Tuesday, January 19, 2016



Dante, Inferno 7.73-96 (tr. John D. Sinclair; slightly altered):
He whose wisdom transcends all
made the heavens and gave them guides,
so that every part shines to every part,        75

dispersing the light equally.
In the same way for worldly splendours
He ordained a general minister and guide

who should in due time change vain wealth
from race to race and from one to another blood,        80
beyond the prevention of human wits,

so that one race rules and another languishes
according to her sentence
which is hidden like the snake in the grass.

Your wisdom cannot strive with her.        85
She foresees, judges, and maintains
her kingdom, as the other heavenly powers do theirs.

Her changes have no respite.
Necessity makes her swift,
so fast men come to take their turn.        90

This is she who is so reviled
by the very men that should give her praise,
laying on her wrongful blame and ill repute.

But she is blest and does not hear it.
Happy with the other primal creatures        95
she turns her sphere and rejoices in her bliss.

Colui lo cui saver tutto trascende,
   fece li cieli e diè lor chi conduce
   sì ch'ogne parte ad ogne parte splende,        75

distribuendo igualmente la luce:
   similemente alli splendor mondani
   ordinò general ministra e duce

che permutasse a tempo li ben vani
   di gente in gente e d'uno in altro sangue,        80
   oltre la difension d'i senni umani;

per ch'una gente impera e l'altra langue,
   seguendo lo giudicio di costei,
   che è occulto come in erba l'angue.

Vostro saver non ha contasto a lei:        85
   questa provede, giudica, e persegue
   suo regno come il loro li altri dei.

Le sue permutazion non hanno triegue:
   necessità la fa esser veloce,
   sì spesso vien chi vicenda consegue.        90

Quest' è colei ch'è tanto posta in croce
   pur da color che le dovrien dar lode,
   dandole biasmo a torto e mala voce;

ma ella s'è beata e ciò non ode:
   con l'altre prime creature lieta        95
   volve sua spera e beata si gode.

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