We climbed into a fissure in the rock.
The stony walls pressed close on either side.
We had to use our hands to keep our footing.
Ante-Purgatory. – Ascent to a shelf of the mountain. – The negligent, who postponed repentance to the last hour – Belacqua.
The fourth canto begins with a bit of philosophy: Dante explains that the soul will sometimes pay attention to only one faculty, like hearing or touching. At such times, all other senses will not be active. This, he asserts, is why one can listen to someone and be completely unaware of the time, not because there are multiple souls. Indeed, three hours have passed since Dante started listening to Manfred. Now the souls around them explain that they have taken Dante and Virgil to where they should ascend the mountain. The two climb through a small gap in the rock; they continue climbing upwards, though Dante quickly tires and asks for a rest. Soon they find themselves on a ledge, and Dante enjoys looking downward to see where he began the climb. After a short astronomical discussion, Virgil tells Dante that the climb up the mount of Purgatory will only get less arduous; when the ascent becomes pleasant, Dante will know it is done. Behind them, Dante sees souls standing in the shade of a boulder. He approaches them and discovers one of the souls, “sitting with his arms around his knees, / his head pressed down between them,” is a certain Belacqua. A lazy friend of Dante’s during life, he’s fallen back into his bad habits after death. As they jab at one another, Belacqua is pensive and defeated, but Dante, goaded by Virgil, continues his ascent.
Riassunto in inglese tratto da https://www.gradesaver.com/divine-comedy-purgatorio
Canto adopted by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna