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The Humble Prayer. Omberto di Santafiore. Oderisi d' Agobbio. Provenzan Salvani.
"Our Father, thou who dwellest in the heavens,
Not circumscribed, but from the greater love
Thou bearest to the first effects on high,
Praised be thy name and thine omnipotence
By every creature, as befitting is
To render thanks to thy sweet effluence.
Come unto us the peace of thy dominion,
For unto it we cannot of ourselves,
If it come not, with all our intellect.
Even as thine own Angels of their will
Make sacrifice to thee, Hosanna singing,
So may all men make sacrifice of theirs.
Give unto us this day our daily manna,
Withouten which in this rough wilderness
Backward goes he who toils most to advance.
And even as we the trespass we have suffered
Pardon in one another, pardon thou
Benignly, and regard not our desert.
Our virtue, which is easily o'ercome,
Put not to proof with the old Adversary,
But thou from him who spurs it so, deliver.
This last petition verily, dear Lord,
Not for ourselves is made, who need it not,
But for their sake who have remained behind us."
Thus for themselves and us good furtherance
Those shades imploring, went beneath a weight
Like unto that of which we sometimes dream,
Unequally in anguish round and round
And weary all, upon that foremost cornice,
Purging away the smoke-stains of the world.
If there good words are always said for us,
What may not here be said and done for them,
By those who have a good root to their will?
Well may we help them wash away the marks
That hence they carried, so that clean and light
They may ascend unto the starry wheels!
"Ah! so may pity and justice you disburden
Soon, that ye may have power to move the wing,
That shall uplift you after your desire,
Show us on which hand tow'rd the stairs the way
Is shortest, and if more than one the passes,
Point us out that which least abruptly falls;
For he who cometh with me, through the burden
Of Adam's flesh wherewith he is invested,
Against his will is chary of his climbing."
The words of theirs which they returned to those
That he whom I was following had spoken,
It was not manifest from whom they came,
But it was said: "To the right hand come with us
Along the bank, and ye shall find a pass
Possible for living person to ascend.
And were I not impeded by the stone,
Which this proud neck of mine doth subjugate,
Whence I am forced to hold my visage down,
Him, who still lives and does not name himself,
Would I regard, to see if I may know him
And make him piteous unto this burden.
A Latian was I, and born of a great Tuscan;
Guglielmo Aldobrandeschi was my father;
I know not if his name were ever with you.
The ancient blood and deeds of gallantry
Of my progenitors so arrogant made me
That, thinking not upon the common mother,
All men I held in scorn to such extent
I died therefor, as know the Sienese,
And every child in Campagnatico.
I am Omberto; and not to me alone
Has pride done harm, but all my kith and kin
Has with it dragged into adversity.
And here must I this burden bear for it
Till God be satisfied, since I did not
Among the living, here among the dead."
Listening I downward bent my countenance;
And one of them, not this one who was speaking,
Twisted himself beneath the weight that cramps him,
And looked at me, and knew me, and called out,
Keeping his eyes laboriously fixed
On me, who all bowed down was going with them.
"O," asked I him, "art thou not Oderisi,
Agobbio's honour, and honour of that art
Which is in Paris called illuminating?"
"Brother," said he, "more laughing are the leaves
Touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese;
All his the honour now, and mine in part.
In sooth I had not been so courteous
While I was living, for the great desire
Of excellence, on which my heart was bent.
Here of such pride is paid the forfeiture;
And yet I should not be here, were it not
That, having power to sin, I turned to God.
O thou vain glory of the human powers,
How little green upon thy summit lingers,
If't be not followed by an age of grossness!
In painting Cimabue thought that he
Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry,
So that the other's fame is growing dim.
So has one Guido from the other taken
The glory of our tongue, and he perchance
Is born, who from the nest shall chase them both.
Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath
Of wind, that comes now this way and now that,
And changes name, because it changes side.
What fame shalt thou have more, if old peel off
From thee thy flesh, than if thou hadst been dead
Before thou left the 'pappo' and the 'dindi,'
Ere pass a thousand years? which is a shorter
Space to the eterne, than twinkling of an eye
Unto the circle that in heaven wheels slowest.
With him, who takes so little of the road
In front of me, all Tuscany resounded;
And now he scarce is lisped of in Siena,
Where he was lord, what time was overthrown
The Florentine delirium, that superb
Was at that day as now 'tis prostitute.
Your reputation is the colour of grass
Which comes and goes, and that discolours it
By which it issues green from out the earth."
And I: "Thy true speech fills my heart with good
Humility, and great tumour thou assuagest;
But who is he, of whom just now thou spakest?"
"That," he replied, "is Provenzan Salvani,
And he is here because he had presumed
To bring Siena all into his hands.
He has gone thus, and goeth without rest
E'er since he died; such money renders back
In payment he who is on earth too daring."
And I: "If every spirit who awaits
The verge of life before that he repent,
Remains below there and ascends not hither,
(Unless good orison shall him bestead,)
Until as much time as he lived be passed,
How was the coming granted him in largess?"
"When he in greatest splendour lived," said he,
"Freely upon the Campo of Siena,
All shame being laid aside, he placed himself;
And there to draw his friend from the duress
Which in the prison-house of Charles he suffered,
He brought himself to tremble in each vein.
I say no more, and know that I speak darkly;
Yet little time shall pass before thy neighbours
Will so demean themselves that thou canst gloss it.
This action has released him from those confines."