Part 9 out of 11
But who bethinks him that the living seals
Of every beauty grow in power ascending,
And that I there had not turned round to those,
Can me excuse, if I myself accuse
To excuse myself, and see that I speak truly:
For here the holy joy is not disclosed,
Because ascending it becomes more pure.
Paradiso: Canto XV
A will benign, in which reveals itself
Ever the love that righteously inspires,
As in the iniquitous, cupidity,
Silence imposed upon that dulcet lyre,
And quieted the consecrated chords,
That Heaven's right hand doth tighten and relax.
How unto just entreaties shall be deaf
Those substances, which, to give me desire
Of praying them, with one accord grew silent?
'Tis well that without end he should lament,
Who for the love of thing that doth not last
Eternally despoils him of that love!
As through the pure and tranquil evening air
There shoots from time to time a sudden fire,
Moving the eyes that steadfast were before,
And seems to be a star that changeth place,
Except that in the part where it is kindled
Nothing is missed, and this endureth little;
So from the horn that to the right extends
Unto that cross's foot there ran a star
Out of the constellation shining there;
Nor was the gem dissevered from its ribbon,
But down the radiant fillet ran along,
So that fire seemed it behind alabaster.
Thus piteous did Anchises' shade reach forward,
If any faith our greatest Muse deserve,
When in Elysium he his son perceived.
"O sanguis meus, O superinfusa
Gratia Dei, sicut tibi, cui
Bis unquam Coeli janua reclusa?"
Thus that effulgence; whence I gave it heed;
Then round unto my Lady turned my sight,
And on this side and that was stupefied;
For in her eyes was burning such a smile
That with mine own methought I touched the bottom
Both of my grace and of my Paradise!
Then, pleasant to the hearing and the sight,
The spirit joined to its beginning things
I understood not, so profound it spake;
Nor did it hide itself from me by choice,
But by necessity; for its conception
Above the mark of mortals set itself.
And when the bow of burning sympathy
Was so far slackened, that its speech descended
Towards the mark of our intelligence,
The first thing that was understood by me
Was "Benedight be Thou, O Trine and One,
Who hast unto my seed so courteous been!"
And it continued: "Hunger long and grateful,
Drawn from the reading of the mighty volume
Wherein is never changed the white nor dark,
Thou hast appeased, my son, within this light
In which I speak to thee, by grace of her
Who to this lofty flight with plumage clothed thee.
Thou thinkest that to me thy thought doth pass
From Him who is the first, as from the unit,
If that be known, ray out the five and six;
And therefore who I am thou askest not,
And why I seem more joyous unto thee
Than any other of this gladsome crowd.
Thou think'st the truth; because the small and great
Of this existence look into the mirror
Wherein, before thou think'st, thy thought thou showest.
But that the sacred love, in which I watch
With sight perpetual, and which makes me thirst
With sweet desire, may better be fulfilled,
Now let thy voice secure and frank and glad
Proclaim the wishes, the desire proclaim,
To which my answer is decreed already."
To Beatrice I turned me, and she heard
Before I spake, and smiled to me a sign,
That made the wings of my desire increase;
Then in this wise began I: "Love and knowledge,
When on you dawned the first Equality,
Of the same weight for each of you became;
For in the Sun, which lighted you and burned
With heat and radiance, they so equal are,
That all similitudes are insufficient.
But among mortals will and argument,
For reason that to you is manifest,
Diversely feathered in their pinions are.
Whence I, who mortal am, feel in myself
This inequality; so give not thanks,
Save in my heart, for this paternal welcome.
Truly do I entreat thee, living topaz!
Set in this precious jewel as a gem,
That thou wilt satisfy me with thy name."
"O leaf of mine, in whom I pleasure took
E'en while awaiting, I was thine own root!"
Such a beginning he in answer made me.
Then said to me: "That one from whom is named
Thy race, and who a hundred years and more
Has circled round the mount on the first cornice,
A son of mine and thy great-grandsire was;
Well it behoves thee that the long fatigue
Thou shouldst for him make shorter with thy works.
Florence, within the ancient boundary
From which she taketh still her tierce and nones,
Abode in quiet, temperate and chaste.
No golden chain she had, nor coronal,
Nor ladies shod with sandal shoon, nor girdle
That caught the eye more than the person did.
Not yet the daughter at her birth struck fear
Into the father, for the time and dower
Did not o'errun this side or that the measure.
