Joyce's . . . .mentreche has been emended to Mentre che in Gabler's corrected text.
He saw them three by three ... underdarkneath the nightFollowing the allusion to Dante's Inferno, Stephen now conflates two episodes from the remaining parts of the Divine Comedy: the Divine Pageant (or Mystic Procession) in the 29th canto of the Purgatorio, and the vision of the Virgin Mary in the 31st canto of the Paradiso.
Tre donne in giro da la destra rota venian danzando; l'una tanto rossa ch'a pena fora dentro al foco nota;
l'altr'era come se le carni e l'ossa fossero state di smeraldo fatte; la terza parea neve teste' mossa;
e or parean da la bianca tratte, or da la rossa; e dal canto di questa l'altre toglien l'andare e tarde e ratte.
Da la sinistra quattro facean festa, in porpore vestite, dietro al modo d'una di lor ch'avea tre occhi in testa.
Appresso tutto il pertrattato nodo vidi due vecchi in abito dispari, ma pari in atto e onesto e sodo.
Three ladies in a ring at the right wheel came dancing; one so red that scarcely would she have been noticed in the fire;
the next was as though her flesh and bones had been made of emerald; the third seemed snow newly fallen;
and now they seemed to be led by the white, now by the red; and from the song of this one the others took their pace, both slow and fast.
On the left four made festival, in purple clothed, after the manner of one of them, who had three eyes in her head.
Behind the whole of the aforementioned knot I saw two old men in disparate habits, but alike in their actions both honest and solid.
E come quivi ove s’aspetta il temo che mal guidò Fetonte, più s’infiamma, e quinci e quindi il lume si fa scemo,
così quella pacifica oriafiamma nel mezzo s’avvivava, e d’ogne parte per igual modo allentava la fiamma;
e a quel mezzo, con le penne sparte, vid’ io più di mille angeli festanti, ciascun distinto di fulgore e d’arte.
Vidi a lor giochi quivi e a lor canti ridere una bellezza, che letizia era ne li occhi a tutti li altri santi;
e s’io avessi in dir tanta divizia quanta ad imaginar, non ardirei lo minimo tentar di sua delizia.
Bernardo, come vide li occhi miei nel caldo suo calor fissi e attenti, li suoi con tanto affetto volse a lei,
che ’ miei di rimirar fé più ardenti.
And as the place where one awaits the shaft that Phaëton ill guided is most inflamed, while on this side and on that the light abates,
so that peaceful Oriflamme was rekindled in the middle, while on each side in equal measure the flame weakened;
and at that middle, with their wings displayed, I saw more than a thousand jubilant angels, each one distinct in splendour and in skill.
I saw, at their games there and at their songs smiling, a beautiful one, who joy was in the eyes of all the other saints;
and if I had in speech as much abundance divizia as in imagination, I would not dare attempt the least of her delights.
Bernard, as soon as he saw my eyes on her warm heat fixed and attentive, his own with such affection he turned to her
entwiningStephen is thinking of the manner in which the rhymes are entwined in Dante's terza rima.
per l'aere perso(Italian) through the murky air. In his Convivio, Dante defines perse as a colour mingled of purple and of black, but the black predominates. See the quotation from Dante's Inferno 5:89 above.
quella pacifica oriafiamma(Italian) that peaceful Oriflamme. See the quotation from Dante'sParadiso 31:127 above. The Oriflamme was the battle standard of the kings of France.
di rimirar fè più ardenti(Italian) made [my eyes] more eager to regaze. See the quotation from Dante'sParadiso 31:142 above. These are the closing words of the canto.
But I old menDante saw his rhymes three by three as colourful girls, but Stephen sees the rhymes he employed in the quatrain he wrote in Proteus as pairs of old men. See 127.20-23.