- “Yea, thou shalt learn how salt his food who fares
- Upon another's bread,—how steep his path
- Who treadeth up and down another's stairs.”
Div. Com. Parad. XVII)
- “Behold, even I, even I am Beatrice.”
Div. Com. Purg. XXX)
- Of Florence and of Beatrice
- Servant & singer from of old,
- O'er Dante's
heart in youth had toll'd
- The knell that gave his Lady peace;
- And now in manhood flew the dart
- Wherewith his City
pierced his heart.
- Yet if his Lady's home above
- Was Heaven, on earth she filled his soul;
- And if his City held control
the body forth to rove,
- The soul could soar from
earth's vain throng,
- And Heaven and Hell
fulfil the song.
- Follow his feet's appointed way;—
- But little light we find that clears
- The darkness of the exiled years.
- Follow his spirit's journey:—Nay,
- What fires are blent, what winds are blown
- On paths
that he must tread
his feet may tread alone?
- Yet of the twofold life he led
20 In chainless thought and fettered will
- Some glimpses reach us,—somewhat still
- Of the steep stairs and bitter bread,—
- Of the soul's quest whose stern avow
- For years had made him haggard now.
- Alas! the Sacred Song whereto
- Both heaven and earth had set their hand
- Not only at Fame's gate did stand
- Knocking to claim the passage through,
- But toiled to ope that heavier door
30 Which Florence shut for evermore.
- Shall not his birth's baptismal Town
- One last high presage yet fulfil,
- And at that font
in Florence still
- His forehead take the laurel-crown?
- O God!
or shall dead souls deny
- The undying soul its prophecy?
- Aye, 'tis their hour. Not yet forgot
- The bitter words he spoke that day
- When for some great charge far away
Her rulers his acceptance sought.
- “And if I go, who
- His scorn:—“and if I stay, who
- “Lo! thou art gone now, and we stay:”
- (The curled lips mutter): “and no star
- Is from thy mortal path so far
- As streets where childhood knew the way.
To Heaven and Hell thy feet may win,
- But thine own house they come not in.”
- Therefore, the loftier rose the song
50 To touch the secret
things of God,
- The deeper pierced the hate that trod
- On base men's track who wrought the wrong;
- Till the soul's effluence came to be
- Its own exceeding agony.
- Even such was Dante's mood, when now,
- Mocked for long years with Fortune's sport,
- He dwelt at yet another court,
- There where Verona's knee did bow
- And her voice hailed with proud acclaim
60 Can Grande della Scala's name.
- As that lord's
kingly guest awhile
- His life we follow; through the days
- Which walked in exile's barren ways,—
- The nights which still beneath one smile
- Heard through all spheres one song
- ‘Even I, even I am
Manuscript Addition: Dante at Verona / “Yea, thou shalt learn how salt his food
who fares / Upon another's bread,—how steep his path / Who
treadeth up and down another's stairs.” / Div. Com. Parad.
XVII / “Behold, even I, even I am
Beatrice.” / Div. Com. Purg. xxx /
Editorial Description: For some reason DGR wrote the title of the poem and the two epigraphs at
the top of this page. Both are cancelled here and his cancelling note, "
No break here" added.
- At Can La Scala's court, no doubt,
- Due reverence did his steps attend;
- The ushers on his path would bend
70At ingoing as at going out;
- The penmen waited on his call
- At council-board, the grooms in hall.
Perhaps the priests, fed these to ban
80 Or bless
on bidding, if at whiles
- They found him
in their Chapel
wandering in their aisles,
ghostly greeting to the man
- By whom,
? and heart were filled
though not of ghostly guild,
- With Heaven and Hell
though of no guild
men's hearts were fill'd.
- But at this court,
peace still must wrench
- Her chaplet from the teeth of war:
- By day they held high watch
- At night they cried across the trench;
- And still, in Dante's path, the fierce
- Gaunt soldiers wrangled o'er their spears.
- But vain seemed all the strength to him,
- As golden convoys sunk at sea
Which raised would
Whose wealth might root out penury:
100Because it was not, limb with limb,
- Knit like his heart-strings round the wall
- Of Florence, that
her foes might fall.
- Yet in the tiltyard, when the dust
- Cleared from the sundered press of knights
- Ere yet again it swoops and smites,
- He almost deemed his longing must
- Find force to wield that multitude
hurl that strength the way he would.
- Oh! if his Florence could but come,
- A lily-sceptred damsel fair,
- As her own Giotto painted her
- On many shields and gates at home,—
- A lady crowned, at a soft pace
120 Riding the lists round to the dais:
- Till where Can Grande rules the lists,
- As young as Truth, as calm as Force,
stops now, while her blazoned horse
draws her rein now, while her horse
- Bows at the turn of the white wrists;
- And when each knight within his stall
- Gives ear, she speaks and tells them all:
Note: Received stanzas 24, 26, 27 added here as insert.
- How would his Florence lead them forth,
- Her bridle ringing as she went;
turn at the last within her
- 'Neath golden lilies worship-worth,
- How queenly would she bend the while
- And thank the victors with her smile!
- Peace, Dante, peace! The task is long,
- The time wears short to compass it.
- Within thine heart such hopes may flit
- And find a voice in deathless song:
- But lo! as children of man's earth,
- Those hopes are dead before their birth.
- Fame tells us that Verona's court
- Was a fair place. The feet might still
- Wander for ever at their will
- In many ways of sweet resort;
- And still in many a heart around
- The Poet's name due honour found.
- Watch we his steps. He comes upon
- The women at their palm-playing.
- The conduits round the gardens sing
- And meet in scoops of milk-white stone,
by thy bodies rest fatigued
wearied damsels rest & hold
- Their hands in the wet spurt of gold.
- One of whom, knowing well that he,
140 By some found stern, was mild with them,
- Would run and pluck his garment's hem,
- Saying, “Messer Dante, pardon
to hear from him
that they might hear the song
- Which first of all he made, when young.
- “Donne che avete”*
- Thus would he murmur, having first
- Drawn near the fountain, while she nurs'd
- His hand against her side: a few
- Sweet words, and scarcely those, half said:
150 Then turned, and changed, and bowed his head.
Transcribed Footnote (page 9r):
*“Donne che avete intelletto
d'amore:”—the first canzone of
- For then the voice said in his heart,
- “Even I, even I am
- And his whole life would yearn to cease:
- Till having reached his room, apart
- Beyond vast lengths of palace-floor,
- He drew the arras round his door.
- At such times, Dante, thou hast set
- Thy forehead to the painted pane
- Full oft, I know; and if the rain
160Smote it outside, her fingers met
- Thy brow; and if the sun fell there,
- Her breath was on thy face and hair.
- Then, weeping, I think certainly
- Thou hast beheld, past sight of eyne,—
- Within another room of thine
- Where now thy body may not be
- But where in thought thou still
- A window often wept against:
Note: This text is copied in the hand of Charles Fairfax Murray.
- The window thou, a youth, hast sought,
170 Flushed in the limpid eventime,
- Ending with daylight the day's rhyme
- Of her; where oftenwhiles her thought
- Held thee—the lamp untrimmed to
- In joy through the blue lapse of night.
- At Can La Scala's court, no doubt
- Guests seldom wept. It was brave sport,
- No doubt, at Can La Scala's court,
- Within the palace and without;
- Where music, set to madrigals,
180 Loitered all day through groves and halls.
- Because Can Grande of his life
- Had not had six and twenty years
- As yet. And when the chroniclers
- Tell you of that Vicenza strife
- And of strifes elsewhere,—you must not
- Conceive for church-sooth he had got
- But there were places—held too sweet
- For eyes that had not the due veil
- Of lashes and clear lids—as well
- In favour as his saddle-seat:
- Breath of low speech he scorned not there
- Nor light cool fingers in his hair.
- Yet if the child
work judged plan
whom the sire's plan
200 Made free of a deep treasure-chest
- Scoffed it with ill-conditioned jest,—
- We may
be sure too that the man
- Was not mere thews, nor all content
clean in sentiment.
Note: The page carries, as text additions, received stanzas 41, 44 and 45
written in by DGR.
- Through leaves and trellis-work the sun
- Left the wine cool within
- They feasting where no sun could pass:
- And when the women, all as one,
- Rose up with brightened cheeks to go,
- It was a comely thing, we know.
And Can la Scala marked askance
[?] some foreign knight
if some envoy from afar
? sea a distant
to Verona's sovereign port
- For aid or peace, and all the court
- Fawned on
their its lord, “the
- Sole arbiter of life and
- Be sure that Dante
[?] saved his
- And Can La Scala marked askance
- These things, accepting them for shame
- And scorn, till Dante's guestship came
- To be a peevish sufferance:
- His host sought ways to make his days
- Hateful; and such have many ways.
you may read and marvel not
- That such a man as Dante—one
- Who, while Can Grande's deeds were done,
- Had drawn his robe round him and thought—
- Now at the same guest-table far'd
210 Where keen Uguccio wiped his
- But Dante recked not of the wine;
Whether the women stayed or went,
- His visage held one stern intent:
- And when the music had its sign
- To breathe upon them for more ease,
- Sometimes he turned and bade it cease.
