dal "PURGATORIO - VIII." from "PURGATORY - VIII "
Dante Alighieritr. Mark Musa
Era già l'ora che volge il disio
ai navicanti e 'ntenerisce il core
lo dì c'han detto ai dolci amici addio;

e che lo novo peregrin d'amore
punge, se ode squilla di lontano
che paia il giorno pianger che si more;

quand'io incominciai a render vano
l'udire e a mirare una de l'alme
surta, che l'ascoltar chiedea con mano.

Ella giunse e levò ambo le palme,
ficcando li occhi verso l'oriente,
come dicesse a Dio: "D'altro non calme".

'Te lucis ante' sì devotamente
le uscio di bocca e con sì dolci note,
che fece me a me uscir di mente;

e l'altre poi dolcemente e devote
seguitar lei per tutto l'inno intero,
avendo li occhi a le superne rote.

Aguzza qui, lettor, ben li occhi al vero,
che' 'l velo è ora ben tanto sottile,
certo che 'l trapassar dentro è leggero.

Io vidi quello essercito gentile
tacito poscia riguardare in sue
quasi aspettando, palido e umile;

e vidi uscir de l'alto e scender giue
due angeli con due spade affocate,
tronche e private de le punte sue.

Verdi come fogliette pur mo nate
erano in veste, che da verdi penne
percosse traean dietro e ventilate.

L'un poco sovra noi a star si venne,
e l'altro scese in l'opposita sponda,
sì che la gente in mezzo si contenne.

Ben discernea in lor la testa bionda;
ma ne la faccia l'occhio si smarria,
come virtù ch'a troppo si confonda.

"Ambo vegnon del grembo di Maria",
disse Sordello, "a guardia de la valle,
per lo serpente che verrà vie via".

Ond'io, che non sapeva per qual calle,
mi volsi intorno, e stretto m'accostai,
tutto gelato, a le fidate spalle.

E Sordello anco: "Or avvalliamo omai
tra le grandi ombre, e parleremo ad esse;
grazioso fia lor vedervi assai".

Solo tre passi credo ch'i' scendesse,
e fui di sotto, e vidi un che mirava
pur me, come conoscer mi volesse.

Temp'era già che l'aere s'annerava,
ma non sì che tra li occhi suoi e 'miei
non dichiarisse ciò che pria serrava.
It was the hour when a sailor's thoughts,
the first day out, turn homeward, and his heart
yearns for the loved ones he has left behind,

the hour when the novice pilgrim aches
with love: the far-off tolling of a bell
now seems to him to mourn the dying day -

I was no longer listening to words
but looking at a soul who had stood up,
requesting, with a gesture, to be heard.

He raised his hands, joining his palms in prayer,
his gaze fixed toward the east, as if to say:
"I have no other thought but Thee, dear Lord."

'Te lucis ante', with such reverence,
and so melodiously, came from his lips,
that I was lost to any sense of self;

the rest then, reverently, in harmony,          
joined in to sing the hymn through to the end,
keeping their eyes fixed on the heavenly spheres.

Sharpen your sight, Reader: the truth, this time,
is covered by a thinner veil, and so,
the meaning should be easy to perceive.

I saw that noble host of souls, who now
in silence kept their eyes raised to the heavens,
as if expectant, faces pale and meek,

and then I saw descending from on high
two angels with two flaming swords, and these
were broken short and blunted at the end.

Their garments, green as tender new-born leaves
unfurling, billowed out behind each one,
fanned by the greenness of their streaming wings.

One took his stand above us on our side,
and one alighted on the other bank;
thus, all the souls were held between the two.

My eyes could see with ease their golden hair,
but could not bear the radiance of their faces:
light that makes visible can also blind.

"From Mary's bosom both of them descend
to guard us from the serpent in the vale,"
Sordello said. "He'll be here soon, you'll see."

Not knowing from what point he would appear,
I turned around and, frozen by my fear,
I pressed close to those shoulders I could trust.

Sordello spoke again: "Now it is time
for us to join the noble shades below
and speak with them - I know they will be pleased."

I only had to take three steps, I think,
before I reached the bottom. I saw a shade
peering at me, trying to know my face.

By now, the air had started turning dark,
but not so dark that we could not see clear
(so close we were) what was concealed before.
........................
........................

Trans. Copyright: Mark Musa 1981, 1985 - publ. Penguin Classics


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