The Divine Comedy

Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri

translated by Robert & Jean Hollander

(New York: Anchor/Penguin, 1320/2003), 759

Purgatorio Canto 1

To run its course through smoother water
the small bark of my wit now hoists its sail,
leaving that cruel sea behind.

Now I shall singe the second kingdom,
there where the soul of man is cleansed,
made worthy to ascend to Heaven.
Purgatorio Canto 1. 1-6

Purgatorio Canto 2

Bend, bend your knees! Behold
the angel of the Lord and fold your hands in prayer.
From now on you shall see such ministers as these.
Purgatorio Canto 2. 28-30

Purgatorio Canto 3

O pure and noble conscience,
how bitter is the sting of your least fault!
Purgatorio Canto 3. 8-9

Foolish is he who hopes that with our reason
we can trace the infinite path
taken by one Substance in three Persons.
Purgatorio Canto 3. 34-36

Horrible were my sins,
but Infinite Goodness with wide-open arms
receives whoever turns to it.
Purgatorio Canto 3. 121-123

By such a curse as theirs none is so lost
that the eternal Love cannot return
as long as hope maintains a thread of green.
Purgatorio Canto 3. 133-135

Purgatorio Canto 4

I must wait outside as long as in my lifetime
the heavens wheeled around me
while I put off my sighs of penance to the end,

unless I'm helped by prayers that
rise from a heart that lives in grace
Purgatorio Canto 4. 130-135

Purgatorio Canto 5


For any man who lets one thought—
and then another—take him over
will soon lose track of his first goal
Purgatorio Canto 5. 16-18

Purgatorio Canto 6

How many times within your memory
have you changed laws, coinage, offices,
as well as customs, and renewed your members!
Purgatorio Canto 6. 145-147

Purgatorio Canto 7

But see, already day is waning
and we may not ascend by night.
Now is the time to choose a resting place
Purgatorio Canto 7. x-x

Reference to the Salve Regina in line 84

Purgatorio Canto 8

To my own I bore the love that here is purified
Purgatorio Canto 8. 120

Purgatorio Canto 9

Confession, contrition, penance/satisfaction:

At that we moved ahead. The first step
was of clear white marble, so polished
that my image was reflected in true likeness.
The second was darker than the deepest purple,
of unhewn stone, looking as if it had been burned,
cracked through its length and breadth.
The third, resting its heavy mass above,
seemed to me porphyry, as flaming red
as blood that spurs out from a vein.
Purgatorio Canto 9. 94-102

Peter denied him three times (cf Mt-26):

Devoutly I cast myself down at his holy feet.
I begged him for mercy and to let me enter,
but first, three times, I smote my breast.
With the point of his sword he traced seven P's
upon my forehead, then said: 'Once you are inside,
see that you wash away these wounds.'
Purgatorio Canto 9. 109-114

Dante says a lot that is consistent with the Church's teaching, but we can't always take him at face value: Hollander notes that "we should not be surprised to find that this poet remakes any text or any doctrine to his own liking and for his own reasons" (201).

Purgatorio Canto 10

One would have sworn he was saying: 'Ave,'
for she as well was pictured there
who turned the key to love on high.
Purgatorio Canto 10. 40-42

From lunch with Dan Gibson 2022-01-11-Tue, David serves as a forerunner of Jesus who identifies himself with humility rather than pride(cf 2 Sm-06-2 Sm-06):

There the humble psalmist leaped in dance
before the blessèd vessel with his robe hitched up—
and was at once both more and less than king.
Purgatorio Canto 10. 64-66

Purgatorio Canto 11

Verse Our Father:

Our Father, who are in Heaven,
circumscribed only by the greater love
you have for your first works on high,

praised be your name and power
by every creature, as is fitting
to render thanks for your sweet breath.

May the peace of your kingdom come to us,
for we cannot attain it of ourselves
if it come not, for all our striving.

As your angels make sacrifice to you
of their free wills, singing hosanna,
so let men make an offering of theirs.

Give us this day the daily manna
without which he who labors to advance goes backward through this bitter wilderness.

And, as we forgive those who have wronged us,
do you forgive us in your loving kindness—
measure us not as we deserve.

Do not put to proof our powers,
which yield so lightly to the ancient foe,
but deliver us from him who tempts them.

Purgatorio Canto 11. 1-21

Purgatorio Canto 12


By stairs that were constructed in a time
when registers and measures could be trusted
Purgatorio Canto 12. 104-105

Purgatorio Canto 13

And the good master said: 'This circle
scourges the sin of envy, and thus
the cords of the scourge are drawn from love.'
Purgatorio Canto 13. 37-39

...I prayed
that God let happen what in fact He willed.
Purgatorio Canto 13. 116-117

Purgatorio Canto 14

cf Ps-12:

All flee from virtue as if it were a snake
Purgatorio Canto 14. 37

Purgatorio Canto 15

But if love for the highest sphere
could turn your longings toward heavenly things,
then fear of sharing would pass from your hearts.
Purgatorio Canto 15. 52-54

That infinite and ineffable Good,
which dwells on high, speeds toward love
as a ray of sunlight to a shining body.

It returns the love it finds in equal measure,
so that, if more of ardor is extended,
eternal Goodness will augment Its own.

