The Divine Comedy Selected Cantos: A Dual-Language Book

The Divine Comedy Selected Cantos: A Dual-Language Book

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by Dante
     
 

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Begun about 1307 and completed in 1321, Dante's sublime poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is one of the world's great works of literature. It comprises an extraordinarily vivid and imaginative account of the poet's allegorical journey through the afterlife. Complementing its depiction of the world beyond, the poem's abundant allusions to earthly history

Overview

Begun about 1307 and completed in 1321, Dante's sublime poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is one of the world's great works of literature. It comprises an extraordinarily vivid and imaginative account of the poet's allegorical journey through the afterlife. Complementing its depiction of the world beyond, the poem's abundant allusions to earthly history and politics, vivid portrayals of Dante's friends and enemies, and many references to contemporary Italian affairs make it an intensely human, realistic portrait of life on earth.
Led in his travels by the classical poet Virgil, Dante descends through the nine circles of Hell, where punishment is determined by the gravity of the sinner's transgressions. He then ascends the mountain of Purgatory, encountering souls atoning for their misdeeds, and, at the summit, is met at the entrance to Paradise by Beatrice, his beloved. Throughout his pilgrimage, he meets characters drawn from ancient Roman and medieval times (philosophers, heroes, emperors, popes, and politicians, among others) as well as numerous personalities from the Italy of his day.
This dual-language edition includes the complete texts of 33 of the original 100 cantos or "songs"; each omitted canto is summarized in its proper place to provide continuity. The selection of cantos and the excellent line-for-line translations from Italian into English are by Stanley Appelbaum, who also has provided an informative Introduction and useful notes.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780486120461
Publisher:
Dover Publications
Publication date:
04/27/2012
Series:
Dover Dual Language Italian
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,027,032
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Divine Comedy: Selected Cantos La divina commedia: Canti scelti

A Dual-Language Book


By DANTE ALIGHIERI, STANLEY APPELBAUM

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 DANTE ALIGHIERI
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-12046-1



CHAPTER 1

INFERNO

Canto I

    Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
        mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
        chè la diritta via era smarrita.
    Ah quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
        esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
        che nel pensier rinova la paura!
    Tant'è amara che poco è più morte;
        ma per trattar del ben ch'io vi trovai,
        dirò dell'altre cose ch'i' v'ho scorte.
    lo non so ben ridir com'io v'entrai,
        tant'era pieno di sonno a quel punto
        che la verace via abbandonai.
    Ma poi ch'i' fui al piè d'un colle giunto,
        là dove terminava quella valle
        che m'avea di paura il cor compunto,
    guardai in alto, e vidi le sue spalle
        vestite già de' raggi del pianeta
        che mena dritto altrui per ogni calle.
    Allor fu la paura un poco queta
        che nel lago del cor m'era durata
        la notte ch'i' passai con tanta pièta.
    E come quei che con lena affannata
        uscito fuor del pelago alla riva
        si volge all'acqua perigliosa e guata,
    così l'animo mio, ch'ancor fuggiva,
        si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo
        che non lasciò già mai persona viva.

    Poi ch'èi posato un poco il corpo lasso,
        ripresi via per la spiaggia diserta,
        si che 'l piè fermo sempre era 'l più basso.
    Ed ecco, quasi al cominciar dell'erta,
        una lonza leggiera e presta molto,
        che di pel maculato era coverta;
    e non mi si partìa d'innanzi al volto,
        anzi impediva tanto il mio cammino,
        ch'i' fui per ritornar più volte volto.
    Temp'era dal principio del mattino,
        e 'l sol montava 'n su con quelle stelle
        ch'eran con lui quando l'amor divino
    mosse di prima quelle cose belle;
        sì ch'a bene sperar m'era cagione
        di quella fera alia gaetta pelle
    l'ora del tempo e la dolce stagione;
        ma non sì che paura non mi desse
        la vista che m'apparve d'un leone.
    Questi parea che contra me venesse
        con la test'alta e con rabbiosa fame,
        sì che parea che l'aere ne temesse.
    Ed una lupa, che di tutte brame
        sembiava carca nella sua magrezza,
        e molte genti fè già viver grame,
    questa mi porse tanto di gravezza
        con la paura ch'uscìa di sua vista,
        ch'io perdei la speranza dell'altezza.
    E qual è quei che volontieri acquista,
        e giugne 'l tempo che perder lo face,
        che 'n tutt'i suoi pensier piange e s'attrista;
    tal mi fece la bestia sanza pace,
        che, venendomi incontro, a poco a poco
        mi ripigneva là dove 'l sol tace.
    Mentre ch'i' ruvinava in basso loco,
        dinanzi alli occhi mi si fu offerto
        chi per lungo silenzio parea fioco.

