Part 3 out of 4
Thy root is from the aspect of all those
Who the First Cause do not behold entire!
And you, O mortals! hold yourselves restrained
In judging; for ourselves, who look on God,
We do not know as yet all the elect;
And sweet to us is such a deprivation,
Because our good in this good is made perfect,
That whatsoe'er God wills, we also will."
After this manner by that shape divine,
To make clear in me my short-sightedness,
Was given to me a pleasant medicine;
And as good singer a good lutanist
Accompanies with vibrations of the chords,
Whereby more pleasantness the song acquires,
So, while it spake, do I remember me
That I beheld both of those blessed lights,
Even as the winking of the eyes concords,
Moving unto the words their little flames.
Paradiso: Canto XXI
Already on my Lady's face mine eyes
Again were fastened, and with these my mind,
And from all other purpose was withdrawn;
And she smiled not; but "If I were to smile,"
She unto me began, "thou wouldst become
Like Semele, when she was turned to ashes.
Because my beauty, that along the stairs
Of the eternal palace more enkindles,
As thou hast seen, the farther we ascend,
If it were tempered not, is so resplendent
That all thy mortal power in its effulgence
Would seem a leaflet that the thunder crushes.
We are uplifted to the seventh splendour,
That underneath the burning Lion's breast
Now radiates downward mingled with his power.
Fix in direction of thine eyes the mind,
And make of them a mirror for the figure
That in this mirror shall appear to thee."
He who could know what was the pasturage
My sight had in that blessed countenance,
When I transferred me to another care,
Would recognize how grateful was to me
Obedience unto my celestial escort,
By counterpoising one side with the other.
Within the crystal which, around the world
Revolving, bears the name of its dear leader,
Under whom every wickedness lay dead,
Coloured like gold, on which the sunshine gleams,
A stairway I beheld to such a height
Uplifted, that mine eye pursued it not.
Likewise beheld I down the steps descending
So many splendours, that I thought each light
That in the heaven appears was there diffused.
And as accordant with their natural custom
The rooks together at the break of day
Bestir themselves to warm their feathers cold;
Then some of them fly off without return,
Others come back to where they started from,
And others, wheeling round, still keep at home;
Such fashion it appeared to me was there
Within the sparkling that together came,
As soon as on a certain step it struck,
And that which nearest unto us remained
Became so clear, that in my thought I said,
"Well I perceive the love thou showest me;
But she, from whom I wait the how and when
Of speech and silence, standeth still; whence I
Against desire do well if I ask not."
She thereupon, who saw my silentness
In the sight of Him who seeth everything,
Said unto me, "Let loose thy warm desire."
And I began: "No merit of my own
Renders me worthy of response from thee;
But for her sake who granteth me the asking,
Thou blessed life that dost remain concealed
In thy beatitude, make known to me
The cause which draweth thee so near my side;
And tell me why is silent in this wheel
The dulcet symphony of Paradise,
That through the rest below sounds so devoutly."
"Thou hast thy hearing mortal as thy sight,"
It answer made to me; "they sing not here,
For the same cause that Beatrice has not smiled.
Thus far adown the holy stairway's steps
Have I descended but to give thee welcome
With words, and with the light that mantles me;
Nor did more love cause me to be more ready,
For love as much and more up there is burning,
As doth the flaming manifest to thee.
But the high charity, that makes us servants
Prompt to the counsel which controls the world,
Allotteth here, even as thou dost observe."
"I see full well," said I, "O sacred lamp!
How love unfettered in this court sufficeth
To follow the eternal Providence;
But this is what seems hard for me to see,
Wherefore predestinate wast thou alone
Unto this office from among thy consorts."
No sooner had I come to the last word,
Than of its middle made the light a centre,
Whirling itself about like a swift millstone.
When answer made the love that was therein:
"On me directed is a light divine,
Piercing through this in which I am embosomed,
Of which the virtue with my sight conjoined
Lifts me above myself so far, I see
The supreme essence from which this is drawn.
Hence comes the joyfulness with which I flame,
For to my sight, as far as it is clear,
The clearness of the flame I equal make.
But that soul in the heaven which is most pure,
That seraph which his eye on God most fixes,
Could this demand of thine not satisfy;
Because so deeply sinks in the abyss
Of the eternal statute what thou askest,
From all created sight it is cut off.
And to the mortal world, when thou returnest,
This carry back, that it may not presume
Longer tow'rd such a goal to move its feet.
The mind, that shineth here, on earth doth smoke;
From this observe how can it do below
That which it cannot though the heaven assume it?"
Such limit did its words prescribe to me,
The question I relinquished, and restricted
Myself to ask it humbly who it was.
"Between two shores of Italy rise cliffs,
And not far distant from thy native place,
So high, the thunders far below them sound,
And form a ridge that Catria is called,
'Neath which is consecrate a hermitage
Wont to be dedicate to worship only."
Thus unto me the third speech recommenced,
And then, continuing, it said: "Therein
Unto God's service I became so steadfast,
That feeding only on the juice of olives
Lightly I passed away the heats and frosts,
Contented in my thoughts contemplative.
That cloister used to render to these heavens
Abundantly, and now is empty grown,
So that perforce it soon must be revealed.
I in that place was Peter Damiano;
And Peter the Sinner was I in the house
Of Our Lady on the Adriatic shore.
Little of mortal life remained to me,
When I was called and dragged forth to the hat
Which shifteth evermore from bad to worse.
Came Cephas, and the mighty Vessel came
Of the Holy Spirit, meagre and barefooted,
Taking the food of any hostelry.
Now some one to support them on each side
The modern shepherds need, and some to lead them,
So heavy are they, and to hold their trains.
They cover up their palfreys with their cloaks,
So that two beasts go underneath one skin;
O Patience, that dost tolerate so much!"
At this voice saw I many little flames
From step to step descending and revolving,
And every revolution made them fairer.
Round about this one came they and stood still,
And a cry uttered of so loud a sound,
It here could find no parallel, nor I
Distinguished it, the thunder so o'ercame me.
Paradiso: Canto XXII
Oppressed with stupor, I unto my guide
Turned like a little child who always runs
For refuge there where he confideth most;
And she, even as a mother who straightway
Gives comfort to her pale and breathless boy
With voice whose wont it is to reassure him,
Said to me: "Knowest thou not thou art in heaven,
And knowest thou not that heaven is holy all
And what is done here cometh from good zeal?
After what wise the singing would have changed thee
And I by smiling, thou canst now imagine,
Since that the cry has startled thee so much,
In which if thou hadst understood its prayers
Already would be known to thee the vengeance
Which thou shalt look upon before thou diest.
The sword above here smiteth not in haste
Nor tardily, howe'er it seem to him
Who fearing or desiring waits for it.
But turn thee round towards the others now,
For very illustrious spirits shalt thou see,
If thou thy sight directest as I say."
As it seemed good to her mine eyes I turned,
And saw a hundred spherules that together
With mutual rays each other more embellished.
I stood as one who in himself represses
The point of his desire, and ventures not
To question, he so feareth the too much.
And now the largest and most luculent
Among those pearls came forward, that it might
Make my desire concerning it content.
Within it then I heard: "If thou couldst see
Even as myself the charity that burns
Among us, thy conceits would be expressed;
But, that by waiting thou mayst not come late
To the high end, I will make answer even
Unto the thought of which thou art so chary.
That mountain on whose slope Cassino stands
Was frequented of old upon its summit
By a deluded folk and ill-disposed;
And I am he who first up thither bore
The name of Him who brought upon the earth
The truth that so much sublimateth us.
And such abundant grace upon me shone
That all the neighbouring towns I drew away
From the impious worship that seduced the world.
These other fires, each one of them, were men
Contemplative, enkindled by that heat
Which maketh holy flowers and fruits spring up.
Here is Macarius, here is Romualdus,
Here are my brethren, who within the cloisters
Their footsteps stayed and kept a steadfast heart."
And I to him: "The affection which thou showest
Speaking with me, and the good countenance
Which I behold and note in all your ardours,
In me have so my confidence dilated
As the sun doth the rose, when it becomes
As far unfolded as it hath the power.
Therefore I pray, and thou assure me, father,
If I may so much grace receive, that I
May thee behold with countenance unveiled."
He thereupon: "Brother, thy high desire
In the remotest sphere shall be fulfilled,
Where are fulfilled all others and my own.
There perfect is, and ripened, and complete,
Every desire; within that one alone
Is every part where it has always been;
For it is not in space, nor turns on poles,
And unto it our stairway reaches up,
Whence thus from out thy sight it steals away.
Up to that height the Patriarch Jacob saw it
Extending its supernal part, what time
So thronged with angels it appeared to him.
But to ascend it now no one uplifts
His feet from off the earth, and now my Rule
Below remaineth for mere waste of paper.
The walls that used of old to be an Abbey
Are changed to dens of robbers, and the cowls
Are sacks filled full of miserable flour.
But heavy usury is not taken up
So much against God's pleasure as that fruit
Which maketh so insane the heart of monks;
For whatsoever hath the Church in keeping
Is for the folk that ask it in God's name,
Not for one's kindred or for something worse.
The flesh of mortals is so very soft,
That good beginnings down below suffice not
From springing of the oak to bearing acorns.
Peter began with neither gold nor silver,
And I with orison and abstinence,
And Francis with humility his convent.
And if thou lookest at each one's beginning,
And then regardest whither he has run,
Thou shalt behold the white changed into brown.
In verity the Jordan backward turned,
And the sea's fleeing, when God willed were more
A wonder to behold, than succour here."
Thus unto me he said; and then withdrew
To his own band, and the band closed together;
Then like a whirlwind all was upward rapt.
The gentle Lady urged me on behind them
Up o'er that stairway by a single sign,
So did her virtue overcome my nature;
Nor here below, where one goes up and down
By natural law, was motion e'er so swift
That it could be compared unto my wing.
Reader, as I may unto that devout
Triumph return, on whose account I often
For my transgressions weep and beat my breast,--
Thou hadst not thrust thy finger in the fire
And drawn it out again, before I saw
The sign that follows Taurus, and was in it.
O glorious stars, O light impregnated
With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge
All of my genius, whatsoe'er it be,
With you was born, and hid himself with you,
He who is father of all mortal life,
When first I tasted of the Tuscan air;
And then when grace was freely given to me
To enter the high wheel which turns you round,
Your region was allotted unto me.
To you devoutly at this hour my soul
Is sighing, that it virtue may acquire
For the stern pass that draws it to itself.
"Thou art so near unto the last salvation,"
Thus Beatrice began, "thou oughtest now
To have thine eves unclouded and acute;
And therefore, ere thou enter farther in,
Look down once more, and see how vast a world
Thou hast already put beneath thy feet;
So that thy heart, as jocund as it may,
Present itself to the triumphant throng
That comes rejoicing through this rounded ether."
I with my sight returned through one and all
The sevenfold spheres, and I beheld this globe
Such that I smiled at its ignoble semblance;
And that opinion I approve as best
Which doth account it least; and he who thinks
Of something else may truly be called just.
I saw the daughter of Latona shining
Without that shadow, which to me was cause
That once I had believed her rare and dense.
The aspect of thy son, Hyperion,
Here I sustained, and saw how move themselves
Around and near him Maia and Dione.
Thence there appeared the temperateness of Jove
'Twixt son and father, and to me was clear
The change that of their whereabout they make;
And all the seven made manifest to me
How great they are, and eke how swift they are,
And how they are in distant habitations.
The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud,
To me revolving with the eternal Twins,
Was all apparent made from hill to harbour!
Then to the beauteous eyes mine eyes I turned.
Paradiso: Canto XXIII
Even as a bird, 'mid the beloved leaves,
Quiet upon the nest of her sweet brood
Throughout the night, that hideth all things from us,
Who, that she may behold their longed-for looks
And find the food wherewith to nourish them,
In which, to her, grave labours grateful are,
Anticipates the time on open spray
And with an ardent longing waits the sun,
Gazing intent as soon as breaks the dawn:
Even thus my Lady standing was, erect
And vigilant, turned round towards the zone
Underneath which the sun displays less haste;
So that beholding her distraught and wistful,
Such I became as he is who desiring
For something yearns, and hoping is appeased.
But brief the space from one When to the other;
Of my awaiting, say I, and the seeing
The welkin grow resplendent more and more.
And Beatrice exclaimed: "Behold the hosts
Of Christ's triumphal march, and all the fruit
Harvested by the rolling of these spheres!"
It seemed to me her face was all aflame;
And eyes she had so full of ecstasy
That I must needs pass on without describing.
As when in nights serene of the full moon
Smiles Trivia among the nymphs eternal
Who paint the firmament through all its gulfs,
Saw I, above the myriads of lamps,
A Sun that one and all of them enkindled,
E'en as our own doth the supernal sights,
And through the living light transparent shone
The lucent substance so intensely clear
Into my sight, that I sustained it not.
O Beatrice, thou gentle guide and dear!
To me she said: "What overmasters thee
A virtue is from which naught shields itself.
There are the wisdom and the omnipotence
That oped the thoroughfares 'twixt heaven and earth,
For which there erst had been so long a yearning."
As fire from out a cloud unlocks itself,
Dilating so it finds not room therein,
And down, against its nature, falls to earth,
So did my mind, among those aliments
Becoming larger, issue from itself,
And that which it became cannot remember.
"Open thine eyes, and look at what I am:
Thou hast beheld such things, that strong enough
Hast thou become to tolerate my smile."
I was as one who still retains the feeling
Of a forgotten vision, and endeavours
In vain to bring it back into his mind,
When I this invitation heard, deserving
Of so much gratitude, it never fades
Out of the book that chronicles the past.
If at this moment sounded all the tongues
That Polyhymnia and her sisters made
Most lubrical with their delicious milk,
To aid me, to a thousandth of the truth
It would not reach, singing the holy smile
And how the holy aspect it illumed.
And therefore, representing Paradise,
The sacred poem must perforce leap over,
Even as a man who finds his way cut off;
But whoso thinketh of the ponderous theme,
And of the mortal shoulder laden with it,
Should blame it not, if under this it tremble.
It is no passage for a little boat
This which goes cleaving the audacious prow,
Nor for a pilot who would spare himself.
"Why doth my face so much enamour thee,
That to the garden fair thou turnest not,
Which under the rays of Christ is blossoming?
There is the Rose in which the Word Divine
Became incarnate; there the lilies are
By whose perfume the good way was discovered."
Thus Beatrice; and I, who to her counsels
Was wholly ready, once again betook me
Unto the battle of the feeble brows.
As in the sunshine, that unsullied streams
Through fractured cloud, ere now a meadow of flowers
Mine eyes with shadow covered o'er have seen,
So troops of splendours manifold I saw
Illumined from above with burning rays,
Beholding not the source of the effulgence.
O power benignant that dost so imprint them!
Thou didst exalt thyself to give more scope
There to mine eyes, that were not strong enough.
The name of that fair flower I e'er invoke
Morning and evening utterly enthralled
My soul to gaze upon the greater fire.
And when in both mine eyes depicted were
The glory and greatness of the living star
Which there excelleth, as it here excelled,
Athwart the heavens a little torch descended
Formed in a circle like a coronal,
And cinctured it, and whirled itself about it.
Whatever melody most sweetly soundeth
On earth, and to itself most draws the soul,
Would seem a cloud that, rent asunder, thunders,
Compared unto the sounding of that lyre
Wherewith was crowned the sapphire beautiful,
Which gives the clearest heaven its sapphire hue.
"I am Angelic Love, that circle round
The joy sublime which breathes from out the womb
That was the hostelry of our Desire;
And I shall circle, Lady of Heaven, while
Thou followest thy Son, and mak'st diviner
The sphere supreme, because thou enterest there."
Thus did the circulated melody
Seal itself up; and all the other lights
Were making to resound the name of Mary.
The regal mantle of the volumes all
Of that world, which most fervid is and living
With breath of God and with his works and ways,
Extended over us its inner border,
So very distant, that the semblance of it
There where I was not yet appeared to me.
Therefore mine eyes did not possess the power
Of following the incoronated flame,
Which mounted upward near to its own seed.
And as a little child, that towards its mother
Stretches its arms, when it the milk has taken,
Through impulse kindled into outward flame,
Each of those gleams of whiteness upward reached
So with its summit, that the deep affection
They had for Mary was revealed to me.
Thereafter they remained there in my sight,
'Regina coeli' singing with such sweetness,
That ne'er from me has the delight departed.
O, what exuberance is garnered up
Within those richest coffers, which had been
Good husbandmen for sowing here below!
There they enjoy and live upon the treasure
Which was acquired while weeping in the exile
Of Babylon, wherein the gold was left.
There triumpheth, beneath the exalted Son
Of God and Mary, in his victory,
Both with the ancient council and the new,
He who doth keep the keys of such a glory.
Paradiso: Canto XXIV
"O company elect to the great supper
Of the Lamb benedight, who feedeth you
So that for ever full is your desire,
If by the grace of God this man foretaste
Something of that which falleth from your table,
Or ever death prescribe to him the time,
Direct your mind to his immense desire,
And him somewhat bedew; ye drinking are
For ever at the fount whence comes his thought."
Thus Beatrice; and those souls beatified
Transformed themselves to spheres on steadfast poles,
Flaming intensely in the guise of comets.
And as the wheels in works of horologes
Revolve so that the first to the beholder
Motionless seems, and the last one to fly,
So in like manner did those carols, dancing
In different measure, of their affluence
Give me the gauge, as they were swift or slow.
From that one which I noted of most beauty
Beheld I issue forth a fire so happy
That none it left there of a greater brightness;
And around Beatrice three several times
It whirled itself with so divine a song,
My fantasy repeats it not to me;
Therefore the pen skips, and I write it not,
Since our imagination for such folds,
Much more our speech, is of a tint too glaring.
"O holy sister mine, who us implorest
With such devotion, by thine ardent love
Thou dost unbind me from that beautiful sphere!"
Thereafter, having stopped, the blessed fire
Unto my Lady did direct its breath,
Which spake in fashion as I here have said.
And she: "O light eterne of the great man
To whom our Lord delivered up the keys
He carried down of this miraculous joy,
This one examine on points light and grave,
As good beseemeth thee, about the Faith
By means of which thou on the sea didst walk.
If he love well, and hope well, and believe,
From thee 'tis hid not; for thou hast thy sight
There where depicted everything is seen.
But since this kingdom has made citizens
By means of the true Faith, to glorify it
'Tis well he have the chance to speak thereof."
As baccalaureate arms himself, and speaks not
Until the master doth propose the question,
To argue it, and not to terminate it,
So did I arm myself with every reason,
While she was speaking, that I might be ready
For such a questioner and such profession.
"Say, thou good Christian; manifest thyself;
What is the Faith?" Whereat I raised my brow
Unto that light wherefrom was this breathed forth.
Then turned I round to Beatrice, and she
Prompt signals made to me that I should pour
The water forth from my internal fountain.
"May grace, that suffers me to make confession,"
Began I, "to the great centurion,
Cause my conceptions all to be explicit!"
And I continued: "As the truthful pen,
Father, of thy dear brother wrote of it,
Who put with thee Rome into the good way,
Faith is the substance of the things we hope for,
And evidence of those that are not seen;
And this appears to me its quiddity."
Then heard I: "Very rightly thou perceivest,
If well thou understandest why he placed it
With substances and then with evidences."
And I thereafterward: "The things profound,
That here vouchsafe to me their apparition,
Unto all eyes below are so concealed,
That they exist there only in belief,
Upon the which is founded the high hope,
And hence it takes the nature of a substance.
And it behoveth us from this belief
To reason without having other sight,
And hence it has the nature of evidence."
Then heard I: "If whatever is acquired
Below by doctrine were thus understood,
No sophist's subtlety would there find place."
Thus was breathed forth from that enkindled love;
Then added: "Very well has been gone over
Already of this coin the alloy and weight;
But tell me if thou hast it in thy purse?"
And I: "Yes, both so shining and so round
That in its stamp there is no peradventure."
Thereafter issued from the light profound
That there resplendent was: "This precious jewel,
Upon the which is every virtue founded,
Whence hadst thou it?" And I: "The large outpouring
Of Holy Spirit, which has been diffused
Upon the ancient parchments and the new,
A syllogism is, which proved it to me
With such acuteness, that, compared therewith,
All demonstration seems to me obtuse."
And then I heard: "The ancient and the new
Postulates, that to thee are so conclusive,
Why dost thou take them for the word divine?"
And I: "The proofs, which show the truth to me,
Are the works subsequent, whereunto Nature
Ne'er heated iron yet, nor anvil beat."
'Twas answered me: "Say, who assureth thee
That those works ever were? the thing itself
That must be proved, nought else to thee affirms it."
"Were the world to Christianity converted,"
I said, "withouten miracles, this one
Is such, the rest are not its hundredth part;
Because that poor and fasting thou didst enter
Into the field to sow there the good plant,
Which was a vine and has become a thorn!"
This being finished, the high, holy Court
Resounded through the spheres, "One God we praise!"
In melody that there above is chanted.
And then that Baron, who from branch to branch,
Examining, had thus conducted me,
Till the extremest leaves we were approaching,
Again began: "The Grace that dallying
Plays with thine intellect thy mouth has opened,
Up to this point, as it should opened be,
So that I do approve what forth emerged;
But now thou must express what thou believest,
And whence to thy belief it was presented."
"O holy father, spirit who beholdest
What thou believedst so that thou o'ercamest,
Towards the sepulchre, more youthful feet,"
Began I, "thou dost wish me in this place
The form to manifest of my prompt belief,
And likewise thou the cause thereof demandest.
And I respond: In one God I believe,
Sole and eterne, who moveth all the heavens
With love and with desire, himself unmoved;
And of such faith not only have I proofs
Physical and metaphysical, but gives them
Likewise the truth that from this place rains down
Through Moses, through the Prophets and the Psalms,
Through the Evangel, and through you, who wrote
After the fiery Spirit sanctified you;
In Persons three eterne believe, and these
One essence I believe, so one and trine
They bear conjunction both with 'sunt' and 'est.'
With the profound condition and divine
Which now I touch upon, doth stamp my mind
Ofttimes the doctrine evangelical.
This the beginning is, this is the spark
Which afterwards dilates to vivid flame,
And, like a star in heaven, is sparkling in me."
Even as a lord who hears what pleaseth him
His servant straight embraces, gratulating
For the good news as soon as he is silent;
So, giving me its benediction, singing,
Three times encircled me, when I was silent,
The apostolic light, at whose command
I spoken had, in speaking I so pleased him.
Paradiso: Canto XXV
If e'er it happen that the Poem Sacred,
To which both heaven and earth have set their hand,
So that it many a year hath made me lean,
O'ercome the cruelty that bars me out
From the fair sheepfold, where a lamb I slumbered,
An enemy to the wolves that war upon it,
With other voice forthwith, with other fleece
Poet will I return, and at my font
Baptismal will I take the laurel crown;
Because into the Faith that maketh known
All souls to God there entered I, and then
Peter for her sake thus my brow encircled.
Thereafterward towards us moved a light
Out of that band whence issued the first-fruits
Which of his vicars Christ behind him left,
And then my Lady, full of ecstasy,
Said unto me: "Look, look! behold the Baron
For whom below Galicia is frequented."
In the same way as, when a dove alights
Near his companion, both of them pour forth,
Circling about and murmuring, their affection,
So one beheld I by the other grand
Prince glorified to be with welcome greeted,
Lauding the food that there above is eaten.
But when their gratulations were complete,
Silently 'coram me' each one stood still,
So incandescent it o'ercame my sight.
Smiling thereafterwards, said Beatrice:
"Illustrious life, by whom the benefactions
Of our Basilica have been described,
Make Hope resound within this altitude;
Thou knowest as oft thou dost personify it
As Jesus to the three gave greater clearness."--
"Lift up thy head, and make thyself assured;
For what comes hither from the mortal world
Must needs be ripened in our radiance."
This comfort came to me from the second fire;
Wherefore mine eyes I lifted to the hills,
Which bent them down before with too great weight.
"Since, through his grace, our Emperor wills that thou
Shouldst find thee face to face, before thy death,
In the most secret chamber, with his Counts,
So that, the truth beholden of this court,
Hope, which below there rightfully enamours,
Thereby thou strengthen in thyself and others,
Say what it is, and how is flowering with it
Thy mind, and say from whence it came to thee."
Thus did the second light again continue.
And the Compassionate, who piloted
The plumage of my wings in such high flight,
Did in reply anticipate me thus:
"No child whatever the Church Militant
Of greater hope possesses, as is written
In that Sun which irradiates all our band;
Therefore it is conceded him from Egypt
To come into Jerusalem to see,
Or ever yet his warfare be completed.
The two remaining points, that not for knowledge
Have been demanded, but that he report
How much this virtue unto thee is pleasing,
To him I leave; for hard he will not find them,
Nor of self-praise; and let him answer them;
And may the grace of God in this assist him!"
As a disciple, who his teacher follows,
Ready and willing, where he is expert,
That his proficiency may be displayed,
"Hope," said I, "is the certain expectation
Of future glory, which is the effect
Of grace divine and merit precedent.
From many stars this light comes unto me;
But he instilled it first into my heart
Who was chief singer unto the chief captain.
'Sperent in te,' in the high Theody
He sayeth, 'those who know thy name;' and who
Knoweth it not, if he my faith possess?
Thou didst instil me, then, with his instilling
In the Epistle, so that I am full,
And upon others rain again your rain."
While I was speaking, in the living bosom
Of that combustion quivered an effulgence,
Sudden and frequent, in the guise of lightning;
Then breathed: "The love wherewith I am inflamed
Towards the virtue still which followed me
Unto the palm and issue of the field,
Wills that I breathe to thee that thou delight
In her; and grateful to me is thy telling
Whatever things Hope promises to thee."
And I: "The ancient Scriptures and the new
The mark establish, and this shows it me,
Of all the souls whom God hath made his friends.
Isaiah saith, that each one garmented
In his own land shall be with twofold garments,
And his own land is this delightful life.
Thy brother, too, far more explicitly,
There where he treateth of the robes of white,
This revelation manifests to us."
And first, and near the ending of these words,
"Sperent in te" from over us was heard,
To which responsive answered all the carols.
Thereafterward a light among them brightened,
So that, if Cancer one such crystal had,
Winter would have a month of one sole day.
And as uprises, goes, and enters the dance
A winsome maiden, only to do honour
To the new bride, and not from any failing,
Even thus did I behold the brightened splendour
Approach the two, who in a wheel revolved
As was beseeming to their ardent love.
Into the song and music there it entered;
And fixed on them my Lady kept her look,
Even as a bride silent and motionless.
"This is the one who lay upon the breast
Of him our Pelican; and this is he
To the great office from the cross elected."
My Lady thus; but therefore none the more
Did move her sight from its attentive gaze
Before or afterward these words of hers.
Even as a man who gazes, and endeavours
To see the eclipsing of the sun a little,
And who, by seeing, sightless doth become,
So I became before that latest fire,
While it was said, "Why dost thou daze thyself
To see a thing which here hath no existence?
Earth in the earth my body is, and shall be
With all the others there, until our number
With the eternal proposition tallies.
With the two garments in the blessed cloister
Are the two lights alone that have ascended:
And this shalt thou take back into your world."
And at this utterance the flaming circle
Grew quiet, with the dulcet intermingling
Of sound that by the trinal breath was made,
As to escape from danger or fatigue
The oars that erst were in the water beaten
Are all suspended at a whistle's sound.
Ah, how much in my mind was I disturbed,
When I turned round to look on Beatrice,
That her I could not see, although I was
Close at her side and in the Happy World!
Paradiso: Canto XXVI
While I was doubting for my vision quenched,
Out of the flame refulgent that had quenched it
Issued a breathing, that attentive made me,
Saying: "While thou recoverest the sense
Of seeing which in me thou hast consumed,
'Tis well that speaking thou shouldst compensate it.
Begin then, and declare to what thy soul
Is aimed, and count it for a certainty,
Sight is in thee bewildered and not dead;
Because the Lady, who through this divine
Region conducteth thee, has in her look
The power the hand of Ananias had."
I said: "As pleaseth her, or soon or late
Let the cure come to eyes that portals were
When she with fire I ever burn with entered.
The Good, that gives contentment to this Court,
The Alpha and Omega is of all
The writing that love reads me low or loud."
The selfsame voice, that taken had from me
The terror of the sudden dazzlement,
To speak still farther put it in my thought;
And said: "In verity with finer sieve
Behoveth thee to sift; thee it behoveth
To say who aimed thy bow at such a target."
And I: "By philosophic arguments,
And by authority that hence descends,
Such love must needs imprint itself in me;
For Good, so far as good, when comprehended
Doth straight enkindle love, and so much greater
As more of goodness in itself it holds;
Then to that Essence (whose is such advantage
That every good which out of it is found
Is nothing but a ray of its own light)
More than elsewhither must the mind be moved
Of every one, in loving, who discerns
The truth in which this evidence is founded.
Such truth he to my intellect reveals
Who demonstrates to me the primal love
Of all the sempiternal substances.
The voice reveals it of the truthful Author,
Who says to Moses, speaking of Himself,
'I will make all my goodness pass before thee.'
Thou too revealest it to me, beginning
The loud Evangel, that proclaims the secret
Of heaven to earth above all other edict."
And I heard say: "By human intellect
And by authority concordant with it,
Of all thy loves reserve for God the highest.
But say again if other cords thou feelest,
Draw thee towards Him, that thou mayst proclaim
With how many teeth this love is biting thee."
The holy purpose of the Eagle of Christ
Not latent was, nay, rather I perceived
Whither he fain would my profession lead.
Therefore I recommenced: "All of those bites
Which have the power to turn the heart to God
Unto my charity have been concurrent.
The being of the world, and my own being,
The death which He endured that I may live,
And that which all the faithful hope, as I do,
With the forementioned vivid consciousness
Have drawn me from the sea of love perverse,
And of the right have placed me on the shore.
The leaves, wherewith embowered is all the garden
Of the Eternal Gardener, do I love
As much as he has granted them of good."
As soon as I had ceased, a song most sweet
Throughout the heaven resounded, and my Lady
Said with the others, "Holy, holy, holy!"
And as at some keen light one wakes from sleep
By reason of the visual spirit that runs
Unto the splendour passed from coat to coat,
And he who wakes abhorreth what he sees,
So all unconscious is his sudden waking,
Until the judgment cometh to his aid,
So from before mine eyes did Beatrice
Chase every mote with radiance of her own,
That cast its light a thousand miles and more.
Whence better after than before I saw,
And in a kind of wonderment I asked
About a fourth light that I saw with us.
And said my Lady: "There within those rays
Gazes upon its Maker the first soul
That ever the first virtue did create."
Even as the bough that downward bends its top
At transit of the wind, and then is lifted
By its own virtue, which inclines it upward,
Likewise did I, the while that she was speaking,
Being amazed, and then I was made bold
By a desire to speak wherewith I burned.
And I began: "O apple, that mature
Alone hast been produced, O ancient father,
To whom each wife is daughter and daughter-in-law,
Devoutly as I can I supplicate thee
That thou wouldst speak to me; thou seest my wish;
And I, to hear thee quickly, speak it not."
Sometimes an animal, when covered, struggles
So that his impulse needs must be apparent,
By reason of the wrappage following it;
And in like manner the primeval soul
Made clear to me athwart its covering
How jubilant it was to give me pleasure.
Then breathed: "Without thy uttering it to me,
Thine inclination better I discern
Than thou whatever thing is surest to thee;
For I behold it in the truthful mirror,
That of Himself all things parhelion makes,
And none makes Him parhelion of itself.
Thou fain wouldst hear how long ago God placed me
Within the lofty garden, where this Lady
Unto so long a stairway thee disposed.
And how long to mine eyes it was a pleasure,
And of the great disdain the proper cause,
And the language that I used and that I made.
Now, son of mine, the tasting of the tree
Not in itself was cause of so great exile,
But solely the o'erstepping of the bounds.
There, whence thy Lady moved Virgilius,
Four thousand and three hundred and two circuits
Made by the sun, this Council I desired;
And him I saw return to all the lights
Of his highway nine hundred times and thirty,
Whilst I upon the earth was tarrying.
The language that I spake was quite extinct
Before that in the work interminable
The people under Nimrod were employed;
For nevermore result of reasoning
(Because of human pleasure that doth change,
Obedient to the heavens) was durable.
A natural action is it that man speaks;
But whether thus or thus, doth nature leave
To your own art, as seemeth best to you.
Ere I descended to the infernal anguish,
'El' was on earth the name of the Chief Good,
From whom comes all the joy that wraps me round
'Eli' he then was called, and that is proper,
Because the use of men is like a leaf
On bough, which goeth and another cometh.
Upon the mount that highest o'er the wave
Rises was I, in life or pure or sinful,
From the first hour to that which is the second,
As the sun changes quadrant, to the sixth."
Paradiso: Canto XXVII
"Glory be to the Father, to the Son,
And Holy Ghost!" all Paradise began,
So that the melody inebriate made me.
What I beheld seemed unto me a smile
Of the universe; for my inebriation
Found entrance through the hearing and the sight.
O joy! O gladness inexpressible!
O perfect life of love and peacefulness!
O riches without hankering secure!
Before mine eyes were standing the four torches
Enkindled, and the one that first had come
Began to make itself more luminous;
And even such in semblance it became
As Jupiter would become, if he and Mars
Were birds, and they should interchange their feathers.
That Providence, which here distributeth
Season and service, in the blessed choir
Had silence upon every side imposed.
When I heard say: "If I my colour change,
Marvel not at it; for while I am speaking
Thou shalt behold all these their colour change.
He who usurps upon the earth my place,
My place, my place, which vacant has become
Before the presence of the Son of God,
Has of my cemetery made a sewer
Of blood and stench, whereby the Perverse One,
Who fell from here, below there is appeased!"
With the same colour which, through sun adverse,
Painteth the clouds at evening or at morn,
Beheld I then the whole of heaven suffused.
And as a modest woman, who abides
Sure of herself, and at another's failing,
From listening only, timorous becomes,
Even thus did Beatrice change countenance;
And I believe in heaven was such eclipse,
When suffered the supreme Omnipotence;
Thereafterward proceeded forth his words
With voice so much transmuted from itself,
The very countenance was not more changed.
"The spouse of Christ has never nurtured been
On blood of mine, of Linus and of Cletus,
To be made use of in acquest of gold;
But in acquest of this delightful life
Sixtus and Pius, Urban and Calixtus,
After much lamentation, shed their blood.
Our purpose was not, that on the right hand
Of our successors should in part be seated
The Christian folk, in part upon the other;
Nor that the keys which were to me confided
Should e'er become the escutcheon on a banner,
That should wage war on those who are baptized;
Nor I be made the figure of a seal
To privileges venal and mendacious,
Whereat I often redden and flash with fire.
In garb of shepherds the rapacious wolves
Are seen from here above o'er all the pastures!
O wrath of God, why dost thou slumber still?
To drink our blood the Caorsines and Gascons
Are making ready. O thou good beginning,
Unto how vile an end must thou needs fall!
But the high Providence, that with Scipio
At Rome the glory of the world defended,
Will speedily bring aid, as I conceive;
And thou, my son, who by thy mortal weight
Shalt down return again, open thy mouth;
What I conceal not, do not thou conceal."
As with its frozen vapours downward falls
In flakes our atmosphere, what time the horn
Of the celestial Goat doth touch the sun,
Upward in such array saw I the ether
Become, and flaked with the triumphant vapours,
Which there together with us had remained.
My sight was following up their semblances,
And followed till the medium, by excess,
The passing farther onward took from it;
Whereat the Lady, who beheld me freed
From gazing upward, said to me: "Cast down
Thy sight, and see how far thou art turned round."
Since the first time that I had downward looked,
I saw that I had moved through the whole arc
Which the first climate makes from midst to end;
So that I saw the mad track of Ulysses
Past Gades, and this side, well nigh the shore
Whereon became Europa a sweet burden.
And of this threshing-floor the site to me
Were more unveiled, but the sun was proceeding
Under my feet, a sign and more removed.
My mind enamoured, which is dallying
At all times with my Lady, to bring back
To her mine eyes was more than ever ardent.
And if or Art or Nature has made bait
To catch the eyes and so possess the mind,
In human flesh or in its portraiture,
All joined together would appear as nought
To the divine delight which shone upon me
When to her smiling face I turned me round.
The virtue that her look endowed me with
From the fair nest of Leda tore me forth,
And up into the swiftest heaven impelled me.
Its parts exceeding full of life and lofty
Are all so uniform, I cannot say
Which Beatrice selected for my place.
But she, who was aware of my desire,
Began, the while she smiled so joyously
That God seemed in her countenance to rejoice:
"The nature of that motion, which keeps quiet
The centre and all the rest about it moves,
From hence begins as from its starting point.
And in this heaven there is no other Where
Than in the Mind Divine, wherein is kindled
The love that turns it, and the power it rains.
Within a circle light and love embrace it,
Even as this doth the others, and that precinct
He who encircles it alone controls.
Its motion is not by another meted,
But all the others measured are by this,
As ten is by the half and by the fifth.
And in what manner time in such a pot
May have its roots, and in the rest its leaves,
Now unto thee can manifest be made.
O Covetousness, that mortals dost ingulf
Beneath thee so, that no one hath the power
Of drawing back his eyes from out thy waves!
Full fairly blossoms in mankind the will;
But the uninterrupted rain converts
Into abortive wildings the true plums.
Fidelity and innocence are found
Only in children; afterwards they both
Take flight or e'er the cheeks with down are covered.
One, while he prattles still, observes the fasts,
Who, when his tongue is loosed, forthwith devours
Whatever food under whatever moon;
Another, while he prattles, loves and listens
Unto his mother, who when speech is perfect
Forthwith desires to see her in her grave.
Even thus is swarthy made the skin so white
In its first aspect of the daughter fair
Of him who brings the morn, and leaves the night.
Thou, that it may not be a marvel to thee,
Think that on earth there is no one who governs;
Whence goes astray the human family.
Ere January be unwintered wholly
By the centesimal on earth neglected,
Shall these supernal circles roar so loud
The tempest that has been so long awaited
Shall whirl the poops about where are the prows;
So that the fleet shall run its course direct,
And the true fruit shall follow on the flower."
Paradiso: Canto XXVIII
After the truth against the present life
Of miserable mortals was unfolded
By her who doth imparadise my mind,
As in a looking-glass a taper's flame
He sees who from behind is lighted by it,
Before he has it in his sight or thought,
And turns him round to see if so the glass
Tell him the truth, and sees that it accords
Therewith as doth a music with its metre,
In similar wise my memory recollecteth
That I did, looking into those fair eyes,
Of which Love made the springes to ensnare me.
And as I turned me round, and mine were touched
By that which is apparent in that volume,
Whenever on its gyre we gaze intent,
A point beheld I, that was raying out
Light so acute, the sight which it enkindles
Must close perforce before such great acuteness.
And whatsoever star seems smallest here
Would seem to be a moon, if placed beside it.
As one star with another star is placed.
Perhaps at such a distance as appears
A halo cincturing the light that paints it,
When densest is the vapour that sustains it,
Thus distant round the point a circle of fire
So swiftly whirled, that it would have surpassed
Whatever motion soonest girds the world;
And this was by another circumcinct,
That by a third, the third then by a fourth,
By a fifth the fourth, and then by a sixth the fifth;
The seventh followed thereupon in width
So ample now, that Juno's messenger
Entire would be too narrow to contain it.
Even so the eighth and ninth; and every one
More slowly moved, according as it was
In number distant farther from the first.
And that one had its flame most crystalline
From which less distant was the stainless spark,
I think because more with its truth imbued.
My Lady, who in my anxiety
Beheld me much perplexed, said: "From that point
Dependent is the heaven and nature all.
Behold that circle most conjoined to it,
And know thou, that its motion is so swift
Through burning love whereby it is spurred on."
And I to her: "If the world were arranged
In the order which I see in yonder wheels,
What's set before me would have satisfied me;
But in the world of sense we can perceive
That evermore the circles are diviner
As they are from the centre more remote
Wherefore if my desire is to be ended
In this miraculous and angelic temple,
That has for confines only love and light,
To hear behoves me still how the example
And the exemplar go not in one fashion,
Since for myself in vain I contemplate it."
"If thine own fingers unto such a knot
Be insufficient, it is no great wonder,
So hard hath it become for want of trying."
My Lady thus; then said she: "Do thou take
What I shall tell thee, if thou wouldst be sated,
And exercise on that thy subtlety.
The circles corporal are wide and narrow
According to the more or less of virtue
Which is distributed through all their parts.
The greater goodness works the greater weal,
The greater weal the greater body holds,
If perfect equally are all its parts.
Therefore this one which sweeps along with it
The universe sublime, doth correspond
Unto the circle which most loves and knows.
On which account, if thou unto the virtue
Apply thy measure, not to the appearance
Of substances that unto thee seem round,
Thou wilt behold a marvellous agreement,
Of more to greater, and of less to smaller,
In every heaven, with its Intelligence."
Even as remaineth splendid and serene
The hemisphere of air, when Boreas
Is blowing from that cheek where he is mildest,
Because is purified and resolved the rack
That erst disturbed it, till the welkin laughs
With all the beauties of its pageantry;
Thus did I likewise, after that my Lady
Had me provided with her clear response,
And like a star in heaven the truth was seen.
And soon as to a stop her words had come,
Not otherwise does iron scintillate
When molten, than those circles scintillated.
Their coruscation all the sparks repeated,
And they so many were, their number makes
More millions than the doubling of the chess.
I heard them sing hosanna choir by choir
To the fixed point which holds them at the 'Ubi,'
And ever will, where they have ever been.
And she, who saw the dubious meditations
Within my mind, "The primal circles," said,
"Have shown thee Seraphim and Cherubim.
Thus rapidly they follow their own bonds,
To be as like the point as most they can,
And can as far as they are high in vision.
Those other Loves, that round about them go,
Thrones of the countenance divine are called,
Because they terminate the primal Triad.
And thou shouldst know that they all have delight
As much as their own vision penetrates
The Truth, in which all intellect finds rest.
From this it may be seen how blessedness
Is founded in the faculty which sees,
And not in that which loves, and follows next;
And of this seeing merit is the measure,
Which is brought forth by grace, and by good will;
Thus on from grade to grade doth it proceed.
The second Triad, which is germinating
In such wise in this sempiternal spring,
That no nocturnal Aries despoils,
Perpetually hosanna warbles forth
With threefold melody, that sounds in three
Orders of joy, with which it is intrined.
The three Divine are in this hierarchy,
First the Dominions, and the Virtues next;
And the third order is that of the Powers.
Then in the dances twain penultimate
The Principalities and Archangels wheel;
The last is wholly of angelic sports.
These orders upward all of them are gazing,
And downward so prevail, that unto God
They all attracted are and all attract.
And Dionysius with so great desire
To contemplate these Orders set himself,
He named them and distinguished them as I do.
But Gregory afterwards dissented from him;
Wherefore, as soon as he unclosed his eyes
Within this heaven, he at himself did smile.
And if so much of secret truth a mortal
Proffered on earth, I would not have thee marvel,
For he who saw it here revealed it to him,
With much more of the truth about these circles."
Paradiso: Canto XXIX
At what time both the children of Latona,
Surmounted by the Ram and by the Scales,
Together make a zone of the horizon,
As long as from the time the zenith holds them
In equipoise, till from that girdle both
Changing their hemisphere disturb the balance,
So long, her face depicted with a smile,
Did Beatrice keep silence while she gazed
Fixedly at the point which had o'ercome me.
Then she began: "I say, and I ask not
What thou dost wish to hear, for I have seen it
Where centres every When and every 'Ubi.'
Not to acquire some good unto himself,
Which is impossible, but that his splendour
In its resplendency may say, 'Subsisto,'
In his eternity outside of time,
Outside all other limits, as it pleased him,
Into new Loves the Eternal Love unfolded.
Nor as if torpid did he lie before;
For neither after nor before proceeded
The going forth of God upon these waters.
Matter and Form unmingled and conjoined
Came into being that had no defect,
E'en as three arrows from a three-stringed bow.
And as in glass, in amber, or in crystal
A sunbeam flashes so, that from its coming
To its full being is no interval,
So from its Lord did the triform effect
Ray forth into its being all together,
Without discrimination of beginning.
Order was con-created and constructed
In substances, and summit of the world
Were those wherein the pure act was produced.
Pure potentiality held the lowest part;
Midway bound potentiality with act
Such bond that it shall never be unbound.
Jerome has written unto you of angels
Created a long lapse of centuries
Or ever yet the other world was made;
But written is this truth in many places
By writers of the Holy Ghost, and thou
Shalt see it, if thou lookest well thereat.
And even reason seeth it somewhat,
For it would not concede that for so long
Could be the motors without their perfection.
Now dost thou know both where and when these Loves
Created were, and how; so that extinct
In thy desire already are three fires.
Nor could one reach, in counting, unto twenty
So swiftly, as a portion of these angels
Disturbed the subject of your elements.
The rest remained, and they began this art
Which thou discernest, with so great delight
That never from their circling do they cease.
The occasion of the fall was the accursed
Presumption of that One, whom thou hast seen
By all the burden of the world constrained.
Those whom thou here beholdest modest were
To recognise themselves as of that goodness
Which made them apt for so much understanding;
On which account their vision was exalted
By the enlightening grace and their own merit,
So that they have a full and steadfast will.
I would not have thee doubt, but certain be,
'Tis meritorious to receive this grace,
According as the affection opens to it.
Now round about in this consistory
Much mayst thou contemplate, if these my words
Be gathered up, without all further aid.
But since upon the earth, throughout your schools,
They teach that such is the angelic nature
That it doth hear, and recollect, and will,
More will I say, that thou mayst see unmixed
The truth that is confounded there below,
Equivocating in such like prelections.
These substances, since in God's countenance
They jocund were, turned not away their sight
From that wherefrom not anything is hidden;
Hence they have not their vision intercepted
By object new, and hence they do not need
To recollect, through interrupted thought.
So that below, not sleeping, people dream,
Believing they speak truth, and not believing;
And in the last is greater sin and shame.
Below you do not journey by one path
Philosophising; so transporteth you
Love of appearance and the thought thereof.
And even this above here is endured
With less disdain, than when is set aside
The Holy Writ, or when it is distorted.
They think not there how much of blood it costs
To sow it in the world, and how he pleases
Who in humility keeps close to it.
Each striveth for appearance, and doth make
His own inventions; and these treated are
By preachers, and the Evangel holds its peace.
One sayeth that the moon did backward turn,
In the Passion of Christ, and interpose herself
So that the sunlight reached not down below;
And lies; for of its own accord the light
Hid itself; whence to Spaniards and to Indians,
As to the Jews, did such eclipse respond.
Florence has not so many Lapi and Bindi
As fables such as these, that every year
Are shouted from the pulpit back and forth,
In such wise that the lambs, who do not know,
Come back from pasture fed upon the wind,
And not to see the harm doth not excuse them.
Christ did not to his first disciples say,
'Go forth, and to the world preach idle tales,'
But unto them a true foundation gave;
And this so loudly sounded from their lips,
That, in the warfare to enkindle Faith,
They made of the Evangel shields and lances.
Now men go forth with jests and drolleries
To preach, and if but well the people laugh,
The hood puffs out, and nothing more is asked.
But in the cowl there nestles such a bird,
That, if the common people were to see it,
They would perceive what pardons they confide in,
For which so great on earth has grown the folly,
That, without proof of any testimony,
To each indulgence they would flock together.
By this Saint Anthony his pig doth fatten,
And many others, who are worse than pigs,
Paying in money without mark of coinage.
But since we have digressed abundantly,
Turn back thine eyes forthwith to the right path,
So that the way be shortened with the time.
This nature doth so multiply itself
In numbers, that there never yet was speech
Nor mortal fancy that can go so far.
And if thou notest that which is revealed
By Daniel, thou wilt see that in his thousands
Number determinate is kept concealed.
The primal light, that all irradiates it,
By modes as many is received therein,
As are the splendours wherewith it is mated.
Hence, inasmuch as on the act conceptive
The affection followeth, of love the sweetness
Therein diversely fervid is or tepid.
The height behold now and the amplitude
Of the eternal power, since it hath made
Itself so many mirrors, where 'tis broken,
One in itself remaining as before."
Paradiso: Canto XXX
Perchance six thousand miles remote from us
Is glowing the sixth hour, and now this world
Inclines its shadow almost to a level,
When the mid-heaven begins to make itself
So deep to us, that here and there a star
Ceases to shine so far down as this depth,
And as advances bright exceedingly
The handmaid of the sun, the heaven is closed
Light after light to the most beautiful;
Not otherwise the Triumph, which for ever
Plays round about the point that vanquished me,
Seeming enclosed by what itself encloses,
Little by little from my vision faded;
Whereat to turn mine eyes on Beatrice
My seeing nothing and my love constrained me.
If what has hitherto been said of her
Were all concluded in a single praise,
Scant would it be to serve the present turn.
Not only does the beauty I beheld
Transcend ourselves, but truly I believe
Its Maker only may enjoy it all.
Vanquished do I confess me by this passage
More than by problem of his theme was ever
O'ercome the comic or the tragic poet;
For as the sun the sight that trembles most,
Even so the memory of that sweet smile
My mind depriveth of its very self.
From the first day that I beheld her face
In this life, to the moment of this look,
The sequence of my song has ne'er been severed;
But now perforce this sequence must desist
From following her beauty with my verse,
As every artist at his uttermost.
Such as I leave her to a greater fame
Than any of my trumpet, which is bringing
Its arduous matter to a final close,
With voice and gesture of a perfect leader
She recommenced: "We from the greatest body
Have issued to the heaven that is pure light;
Light intellectual replete with love,
Love of true good replete with ecstasy,
Ecstasy that transcendeth every sweetness.
Here shalt thou see the one host and the other
Of Paradise, and one in the same aspects
Which at the final judgment thou shalt see."
Even as a sudden lightning that disperses
The visual spirits, so that it deprives
The eye of impress from the strongest objects,
Thus round about me flashed a living light,
And left me swathed around with such a veil
Of its effulgence, that I nothing saw.
"Ever the Love which quieteth this heaven
Welcomes into itself with such salute,
To make the candle ready for its flame."
No sooner had within me these brief words
An entrance found, than I perceived myself
To be uplifted over my own power,
And I with vision new rekindled me,
Such that no light whatever is so pure
But that mine eyes were fortified against it.
And light I saw in fashion of a river
Fulvid with its effulgence, 'twixt two banks
Depicted with an admirable Spring.
Out of this river issued living sparks,
And on all sides sank down into the flowers,
Like unto rubies that are set in gold;
And then, as if inebriate with the odours,
They plunged again into the wondrous torrent,
And as one entered issued forth another.
"The high desire, that now inflames and moves thee
To have intelligence of what thou seest,
Pleaseth me all the more, the more it swells.
But of this water it behoves thee drink
Before so great a thirst in thee be slaked."
Thus said to me the sunshine of mine eyes;
And added: "The river and the topazes
Going in and out, and the laughing of the herbage,
Are of their truth foreshadowing prefaces;
Not that these things are difficult in themselves,
But the deficiency is on thy side,
For yet thou hast not vision so exalted."
There is no babe that leaps so suddenly
With face towards the milk, if he awake
Much later than his usual custom is,
As I did, that I might make better mirrors
Still of mine eyes, down stooping to the wave
Which flows that we therein be better made.
And even as the penthouse of mine eyelids
Drank of it, it forthwith appeared to me
Out of its length to be transformed to round.
Then as a folk who have been under masks
Seem other than before, if they divest
The semblance not their own they disappeared in,
Thus into greater pomp were changed for me
The flowerets and the sparks, so that I saw
Both of the Courts of Heaven made manifest.
O splendour of God! by means of which I saw
The lofty triumph of the realm veracious,
Give me the power to say how it I saw!
There is a light above, which visible
Makes the Creator unto every creature,
Who only in beholding Him has peace,
And it expands itself in circular form
To such extent, that its circumference
Would be too large a girdle for the sun.
The semblance of it is all made of rays
Reflected from the top of Primal Motion,
Which takes therefrom vitality and power.
And as a hill in water at its base
Mirrors itself, as if to see its beauty
When affluent most in verdure and in flowers,
So, ranged aloft all round about the light,
Mirrored I saw in more ranks than a thousand
All who above there have from us returned.
And if the lowest row collect within it
So great a light, how vast the amplitude
Is of this Rose in its extremest leaves!
My vision in the vastness and the height
Lost not itself, but comprehended all
The quantity and quality of that gladness.
There near and far nor add nor take away;
For there where God immediately doth govern,
The natural law in naught is relevant.
Into the yellow of the Rose Eternal
That spreads, and multiplies, and breathes an odour
Of praise unto the ever-vernal Sun,
As one who silent is and fain would speak,
Me Beatrice drew on, and said: "Behold
Of the white stoles how vast the convent is!
Behold how vast the circuit of our city!
Behold our seats so filled to overflowing,
That here henceforward are few people wanting!
On that great throne whereon thine eyes are fixed
For the crown's sake already placed upon it,
Before thou suppest at this wedding feast
Shall sit the soul (that is to be Augustus
On earth) of noble Henry, who shall come
To redress Italy ere she be ready.