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”
Man’s Free-Will
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)
 
Translated by Henry Francis Cary

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

                            “YE, who live,
Do so each cause refer to heaven above,
E’en as its motion, of necessity,
Drew with it all that moves. If this were so,
Free choice in you were none; nor justice would        5
There should be joy for virtue, woe for ill.
Your movements have their primal bent from heaven;
Not all: yet said I all; what then ensues?
Light have ye still to follow evil or good,
And of the will free power, which, if it stand        10
Firm and unwearied in Heaven’s first assay,
Conquers at last, so it be cherished well,
Triumphant over all. To mightier force,
To better nature subject, ye abide
Free, not constrained by that which forms in you        15
The reasoning mind uninfluenced of the stars.
If then the present race of mankind err,
Seek in yourselves the cause, and find it there.”
 
 
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