And the more souls there are who love on high,
the more there is to love, the more of loving,
for like a mirror each returns to the other.
Purgatorio Canto 15. 67-75

Purgatorio Canto 16 (★)

O creature who purify yourself
to return in beauty to the One who made you.
Purgatorio Canto 16. 31-32

The world is barren now
of every virtue, as you state,
and heavy with and overgrown by evil.
Purgatorio Canto 16. 58-60

  • Discussion of Free Will in 67-84+
  • He talks about the need to lead children to the good in their education in 88-96
  • Separation of church and state in 106-111

Purgatorio Canto 17

The natural is always without error,
but the other may err in its chosen goal
or through excessive or deficient vigor.
Purgatorio Canto 17. 94-96

Purgatorio Canto 18

The mind, disposed to love at its creation,
is readily moved toward anything that pleases
as soon as by that pleasure it is roused to act.
Purgatorio Canto 18. 19-21

But every seal is not a good one,
even if imprinted in good wax.
Purgatorio Canto 18. 38-39

Purgatorio Canto 19

Straighten your legs, stand up, brother,
he replied, make no mistake. I am a fellow-servant
with you, and with the others, of a single Power.
Purgatorio Canto 19. 133-135

Purgatorio Canto 20

you chose poverty with virtue
rather than possess great wealth in wickedness
Purgatorio Canto 20. 26-27

Purgatorio Canto 21

Road to Emmaus Lk-24:

Revealed himself to two He walked with on the road
Purgatorio Canto 21. 7-9

Purgatorio Canto 22

Then I learned that we can spread
our winds too wide with spending hands,
and I repented that and other sins
Purgatorio Canto 22. 43-45

Through you I was a poet, through you a Christian
Purgatorio Canto 22. 73

Purgatorio Canto 23

For the time we are allowed
should be apportioned to a better use
Purgatorio Canto 23. 5-6

All these people who weep while they are singing
followed their appetites beyond all measure,
and here regain, in thirst and hunger, holiness.
Purgatorio Canto 23. 64-66

With the blood from His Own veins He made us free
Purgatorio Canto 23. 75

Purgatorio Canto 24

cf. Rom-06:

Hearing sins of gluttony
that long ago received their wretched wages.
Purgatorio Canto 24. 128-129

Blessed are they
whom grace so much enlightens that appetite
fills not their breasts with gross desires,
but leaves them hungering for what is just.
Purgatorio Canto 24. 151-154

Purgatorio Canto 25

Then they again began to sing,
calling on wives and husbands who were chaste,
even as virtue and matrimony urge.
Purgatorio Canto 25. 133-135

Purgatorio Canto 26

Blessed are you, who, to die a better death,
there take on board the knowledge that you gain.
Purgatorio Canto 26. 74-75

Purgatorio Canto 27

Having lost the obscuring mantle of sin (614):

Only a small space could be seen beyond them,
but in that space I saw the stars
bigger and brighter than usually they are.
Purgatorio Canto 27. 88-90

Desire upon desire so seized me to ascend
that with every step
I felt that I was growing wings for flight.
Purgatorio Canto 27. 121-123

Purgatorio Canto 28

Reason (Virgil) leads to Wisdom (here), leads to Revelation (Beatrice)

And you should know the holy ground
on which you stand is filled with every kind of seed
and gives forth fruit that is not plucked on earth.
Purgatorio Canto 28. 118-120

Purgatorio Canto 29

The church triumphant:

Then I saw people, clad in white, who followed,
as though led by the lights, their garments
of a whiteness never seen on earth.
Purgatorio Canto 29. 64-66

Purgatorio Canto 30

As quickly as from their graves at the last trumpet
the blessèd shall arise, their voices
rejoined to flesh in joyous Hallelujahs
Purgatorio Canto 30. 13-15

Purgatorio Canto 31 (★)


But when a man's own blushing cheek reveals
the condemnation of his sin, in our high court
the grindstone dulls the sharp edge of the sword
Purgatorio Canto 31. 40-42

cf. Ps-51 Asperges me:

The nettle of remorse so stung me then
that whatever else ha lured me most to loving
had now become for me most hateful

Such knowledge of my fault was gnawing at my heart
that I was overcome, and what I then became
she knows who was the reason for my state.

Then, when my heart restored my vital signs,
I saw the lady i first found alone above me,
saying: 'Hold on to me and hold me fast!'
Purgatorio Canto 31. 85-93

Purgatorio Canto 32

As, when brought to see the blossoms on the apple-tree
that makes the angels hungry for its fruit
and celebrates perpetual marriage-feasts in Heaven.
Purgatorio Canto 32. 73-75

Purgatorio Canto 33

My lady, You know what I lack
and exactly how You may provide it.
Purgatorio Canto 33. 29-30

see that your way is as far from God's
as that highest heaven, which spins the fastest,
is distant from the earth
Purgatorio Canto 33. 88-90

From those most holy waters
I came away remade, as are new plants
renewed with new-sprung leaves,
pure and prepared to rise up to the stars.
Purgatorio Canto 33. 142-145

Source: 100 Days of Dante

New Words

  • Contumacy: Obstinate or contemptuous resistance to authority; stubborn rebelliousness. (Purgatorio Canto 3. 136)
  • Hapax: In corpus linguistics, a hapax legomenon is a word or an expression that occurs only once within a given universe of words (260)
  • Ekphrastic: the use of detailed description of a work of visual art as a literary device (265)
  • Geomancy: the art of placing or arranging buildings or other sites auspiciously (Purgatorio Canto 19. 4)

Created: 2021-11-26-Fri
Updated: 2023-01-07-Sat