O empty glory of the powers of humans!
How briefly green endures upon the peak –
unless an age of dullness follows it.
In painting Cimabue thought he held
the field, and now it’s Giotto they acclaim –
the former only keeps a shadowed fame.
So did one Guido, from the other, wrest
the glory of our tongue – and he perhaps
is born who will chase both out of the nest.
Worldly renown is nothing other than
a breath of wind that blows now here, now there,
and changes name when it has changed its course. (Purg. XI, 91-102)
[Forese]: “Now you remain behind, for time is costly
here in this kingdom; I should lose too much
by moving with you thus, at equal pace.”
Just as a horseman sometimes gallops out,
leaving behind his troop of riders, so
that he may gain the honor of the first
clash – so, with longer strides, did he leave us;
and I remained along my path with those
two who were such great marshals of the world. (Purg. XXIV, 91-99)
[Matilda]: “The water that you see does not spring from
a vein that vapor – cold-condensed – restores,
like rivers that acquire or lose their force;
it issues from a pure and changeless fountain,
which by the will of God regains as much
as, on two sides, it pours and it divides.
On this side it descends with power to end
one’s memory of sin; and on the other,
it can restore recall of each good deed.
To one side, it is Lethe; on the other,
Eunoe; neither stream is efficacious
unless the other’s waters have been tasted:
their savor is above all other sweetness.” (Purg. XXVIII, 121-133)