Purgatorio Canto XXXI

Purgatorio 31

The lovely lady spread her arms,
then clasped my head, and plunged me under,
where I was forced to swallow water.

vv. 100-102

The Earthly Paradise. – Reproachful discourse of Beatrice, and confession of Dante. – Passage of Lethe. – Appeal of the Virtues to Beatrice. – Her Unveiling.

Now addressing Dante directly, Beatrice turns “the point of her words” to him. She asks that he confess his sins, but Dante finds himself totally unable to speak. When he tries to say “yes” to her, it comes out without any sounds. His voice collapses like a bow laden “with too much tension,” and Beatrice asks what caused him to abandon hope. Dante confesses that “false delights” distracted him from the time of her death. Beatrice is glad at his blushing cheek but asks that he stop crying. She criticizes him for falling repeatedly into sin, and he stands silent “as children in their shame stand mute.” Beatrice brings Dante’s attention upwards from the floor. Through tears, Dante watches Beatrice interact with the griffin, “the beast / that is one person in two natures.” Seeing Beatrice’s heavenly beauty, he faints. He wakes to the woman from earlier dragging him through the river; someone sings “Asperges me” (Latin for “sprinkle me”). The lady forces him to swallow the water, and Dante watches “four lovely ladies” dance; these are the four stars he saw at the beginning of the Purgatorio. They call his attention to Beatrice, who stares at the griffin and, at the four ladies’ request, unveils herself. “Heaven with its harmonies” are “reflected” in Beatrice when she does. Dante is totally absorbed by the sight of Beatrice. Indeed, the four ladies cry that he is “‘Too fixed!’” on her. He is temporarily blinded, and Beatrice is not there when he regains sight.

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Canto adopted by Palazzi Rossi Simone

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