Guardate che ‘l venir sù non vi nòi

From Purgatorio 9.76-93, with the Longfellow translation. I have a soft spot for Threshold Guardians in myth.

vidi una porta, e tre gradi di sotto
per gire ad essa, di color diversi,
e un portier ch’ancor non facea motto.

E come l’occhio più e più v’apersi,
vidil seder sovra ‘l grado sovrano,
tal ne la faccia ch’io non lo soffersi;

e una spada nuda avëa in mano,
che reflettëa i raggi sì ver’ noi,
ch’io dirizzava spesso il viso in vano.

“Dite costinci: che volete voi?”
cominciò elli a dire, “ov’ è la scorta?
Guardate che ‘l venir sù non vi nòi.”

“Donna del ciel, di queste cose accorta,”
rispuose ‘l mio maestro a lui, “pur dianzi
ne disse: ‘Andate là: quivi è la porta.’”

“Ed ella i passi vostri in bene avanzi,”
ricominciò il cortese portinaio:
“Venite dunque a’ nostri gradi innanzi.”

I saw a portal, and three stairs beneath,
Diverse in colour, to go up to it,
And a gate-keeper, who yet spake no word.

And as I opened more and more mine eyes,
I saw him seated on the highest stair,
Such in the face that I endured it not.

And in his hand he had a naked sword,
Which so reflected back the sunbeams tow’rds us,
That oft in vain I lifted up mine eyes.

“Tell it from where you are, what is’t you wish?”
Began he to exclaim; “where is the escort?
Take heed your coming hither harm you not!”

“A Lady of Heaven, with these things conversant,”
My Master answered him, “but even now
Said to us, ‘Thither go; there is the portal.'”

“And may she speed your footsteps in all good,”
Again began the courteous doorkeeper;*
“Come forward then unto these stairs of ours.”

*I’ve touched up Longfellow’s poorly aging ‘courteous janitor’

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