Inferno: Canto I Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost. Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say What was this forest savage, rough, and stern, Which in the very thought renews the fear. So bitter is it, death is little more; But of the good to treat, which there I found, Speak will I of the other things I saw there
Purgatory: Canto 1 O'er better waves to speed her rapid course The light bark of my genius lifts the sale, Well pleas'd to leave so cruel sea behind; And of that second region will I sing, Inwhich the human spirit from sinful blot Is purg'd, and for ascent to Heaven prepares. Here, O ye hallow'd Nine! for in you train I follow, here the deadened strain revive; Nor let Calliope refuse to sound A somewhat higher song, of that loud tone, Which when the wretched birds of chattering note Had heard,they of forgiveness lost all hope. Sweet hue of eastern sapphire, that was spread O'er the serene aspect of the pure air, High up as the first circle, to mine eyes Unwonted joy renew'd, soon as I 'scap'd Forth from the atmosphere of deadly gloom, That had mine eyes and bosom fill'd with grief. The radiant planet, that to love invites, Made all the orient laugh, and veil'd beneath The Pisces' light, that in his escort came.
Paradise: Canto I His glory, by whose might all things are mov'd, Pierces the universe, and in one part Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less. In heav'n, That largeliest of his light partakes, was I, Witness of things, which to relate again Surpasseth power of him who comes from thence; For that, so near approaching its desire Our intellect is to such depth absorb'd, That memory cannot follow. Nathless all, That in my thoughts I of that sacred realm Could store, shall now be matter of my song Benigh Apollo! this last labour aid, And make me such a vessel of thy worth, As thy own laurel claims of me belov'd. Thus far hath one of steep Parnassus' brows Suffic'd me; henceforth there is need of both For my remaining enterprise Do thou Enter into my bosom, and there breathe So, as when Marsyas by thy hand was dragg'd Forth from his limbs unseath'd. O power divine! If thou to me of shine impart so much, That of that happy realm the shadow'd form Trac'd in my thoughts I may set forth view, Thou shalt behold me of thy favour'd tree Come to the foot, and crown myself with leaves; For to that honour thou, and my high theme Will fit me. If but seldom, mighty Sire! To grace his triumph gathers thence a wreath Caesar or bard (more shame for human wills Deprav'd) joy to the Delphic god must spring From the Pierian foliage, when one breast Is with such thirst inspir'd. From a small spark Great flame hath risen: after me perchance Others with better voice may pray, and gain From the Cirrhaean city answer kind. Through diver passages, the world's bright lamp Rises to mortals, but through that which joins Four circles with the threefold cross, in best Course, and in happiest constellation set He comes, and to the worldly wax best gives Its temper and impression. Morning there, Here eve was by almost such passage made; And whiteness had o'erspread that hemisphere, Blackness the other part; when to the left I saw Beatrice turn'd, and on the sun Gazing, as never eagle fix'd his ken. As from the first a second beam is wont To issue, and reflected upwards rise, E'en as a pilgrim bent on his return, So of her act, that through the eyesight pass'd Into my fancy, mine was form'd; and straight, Beyond our mortal wont, I fix'd mine eyes Upond the sun. Much is allowed us there, that here exceeds our pow'r; thanks to the place made for the dwelling of the human mind
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