by Dante Alighieri
Purgatorio Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto, Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
A voice that sang beyond us was our guide;
and we, attentive to that voice, emerged
just at the point where it began to climb.
“Venite, benedicti Patris mei,”
it sang within a light that overcame me:
I could not look at such intensity. (Purg. XXVII, 55-60)
As our heroes pass from Purgatory proper into the Earthly Paradise, the final angel welcomes them with the Latin song, “Come, ye blessed of my father” – which will be Jesus' words to the faithful at the Last Judgment. He urges them to come and “inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
…but they were not deflected with such force
as to disturb the little birds upon
the branches in the practice of their arts;
for to the leaves, with song, birds welcomed those
first hours of the morning joyously,
and leaves supplied the burden to their rhymes –
just like the wind that sounds from branch to branch
along the shore of Classe, through the pines
when Aeolus has set Sirocco loose. (Purg. XXVIII, 13-21)
Dante’s first impression of the Earthly Paradise is of harmonious music. Because the harmonies come from birdsong and the wind in the leaves, we're reminded of the concept of nature as an artist. It is as if God created this place as a sanctuary after the trials of Purgatory.
O Virgins, sacrosanct, if I have ever,
for your sake, suffered vigils, cold, and hunger,
great need makes me entreat my recompense.
Now Helicon must pour its fountains for me,
Urania must help me with her choir
to put in verses things hard to conceive. (Purg. XXIX, 37-42)
For the second time in Purgatorio, Dante invokes the Muses to help him complete his poetic task. This time, he wants their help in describing and accurately recording the procession that he sees in the forest, ending with Beatrice. The “Helicon” invoked here is the mountain home of the Muses where the wellsprings were thought to inspire poetry. Also “Urania” is the goddess of astronomy and all things celestial. It is appropriate that Dante invokes her because he is getting ready to describe something celestial: the procession from Heaven.