Dante Alighieritr. Peter Dale
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 time for those long out to sea
That draws the yearning home and melts the heart
At bidding friends farewell upon the quay;

That makes the novice pilgrim feel that start
Of love if, in the distance, he should hear
The bell that seems to mourn that day depart,

When I had let his words slip by to peer,
Intrigued, upon a spirit who had risen
And craved a hearing with his hand raised clear.

It joined its palms and lifted them, its vision
Fixed towards the east as though to say
To God: All else but You has my derision.

Then from his lips there came: "Te lucis ante"
And so devout, so sweet, the melody
It took my very sense of self away.

The others sweetly and devout in harmony
Accompanied it throughout the lovely hymn,
Gaze fixed upon the wheels of eternity.

- Here, Reader, sharpen up your eyes that dim,
To see the truth, for now the veil's so fine a gauze
Surely it's easy to notice limb from limb. -

I saw that noble troop in silence pause
And fix their gaze on high as if in hope
And expectation, pale and lowly in their cause.

I saw two angels, high in Heaven's cope,
Desending with two swords of streaming flame,
Blades broken and lacking points to slope.

Green as are tender new-grown leaves, their raiment
That flowed behind their flight was fluttering, fanned
By beating of their green wings as they came.

One, just a little above us, dropped to land.
The other rested on the further bank.
The people in the middle took their stand.

I clearly saw their fairest hair, but blank
Their faces since my eyes dazed in my head,
Their sense confused by the excess they drank.

"Both come from Mary's bosom," Sordello said,
"As sentries of the vale against the Snake
That instantly will come now light has sped."

Of which, not knowing of the way he'd take,
I swung around, chilled to the bone with fear,
Sank in those shoulders that would not forsake.

Sordello spoke: "Into the vale we'll steer;
And with those mighty spirits talk and pace.
Great joy they'll have at your arrival here."

It seemed I took but three steps to that place
Then was below and saw one gaze at me
As though he thought to recognize my face.

The time was when the air hangs darkeningly
But not not so dark that what we both beheld,
Though distance had obscured, we could not see.

Trans. Copyright: Peter Dale 1996 - publ. Anvil Press

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