Qui si ribatte il mal tardato remo

From Purgatorio 17 (84-90 and 124-132). I would expect to spend most of my time on the terrace of the slothful.

“Say, my sweet Father, what delinquency
Is purged here in the circle where we are?
Although our feet may pause, pause not thy speech.”

And he to me: “The love of good, remiss
In what it should have done, is here restored;
Here plied again the ill-slackened oar;*

But still more openly to understand,
Turn unto me thy mind, and thou shalt gather
Some profitable fruit from our delay.
……
This threefold love [of the proud, the envious, and the wrathful] is wept for down below;
  Now of the other will I have thee hear,
  That runneth after good with measure faulty.

Each one confusedly a good conceives
  Wherein the mind may rest, and longeth for it;
  Therefore to overtake it each one strives.

If languid love to look on this attract you,
  Or in attaining unto it, this cornice,**
  After just penitence, torments you for it.

“Dolce mio padre, dì, quale offensione
si purga qui nel giro dove semo?
Se i piè si stanno, non stea tuo sermone.”

Ed elli a me: “L’amor del bene, scemo
del suo dover, quiritta si ristora;
qui si ribatte il mal tardato remo.

Ma perché più aperto intendi ancora,
volgi la mente a me, e prenderai
alcun buon frutto di nostra dimora.”
…….
Questo triforme amor qua giù di sotto
si piange: or vo’ che tu de l’altro intende,
che corre al ben con ordine corrotto.

Ciascun confusamente un bene apprende
nel qual si queti l’animo, e disira;
per che di giugner lui ciascun contende.

Se lento amore a lui veder vi tira
o a lui acquistar, questa cornice,
dopo giusto penter, ve ne martira.


*For il mal tardato remo I replace Longfellow’s ‘ill-belated’ with Singleton’s ‘ill-slackened’.

** Singleton’s rendering is clearer here – “If lukewarm love draws you to see it or gain it”

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