Dante on Pleasure and Pain

An excerpt from Purgatorio
Dante Alighieri
As Dante and Virgil begin their ascent of the mountain, a spirit keeps them listening for three hours - although it appears only moments have passed:
When one of our faculties is given over
to pleasure or to pain,
our soul will focus on that alone

and seem to pay no mind to any of its other powers—
revealing the errors in the doctrine that maintains
among other souls within us one is more aflame.

And therefore when we see or hear a thing
that concentrates the soul,
time passes and we're not aware of it,

for the faculty that hears the passing time
is not the one that holds the soul intent:
the one that hears is bound, the other free.

This I truly understood,
listening to that spirit in amazement,
for the sun had already climbed fifty degrees

Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio, IV, 1-15
The Divine Comedy
Translated by Jean Hollander & Robert Hollander

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