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Observations placeholder

Dante - Purgatorio - Canto 03 & 04



Type of Spiritual Experience


Please note that these are only small extracts from each canto to enable me to extract the symbolism, if you want the full beauty of the poem you really need to read it in its entirety.

A description of the experience

Dante – The Divine Comedy - Purgatorio

All round about the base of this little island
There where the waves are always beating on it
Are rushes growing over the soft mud

No other plant which puts out leaves and hardens
Itself, would ever live in such a place
Because it would give to the buffetings......... 

Canto III
I drew closer to my faithful companion
And how should I have gone on without him?
Who would have brought me up the mountain

When his feet had ceased from that haste
Which detracts from the honour of any action
My mind which had before felt constrained

Desirously let its purpose break out
And I set my face towards the eminence
That rises highest to heaven from the sea …............

We arrived meanwhile at the foot of the mountain
And there we found the rock was so steep
That though our legs were willing it was in vain

Canto IV
And he to me 'This mountain is such
That the first part of the ascent is always hard
And the higher a man goes, the less hard it is

Therefore, when it becomes so agreeable
That the ascent becomes as easy to you
As movement to a boat that is going with the current

Then you will be near the end of the path
There you may hope to rest from your exertion
I can tell you no more, but that I know for certain,...............

After we had arrived at the top edge
Of the precipice and could see the open hillside
I said 'Master, which way shall we go?'

And he to me 'Let no step of yours be wasted
Only keep going up the mountain behind me
Until some experienced guide appears'

The summit was so high that we could not see it
And the slope was certainly steeper
Than forty five degrees at this point

I was exhausted when I began
'O sweet father, turn round, and look
I shall be left behind if you do not stop'

'My son' he said 'drag yourself up there'
And pointed to a terrace a little higher
Which on that side circled the whole mountain

His words spurred me so
That I forced myself to scramble after him
Until at last the ledge was under my feet

At that point both of us sat down
Facing the east from which we had climbed
And which men usually look at with pleasure

My first look was for the shore below
Then I looked up at the sun, and marvelled
That its rays struck us from the left.............

The source of the experience

Dante Alighieri

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



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