Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
VIII. Selections from “The Divine Comedy”
Prayer
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)
 
Translated by Henry Francis Cary

Selections from “The Divine Comedy”
Purgatory: Canto VI.

                            WHEN I was freed
From all those spirits, who prayed for others’ prayers
To hasten on their state of blessedness;
Straight I began: “O thou, my luminary!
It seems expressly in thy text denied,        5
That Heaven’s supreme decree can ever bend
To supplication; yet with this design
Do these entreat. Can then their hope be vain?
Or is thy saying not to be revealed?”
  He thus to me: “Both what I write is plain,        10
And these deceived not in their hope; if well
Thy mind consider, that the sacred height
Of judgment doth not stoop, because love’s flame
In a short moment all fulfils, which he,
Who sojourns here, in right should satisfy.        15
Besides, when I this point concluded thus,
By praying no defect could be supplied:
Because the prayer had none access to God.
Yet in this deep suspicion rest thou not
Contented, unless she assure thee so,        20
Who betwixt truth and mind infuses light:
I know not if thou take me right; I mean
Beatrice. Her thou shalt behold above,
Upon this mountain’s crown, fair seat of joy.”
 
 
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