One of the truly wonderful things about Purgatorio is that Dante over and over again affirms that these souls who arrive on the shore of the island of Purgatory are already blessed. They arrive and proceed through at their own pace, a pace determined by their lives on Earth.
Among those moving very slowly on the shores of the island we meet Manfred:
Dante, tr. John Ciardi
My flesh had been twice hacked, and each wound mortal
when, tearfully, I yielded up my soul
to HIm whose pardon gladly waits for all.
Horrible were my sins, but infinite
is the abiding Goodness which hold out
its open arms to all who tun to It. . . .
No man may be so cursed by priest or pope
but what the Eternal Love may still return
while any thread of green lives on in hope.
Those who die contumacious, it is true,
though they repent their feud with Holy Church,
must wait outside here on the bank, as we do,
for thirty times as long as they refused
to be obedient, though by good prayers
in their behalf, that time may be reduced.
I quote this passage for several reasons. One is to give a sense of Dante's vision. Ciardi notes that there seems to be no real significance to 30 as opposed to say 50 or 100. In fact, except that it probably doesn't work in Italian 33 might be more apropos.
Another reason is that reading this one gets the sense of a need for real notes. What's this about twice hacked, what actually went on. In a section I didn't quote there is a mention of him being transported with "tapers quenched" after his death. Good notes are essential to any real understanding of these works. Either that or a fairly thorough understanding of the history of all the kingdom that made up Italy at the time of Dante--an expertise almost none of us command.
Finally I quoted it because it contains a line that I have borne in memory since the eighth or ninth grade when we were called upon to read Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men. There is either in an epigraph or in a chapter proper, a quotation which, in the book, is a reference to the office set-up of Willie Stark, but which is reflected clearly here
Mentre che la speranza ha fior del verde
which is translated in that book As long as hope still has its bit of green. Here is is translated "while any thread of green lives on in hope."
For whatever reason, that line has stuck with me, and I scoured Dante several times looking for it. And this morning, it just popped out at me as I was reading. God's sheer grace and goodness and perhaps a message for meant for this day.