by Dante Alighieri
Translated by Allen Mandelbaum
As children, when ashamed, will stand, their eyes
upon the ground—they listen, silently,
acknowledging their fault repentantly—
so did I stand; and she enjoined me: "Since
hearing alone makes you grieve so, lift up
your beard, and sight will bring you greater tears."
There's less resistance in the sturdy oak
to its uprooting by a wind from lands
of ours or lands of Iarbas than I showed
in lifting up my chin at her command;
I knew quite well—when she said "beard" but meant
my face—the poison in her argument.
When I had raised my face upright, my eyes
were able to perceive that the first creatures
had paused and were no longer scattering flowers;
and still uncertain of itself, my vision
saw Beatrice turned toward the animal
that is, with its two natures, but one person.
Beneath her veil, beyond the stream, she seemed
so to surpass her former self in beauty
as, here on earth, she had surpassed all others.
The nettle of remorse so stung me then,
that those—among all other—things that once
most lured my love, became most hateful to me,
Such self-indictment seized my heart that I
collapsed, my senses slack; what I became
is known to her who was the cause of it.
Note: A recitation can be heard here.
- Mark Olival-Bartley
- Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in TESOL, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson’s sonnets for his dissertation at Amerika Institut of LMU Munich, where also he edits a poetry weekly. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor of Review of International American Studies.