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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the Italian. The Terrestrial Paradise

Purgatorio XXVIII. 1–33.

LONGING already to search in and round

The heavenly forest, dense and living-green,

Which tempered to the eyes the new-born day.

Withouten more delay I left the bank,

Crossing the level country slowly, slowly,

Over the soil, that everywhere breathed fragrance.

A gently-breathing air, that no mutation

Had in itself, smote me upon the forehead

No heavier blow than of a pleasant breeze,

Whereat the tremulous branches readily

Did all of them bow downward towards that side

Where its first shadow casts the Holy Mountain;

Yet not from their upright direction bent

So that the little birds upon their tops

Should cease the practice of their tuneful art;

But, with full-throated joy, the hours of prime

Singing received they in the midst of foliage

That made monotonous burden to their rhymes,

Even as from branch to branch it gathering swells,

Through the pine forests on the shore of Chiassi,

When Æolus unlooses the Sirocco.

Already my slow steps had led me on

Into the ancient wood so far, that I

Could see no more the place where I had entered.

And lo! my further course cut off a river,

Which, tow’rds the left hand, with its little waves,

Bent down the grass, that on its margin sprang.

All waters that on earth most limpid are,

Would seem to have within themselves some mixture,

Compared with that, which nothing doth conceal,

Although it moves on with a brown, brown current,

Under the shade perpetual, that never

Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon.