Part 8 out of 11
But in so far consenteth as it fears,
If it refrain, to fall into more harm.
Hence when Piccarda uses this expression,
She meaneth the will absolute, and I
The other, so that both of us speak truth."
Such was the flowing of the holy river
That issued from the fount whence springs all truth;
This put to rest my wishes one and all.
"O love of the first lover, O divine,"
Said I forthwith, "whose speech inundates me
And warms me so, it more and more revives me,
My own affection is not so profound
As to suffice in rendering grace for grace;
Let Him, who sees and can, thereto respond.
Well I perceive that never sated is
Our intellect unless the Truth illume it,
Beyond which nothing true expands itself.
It rests therein, as wild beast in his lair,
When it attains it; and it can attain it;
If not, then each desire would frustrate be.
Therefore springs up, in fashion of a shoot,
Doubt at the foot of truth; and this is nature,
Which to the top from height to height impels us.
This doth invite me, this assurance give me
With reverence, Lady, to inquire of you
Another truth, which is obscure to me.
I wish to know if man can satisfy you
For broken vows with other good deeds, so
That in your balance they will not be light."
Beatrice gazed upon me with her eyes
Full of the sparks of love, and so divine,
That, overcome my power, I turned my back
And almost lost myself with eyes downcast.
Paradiso: Canto V
"If in the heat of love I flame upon thee
Beyond the measure that on earth is seen,
So that the valour of thine eyes I vanquish,
Marvel thou not thereat; for this proceeds
From perfect sight, which as it apprehends
To the good apprehended moves its feet.
Well I perceive how is already shining
Into thine intellect the eternal light,
That only seen enkindles always love;
And if some other thing your love seduce,
'Tis nothing but a vestige of the same,
Ill understood, which there is shining through.
Thou fain wouldst know if with another service
For broken vow can such return be made
As to secure the soul from further claim."
This Canto thus did Beatrice begin;
And, as a man who breaks not off his speech,
Continued thus her holy argument:
"The greatest gift that in his largess God
Creating made, and unto his own goodness
Nearest conformed, and that which he doth prize
Most highly, is the freedom of the will,
Wherewith the creatures of intelligence
Both all and only were and are endowed.
Now wilt thou see, if thence thou reasonest,
The high worth of a vow, if it he made
So that when thou consentest God consents:
For, closing between God and man the compact,
A sacrifice is of this treasure made,
Such as I say, and made by its own act.
What can be rendered then as compensation?
Think'st thou to make good use of what thou'st offered,
With gains ill gotten thou wouldst do good deed.
Now art thou certain of the greater point;
But because Holy Church in this dispenses,
Which seems against the truth which I have shown thee,
Behoves thee still to sit awhile at table,
Because the solid food which thou hast taken
Requireth further aid for thy digestion.
Open thy mind to that which I reveal,
And fix it there within; for 'tis not knowledge,
The having heard without retaining it.
In the essence of this sacrifice two things
Convene together; and the one is that
Of which 'tis made, the other is the agreement.
This last for evermore is cancelled not
Unless complied with, and concerning this
With such precision has above been spoken.
Therefore it was enjoined upon the Hebrews
To offer still, though sometimes what was offered
Might be commuted, as thou ought'st to know.
The other, which is known to thee as matter,
May well indeed be such that one errs not
If it for other matter be exchanged.
But let none shift the burden on his shoulder
At his arbitrament, without the turning
Both of the white and of the yellow key;
And every permutation deem as foolish,
If in the substitute the thing relinquished,
As the four is in six, be not contained.
Therefore whatever thing has so great weight
In value that it drags down every balance,
Cannot be satisfied with other spending.
Let mortals never take a vow in jest;
Be faithful and not blind in doing that,
As Jephthah was in his first offering,
Whom more beseemed to say, 'I have done wrong,
Than to do worse by keeping; and as foolish
Thou the great leader of the Greeks wilt find,
Whence wept Iphigenia her fair face,
And made for her both wise and simple weep,
Who heard such kind of worship spoken of.'
Christians, be ye more serious in your movements;
Be ye not like a feather at each wind,
And think not every water washes you.
Ye have the Old and the New Testament,
And the Pastor of the Church who guideth you
Let this suffice you unto your salvation.
If evil appetite cry aught else to you,
Be ye as men, and not as silly sheep,
So that the Jew among you may not mock you.
Be ye not as the lamb that doth abandon
Its mother's milk, and frolicsome and simple
Combats at its own pleasure with itself."
Thus Beatrice to me even as I write it;
Then all desireful turned herself again
To that part where the world is most alive.
Her silence and her change of countenance
Silence imposed upon my eager mind,
That had already in advance new questions;
And as an arrow that upon the mark
Strikes ere the bowstring quiet hath become,
So did we speed into the second realm.
My Lady there so joyful I beheld,
As into the brightness of that heaven she entered,
More luminous thereat the planet grew;
And if the star itself was changed and smiled,
What became I, who by my nature am
Exceeding mutable in every guise!
As, in a fish-pond which is pure and tranquil,
The fishes draw to that which from without
Comes in such fashion that their food they deem it;
So I beheld more than a thousand splendours
Drawing towards us, and in each was heard:
"Lo, this is she who shall increase our love."
And as each one was coming unto us,
Full of beatitude the shade was seen,
By the effulgence clear that issued from it.
Think, Reader, if what here is just beginning
No farther should proceed, how thou wouldst have
An agonizing need of knowing more;
And of thyself thou'lt see how I from these
Was in desire of hearing their conditions,
As they unto mine eyes were manifest.
"O thou well-born, unto whom Grace concedes
To see the thrones of the eternal triumph,
Or ever yet the warfare be abandoned
With light that through the whole of heaven is spread
Kindled are we, and hence if thou desirest
To know of us, at thine own pleasure sate thee."
Thus by some one among those holy spirits
Was spoken, and by Beatrice: "Speak, speak
Securely, and believe them even as Gods."
"Well I perceive how thou dost nest thyself
In thine own light, and drawest it from thine eyes,
Because they coruscate when thou dost smile,
But know not who thou art, nor why thou hast,
Spirit august, thy station in the sphere
That veils itself to men in alien rays."
This said I in direction of the light
Which first had spoken to me; whence it became
By far more lucent than it was before.
Even as the sun, that doth conceal himself
By too much light, when heat has worn away
The tempering influence of the vapours dense,
By greater rapture thus concealed itself
In its own radiance the figure saintly,
And thus close, close enfolded answered me
In fashion as the following Canto sings.
Paradiso: Canto VI
"After that Constantine the eagle turned
Against the course of heaven, which it had followed
Behind the ancient who Lavinia took,
Two hundred years and more the bird of God
In the extreme of Europe held itself,
Near to the mountains whence it issued first;
And under shadow of the sacred plumes
It governed there the world from hand to hand,
And, changing thus, upon mine own alighted.
Caesar I was, and am Justinian,
Who, by the will of primal Love I feel,
Took from the laws the useless and redundant;
And ere unto the work I was attent,
One nature to exist in Christ, not more,
Believed, and with such faith was I contented.
But blessed Agapetus, he who was
The supreme pastor, to the faith sincere
Pointed me out the way by words of his.
Him I believed, and what was his assertion
I now see clearly, even as thou seest
Each contradiction to be false and true.
As soon as with the Church I moved my feet,
God in his grace it pleased with this high task
To inspire me, and I gave me wholly to it,
And to my Belisarius I commended
The arms, to which was heaven's right hand so joined
It was a signal that I should repose.
Now here to the first question terminates
My answer; but the character thereof
Constrains me to continue with a sequel,
In order that thou see with how great reason
Men move against the standard sacrosanct,
Both who appropriate and who oppose it.
Behold how great a power has made it worthy
Of reverence, beginning from the hour
When Pallas died to give it sovereignty.
Thou knowest it made in Alba its abode
Three hundred years and upward, till at last
The three to three fought for it yet again.
Thou knowest what it achieved from Sabine wrong
Down to Lucretia's sorrow, in seven kings
O'ercoming round about the neighboring nations;
Thou knowest what it achieved, borne by the Romans
Illustrious against Brennus, against Pyrrhus,
Against the other princes and confederates.
Torquatus thence and Quinctius, who from locks
Unkempt was named, Decii and Fabii,
Received the fame I willingly embalm;
It struck to earth the pride of the Arabians,
Who, following Hannibal, had passed across
The Alpine ridges, Po, from which thou glidest;
Beneath it triumphed while they yet were young
Pompey and Scipio, and to the hill
Beneath which thou wast born it bitter seemed;
Then, near unto the time when heaven had willed
To bring the whole world to its mood serene,
Did Caesar by the will of Rome assume it.
What it achieved from Var unto the Rhine,
Isere beheld and Saone, beheld the Seine,
And every valley whence the Rhone is filled;
What it achieved when it had left Ravenna,
And leaped the Rubicon, was such a flight
That neither tongue nor pen could follow it.
Round towards Spain it wheeled its legions; then
Towards Durazzo, and Pharsalia smote
That to the calid Nile was felt the pain.
Antandros and the Simois, whence it started,
It saw again, and there where Hector lies,
And ill for Ptolemy then roused itself.
From thence it came like lightning upon Juba;
Then wheeled itself again into your West,
Where the Pompeian clarion it heard.
From what it wrought with the next standard-bearer
Brutus and Cassius howl in Hell together,
And Modena and Perugia dolent were;
Still doth the mournful Cleopatra weep
Because thereof, who, fleeing from before it,
Took from the adder sudden and black death.
With him it ran even to the Red Sea shore;
With him it placed the world in so great peace,
That unto Janus was his temple closed.
But what the standard that has made me speak
Achieved before, and after should achieve
Throughout the mortal realm that lies beneath it,
Becometh in appearance mean and dim,
If in the hand of the third Caesar seen
With eye unclouded and affection pure,
Because the living Justice that inspires me
Granted it, in the hand of him I speak of,
The glory of doing vengeance for its wrath.
Now here attend to what I answer thee;
Later it ran with Titus to do vengeance
Upon the vengeance of the ancient sin.
And when the tooth of Lombardy had bitten
The Holy Church, then underneath its wings
Did Charlemagne victorious succor her.
Now hast thou power to judge of such as those
Whom I accused above, and of their crimes,
Which are the cause of all your miseries.
To the public standard one the yellow lilies
Opposes, the other claims it for a party,
So that 'tis hard to see which sins the most.
Let, let the Ghibellines ply their handicraft
Beneath some other standard; for this ever
Ill follows he who it and justice parts.
And let not this new Charles e'er strike it down,
He and his Guelfs, but let him fear the talons
That from a nobler lion stripped the fell.
Already oftentimes the sons have wept
The father's crime; and let him not believe
That God will change His scutcheon for the lilies.
This little planet doth adorn itself
With the good spirits that have active been,
That fame and honour might come after them;
And whensoever the desires mount thither,
Thus deviating, must perforce the rays
Of the true love less vividly mount upward.
But in commensuration of our wages
With our desert is portion of our joy,
Because we see them neither less nor greater.
Herein doth living Justice sweeten so
Affection in us, that for evermore
It cannot warp to any iniquity.
Voices diverse make up sweet melodies;
So in this life of ours the seats diverse
Render sweet harmony among these spheres;
And in the compass of this present pearl
Shineth the sheen of Romeo, of whom
The grand and beauteous work was ill rewarded.
But the Provencals who against him wrought,
They have not laughed, and therefore ill goes he
Who makes his hurt of the good deeds of others.
Four daughters, and each one of them a queen,
Had Raymond Berenger, and this for him
Did Romeo, a poor man and a pilgrim;
And then malicious words incited him
To summon to a reckoning this just man,
Who rendered to him seven and five for ten.
Then he departed poor and stricken in years,
And if the world could know the heart he had,
In begging bit by bit his livelihood,
Though much it laud him, it would laud him more."
Paradiso: Canto VII
"Osanna sanctus Deus Sabaoth,
Superillustrans claritate tua
Felices ignes horum malahoth!"
In this wise, to his melody returning,
This substance, upon which a double light
Doubles itself, was seen by me to sing,
And to their dance this and the others moved,
And in the manner of swift-hurrying sparks
Veiled themselves from me with a sudden distance.
Doubting was I, and saying, "Tell her, tell her,"
Within me, "tell her," saying, "tell my Lady,"
Who slakes my thirst with her sweet effluences;
And yet that reverence which doth lord it over
The whole of me only by B and ICE,
Bowed me again like unto one who drowses.
Short while did Beatrice endure me thus;
And she began, lighting me with a smile
Such as would make one happy in the fire:
"According to infallible advisement,
After what manner a just vengeance justly
Could be avenged has put thee upon thinking,
But I will speedily thy mind unloose;
And do thou listen, for these words of mine
Of a great doctrine will a present make thee.
By not enduring on the power that wills
Curb for his good, that man who ne'er was born,
Damning himself damned all his progeny;
Whereby the human species down below
Lay sick for many centuries in great error,
Till to descend it pleased the Word of God
To where the nature, which from its own Maker
Estranged itself, he joined to him in person
By the sole act of his eternal love.
Now unto what is said direct thy sight;
This nature when united to its Maker,
Such as created, was sincere and good;
But by itself alone was banished forth
From Paradise, because it turned aside
Out of the way of truth and of its life.
Therefore the penalty the cross held out,
If measured by the nature thus assumed,
None ever yet with so great justice stung,
And none was ever of so great injustice,
Considering who the Person was that suffered,
Within whom such a nature was contracted.
From one act therefore issued things diverse;
To God and to the Jews one death was pleasing;
Earth trembled at it and the Heaven was opened.
It should no longer now seem difficult
To thee, when it is said that a just vengeance
By a just court was afterward avenged.
But now do I behold thy mind entangled
From thought to thought within a knot, from which
With great desire it waits to free itself.
Thou sayest, 'Well discern I what I hear;
But it is hidden from me why God willed
For our redemption only this one mode.'
Buried remaineth, brother, this decree
Unto the eyes of every one whose nature
Is in the flame of love not yet adult.
Verily, inasmuch as at this mark
One gazes long and little is discerned,
Wherefore this mode was worthiest will I say.
Goodness Divine, which from itself doth spurn
All envy, burning in itself so sparkles
That the eternal beauties it unfolds.
Whate'er from this immediately distils
Has afterwards no end, for ne'er removed
Is its impression when it sets its seal.
Whate'er from this immediately rains down
Is wholly free, because it is not subject
Unto the influences of novel things.
The more conformed thereto, the more it pleases;
For the blest ardour that irradiates all things
In that most like itself is most vivacious.
With all of these things has advantaged been
The human creature; and if one be wanting,
From his nobility he needs must fall.
'Tis sin alone which doth disfranchise him,
And render him unlike the Good Supreme,
So that he little with its light is blanched,
And to his dignity no more returns,
Unless he fill up where transgression empties
With righteous pains for criminal delights.
Your nature when it sinned so utterly
In its own seed, out of these dignities
Even as out of Paradise was driven,
Nor could itself recover, if thou notest
With nicest subtilty, by any way,
Except by passing one of these two fords:
Either that God through clemency alone
Had pardon granted, or that man himself
Had satisfaction for his folly made.
Fix now thine eye deep into the abyss
Of the eternal counsel, to my speech
As far as may be fastened steadfastly!
Man in his limitations had not power
To satisfy, not having power to sink
In his humility obeying then,
Far as he disobeying thought to rise;
And for this reason man has been from power
Of satisfying by himself excluded.
Therefore it God behoved in his own ways
Man to restore unto his perfect life,
I say in one, or else in both of them.
But since the action of the doer is
So much more grateful, as it more presents
The goodness of the heart from which it issues,
Goodness Divine, that doth imprint the world,
Has been contented to proceed by each
And all its ways to lift you up again;
Nor 'twixt the first day and the final night
Such high and such magnificent proceeding
By one or by the other was or shall be;
For God more bounteous was himself to give
To make man able to uplift himself,
Than if he only of himself had pardoned;
And all the other modes were insufficient
For justice, were it not the Son of God
Himself had humbled to become incarnate.
Now, to fill fully each desire of thine,
Return I to elucidate one place,
In order that thou there mayst see as I do.
Thou sayst: 'I see the air, I see the fire,
The water, and the earth, and all their mixtures
Come to corruption, and short while endure;
And these things notwithstanding were created;'
Therefore if that which I have said were true,
They should have been secure against corruption.
The Angels, brother, and the land sincere
In which thou art, created may be called
Just as they are in their entire existence;
But all the elements which thou hast named,
And all those things which out of them are made,
By a created virtue are informed.
Created was the matter which they have;
Created was the informing influence
Within these stars that round about them go.
The soul of every brute and of the plants
By its potential temperament attracts
The ray and motion of the holy lights;
But your own life immediately inspires
Supreme Beneficence, and enamours it
So with herself, it evermore desires her.
And thou from this mayst argue furthermore
Your resurrection, if thou think again
How human flesh was fashioned at that time
When the first parents both of them were made."
Paradiso: Canto VIII
The world used in its peril to believe
That the fair Cypria delirious love
Rayed out, in the third epicycle turning;
Wherefore not only unto her paid honour
Of sacrifices and of votive cry
The ancient nations in the ancient error,
But both Dione honoured they and Cupid,
That as her mother, this one as her son,
And said that he had sat in Dido's lap;
And they from her, whence I beginning take,
Took the denomination of the star
That woos the sun, now following, now in front.
I was not ware of our ascending to it;
But of our being in it gave full faith
My Lady whom I saw more beauteous grow.
And as within a flame a spark is seen,
And as within a voice a voice discerned,
When one is steadfast, and one comes and goes,
Within that light beheld I other lamps
Move in a circle, speeding more and less,
Methinks in measure of their inward vision.
From a cold cloud descended never winds,
Or visible or not, so rapidly
They would not laggard and impeded seem
To any one who had those lights divine
Seen come towards us, leaving the gyration
Begun at first in the high Seraphim.
And behind those that most in front appeared
Sounded "Osanna!" so that never since
To hear again was I without desire.
Then unto us more nearly one approached,
And it alone began: "We all are ready
Unto thy pleasure, that thou joy in us.
We turn around with the celestial Princes,
One gyre and one gyration and one thirst,
To whom thou in the world of old didst say,
'Ye who, intelligent, the third heaven are moving;'
And are so full of love, to pleasure thee
A little quiet will not be less sweet."
After these eyes of mine themselves had offered
Unto my Lady reverently, and she
Content and certain of herself had made them,
Back to the light they turned, which so great promise
Made of itself, and "Say, who art thou?" was
My voice, imprinted with a great affection.
O how and how much I beheld it grow
With the new joy that superadded was
Unto its joys, as soon as I had spoken!
Thus changed, it said to me: "The world possessed me
Short time below; and, if it had been more,
Much evil will be which would not have been.
My gladness keepeth me concealed from thee,
Which rayeth round about me, and doth hide me
Like as a creature swathed in its own silk.
Much didst thou love me, and thou hadst good reason;
For had I been below, I should have shown thee
Somewhat beyond the foliage of my love.
That left-hand margin, which doth bathe itself
In Rhone, when it is mingled with the Sorgue,
Me for its lord awaited in due time,
And that horn of Ausonia, which is towned
With Bari, with Gaeta and Catona,
Whence Tronto and Verde in the sea disgorge.
Already flashed upon my brow the crown
Of that dominion which the Danube waters
After the German borders it abandons;
And beautiful Trinacria, that is murky
'Twixt Pachino and Peloro, (on the gulf
Which greatest scath from Eurus doth receive,)
Not through Typhoeus, but through nascent sulphur,
Would have awaited her own monarchs still,
Through me from Charles descended and from Rudolph,
If evil lordship, that exasperates ever
The subject populations, had not moved
Palermo to the outcry of 'Death! death!'
And if my brother could but this foresee,
The greedy poverty of Catalonia
Straight would he flee, that it might not molest him;
For verily 'tis needful to provide,
Through him or other, so that on his bark
Already freighted no more freight be placed.
His nature, which from liberal covetous
Descended, such a soldiery would need
As should not care for hoarding in a chest."
"Because I do believe the lofty joy
Thy speech infuses into me, my Lord,
Where every good thing doth begin and end
Thou seest as I see it, the more grateful
Is it to me; and this too hold I dear,
That gazing upon God thou dost discern it.
Glad hast thou made me; so make clear to me,
Since speaking thou hast stirred me up to doubt,
How from sweet seed can bitter issue forth."
This I to him; and he to me: "If I
Can show to thee a truth, to what thou askest
Thy face thou'lt hold as thou dost hold thy back.
The Good which all the realm thou art ascending
Turns and contents, maketh its providence
To be a power within these bodies vast;
And not alone the natures are foreseen
Within the mind that in itself is perfect,
But they together with their preservation.
For whatsoever thing this bow shoots forth
Falls foreordained unto an end foreseen,
Even as a shaft directed to its mark.
If that were not, the heaven which thou dost walk
Would in such manner its effects produce,
That they no longer would be arts, but ruins.
This cannot be, if the Intelligences
That keep these stars in motion are not maimed,
And maimed the First that has not made them perfect.
Wilt thou this truth have clearer made to thee?"
And I: "Not so; for 'tis impossible
That nature tire, I see, in what is needful."
Whence he again: "Now say, would it be worse
For men on earth were they not citizens?"
"Yes," I replied; "and here I ask no reason."
"And can they be so, if below they live not
Diversely unto offices diverse?
No, if your master writeth well for you."
So came he with deductions to this point;
Then he concluded: "Therefore it behoves
The roots of your effects to be diverse.
Hence one is Solon born, another Xerxes,
Another Melchisedec, and another he
Who, flying through the air, his son did lose.
Revolving Nature, which a signet is
To mortal wax, doth practise well her art,
But not one inn distinguish from another;
Thence happens it that Esau differeth
In seed from Jacob; and Quirinus comes
From sire so vile that he is given to Mars.
A generated nature its own way
Would always make like its progenitors,
If Providence divine were not triumphant.
Now that which was behind thee is before thee;
But that thou know that I with thee am pleased,
With a corollary will I mantle thee.
Evermore nature, if it fortune find
Discordant to it, like each other seed
Out of its region, maketh evil thrift;
And if the world below would fix its mind
On the foundation which is laid by nature,
Pursuing that, 'twould have the people good.
But you unto religion wrench aside
Him who was born to gird him with the sword,
And make a king of him who is for sermons;
Therefore your footsteps wander from the road."
Paradiso: Canto IX
Beautiful Clemence, after that thy Charles
Had me enlightened, he narrated to me
The treacheries his seed should undergo;
But said: "Be still and let the years roll round;"
So I can only say, that lamentation
Legitimate shall follow on your wrongs.
And of that holy light the life already
Had to the Sun which fills it turned again,
As to that good which for each thing sufficeth.
Ah, souls deceived, and creatures impious,
Who from such good do turn away your hearts,
Directing upon vanity your foreheads!
And now, behold, another of those splendours
Approached me, and its will to pleasure me
It signified by brightening outwardly.
The eyes of Beatrice, that fastened were
Upon me, as before, of dear assent
To my desire assurance gave to me.
"Ah, bring swift compensation to my wish,
Thou blessed spirit," I said, "and give me proof
That what I think in thee I can reflect!"
Whereat the light, that still was new to me,
Out of its depths, whence it before was singing,
As one delighted to do good, continued:
"Within that region of the land depraved
Of Italy, that lies between Rialto
And fountain-heads of Brenta and of Piava,
Rises a hill, and mounts not very high,
Wherefrom descended formerly a torch
That made upon that region great assault.
Out of one root were born both I and it;
Cunizza was I called, and here I shine
Because the splendour of this star o'ercame me.
But gladly to myself the cause I pardon
Of my allotment, and it does not grieve me;
Which would perhaps seem strong unto your vulgar.
Of this so luculent and precious jewel,
Which of our heaven is nearest unto me,
Great fame remained; and ere it die away
This hundredth year shall yet quintupled be.
See if man ought to make him excellent,
So that another life the first may leave!
And thus thinks not the present multitude
Shut in by Adige and Tagliamento,
Nor yet for being scourged is penitent.
But soon 'twill be that Padua in the marsh
Will change the water that Vicenza bathes,
Because the folk are stubborn against duty;
And where the Sile and Cagnano join
One lordeth it, and goes with lofty head,
For catching whom e'en now the net is making.
Feltro moreover of her impious pastor
Shall weep the crime, which shall so monstrous be
That for the like none ever entered Malta.
Ample exceedingly would be the vat
That of the Ferrarese could hold the blood,
And weary who should weigh it ounce by ounce,
Of which this courteous priest shall make a gift
To show himself a partisan; and such gifts
Will to the living of the land conform.
Above us there are mirrors, Thrones you call them,
From which shines out on us God Judicant,
So that this utterance seems good to us."
Here it was silent, and it had the semblance
Of being turned elsewhither, by the wheel
On which it entered as it was before.
The other joy, already known to me,
Became a thing transplendent in my sight,
As a fine ruby smitten by the sun.
Through joy effulgence is acquired above,
As here a smile; but down below, the shade
Outwardly darkens, as the mind is sad.
"God seeth all things, and in Him, blest spirit,
Thy sight is," said I, "so that never will
Of his can possibly from thee be hidden;
Thy voice, then, that for ever makes the heavens
Glad, with the singing of those holy fires
Which of their six wings make themselves a cowl,
Wherefore does it not satisfy my longings?
Indeed, I would not wait thy questioning
If I in thee were as thou art in me."
"The greatest of the valleys where the water
Expands itself," forthwith its words began,
"That sea excepted which the earth engarlands,
Between discordant shores against the sun
Extends so far, that it meridian makes
Where it was wont before to make the horizon.
I was a dweller on that valley's shore
'Twixt Ebro and Magra that with journey short
Doth from the Tuscan part the Genoese.
With the same sunset and same sunrise nearly
Sit Buggia and the city whence I was,
That with its blood once made the harbour hot.
Folco that people called me unto whom
My name was known; and now with me this heaven
Imprints itself, as I did once with it;
For more the daughter of Belus never burned,
Offending both Sichaeus and Creusa,
Than I, so long as it became my locks,
Nor yet that Rodophean, who deluded
was by Demophoon, nor yet Alcides,
When Iole he in his heart had locked.
Yet here is no repenting, but we smile,
Not at the fault, which comes not back to mind,
But at the power which ordered and foresaw.
Here we behold the art that doth adorn
With such affection, and the good discover
Whereby the world above turns that below.
But that thou wholly satisfied mayst bear
Thy wishes hence which in this sphere are born,
Still farther to proceed behoveth me.
Thou fain wouldst know who is within this light
That here beside me thus is scintillating,
Even as a sunbeam in the limpid water.
Then know thou, that within there is at rest
Rahab, and being to our order joined,
With her in its supremest grade 'tis sealed.
Into this heaven, where ends the shadowy cone
Cast by your world, before all other souls
First of Christ's triumph was she taken up.
Full meet it was to leave her in some heaven,
Even as a palm of the high victory
Which he acquired with one palm and the other,
Because she favoured the first glorious deed
Of Joshua upon the Holy Land,
That little stirs the memory of the Pope.
Thy city, which an offshoot is of him
Who first upon his Maker turned his back,
And whose ambition is so sorely wept,
Brings forth and scatters the accursed flower
Which both the sheep and lambs hath led astray
Since it has turned the shepherd to a wolf.
For this the Evangel and the mighty Doctors
Are derelict, and only the Decretals
So studied that it shows upon their margins.
On this are Pope and Cardinals intent;
Their meditations reach not Nazareth,
There where his pinions Gabriel unfolded;
But Vatican and the other parts elect
Of Rome, which have a cemetery been
Unto the soldiery that followed Peter
Shall soon be free from this adultery."
Paradiso: Canto X
Looking into his Son with all the Love
Which each of them eternally breathes forth,
The Primal and unutterable Power
Whate'er before the mind or eye revolves
With so much order made, there can be none
Who this beholds without enjoying Him.
Lift up then, Reader, to the lofty wheels
With me thy vision straight unto that part
Where the one motion on the other strikes,
And there begin to contemplate with joy
That Master's art, who in himself so loves it
That never doth his eye depart therefrom.
Behold how from that point goes branching off
The oblique circle, which conveys the planets,
To satisfy the world that calls upon them;
And if their pathway were not thus inflected,
Much virtue in the heavens would be in vain,
And almost every power below here dead.
If from the straight line distant more or less
Were the departure, much would wanting be
Above and underneath of mundane order.
Remain now, Reader, still upon thy bench,
In thought pursuing that which is foretasted,
If thou wouldst jocund be instead of weary.
I've set before thee; henceforth feed thyself,
For to itself diverteth all my care
That theme whereof I have been made the scribe.
The greatest of the ministers of nature,
Who with the power of heaven the world imprints
And measures with his light the time for us,
With that part which above is called to mind
Conjoined, along the spirals was revolving,
Where each time earlier he presents himself;
And I was with him; but of the ascending
I was not conscious, saving as a man
Of a first thought is conscious ere it come;
And Beatrice, she who is seen to pass
From good to better, and so suddenly
That not by time her action is expressed,
How lucent in herself must she have been!
And what was in the sun, wherein I entered,
Apparent not by colour but by light,
I, though I call on genius, art, and practice,
Cannot so tell that it could be imagined;
Believe one can, and let him long to see it.
And if our fantasies too lowly are
For altitude so great, it is no marvel,
Since o'er the sun was never eye could go.
Such in this place was the fourth family
Of the high Father, who forever sates it,
Showing how he breathes forth and how begets.
And Beatrice began: "Give thanks, give thanks
Unto the Sun of Angels, who to this
Sensible one has raised thee by his grace!"
Never was heart of mortal so disposed
To worship, nor to give itself to God
With all its gratitude was it so ready,
As at those words did I myself become;
And all my love was so absorbed in Him,
That in oblivion Beatrice was eclipsed.
Nor this displeased her; but she smiled at it
So that the splendour of her laughing eyes
My single mind on many things divided.
Lights many saw I, vivid and triumphant,
Make us a centre and themselves a circle,
More sweet in voice than luminous in aspect.
Thus girt about the daughter of Latona
We sometimes see, when pregnant is the air,
So that it holds the thread which makes her zone.
Within the court of Heaven, whence I return,
Are many jewels found, so fair and precious
They cannot be transported from the realm;
And of them was the singing of those lights.
Who takes not wings that he may fly up thither,
The tidings thence may from the dumb await!
As soon as singing thus those burning suns
Had round about us whirled themselves three times,
Like unto stars neighbouring the steadfast poles,
Ladies they seemed, not from the dance released,
But who stop short, in silence listening
Till they have gathered the new melody.
And within one I heard beginning: "When
The radiance of grace, by which is kindled
True love, and which thereafter grows by loving,
Within thee multiplied is so resplendent
That it conducts thee upward by that stair,
Where without reascending none descends,
Who should deny the wine out of his vial
Unto thy thirst, in liberty were not
Except as water which descends not seaward.
Fain wouldst thou know with what plants is enflowered
This garland that encircles with delight
The Lady fair who makes thee strong for heaven.
Of the lambs was I of the holy flock
Which Dominic conducteth by a road
Where well one fattens if he strayeth not.
He who is nearest to me on the right
My brother and master was; and he Albertus
Is of Cologne, I Thomas of Aquinum.
If thou of all the others wouldst be certain,
Follow behind my speaking with thy sight
Upward along the blessed garland turning.
That next effulgence issues from the smile
Of Gratian, who assisted both the courts
In such wise that it pleased in Paradise.
The other which near by adorns our choir
That Peter was who, e'en as the poor widow,
Offered his treasure unto Holy Church.
The fifth light, that among us is the fairest,
Breathes forth from such a love, that all the world
Below is greedy to learn tidings of it.
Within it is the lofty mind, where knowledge
So deep was put, that, if the true be true,
To see so much there never rose a second.
Thou seest next the lustre of that taper,
Which in the flesh below looked most within
The angelic nature and its ministry.
Within that other little light is smiling
The advocate of the Christian centuries,
Out of whose rhetoric Augustine was furnished.
Now if thou trainest thy mind's eye along
From light to light pursuant of my praise,
With thirst already of the eighth thou waitest.
By seeing every good therein exults
The sainted soul, which the fallacious world
Makes manifest to him who listeneth well;
The body whence 'twas hunted forth is lying
Down in Cieldauro, and from martyrdom
And banishment it came unto this peace.
See farther onward flame the burning breath
Of Isidore, of Beda, and of Richard
Who was in contemplation more than man.
This, whence to me returneth thy regard,
The light is of a spirit unto whom
In his grave meditations death seemed slow.
It is the light eternal of Sigier,
Who, reading lectures in the Street of Straw,
Did syllogize invidious verities."
Then, as a horologe that calleth us
What time the Bride of God is rising up
With matins to her Spouse that he may love her,
Wherein one part the other draws and urges,
Ting! ting! resounding with so sweet a note,
That swells with love the spirit well disposed,
Thus I beheld the glorious wheel move round,
And render voice to voice, in modulation
And sweetness that can not be comprehended,
Excepting there where joy is made eternal.
Paradiso: Canto XI
O Thou insensate care of mortal men,
How inconclusive are the syllogisms
That make thee beat thy wings in downward flight!
One after laws and one to aphorisms
Was going, and one following the priesthood,
And one to reign by force or sophistry,
And one in theft, and one in state affairs,
One in the pleasures of the flesh involved
Wearied himself, one gave himself to ease;
When I, from all these things emancipate,
With Beatrice above there in the Heavens
With such exceeding glory was received!
When each one had returned unto that point
Within the circle where it was before,
It stood as in a candlestick a candle;
And from within the effulgence which at first
Had spoken unto me, I heard begin
Smiling while it more luminous became:
"Even as I am kindled in its ray,
So, looking into the Eternal Light,
The occasion of thy thoughts I apprehend.
Thou doubtest, and wouldst have me to resift
In language so extended and so open
My speech, that to thy sense it may be plain,
Where just before I said, 'where well one fattens,'
And where I said, 'there never rose a second;'
And here 'tis needful we distinguish well.
The Providence, which governeth the world
With counsel, wherein all created vision
Is vanquished ere it reach unto the bottom,
(So that towards her own Beloved might go
The bride of Him who, uttering a loud cry,
Espoused her with his consecrated blood,
Self-confident and unto Him more faithful,)
Two Princes did ordain in her behoof,
Which on this side and that might be her guide.
The one was all seraphical in ardour;
The other by his wisdom upon earth
A splendour was of light cherubical.
One will I speak of, for of both is spoken
In praising one, whichever may be taken,
Because unto one end their labours were.
Between Tupino and the stream that falls
Down from the hill elect of blessed Ubald,
A fertile slope of lofty mountain hangs,
From which Perugia feels the cold and heat
Through Porta Sole, and behind it weep
Gualdo and Nocera their grievous yoke.
From out that slope, there where it breaketh most
Its steepness, rose upon the world a sun
As this one does sometimes from out the Ganges;
Therefore let him who speaketh of that place,
Say not Ascesi, for he would say little,
But Orient, if he properly would speak.
He was not yet far distant from his rising
Before he had begun to make the earth
Some comfort from his mighty virtue feel.
For he in youth his father's wrath incurred
For certain Dame, to whom, as unto death,
The gate of pleasure no one doth unlock;
And was before his spiritual court
'Et coram patre' unto her united;
Then day by day more fervently he loved her.
She, reft of her first husband, scorned, obscure,
One thousand and one hundred years and more,
Waited without a suitor till he came.
Naught it availed to hear, that with Amyclas
Found her unmoved at sounding of his voice
He who struck terror into all the world;
Naught it availed being constant and undaunted,
So that, when Mary still remained below,
She mounted up with Christ upon the cross.
But that too darkly I may not proceed,
Francis and Poverty for these two lovers
Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse.
Their concord and their joyous semblances,
The love, the wonder, and the sweet regard,
They made to be the cause of holy thoughts;
So much so that the venerable Bernard
First bared his feet, and after so great peace
Ran, and, in running, thought himself too slow.
O wealth unknown! O veritable good!
Giles bares his feet, and bares his feet Sylvester
Behind the bridegroom, so doth please the bride!
Then goes his way that father and that master,
He and his Lady and that family
Which now was girding on the humble cord;
Nor cowardice of heart weighed down his brow
At being son of Peter Bernardone,
Nor for appearing marvellously scorned;
But regally his hard determination
To Innocent he opened, and from him
Received the primal seal upon his Order.
After the people mendicant increased
Behind this man, whose admirable life
Better in glory of the heavens were sung,
Incoronated with a second crown
Was through Honorius by the Eternal Spirit
The holy purpose of this Archimandrite.
And when he had, through thirst of martyrdom,
In the proud presence of the Sultan preached
Christ and the others who came after him,
And, finding for conversion too unripe
The folk, and not to tarry there in vain,
Returned to fruit of the Italic grass,
On the rude rock 'twixt Tiber and the Arno
From Christ did he receive the final seal,
Which during two whole years his members bore.
When He, who chose him unto so much good,
Was pleased to draw him up to the reward
That he had merited by being lowly,
Unto his friars, as to the rightful heirs,
His most dear Lady did he recommend,
And bade that they should love her faithfully;
And from her bosom the illustrious soul
Wished to depart, returning to its realm,
And for its body wished no other bier.
Think now what man was he, who was a fit
Companion over the high seas to keep
The bark of Peter to its proper bearings.
And this man was our Patriarch; hence whoever
Doth follow him as he commands can see
That he is laden with good merchandise.
But for new pasturage his flock has grown
So greedy, that it is impossible
They be not scattered over fields diverse;
And in proportion as his sheep remote
And vagabond go farther off from him,
More void of milk return they to the fold.
Verily some there are that fear a hurt,
And keep close to the shepherd; but so few,
That little cloth doth furnish forth their hoods.
Now if my utterance be not indistinct,
If thine own hearing hath attentive been,
If thou recall to mind what I have said,
In part contented shall thy wishes be;
For thou shalt see the plant that's chipped away,
And the rebuke that lieth in the words,
'Where well one fattens, if he strayeth not.'"
Paradiso: Canto XII
Soon as the blessed flame had taken up
The final word to give it utterance,
Began the holy millstone to revolve,
And in its gyre had not turned wholly round,
Before another in a ring enclosed it,
And motion joined to motion, song to song;
Song that as greatly doth transcend our Muses,
Our Sirens, in those dulcet clarions,
As primal splendour that which is reflected.
And as are spanned athwart a tender cloud
Two rainbows parallel and like in colour,
When Juno to her handmaid gives command,
(The one without born of the one within,
Like to the speaking of that vagrant one
Whom love consumed as doth the sun the vapours,)
And make the people here, through covenant
God set with Noah, presageful of the world
That shall no more be covered with a flood,
In such wise of those sempiternal roses
The garlands twain encompassed us about,
And thus the outer to the inner answered.
After the dance, and other grand rejoicings,
Both of the singing, and the flaming forth
Effulgence with effulgence blithe and tender,
Together, at once, with one accord had stopped,
(Even as the eyes, that, as volition moves them,
Must needs together shut and lift themselves,)
Out of the heart of one of the new lights
There came a voice, that needle to the star
Made me appear in turning thitherward.
And it began: "The love that makes me fair
Draws me to speak about the other leader,
By whom so well is spoken here of mine.
'Tis right, where one is, to bring in the other,
That, as they were united in their warfare,
Together likewise may their glory shine.
The soldiery of Christ, which it had cost
So dear to arm again, behind the standard
Moved slow and doubtful and in numbers few,
When the Emperor who reigneth evermore
Provided for the host that was in peril,
Through grace alone and not that it was worthy;
And, as was said, he to his Bride brought succour
With champions twain, at whose deed, at whose word
The straggling people were together drawn.
Within that region where the sweet west wind
Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith
Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh,
Not far off from the beating of the waves,
Behind which in his long career the sun
Sometimes conceals himself from every man,
Is situate the fortunate Calahorra,
Under protection of the mighty shield
In which the Lion subject is and sovereign.
Therein was born the amorous paramour
Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate,
Kind to his own and cruel to his foes;
And when it was created was his mind
Replete with such a living energy,
That in his mother her it made prophetic.
As soon as the espousals were complete
Between him and the Faith at holy font,
Where they with mutual safety dowered each other,
The woman, who for him had given assent,
Saw in a dream the admirable fruit
That issue would from him and from his heirs;
And that he might be construed as he was,
A spirit from this place went forth to name him
With His possessive whose he wholly was.
Dominic was he called; and him I speak of
Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
Elected to his garden to assist him.
Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ,
For the first love made manifest in him
Was the first counsel that was given by Christ.
Silent and wakeful many a time was he
Discovered by his nurse upon the ground,
As if he would have said, 'For this I came.'
O thou his father, Felix verily!
O thou his mother, verily Joanna,
If this, interpreted, means as is said!
Not for the world which people toil for now
In following Ostiense and Taddeo,
But through his longing after the true manna,
He in short time became so great a teacher,
That he began to go about the vineyard,
Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser;
And of the See, (that once was more benignant
Unto the righteous poor, not through itself,
But him who sits there and degenerates,)
Not to dispense or two or three for six,
Not any fortune of first vacancy,
'Non decimas quae sunt pauperum Dei,'
He asked for, but against the errant world
Permission to do battle for the seed,
Of which these four and twenty plants surround thee.
Then with the doctrine and the will together,
With office apostolical he moved,
Like torrent which some lofty vein out-presses;
And in among the shoots heretical
His impetus with greater fury smote,
Wherever the resistance was the greatest.
Of him were made thereafter divers runnels,
Whereby the garden catholic is watered,
So that more living its plantations stand.
If such the one wheel of the Biga was,
In which the Holy Church itself defended
And in the field its civic battle won,
Truly full manifest should be to thee
The excellence of the other, unto whom
Thomas so courteous was before my coming.
But still the orbit, which the highest part
Of its circumference made, is derelict,
So that the mould is where was once the crust.
His family, that had straight forward moved
With feet upon his footprints, are turned round
So that they set the point upon the heel.
And soon aware they will be of the harvest
Of this bad husbandry, when shall the tares
Complain the granary is taken from them.
Yet say I, he who searcheth leaf by leaf
Our volume through, would still some page discover
Where he could read, 'I am as I am wont.'
'Twill not be from Casal nor Acquasparta,
From whence come such unto the written word
That one avoids it, and the other narrows.
Bonaventura of Bagnoregio's life
Am I, who always in great offices
Postponed considerations sinister.
Here are Illuminato and Agostino,
Who of the first barefooted beggars were
That with the cord the friends of God became.
Hugh of Saint Victor is among them here,
And Peter Mangiador, and Peter of Spain,
Who down below in volumes twelve is shining;
Nathan the seer, and metropolitan
Chrysostom, and Anselmus, and Donatus
Who deigned to lay his hand to the first art;
Here is Rabanus, and beside me here
Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
He with the spirit of prophecy endowed.
To celebrate so great a paladin
Have moved me the impassioned courtesy
And the discreet discourses of Friar Thomas,
And with me they have moved this company."
Paradiso: Canto XIII
Let him imagine, who would well conceive
What now I saw, and let him while I speak
Retain the image as a steadfast rock,
The fifteen stars, that in their divers regions
The sky enliven with a light so great
That it transcends all clusters of the air;
Let him the Wain imagine unto which
Our vault of heaven sufficeth night and day,
So that in turning of its pole it fails not;
Let him the mouth imagine of the horn
That in the point beginneth of the axis
Round about which the primal wheel revolves,--
To have fashioned of themselves two signs in heaven,
Like unto that which Minos' daughter made,
The moment when she felt the frost of death;
And one to have its rays within the other,
And both to whirl themselves in such a manner
That one should forward go, the other backward;
And he will have some shadowing forth of that
True constellation and the double dance
That circled round the point at which I was;
Because it is as much beyond our wont,
As swifter than the motion of the Chiana
Moveth the heaven that all the rest outspeeds.
There sang they neither Bacchus, nor Apollo,
But in the divine nature Persons three,
And in one person the divine and human.
The singing and the dance fulfilled their measure,
And unto us those holy lights gave need,
Growing in happiness from care to care.
Then broke the silence of those saints concordant
The light in which the admirable life
Of God's own mendicant was told to me,
And said: "Now that one straw is trodden out
Now that its seed is garnered up already,
Sweet love invites me to thresh out the other.
Into that bosom, thou believest, whence
Was drawn the rib to form the beauteous cheek
Whose taste to all the world is costing dear,
And into that which, by the lance transfixed,
Before and since, such satisfaction made
That it weighs down the balance of all sin,
Whate'er of light it has to human nature
Been lawful to possess was all infused
By the same power that both of them created;
And hence at what I said above dost wonder,
When I narrated that no second had
The good which in the fifth light is enclosed.
Now ope thine eyes to what I answer thee,
And thou shalt see thy creed and my discourse
Fit in the truth as centre in a circle.
That which can die, and that which dieth not,
Are nothing but the splendour of the idea
Which by his love our Lord brings into being;
Because that living Light, which from its fount
Effulgent flows, so that it disunites not
From Him nor from the Love in them intrined,
Through its own goodness reunites its rays
In nine subsistences, as in a mirror,
Itself eternally remaining One.
Thence it descends to the last potencies,
Downward from act to act becoming such
That only brief contingencies it makes;
And these contingencies I hold to be
Things generated, which the heaven produces
By its own motion, with seed and without.
Neither their wax, nor that which tempers it,
Remains immutable, and hence beneath
The ideal signet more and less shines through;
Therefore it happens, that the selfsame tree
After its kind bears worse and better fruit,
And ye are born with characters diverse.
If in perfection tempered were the wax,
And were the heaven in its supremest virtue,
The brilliance of the seal would all appear;
But nature gives it evermore deficient,
In the like manner working as the artist,
Who has the skill of art and hand that trembles.
If then the fervent Love, the Vision clear,
Of primal Virtue do dispose and seal,
Perfection absolute is there acquired.
Thus was of old the earth created worthy
Of all and every animal perfection;
And thus the Virgin was impregnate made;
So that thine own opinion I commend,
That human nature never yet has been,
Nor will be, what it was in those two persons.
Now if no farther forth I should proceed,
'Then in what way was he without a peer?'
Would be the first beginning of thy words.
But, that may well appear what now appears not,
Think who he was, and what occasion moved him
To make request, when it was told him, 'Ask.'
I've not so spoken that thou canst not see
Clearly he was a king who asked for wisdom,
That he might be sufficiently a king;
'Twas not to know the number in which are
The motors here above, or if 'necesse'
With a contingent e'er 'necesse' make,
'Non si est dare primum motum esse,'
Or if in semicircle can be made
Triangle so that it have no right angle.
Whence, if thou notest this and what I said,
A regal prudence is that peerless seeing
In which the shaft of my intention strikes.
And if on 'rose' thou turnest thy clear eyes,
Thou'lt see that it has reference alone
To kings who're many, and the good are rare.
With this distinction take thou what I said,
And thus it can consist with thy belief
Of the first father and of our Delight.
And lead shall this be always to thy feet,
To make thee, like a weary man, move slowly
Both to the Yes and No thou seest not;
For very low among the fools is he
Who affirms without distinction, or denies,
As well in one as in the other case;
Because it happens that full often bends
Current opinion in the false direction,
And then the feelings bind the intellect.
Far more than uselessly he leaves the shore,
(Since he returneth not the same he went,)
Who fishes for the truth, and has no skill;
And in the world proofs manifest thereof
Parmenides, Melissus, Brissus are,
And many who went on and knew not whither;
Thus did Sabellius, Arius, and those fools
Who have been even as swords unto the Scriptures
In rendering distorted their straight faces.
Nor yet shall people be too confident
In judging, even as he is who doth count
The corn in field or ever it be ripe.
For I have seen all winter long the thorn
First show itself intractable and fierce,
And after bear the rose upon its top;
And I have seen a ship direct and swift
Run o'er the sea throughout its course entire,
To perish at the harbour's mouth at last.
Let not Dame Bertha nor Ser Martin think,
Seeing one steal, another offering make,
To see them in the arbitrament divine;
For one may rise, and fall the other may."
Paradiso: Canto XIV
From centre unto rim, from rim to centre,
In a round vase the water moves itself,
As from without 'tis struck or from within.
Into my mind upon a sudden dropped
What I am saying, at the moment when
Silent became the glorious life of Thomas,
Because of the resemblance that was born
Of his discourse and that of Beatrice,
Whom, after him, it pleased thus to begin:
"This man has need (and does not tell you so,
Nor with the voice, nor even in his thought)
Of going to the root of one truth more.
Declare unto him if the light wherewith
Blossoms your substance shall remain with you
Eternally the same that it is now;
And if it do remain, say in what manner,
After ye are again made visible,
It can be that it injure not your sight."
As by a greater gladness urged and drawn
They who are dancing in a ring sometimes
Uplift their voices and their motions quicken;
So, at that orison devout and prompt,
The holy circles a new joy displayed
In their revolving and their wondrous song.
Whoso lamenteth him that here we die
That we may live above, has never there
Seen the refreshment of the eternal rain.
The One and Two and Three who ever liveth,
And reigneth ever in Three and Two and One,
Not circumscribed and all things circumscribing,
Three several times was chanted by each one
Among those spirits, with such melody
That for all merit it were just reward;
And, in the lustre most divine of all
The lesser ring, I heard a modest voice,
Such as perhaps the Angel's was to Mary,
Answer: "As long as the festivity
Of Paradise shall be, so long our love
Shall radiate round about us such a vesture.
Its brightness is proportioned to the ardour,
The ardour to the vision; and the vision
Equals what grace it has above its worth.
When, glorious and sanctified, our flesh
Is reassumed, then shall our persons be
More pleasing by their being all complete;
For will increase whate'er bestows on us
Of light gratuitous the Good Supreme,
Light which enables us to look on Him;
Therefore the vision must perforce increase,
Increase the ardour which from that is kindled,
Increase the radiance which from this proceeds.
But even as a coal that sends forth flame,
And by its vivid whiteness overpowers it
So that its own appearance it maintains,
Thus the effulgence that surrounds us now
Shall be o'erpowered in aspect by the flesh,
Which still to-day the earth doth cover up;
Nor can so great a splendour weary us,
For strong will be the organs of the body
To everything which hath the power to please us."
So sudden and alert appeared to me
Both one and the other choir to say Amen,
That well they showed desire for their dead bodies;
Nor sole for them perhaps, but for the mothers,
The fathers, and the rest who had been dear
Or ever they became eternal flames.
And lo! all round about of equal brightness
Arose a lustre over what was there,
Like an horizon that is clearing up.
And as at rise of early eve begin
Along the welkin new appearances,
So that the sight seems real and unreal,
It seemed to me that new subsistences
Began there to be seen, and make a circle
Outside the other two circumferences.
O very sparkling of the Holy Spirit,
How sudden and incandescent it became
Unto mine eyes, that vanquished bore it not!
But Beatrice so beautiful and smiling
Appeared to me, that with the other sights
That followed not my memory I must leave her.
Then to uplift themselves mine eyes resumed
The power, and I beheld myself translated
To higher salvation with my Lady only.
Well was I ware that I was more uplifted
By the enkindled smiling of the star,
That seemed to me more ruddy than its wont.
With all my heart, and in that dialect
Which is the same in all, such holocaust
To God I made as the new grace beseemed;
And not yet from my bosom was exhausted
The ardour of sacrifice, before I knew
This offering was accepted and auspicious;
For with so great a lustre and so red
Splendours appeared to me in twofold rays,
I said: "O Helios who dost so adorn them!"
Even as distinct with less and greater lights
Glimmers between the two poles of the world
The Galaxy that maketh wise men doubt,
Thus constellated in the depths of Mars,
Those rays described the venerable sign
That quadrants joining in a circle make.
Here doth my memory overcome my genius;
For on that cross as levin gleamed forth Christ,
So that I cannot find ensample worthy;
But he who takes his cross and follows Christ
Again will pardon me what I omit,
Seeing in that aurora lighten Christ.
From horn to horn, and 'twixt the top and base,
Lights were in motion, brightly scintillating
As they together met and passed each other;
Thus level and aslant and swift and slow
We here behold, renewing still the sight,
The particles of bodies long and short,
Across the sunbeam move, wherewith is listed
Sometimes the shade, which for their own defence
People with cunning and with art contrive.
And as a lute and harp, accordant strung
With many strings, a dulcet tinkling make
To him by whom the notes are not distinguished,
So from the lights that there to me appeared
Upgathered through the cross a melody,
Which rapt me, not distinguishing the hymn.
Well was I ware it was of lofty laud,
Because there came to me, "Arise and conquer!"
As unto him who hears and comprehends not.
So much enamoured I became therewith,
That until then there was not anything
That e'er had fettered me with such sweet bonds.
Perhaps my word appears somewhat too bold,
Postponing the delight of those fair eyes,
Into which gazing my desire has rest;