- There was a jester, a foul lout
- Whom the court prized for obscene arts;
- Priapus of the filthy parts
- Of speech; still fingering them about
- And in men's faces wagging them;
- But the court counted him a gem.
Transcribed Footnote (page 13r):
* Uguccione della Faggiuola, Dante's former protector,
was now his
fellow-guest at Verona.
Note: A cancelled draft of received stanza 46, as well as a corrected copy, are
copied into this page as later additions.
- There was a Jester, a foul lout
- Whom the court loved for graceless arts;
- Averroës of the filthy parts
- Of speech; Demosthenes to shout
- Through any pebbles o'er all seas
- The gloss of such Averroës.
- There was a Jester, a foul lout
- Whom the court loved for graceless arts;
- Sworn scholiast of the bestial parts
- Of speech; a ribald mouth to shout
- In Folly's horny tympanum
All things of which [?] tongues are dumb
- Such things as
make the wise man dumb.
And Dante loathed the beast.
Much loved, him Dante loathed. And so,
- One day when Dante felt perplex'd
- If any day that could come next
- Were worth the waiting for or no,
And his words, always scarce
Till now his scanty speech quite ceas'd,—
- Can Grande summoned in this beast.
- Then, facing on his guest, he cried,—
- “Say, Messer Dante, how it is
230 I get out of a clown like this
- More than your wisdom can provide?”
- And Dante: “'Tis man's ancient whim
- That still his like seems good to
Note: Received stanza 54 is copied by DGR on this page as a later
- And when his spirit wove the spell
- (From under
even to overnoon
[true?] converse with itself
- As high as Heaven, as low as Hell,—
- He would be summoned and must go:
240 For had not Gian stabbed Giacomo?
- But wherefore should we turn the grout
- In a drained cup, or be at strife
- From the worn garment of a life
- To rip the twisted ravel out?
- Good needs expounding; but of ill
- Each hath enough to guess his fill.
- They named him Justicer-at-Law:
- Each month to bear the tale in mind
- Of hues a wench might wear unfin'd
250And of the load an ox might draw;
- To cavil in the weight of bread
- And to see purse-thieves gibbeted.
- Therefore the bread he had to eat
- Seemed brackish, less like corn than tares;
- And the rush-strown accustomed stairs
- Each day were steeper to his feet;
- And when the night-vigil was done,
brows would ache to feel the sun.
Note: DGR has copied received stanza 58 on this page as a later addition.
it was not a thing he did
he was one the Heavens forbid
- To traffic in God's justice sold
- By market-weight of
Or to bow down over the lid
- Of steaming censers, and so be
- Made clean of manhood's obloquy.
- This Dante writ in answer thus,
- Words such as these: “That clearly
- In Florence must not have to say,—
- The man abode aloof from us
- Nigh fifteen years, yet lastly skulk'd
270 Hither to candleshrift and mulct.
- “That since no gate led, by God's will,
- To Florence, but the one whereat
- The priests and money-changers sat,
still wander; for that
Even through the
soul possessed the sun and stars.”
were his words
as these It is indeed
- For ever well
our singers should
- Utter good words and know them good
280Not through song merely;
with close heed
- Lest, having spent for the work's sake
- Six days, the man be left to make.
Up the church aisle
On the high seats in sober state,—
290 Gold neck-chains range
o'er range below
- Gold screen-work where the lilies
- The Heads of the Republic sate,
- Marking the humbled face go by
- Each one of his house-enemy.
- And as each proscript rose and stood
- From kneeling in the
- On the shrine-steps, some magnate thrust
- A beard into the velvet hood
- Of his front colleague's gown, to see
300 The cinders stuck in the bare knee.
- Tosinghi passed, Manelli passed,
- Rinucci passed, each in his place;
- But not an Alighieri's face
- Went by that day from first to last
- In the Republic's triumph; nor
- A foot came home to Dante's door.
Note: Received stanzas 69-70 are added later to the text on this page, and
marked for insertion.
Note: Each footnote is indicated by a single asterisk, but for clarity is tied
to its associated passage in the text with a drawn line.
- What of his work for Florence? Well
- It was, he knew, and well must be.
- Yet evermore her hate's decree
- Dwelt in his thought intolerable:—
- His body to be
- To beat its wings at hope's vain goal.
- What of his work for Beatrice?
- Now well-nigh was the third song
- The stars a third time sealing it
- With sudden
music of pure peace:
- For echoing thrice the threefold song,
- The unnumbered stars the tone
Transcribed Footnote (page 18v):
* Such was
inexorably the last sentence passed by
against Dante, as a recalcitrant exile.
