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The second volume of the Divine Comedy presents the Purgatory. Continuing the story of the poet’s journey through the medieval Other World under the guidance of the Roman poet Virgil, the Purgatory culminates in the regaining of the Garden of Eden and the reunion there with the poet’s long-lost love Beatrice.
O'er better waves to speed her rapid course The light bark of my genius lifts the sail, Well pleas'd to leave so cruel sea behind; And of that second region will I sing, In which the human spirit from sinful blot Is purg'd, and for ascent to Heaven prepares. Here, O ye hallow'd Nine! for in your 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. To the right hand I turn'd, and fix'd my mind On the' other pole attentive, where I saw Four stars ne'er seen before save by the ken Of our first parents. Heaven of their rays Seem'd joyous. O thou northern site, bereft Indeed, and widow'd, since of these depriv'd! As from this view I had desisted, straight Turning a little tow'rds the other pole, There from whence now the wain had disappear'd, I saw an old man standing by my side Alone, so worthy of rev'rence in his look, That ne'er from son to father more was ow'd. Low down his beard and mix'd with hoary white Descended, like his locks, which parting fell Upon his breast in double fold. The beams Of those four luminaries on his face So brightly shone, and with such radiance clear Deck'd it, that I beheld him as the sun. "Say who are ye, that stemming the blind stream, Forth from th' eternal prison-house have fled?" He spoke and moved those venerable plumes. "Who hath conducted, or with lantern sure Lights you emerging from the depth of night, That makes the infernal valley ever black? Are the firm statutes of the dread abyss Broken, or in high heaven new laws ordain'd, That thus, condemn'd, ye to my caves approach?" My guide, then laying hold on me, by words And intimations given with hand and head, Made my bent knees and eye submissive pay Due reverence; then thus to him replied. "Not of myself I come; a Dame from heaven Descending, had besought me in my charge To bring. But since thy will implies, that more Our true condition I unfold at large, Mine is not to deny thee thy request. This mortal ne'er hath seen the farthest gloom. But erring by his folly had approach'd So near, that little space was left to turn. Then, as before I told, I was dispatch'd To work his rescue, and no way remain'd Save this which I have ta'en. I have display'd Before him all the regions of the bad; And purpose now those spirits to display, That under thy command are purg'd from sin. How I have brought him would be long to say. From high descends the virtue, by whose aid I to thy sight and hearing him have led. Now may our coming please thee. In the search Of liberty he journeys: that how dear They know, who for her sake have life refus'd. Thou knowest, to whom death for her was sweet In Utica, where thou didst leave those weeds, That in the last great day will shine so bright. For us the' eternal edicts are unmov'd: He breathes, and I am free of Minos' power, Abiding in that circle where the eyes Of thy chaste Marcia beam, who still in look Prays thee, O hallow'd spirit! to own her shine. Then by her love we' implore thee, let us pass Through thy sev'n regions; for which best thanks I for thy favour will to her return, If mention there below thou not disdain."