Who if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic Orders? And even if one were to suddenly take me to its heart, I would vanish into its stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear, and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every Angel is terror. And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry of a darkened sobbing. Ah, who then can we make use of? Not Angels: not men, and the resourceful creatures see clearly that we are not really at home in the interpreted world. Perhaps there remains some tree on a slope, that we can see again each day: there remains to us yesterday’s street, and the thinned-out loyalty of a habit that liked us, and so stayed, and never departed. Oh, and the night, the night, when the wind full of space wears out our faces – whom would she not stay for, the longed-for, gentle, disappointing one, whom the solitary heart with difficulty stands before. Is she less heavy for lovers? Ah, they only hide their fate between themselves. Do you not know yet? Throw the emptiness out of your arms to add to the spaces we breathe; maybe the birds will feel the expansion of air, in more intimate flight. Yes, the Spring-times needed you deeply. Many a star must have been there for you so you might feel it. A wave lifted towards you out of the past, or, as you walked past an open window, a violin gave of itself. All this was their mission. But could you handle it? Were you not always, still, distracted by expectation, as if all you experienced, like a Beloved, came near to you? (Where could you contain her, with all the vast strange thoughts in you going in and out, and often staying the night.) But if you are yearning, then sing the lovers: for long their notorious feelings have not been immortal enough. Those, you almost envied them, the forsaken, that you found as loving as those who were satisfied. Begin, always as new, the unattainable praising: think: the hero prolongs himself, even his falling was only a pretext for being, his latest rebirth. But lovers are taken back by exhausted Nature into herself, as if there were not the power to make them again. Have you remembered Gastara Stampa sufficiently yet, that any girl, whose lover has gone, might feel from that intenser example of love: ‘Could I only become like her?’ Should not these ancient sufferings be finally fruitful for us? Isn’t it time that, loving, we freed ourselves from the beloved, and, trembling, endured as the arrow endures the bow, so as to be, in its flight, something more than itself? For staying is nowhere. Voices, voices. Hear then, my heart, as only saints have heard: so that the mighty call raised them from the earth: they, though, knelt on impossibly and paid no attention: such was their listening. Not that you could withstand God’s voice: far from it. But listen to the breath, the unbroken message that creates itself from the silence. It rushes towards you now, from those youthfully dead. Whenever you entered, didn’t their fate speak to you, quietly, in churches in Naples or Rome? Or else an inscription exaltedly impressed itself on you, as lately the tablet in Santa Maria Formosa. What do they will of me? That I should gently remove the semblance of injustice, that slightly, at times, hinders their spirits from a pure moving-on. It is truly strange to no longer inhabit the earth, to no longer practice customs barely acquired, not to give a meaning of human futurity to roses, and other expressly promising things: no longer to be what one was in endlessly anxious hands, and to set aside even one’s own proper name like a broken plaything. Strange: not to go on wishing one’s wishes. Strange to see all that was once in place, floating so loosely in space. And it’s hard being dead, and full of retrieval, before one gradually feels a little eternity. Though the living all make the error of drawing too sharp a distinction. Angels (they say) would often not know whether they moved among living or dead. The eternal current sweeps all the ages, within it, through both the spheres, forever, and resounds above them in both. Finally they have no more need of us, the early-departed, weaned gently from earthly things, as one outgrows the mother’s mild breast. But we, needing such great secrets, for whom sadness is often the source of a blessed progress, could we exist without them? Is it a meaningless story how once, in the grieving for Linos, first music ventured to penetrate arid rigidity, so that, in startled space, which an almost godlike youth suddenly left forever, the emptiness first felt the quivering that now enraptures us, and comforts, and helps.
Through me one goes into the town of woe, through me one goes into eternal pain, through me among the people that are lost. Justice inspired my high exalted Maker; I was created by the Might divine, the highest Wisdom and the primal Love. Before me there was naught created, save eternal things, and I eternal last; all hope abandon, ye that enter here! These words of gloomy color I beheld inscribed upon the summit of a gate; whence I: “Their meaning, Teacher, troubles me.” And he to me, like one aware, replied: “All fearfulness must here be left behind; all forms of cowardice must here be dead. We ’ve reached the place where, as I said to thee, thou ’lt see the sad folk who have lost the Good which is the object of the intellect.” Then, after he had placed his hand in mine with cheerful face, whence I was comforted, he led me in among the hidden things. There sighs and wails and piercing cries of woe reverberated through the starless air; hence I, at first, shed tears of sympathy. Strange languages, and frightful forms of speech, words caused by pain, accents of anger, voices both loud and faint, and smiting hands withal, a mighty tumult made, which sweeps around forever in that timelessly dark air, as sand is wont, whene’er a whirlwind blows. And I, whose head was girt about with horror, said: “Teacher, what is this I hear? What folk is this, that seems so overwhelmed with woe?” And he to me: “This wretched kind of life the miserable spirits lead of those who lived with neither infamy nor praise. Commingled are they with that worthless choir of Angels who did not rebel, nor yet were true to God, but sided with themselves. The heavens, in order not to be less fair, expelled them; nor doth nether Hell receive them, because the bad would get some glory thence.” And I: “What is it, Teacher, grieves them so, it causes them so loudly to lament?” “I ’ll tell thee very briefly,” he replied. “These have no hope of death, and so low down is this unseeing life of theirs, that envious they are of every other destiny. The world allows no fame of them to live; Mercy and Justice hold them in contempt. Let us not talk of them; but look, and pass!” And I, who gazed intently, saw a flag, which, whirling, moved so swiftly that to me contemptuous it appeared of all repose; and after it there came so long a line of people, that I never would have thought that death so great a number had undone. When some I ’d recognized, I saw and knew the shade of him who through his cowardice the great Refusal made. I understood immediately, and was assured that this the band of cowards was, who both to God displeasing are, and to His enemies. These wretched souls, who never were alive, were naked, and were sorely spurred to action by means of wasps and hornets that were there. The latter streaked their faces with their blood, which, after it had mingled with their tears, was at their feet sucked up by loathsome worms. When I had given myself to peering further, people I saw upon a great stream’s bank; I therefore said: “Now, Teacher, grant to me that I may know who these are, and what law makes them appear so eager to cross over, as in this dim light I perceive they are.” And he to me: “These things will be made clear to thee, as soon as on the dismal strand of Acheron we shall have stayed our steps.” Thereat, with shame-suffused and downcast eyes, and fearing lest my talking might annoy him, up to the river I abstained from speech. Behold then, coming toward us in a boat, an agèd man, all white with ancient hair, who shouted: “Woe to you, ye souls depraved! Give up all hope of ever seeing Heaven! I come to take you to the other shore, into eternal darkness, heat and cold. And thou that yonder art, a living soul, withdraw thee from those fellows that are dead.” But when he saw that I did not withdraw, he said: “By other roads and other ferries shalt thou attain a shore to pass across, not here; a lighter boat must carry thee.” To him my Leader: “Charon, be not vexed; thus is it yonder willed, where there is power to do whate’er is willed; so ask no more!” Thereat were quieted the woolly cheeks of that old boatman of the murky swamp, who round about his eyes had wheels of flame. Those spirits, though, who nude and weary were, their color changed, and gnashed their teeth together, as soon as they had heard the cruel words. They kept blaspheming God, and their own parents, the human species, and the place, and time, and seed of their conception and their birth. Then each and all of them drew on together, weeping aloud, to that accursèd shore which waits for every man that fears not God. Charon, the demon, with his ember eyes makes beckoning signs to them, collects them all, and with his oar beats whoso takes his ease. Even as in autumn leaves detach themselves, now one and now another, till their branch sees all its stripped off clothing on the ground; so, one by one, the evil seed of Adam cast themselves down that river-bank at signals, as doth a bird to its recalling lure. Thus o’er the dusky waves they wend their way; and ere they land upon the other side, another crowd collects again on this. “My son,” the courteous Teacher said to me, “all those that perish in the wrath of God from every country come together here; and eager are to pass across the stream, because Justice Divine so spurs them on, that what was fear is turned into desire. A good soul never goes across from hence; if Charon, therefore, findeth fault with thee, well canst thou now know what his words imply.” The darkling plain, when this was ended, quaked so greatly, that the memory of my terror bathes me even now with sweat. The tear-stained ground gave forth a wind, whence flashed vermilion light which in me overcame all consciousness; and down I fell like one whom sleep o’ertakes.