- And leaves her, cursing her. If she,
- Indeed, have not some spice-draught, hid
- In scent under a silver lid,
- To drench his open throat with—he
- Once hard asleep; and
thrust him not
- At dawn beneath the
boards to rot.)
- Years filled out their twelve moons, & ceased
320 One in another;
We may say
- There were the whole twelve hours each day
- And each night as the
All through the months each month the same And rising moon and
And [how much?] Dante knew[heard?] of them. Beheld that Dante's
work was done.
Transcribed Footnote (page 19r):
* “E quindi uscimmo a riveder le
“Puro e disposto a salire alle
“L'amor che muove il sole e l'altre
Note: The period at the end of received line 433 is a colon in the published
- “It is my trust, as the years fall,
- To write more worthily of her
- Who now, being made God's minister,
- Looks on His visage and knows all.”
- Such was the hope that he dared send
- Forth solemnly, to make an end.
- Of the “New Life,” his youth's dear
- Adding thereunto: “In such
- I labour, and believe I must
340Accomplish this which my soul took
- In charge, if God, my Lord and hers,
- Leave my life with me a few
- The trust which he had borne in youth
- Was all at length accomplished. He
- At length had written worthily—
- Yea even of her; no rhymes uncouth
- 'Twixt tongue and tongue; but by God's aid
- The first words Italy had said.
Note: Stanzas 75 and 77 are copied by DGR on this page as later additions to the
- Ah! haply now the heavenly guide
- Was not the last form seen by him:
- But there that Beatrice stood slim
- And bowed in passing at his side,
- For whom in youth his heart made moan
- Then when the city sat alone.
- In that high vision. But indeed
- It may be that his mind could fall
- Back soonest to the first of
- The child his boyhood bore in heed
- Nine years.
The [?] yet smiled
At length the voice brought peace,—
- “Even I, even I am
Note: Two stanzas are cancelled from the text on this page.
- He must have had her with him now
- Always almost. We may not doubt
- That in his going in and out
- Often the eyes would scarce allow
- The mind to deem she was not there
- Beside him; or that in his chair
- He seated very often knew
- Her presence, if he did not see
- Her body's image visibly;
- Nay, had her eyes to look into
- Even at times, and watched her smile
- And bow, but without speech the
- Clearly herself; the same whom he
350 Met, not past girlhood, in the street,
- Low-bosomed and with hidden feet;
- And then as woman perfectly,
- In years that followed, more than
- And now at last among the suns
Note: DGR makes a revised copy of received stanza 79 on this paging and cancels
the original version on the facing recto.
- For a tale tells that on his track,
- As through Verona's streets he went,
- This saying certain women sent:—
- “Lo, he that strolls to Hell and back
- At will! Behold him, how Hell's reek
- Has crisped his beard and singed his
- All this, being there, we had not seen.
- Seen only was the shadow wrought
- On the
strong features bound in thought;
- The vagueness gaining gait and mien;
- The white streaks
thickening, that were few
gathering clear to view
360 In the burnt beard the women knew.
- For a tale hath that in the street
- Once at Verona, while he led
- This life there, certain women said,
- Pointing from door or window-seat:
- “Lo! he that strolls to Hell and
- At whim. It
burns his beard hell-black.”
- “Whereat” (Boccaccio's words)
- For pride in fame.” It might be so:
- Nevertheless we cannot know
370If then his thought were not beguil'd
- To mirth, for that he scarce could tell
- If he indeed were back from Hell.
- So the day came, after a space,
- When Dante felt assured that there
- The sunshine must lie sicklier
- Even than in any other place,
Save only Florence.
The same day
When that day
Had come, he rose and went his way.
- He went and turned not. From his shoes
380 It may be that he shook the dust,
- As every righteous dealer must
- Not less than once ere life can close;
- And unaccomplished destiny
Struck cold his forehead, it may be.
- No book keeps record how the Prince
- Sunned himself out of Dante's reach,
Nor how the Jester stank in speech;
courtiers, used to
smile and wince,
- Poets and harlots, all the throng,
loose their slaver and their song.
Note: DGR copies this text's final stanza on this page. It is a stanza he would
- Now do Thou let thy servant, Lord,—
- Who now hath suffered all the heart
- And the
soul can on earth,— depart
- In peace according to thy word?
- His eyes (are not the lids still wet?)
- Beheld not thy salvation yet.
- No book keeps record if the seat
- Which Dante had at his host's board
- Were sat in next by clerk or lord,—
- If leman lolled with dainty feet
- At ease, or hostage brooded there,
- Or priest lacked silence for his prayer.