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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/355

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FRANCESCA OF RIMINI.[1]

FROM THE INFERNO OF DANTE.



CANTO THE FIFTH.

"The Land where I was born[2] sits by the Seas
Upon that shore to which the Po descends,
With all his followers, in search of peace.
Love, which the gentle heart soon apprehends,
Seized him for the fair person which was ta'en

From me[3], and me even yet the mode offends.
  1. [Dante, in his Inferno (Canto V. lines 97-142), places Francesca and her lover Paolo among the lustful in the second circle of Hell. Francesca, daughter of Guido Vecchio da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna, married (circ. 1275) Gianciotto, second son of Malatesta da Verucchio, Lord of Rimini. According to Boccaccio (Il Comento sopra la Commedia, 1863, i. 476, sq.), Gianciotto was "hideously deformed in countenance and figure," and determined to woo and marry Francesca by proxy. He accordingly "sent, as his representative, his younger brother Paolo, the handsomest and most accomplished man in all Italy. Francesca saw Paolo arrive, and imagined she beheld her future husband. That mistake was the commencement of her passion." A day came when the lovers were surprised together, and Gianciotto slew both his brother and his wife.]
  2. ["On arrive à Ravenne en longeant une forêt de pins qui a sept lieues de long, et qui me semblait un immense bois funèbre servant d'avenue au sépulcre commun de ces deux grandes puissances. A peine y a-t-il place pour d'autres souvenirs à côté de leur mémoire. Cependant d'autres noms poétiques sont attachés à la Pineta de Ravenne. Naguère lord Byron y évoquait les fantastiques récits empruntés par Dryden à Boccace, et lui-même est maintenant une figure du passé, errante dans ce lieu mélancolique. Je songeais, en le traversant, que le chantre du désespoir avait chevauché sur cette plage lugubre, fouiée avant lui par le pas grave et lent du poëte de l'Enfer....

    "Il suffit de Jeter les yeux sur une carte pour reconnaitre l'exactitude topographique de cette dernière expression. En effet, dans toute la partie supérieure de son cours, le Po reçoit une foule d'affluents qui convergent vers son lit; ce sont le Tésin, l'Adda, l'Olio, le Mincio, la Trebbia, la Bormida, le Taro...."—La Grèce, Rome, et Dante ("Voyage Dantesque"), par M. J. J. Ampère, 1850, pp. 311-313.]

  3. [The meaning is that she was despoiled of her beauty by death, and that the manner of her death excites her indignation still.

    "Among Lord Byron's unpublished letters we find the following varied readings of the translation from Dante:—

    Seized him for the fair person, which in its
    Bloom was ta'en from me, yet the mode offends.

    or,

    Seized him for the fair form, of which in its
    Bloom I was reft, and yet the mode offends.

    Love, which to none beloved to love remits,
    Seized me with mutual wish to please
    with wish of pleasing him
    with the desire to please
    so strong,
    That, as thou see'st, not yet that passion quits, etc.

    You will find these readings vary from the MS. I sent you. They are closer, but rougher: take which is liked best; or, if you like, print them as variations. They are all close to the text."—Works of Lord Byron, 1832, xii. 5, note 2.]