dio vera,
ché non soccorri quei che t’amò tanto,
ch’uscì per te de la volgare schiera ?

She said: "You, Beatrice, true praise of God,
why have you not helped him who loves you so
that-for your sake-he’s left the vulgar crowd?

non odi tu la pieta del suo pianto?
non vedi tu la morte che ‘l combatte
su la fiumana ove ‘l mar non ha vanto ? –

Do you not hear the anguish in his cry?
Do you not see the death he wars against
upon that river ruthless as the sea?"

Al mondo non fur mai persone ratte
a far lor pro o a fuggir lor danno,
com’io, dopo cotai parole fatte,

No one within this world has ever been
so quick to seek his good or flee his harm
as I-when she had finished speaking thus-

venni qua giù del mio beato scanno,
fidandomi del tuo parlare onesto,
ch’onora te e quei ch’udito l’hanno ".

to come below, down from my blessed station;
I trusted in your honest utterance,
which honors you and those who’ve listened to you.’

Poscia che m’ebbe ragionato questo,
li occhi lucenti lagrimando volse;
per che mi fece del venir più presto ;

When she had finished with her words to me,
she turned aside her gleaming, tearful eyes,
which only made me hurry all the more.

e venni a te così com’ella volse;
d’inanzi a quella fiera ti levai
che del bel monte il corto andar ti tolse .

And, just as she had wished, I came to you:
I snatched you from the path of the fierce beast
that barred the shortest way up the fair mountain.

Dunque: che è? perché, perché restai?
perché tanta viltà nel core allette?
perché ardire e franchezza non hai ?

What is it then? Why, why do you resist?
Why does your heart host so much cowardice?
Where are your daring and your openness

poscia che tai tre donne benedette
curan di te ne la corte del cielo,
e ‘l mio parlar tanto ben ti promette? ».

as long as there are three such blessed women
concerned for you within the court of Heaven
and my words promise you so great a good?"

Quali fioretti dal notturno gelo
chinati e chiusi, poi che ‘l sol li ‘mbianca
si drizzan tutti aperti in loro stelo ,

As little flowers, which the chill of night
has bent and huddled, when the white sun strikes
grow straight and open fully on their stems,

tal mi fec’io di mia virtude stanca,
e tanto buono ardire al cor mi corse,
ch’i’ cominciai come persona franca :

so did I, too, with my exhausted force;
and such warm daring rushed into my heart
that I-as one who has been freed-began:

«Oh pietosa colei che mi soccorse!
e te cortese ch’ubidisti tosto
a le vere parole che ti porse !

"O she, compassionate, who has helped me!
And you who, courteous, obeyed so quickly
the true words that she had addressed to you!

Tu m’hai con disiderio il cor disposto
sì al venir con le parole tue,
ch’i’ son tornato nel primo proposto .

You, with your words, have so disposed my heart
to longing for this journey-I return
to what I was at first prepared to do.

Or va, ch’un sol volere è d’ambedue:
tu duca, tu segnore, e tu maestro».
Così li dissi; e poi che mosso fue ,

Now go; a single will fills both of us:
you are my guide, my governor, my master."
These were my words to him; when he advanced

intrai per lo cammino alto e silvestro .

I entered on the steep and savage path.