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Paolo and Francesca | Dante Alighieri ~ Inferno, Canto V



Divina Commedia | Inferno| Canto quinto

Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona,
mi prese del costui piacer sì forte,
che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona.

Amor condusse noi ad una morte.
Caina attende chi a vita ci spense".
Queste parole da lor ci fuor porte.

Quand’io intesi quell’anime offense,
china’ il viso, e tanto il tenni basso,
fin che ’l poeta mi disse: "Che pense?".

Auguste Rodin | The Kiss (Paolo and Francesca) detail | Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Quando rispuosi, cominciai: "Oh lasso,
quanti dolci pensier, quanto disio
menò costoro al doloroso passo!".

Poi mi rivolsi a loro e parla’ io,
e cominciai: "Francesca, i tuoi martìri
a lagrimar mi fanno tristo e pio.

Ma dimmi: al tempo d’i dolci sospiri,
a che e come concedette amore
che conosceste i dubbiosi disiri?".

E quella a me: "Nessun maggior dolore
che ricordarsi del tempo felice
ne la miseria; e ciò sa ‘l tuo dottore.

Ma s’a conoscer la prima radice
del nostro amor tu hai cotanto affetto,
dirò come colui che piange e dice.

Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto
di Lancialotto come amor lo strinse;
soli eravamo e sanza alcun sospetto.

Giuseppe Frascheri | Paolo e Francesca nel vortice infernale, 1884 | Museo d'arte di Palazzo Gavotti

Per più fïate li occhi ci sospinse
quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso;
ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.

Quando leggemmo il disïato riso
esser basciato da cotanto amante,
questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,

la bocca mi basciò tutto tremante.
Galeotto fu ’l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante".

Mentre che l’uno spirto questo disse,
l’altro piangëa; sì che di pietade
io venni men così com’io morisse.

E caddi come corpo morto cade.

Sir Frank Dicksee | Paolo and Francesca


Love, that on gentle heart doth swiftly seize,⁠
⁠Seized this man for the person beautiful
⁠That was ta'en from me, and still the mode offends me.
Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving,
⁠Seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly,
⁠That, as thou seest, it doth not yet desert me; ⁠

Love has conducted us unto one death;
⁠Caïna waiteth him who quenched our life!"
⁠These words were borne along from them to us.
As soon as I had heard those souls tormented,
⁠I bowed my face, and so long held it down ⁠

⁠Until the Poet said to me: "What thinkest?"
When I made answer, I began: "Alas!
⁠How many pleasant thoughts, how much desire,
Conducted these unto the dolorous pass!"
Then unto them I turned me, and I spake, ⁠

Alexander Munro | Paolo and Francesca, 1852

⁠And I began: "Thine agonies, Francesca,
⁠Sad and compassionate to weeping make me.
But tell me, at the time of those sweet sighs,
⁠By what and in what manner Love conceded,
⁠That you should know your dubious desires?"

And she to me: "There is no greater sorrow
⁠Than to be mindful of the happy time
⁠In misery, and that thy Teacher knows.
But, if to recognize the earliest root
⁠Of love in us thou hast so great desire, ⁠
⁠I will do even as he who weeps and speaks.
One day we reading were for our delight
⁠Of Launcelot, how Love did him enthrall.
⁠Alone we were and without any fear.
Full many a time our eyes together drew ⁠
⁠That reading, and drove the color from our faces;
⁠But one point only was it that o'ercame us.
Whenas we read of the much longed-for smile
⁠Being by such a noble lover kissed,
⁠This one, who ne'er from me shall be divided, ⁠
Kissed me upon the mouth all palpitating.
⁠Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.
⁠That day no farther did we read therein".

And all the while one spirit uttered this,
⁠The other one did weep so, that, for pity, ⁠
⁠I swooned away as if I had been dying,

And fell, even as a dead body falls.

Ary Scheffer | The Shades of Francesca di Rimini and Paolo Malatesta Appearing to Dante and Virgil, 1854