Not talk our pace, nor pace our talk slowed down,
         But we by rapid conversation picked up speed,
         Just like a ship propelled by a fair wind.
         And shades, who looked as if they died again,
5        Through sockets of their eyes gaped out at me,
         Seeing in me a man who was alive.
         And I, continuing my speaking, said,
         "He climbs perhaps more slowly than he would
         Since he’s preoccupied with someone else.
10       "But tell me, if you know, where is Piccarda?
         Tell me too if I see persons of note
         Among this group that stares at me so hard."
         "My sister — whether more beautiful than good
         I do not know — already is in triumph,
15       Rejoicing in her crown on high Olympus."
         This he said first, and then: "It’s not forbidden
         Here for us to name each other, since
         Our features are so shrunk by abstinence.
         "There," and he pointed, "is Bonagiunta,
20       Bonagiunta of Lucca; and behind him,
         His face more shriveled up than all the rest,
         "Is he who in his arms held Holy Church —
         He came from Tours — and he by fasting purges
         The eels of Bolsena and Vernaccia’s wine."
25       He named me many others, one by one,
         And at their naming all appeared content,
         So that at this I saw not one black look.
         I saw — hungrily biting their teeth on air —
         Ubaldin da la Pila and Boniface
30       Who shepherded many people with his staff.
         I saw Messer Marchese, who once enjoyed
         Leisure to drink at Forlì with less thirst,
         And yet he never could feel satisfied.
         But as a man who looks and prizes one
35       More than another, so I marked him from Lucca
         Who seemed to want to know the most about me.
         He murmured, and I heard something like "Gentucca"
         Come from his lips where he could feel the pang
         Of justice which so strips them of their flesh.
40       "O soul," I answered, "you seem so desirous
         To speak with me, do so that I may hear you,
         For by your speech you satisfy us both."
         "A woman is born and wears no veil as yet,"
         He then began, "who’ll make my city please you,
45       No matter how men may find fault with it.
         "You shall stride forward with this prophecy:
         Should you have misconstrued my murmuring,
Events to come will make things clear to you.
         "But tell me if I see before me here
50       The one who framed the new rhymes which begin:
         ‘Ladies who have intelligence of love.’ "
         And I told him, "I am one who, when Love
         Inspires me, takes note, and in the manner
         That he dictates to me, I set it down."
55       "O brother, now I see," he said, "the knot
         That held the Notary, Guittone, and me
         Short of the sweet new style which I am hearing.
         "I clearly note how your pens follow closely
         After the one who dictates to your hearts,
60       Which surely did not happen with our pens;
         "And anyone who thinks to probe more deeply
         Will find no further difference between styles."
         And, seemingly contented, he grew still.
         Just as the birds that winter by the Nile
65       Sometimes form a dense flock in the air,
         Then fly on faster and line up in a file,
         So all the people who were there, turning
         Away their faces, sped up their pace once more,
         Made lighter by their leanness and desire.
70       And as a man who is worn out with running
         Lets his companions pull ahead, and walks
         Until the panting in his chest has eased,
         So Forese then let that holy flock
         Pass by and fell behind with me, to ask,
75       "When shall it be that I’ll see you again?"
         "I do not know how long I’ll live," I answered,
         "But my return here cannot be so swift
         But that my heart shall come to this shore sooner,
         "Because the place where I was put to live
80       Is stripped of goodness more from day to day
         And seems to doom itself to dismal ruin."
         "Be calm," he said, "for I can see the man
         Who’s most to blame dragged off by a beast’s tail
         Down toward the valley of the unforgiven.
85       "The beast with every stride runs on faster,
         Always picking up speed until it strikes him
         And leaves his body hideously disfigured.
         "Those wheels," (he turned his eyes up to the skies)
         "Have not long to revolve before you see
90       Clearly what my speech cannot tell plainly.
         "Now you stay back, for time is precious here
         In this kingdom, and I lose too much time
         By walking with you this way at your pace."
         Just as a horseman sometimes bolts ahead
95       At a gallop from a troop that’s riding
         And runs to win the honor of first combat,
         So he left us behind with longer strides,
         And I remained on my road with those two
         Who were such mighty marshals in the world.
100     And when he’d sped so far in front of us
         That my eyes followed in pursuit of him,
         Even as my mind pursued what he had said,
         The branches of another tree appeared
         To me not far away, fruitful and green,
105     For I had only then turned round the corner.
         Beneath the tree I saw people lift their hands
         And cry I know not what up toward the leaves
         Like foolish and obstreperous small children
         Who beg, while he they beg from answers nothing,
110     But, to make their hankering the keener,
         Holds what they crave aloft and will not hide it.
         Then they drew off as if they now knew better,
         And straightway we arrived at the huge tree
         Which turns aside so many prayers and tears.
115     "Pass on ahead: do not come any nearer.
         The tree from which Eve ate is higher up,
         And from its stock this tree was cultivated."
         I know not who spoke this among the branches;
         And so, Virgil, Statius, and I, drawn close,
120     Journeyed along the side where the cliff rises.
         "Remember," the voice said, "those wretched creatures,
         Born of a cloud, who, when they drank their fill,
         Fought Theseus with their horse-and-human chests;
         "And those Hebrews who showed their haste in drinking
125     So that Gideon refused them as his comrades
         When he came d

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