Longfellow as Translator

HWL. "Divina Commedia," lecture for his Dante course at Harvard College. Autograph manuscript, dated "May 22, 1838, Midnight."


Longfellow Papers MS Am 1340 (106), page 83. Houghton Library.

"Observe, then, that while the Inferno is thronged, with souls, numerous as the falling leaves of Autumn; the way that leads to heaven is for the most part solitary-only here and there a little band of spirits, wending their way up the mount. Moreover the souls of the Inferno wear bodies as of flesh upon earth:-they are wounded and torn asunder, and bleed. In Purgatory the souls of men have spiritual bodies; that cast no shadow. The soul stamps itself upon the air, as the sun's ray through the misty atmosphere breaks into various hues. (Canto XXV.91) and the spiritual body is only a visible expression of the desires and affections of the soul. But more glorious than this, are the blessed spirits of Paradise. They are presented clothed in light-they are stars-they are the flashing of the sun upon the sea-or precious stones, a light within a light-a voice within a voice,-pulsations of sound or brightness…."