    Quando vidi costui nel gran diserto,
        «Miserere di me» gridai a lui,
      «qual che tu sii, od ombra od omo certo!»
    Rispuosemi:«Non omo, omo già fui,
        e li parenti miei furon lombardi,
        mantovani per patrïa ambedui.
    Nacqui sub Julio, ancor che fosse tardi,
        e vissi a Roma sotto 'l buono Augusto
        al tempo delli dei falsi e bugiardi.
    Poeta fui, e cantai di quel giusto
        figliuol d'Anchise che venne da Troia,
        poi che 'l superbo Ilion fu combusto.
    Ma tu perchè ritomi a tanta noia?
        perchè non sali il dilettoso monte
        ch'è principio e cagion di tutta gioia?»
  «Or se' tu quel Virgilio e quella fonte
        che spandi di parlar sì largo fiume?»
        rispuos'io lui con vergognosa fronte.
  «O delli altri poeti onore e lume,
        vagliami 'l lungo studio e 'l grande amore
        che m'ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume.
    Tu se' lo mio maestro e 'l mio autore;
        tu se' solo colui da cu' io tolsi
        lo bello stilo che m'ha fatto onore.
    Vedi la bestia per cu' io mi volsi:
        aiutami da lei, famoso saggio,
        ch'ella mi fa tremar le vene e i polsi.»
  «A te convien tenere altro vïaggio»
        rispuose poi che lagrimar mi vide,
      «se vuo' campar d'esto loco selvaggio:
    chè questa bestia, per la qual tu gride,
        non lascia altrui passar per la sua via,
        ma tanto lo 'mpedisce che l'uccide;
    e ha natura sì malvagia e ria,
        che mai non empie la bramosa voglia,
        e dopo 'l pasto ha più fame che pria.
    Molti son li animali a cui s'ammoglia,
        e più saranno ancora, infin che 'l Veltro
        verrà, che la farà morir con doglia.
    Questi non ciberà terra nè peltro,
        ma sapïenza, amore e virtute,
        e sua nazion sarà tra feltro e feltro.
    Di quella umile Italia fia salute
        per cui morì la vergine Cammilla,
        Eurialo e Turno e Niso di ferute.
    Questi la caccerà per ogni villa,
        fin che l'avrà rimessa nello 'nferno,
        là onde invidia prima dipartilla.
    Ond'io per lo tuo me' penso e discerno
        che tu mi segui, e io sarò tua guida,
        e trarrotti di qui per luogo ettemo,
    ove udirai le disperate strida,
        vedrai li antichi spiriti dolenti,
        che la seconda morte ciascun grida;
    e vederai color che son contenti
        nel foco, perchè speran di venire
        quando che sia alle beate genti.
    Alle qua' poi se tu vorrai salire,
        anima fia a ciò più di me degna:
        con lei ti lascerò nel mio partire;
    chè quello imperador che là su regna,
        perch'io fu' ribellante alla sua legge,
        non vuol che 'n sua città per me si vegna.
    In tutte parti impera e quivi regge;
        quivi è la sua città e l'alto seggio:
        oh felice colui cu' ivi elegge!»
    E io a lui:«Poeta, io ti richeggio
        per quello Dio che tu non conoscesti,
        acciò ch'io fugga questo male e peggio,
    che tu mi meni là dove or dicesti,
        sì ch'io veggia la porta di san Pietro
        e color cui tu fai cotanto mesti.»
    Allor si mosse, e io li tenni retro.


HELL

Canto I

    Midway in our life's journey
        I found I was in a dark forest,
        for I had strayed from the straight path.
    Oh, how hard a thing it is to tell what it was like,
        this wild, rough forest, difficult to traverse,
        the thought of which brings back my fear!
    It is so bitter that death is little less so;
        but, to discourse on the benefits I found there,
        I shall speak of the other things I perceived in it.
    I cannot well report how I entered it,
        so full of slumber was I at that moment
        when I forsook the true way.
    But after I had arrived at the foot of a hill
        that formed the end of that valley
        which had pierced my heart with fear,
    I looked upward and saw the higher slopes
        already mantled in the rays of the planet
        that guides one straight along every road.
    Then that fear was somewhat calmed
        which had remained in the pool of my heart
        all that night I had spent in such anguish.
    And like a man who, with panting breath,
        having stepped forth out of the sea onto the shore,
        turns back toward the perilous waters and gazes,
    thus my mind, which was still fleeing,
        turned back to look upon the passage
        that had never released a living person.