In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income. The rest of it went in a doublet of fine cloth and velvet breeches and shoes to match for holidays, while on week-days he made a brave figure in his best homespun. He had in his house a housekeeper past forty, a niece under twenty, and a lad for the field and market-place, who used to saddle the hack as well as handle the bill-hook. The age of this gentleman of ours was bordering on fifty; he was of a hardy habit, spare, gaunt-featured, a very early riser and a great sportsman. They will have it his surname was Quixada or Quesada (for here there is some difference of opinion among the authors who write on the subject), although from reasonable conjectures it seems plain that he was called Quexana. This, however, is of but little importance to our tale; it will be enough not to stray a hair's breadth from the truth in the telling of it. You must know, then, that the above-named gentleman whenever he was at leisure (which was mostly all the year round) gave himself up to reading books of chivalry with such ardour and avidity that he almost entirely neglected the pursuit of his field-sports, and even the management of his property; and to such a pitch did his eagerness and infatuation go that he sold many an acre of tillageland to buy books of chivalry to read, and brought home as many of them as he could get. But of all there were none he liked so well as those of the famous Feliciano de Silva's composition, for their lucidity of style and complicated conceits were as pearls in his sight, particularly when in his reading he came upon courtships and cartels, where he often found passages like "the reason of the unreason with which my reason is afflicted so weakens my reason that with reason I murmur at your beauty;" or again, "the high heavens, that of your divinity divinely fortify you with the stars, render you deserving of the desert your greatness deserves." Over conceits of this sort the poor gentleman lost his wits, and used to lie awake striving to understand them and worm the meaning out of them; what Aristotle himself could not have made out or extracted had he come to life again for that special purpose. He was not at all easy about the wounds which Don Belianis gave and took, because it seemed to him that, great as were the surgeons who had cured him, he must have had his face and body covered all over with seams and scars. He commended, however, the author's way of ending his book with the promise of that interminable adventure, and many a time was he tempted to take up his pen and finish it properly as is there proposed, which no doubt he would have done, and made a successful piece of work of it too, had not greater and more absorbing thoughts prevented him. Many an argument did he have with the curate of his village (a learned man, and a graduate of Siguenza) as to which had been the better knight, Palmerin of England or Amadis of Gaul. Master Nicholas, the village barber, however, used to say that neither of them came up to the Knight of Phoebus, and that if there was any that could compare with him it was Don Galaor, the brother of Amadis of Gaul, because he had a spirit that was equal to every occasion, and was no finikin knight, nor lachrymose like his brother, while in the matter of valour he was not a whit behind him. In short, he became so absorbed in his books that he spent his nights from sunset to sunrise, and his days from dawn to dark, poring over them; and what with little sleep and much reading his brains got so dry that he lost his wits. His fancy grew full of what he used to read about in his books, enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, wooings, loves, agonies, and all sorts of impossible nonsense; and it so possessed his mind that the whole fabric of invention and fancy he read of was true, that to him no history in the world had more reality in it. He used to say the Cid Ruy Diaz was a very good knight, but that he was not to be compared with the Knight of the Burning Sword who with one back-stroke cut in half two fierce and monstrous giants. He thought more of Bernardo del Carpio because at Roncesvalles he slew Roland in spite of enchantments, availing himself of the artifice of Hercules when he strangled Antaeus the son of Terra in his arms. He approved highly of the giant Morgante, because, although of the giant breed which is always arrogant and ill-conditioned, he alone was affable and well-bred. But above all he admired Reinaldos of Montalban, especially when he saw him sallying forth from his castle and robbing everyone he met, and when beyond the seas he stole that image of Mahomet which, as his history says, was entirely of gold. To have a bout of kicking at that traitor of a Ganelon he would have given his housekeeper, and his niece into the bargain. In short, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangest notion that ever madman in this world hit upon, and that was that he fancied it was right and requisite, as well for the support of his own honour as for the service of his country, that he should make a knight-errant of himself, roaming the world over in full armour and on horseback in quest of adventures, and putting in practice himself all that he had read of as being