Love, who to none beloved to love again
Remits, seized me with wish to please, so strong,
That, as thou see'st, yet, yet it doth remain.
Love to one death conducted us along,10
But Caina waits for him our life who ended:"
These were the accents uttered by her tongue.—
Since I first listened to these Souls offended,
I bowed my visage, and so kept it till—
'What think'st thou?' said the bard; when I unbended,
And recommenced: 'Alas! unto such ill
How many sweet thoughts, what strong ecstacies,
Led these their evil fortune to fulfill!'
And then I turned unto their side my eyes,
And said, 'Francesca, thy sad destinies20
Have made me sorrow till the tears arise.
But tell me, in the Season of sweet sighs,
By what and how thy Love to Passion rose,
So as his dim desires to recognize?'
Then she to me: 'The greatest of all woes
Is to remind us of our happy days
In misery, and that thy teacher knows.
But if to learn our Passion's first root preys
Upon thy spirit with such Sympathy,
- ["The man's desire is for the woman; but the woman's desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man."—S. T. Coleridge, Table Talk, July 23, 1827.]
- [Caïna is the first belt of Cocytus, that is, circle ix. of the Inferno, in which fratricides and betrayers of their kindred are immersed up to the neck.]
Is to recall to mind our happy days.
In misery, and this thy teacher knows.—[MS.]
- [The sentiment is derived from Boethius: "In omni adversitate fortunæ infelicissimum genus est infortunii, fuisse felicem."—De Consolat, Philos. Lib. II. Prosa 4. The earlier commentators (e.g. Venturi and Biagioli), relying on a passage in the Convito (ii. 16), assume that the "teacher" (line 27) is the author of the sentence, but later authorities point out that "mio dottore" can only apply to Virgil (v. 70), who then and there in the world of shades was suffering the bitter experience of having "known better days." Compare—
"For of fortunes sharp adversitee
The worst kinde of infortune is this,
A man to have ben in prosperitee,
And it remembren whan it passéd is."
Troilus and Criseyde, Bk. III. stanza ccxxxiii. lines 1-4.
"E perché rimembrare il ben perduto
Fa più meschino lo stato presente."
Fortiguerra's Ricciardetto, Canto XI. stanza Ixxxiii.
"A sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things."
Tennyson's Locksley Hall.]
I will relate as he who weeps and says.—[MS.]
(The sense is, I will do even as one who relates while weeping.)
- Byron affixed the following note to line 126 of the Italian: "In some of the editions it is 'dirò,' in others 'faro;'—an essential difference between 'saying' and 'doing' which I know not how to decide—Ask Foscolo—the damned editions drive me mad." In La Divina Commedia, Firenze, 1892. and the Opere de Dante, Oxford, 1897, the reading is faro.]