    After I had rested my weary body a little,
        I resumed my journey along the deserted rising ground,
        in such a way that the foot with a firm hold was always the lower one.
    And behold, almost at the beginning of the rise,
        a nimble and very swift leopard,
        which was covered with spotted fur;
    and it did not depart from before my face;
        rather, it so obstructed my path
        that I turned to go back several times.
    The hour was very early in the morning,
        and the sun was climbing upward in the company of those stars
        which were with it when Divine Love
    first set those beautiful objects in motion;
        so that the time of day and the mild season
        gave me cause to entertain optimistic hopes
    about that beast with the speckled coat;
        but not so much so that I failed to take fright
        at the sight of a lion that appeared before me.
    It seemed to be coming at me
        with its head held high and with a ravenous hunger,
        so that the very air seemed to be afraid of it.
    And a she-wolf, which, emaciated as she was,
        seemed laden down with every sort of passion,
        and had already made many people live in melancholy,
    aroused so much distress in me
        through the horror that issued from the sight of her
        that I lost all hopes of gaining the heights.
    And like a man who is fond of acquiring possessions,
        and, when the time comes that causes him to lose them,
        weeps and is saddened in all his thoughts,
    thus was I affected by the animal devoid of peace,
        which, coming at me, little by little
        was urging me back to the place where the sun is absent.
    While I was plunging down into the depths,
        there appeared before my eyes
        one who, through long silence, appeared feeble.

    When I saw him in the great wasteland,
        I called to him, "Take pity on me,
        whoever you are, departed spirit or living man!"
    He answered me: "I am no man, I once was a man,
        and my parents were from northern Italy,
        both natives of Mantua.
    I was born when Julius Caesar ruled, though this was late in his reign,
        and I lived in Rome under good Augustus
        in the time of the false and lying gods.
    I was a poet, and I sang about that righteous
        son of Anchises who came from Troy
        after haughty Ilium was burned.
    But why are you returning to such distress?
        Why do you not climb the delightful mountain
        that is the beginning and cause of all joy?"
    "Now, are you that famous Vergil, that fountain
        which gushes forth so rich a stream of language?"
        I answered him with a shamefaced brow.
    "O honor and light of all other poets,
        may I derive benefit from the long study and great love
        that made me meditate upon your writings!
    You are my teacher and my authority;
        you alone are the man from whom I acquired
        the elegant style that has won me honor.
    See the beast that was the cause of my turning back:
        help me against her, famous sage,
        for she makes my veins and arteries tremble."
    "You must undertake a different journey,"
        he replied after seeing me shed tears,
        "if you wish to escape from this wild spot:
    for this beast, on account of which you are lamenting,
        allows no man to pass her way,
        but obstructs him until she kills him;
    and her nature is so malevolent and evil
        that she never satisfies her lustful cravings,
        and, after her meal, is hungrier than before.
    Many are the animals with which she mates,
        and there will be more to come, until the Hound
        arrives that will make her die in grief.
    He will not feed on lands or coin,
        but on wisdom, love, and valor,
        and he will be born between poor cloths of felt.
    He will be the salvation of that humble Italy
        for whom the virgin Camilla,
        Euryalus, Turnus, and Nisus died of their wounds.
    He will hunt her down through every city
        until he puts her back into Hell,
        from which the Devil's envy first let her loose.
    Therefore, for your own good, I think and judge
        that you should follow me; I shall be your guide
        and I shall draw you away from here through an everlasting place
    where you will hear the screams of despair
        and see the ancient sorrowing spirits,
        each of whom laments his second death;
    next, you will see those who are contented
        in the midst of their fire because they have hopes of arriving
        among the blessed people whenever their time comes.
    Then, if you wish to ascend to the last-named,
        there will be a soul worthier of that than I am:
        I shall leave you with her when I depart;
    for that Emperor who reigns up there,
        because I was a rebel to His law,
        does not wish people to enter His city through my agency.
    He is supreme master everywhere, but His particular realm is there;
        there lies His city and His lofty throne:
        Oh, happy the man He chooses for abiding there!"
    And I said to him: "Poet, I beseech you,
        for the sake of that God you did not know,
        so that I may escape from this evil and worse,
    lead me to the places you mentioned,
        so I can see Saint Peter's gate
        and those who you say are so unhappy."
    Then he set forth and I kept behind him.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Divine Comedy: Selected Cantos La divina commedia: Canti scelti by DANTE ALIGHIERI, STANLEY APPELBAUM. Copyright © 2013 DANTE ALIGHIERI. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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