the usual practices of knights-errant; righting every kind of wrong, and exposing himself to peril and danger from which, in the issue, he was to reap eternal renown and fame. Already the poor man saw himself crowned by the might of his arm Emperor of Trebizond at least; and so, led away by the intense enjoyment he found in these pleasant fancies, he set himself forthwith to put his scheme into execution. The first thing he did was to clean up some armour that had belonged to his great-grandfather, and had been for ages lying forgotten in a corner eaten with rust and covered with mildew. He scoured and polished it as best he could, but he perceived one great defect in it, that it had no closed helmet, nothing but a simple morion. This deficiency, however, his ingenuity supplied, for he contrived a kind of half-helmet of pasteboard which, fitted on to the morion, looked like a whole one. It is true that, in order to see if it was strong and fit to stand a cut, he drew his sword and gave it a couple of slashes, the first of which undid in an instant what had taken him a week to do. The ease with which he had knocked it to pieces disconcerted him somewhat, and to guard against that danger he set to work again, fixing bars of iron on the inside until he was satisfied with its strength; and then, not caring to try any more experiments with it, he passed it and adopted it as a helmet of the most perfect construction. He next proceeded to inspect his hack, which, with more quartos than a real and more blemishes than the steed of Gonela, that "tantum pellis et ossa fuit," surpassed in his eyes the Bucephalus of Alexander or the Babieca of the Cid. Four days were spent in thinking what name to give him, because (as he said to himself) it was not right that a horse belonging to a knight so famous, and one with such merits of his own, should be without some distinctive name, and he strove to adapt it so as to indicate what he had been before belonging to a knight-errant, and what he then was; for it was only reasonable that, his master taking a new character, he should take a new name, and that it should be a distinguished and full-sounding one, befitting the new order and calling he was about to follow. And so, after having composed, struck out, rejected, added to, unmade, and remade a multitude of names out of his memory and fancy, he decided upon calling him Rocinante, a name, to his thinking, lofty, sonorous, and significant of his condition as a hack before he became what he now was, the first and foremost of all the hacks in the world. Having got a name for his horse so much to his taste, he was anxious to get one for himself, and he was eight days more pondering over this point, till at last he made up his mind to call himself "Don Quixote," whence, as has been already said, the authors of this veracious history have inferred that his name must have been beyond a doubt Quixada, and not Quesada as others would have it. Recollecting, however, that the valiant Amadis was not content to call himself curtly Amadis and nothing more, but added the name of his kingdom and country to make it famous, and called himself Amadis of Gaul, he, like a good knight, resolved to add on the name of his, and to style himself Don Quixote of La Mancha, whereby, he considered, he described accurately his origin and country, and did honour to it in taking his surname from it. So then, his armour being furbished, his morion turned into a helmet, his hack christened, and he himself confirmed, he came to the conclusion that nothing more was needed now but to look out for a lady to be in love with; for a knight-errant without love was like a tree without leaves or fruit, or a body without a soul. As he said to himself, "If, for my sins, or by my good fortune, I come across some giant hereabouts, a common occurrence with knights-errant, and overthrow him in one onslaught, or cleave him asunder to the waist, or, in short, vanquish and subdue him, will it not be well to have some one I may send him to as a present, that he may come in and fall on his knees before my sweet lady, and in a humble, submissive voice say, 'I am the giant Caraculiambro, lord of the island of Malindrania, vanquished in single combat by the never sufficiently extolled knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, who has commanded me to present myself before your Grace, that your Highness dispose of me at your pleasure'?" Oh, how our good gentleman enjoyed the delivery of this speech, especially when he had thought of some one to call his Lady! There was, so the story goes, in a village near his own a very good-looking farm-girl with whom he had been at one time in love, though, so far as is known, she never knew it nor gave a thought to the matter. Her name was Aldonza Lorenzo, and upon her he thought fit to confer the title of Lady of his Thoughts; and after some search for a name which should not be out of harmony with her own, and should suggest and indicate that of a princess and great lady, he decided upon calling her Dulcinea del Toboso—she being of El Toboso—a name, to his mind, musical, uncommon, and significant, like all those he had already bestowed upon himself and the things belonging to him.

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