No houses had she void of families,
Not yet had thither come Sardanapalus
To show what in a chamber can be done;
Not yet surpassed had Montemalo been
By your Uccellatojo, which surpassed
Shall in its downfall be as in its rise.
Bellincion Berti saw I go begirt
With leather and with bone, and from the mirror
His dame depart without a painted face;
And him of Nerli saw, and him of Vecchio,
Contented with their simple suits of buff
And with the spindle and the flax their dames.
O fortunate women! and each one was certain
Of her own burial-place, and none as yet
For sake of France was in her bed deserted.
One o'er the cradle kept her studious watch,
And in her lullaby the language used
That first delights the fathers and the mothers;
Another, drawing tresses from her distaff,
Told o'er among her family the tales
Of Trojans and of Fesole and Rome.
As great a marvel then would have been held
A Lapo Salterello, a Cianghella,
As Cincinnatus or Cornelia now.
To such a quiet, such a beautiful
Life of the citizen, to such a safe
Community, and to so sweet an inn,
Did Mary give me, with loud cries invoked,
And in your ancient Baptistery at once
Christian and Cacciaguida I became.
Moronto was my brother, and Eliseo;
From Val di Pado came to me my wife,
And from that place thy surname was derived.
I followed afterward the Emperor Conrad,
And he begirt me of his chivalry,
So much I pleased him with my noble deeds.
I followed in his train against that law's
Iniquity, whose people doth usurp
Your just possession, through your Pastor's fault.
There by that execrable race was I
Released from bonds of the fallacious world,
The love of which defileth many souls,
And came from martyrdom unto this peace."
Paradiso: Canto XVI
O thou our poor nobility of blood,
If thou dost make the people glory in thee
Down here where our affection languishes,
A marvellous thing it ne'er will be to me;
For there where appetite is not perverted,
I say in Heaven, of thee I made a boast!
Truly thou art a cloak that quickly shortens,
So that unless we piece thee day by day
Time goeth round about thee with his shears!
With 'You,' which Rome was first to tolerate,
(Wherein her family less perseveres,)
Yet once again my words beginning made;
Whence Beatrice, who stood somewhat apart,
Smiling, appeared like unto her who coughed
At the first failing writ of Guenever.
And I began: "You are my ancestor,
You give to me all hardihood to speak,
You lift me so that I am more than I.
So many rivulets with gladness fill
My mind, that of itself it makes a joy
Because it can endure this and not burst.
Then tell me, my beloved root ancestral,
Who were your ancestors, and what the years
That in your boyhood chronicled themselves?
Tell me about the sheepfold of Saint John,
How large it was, and who the people were
Within it worthy of the highest seats."
As at the blowing of the winds a coal
Quickens to flame, so I beheld that light
Become resplendent at my blandishments.
And as unto mine eyes it grew more fair,
With voice more sweet and tender, but not in
This modern dialect, it said to me:
"From uttering of the 'Ave,' till the birth
In which my mother, who is now a saint,
Of me was lightened who had been her burden,
Unto its Lion had this fire returned
Five hundred fifty times and thirty more,
To reinflame itself beneath his paw.
My ancestors and I our birthplace had
Where first is found the last ward of the city
By him who runneth in your annual game.
Suffice it of my elders to hear this;
But who they were, and whence they thither came,
Silence is more considerate than speech.
All those who at that time were there between
Mars and the Baptist, fit for bearing arms,
Were a fifth part of those who now are living;
But the community, that now is mixed
With Campi and Certaldo and Figghine,
Pure in the lowest artisan was seen.
O how much better 'twere to have as neighbours
The folk of whom I speak, and at Galluzzo
And at Trespiano have your boundary,
Than have them in the town, and bear the stench
Of Aguglione's churl, and him of Signa
Who has sharp eyes for trickery already.
Had not the folk, which most of all the world
Degenerates, been a step-dame unto Caesar,
But as a mother to her son benignant,
Some who turn Florentines, and trade and discount,
Would have gone back again to Simifonte
There where their grandsires went about as beggars.
At Montemurlo still would be the Counts,
The Cerchi in the parish of Acone,
Perhaps in Valdigrieve the Buondelmonti.
Ever the intermingling of the people
Has been the source of malady in cities,
As in the body food it surfeits on;
And a blind bull more headlong plunges down
Than a blind lamb; and very often cuts
Better and more a single sword than five.
If Luni thou regard, and Urbisaglia,
How they have passed away, and how are passing
Chiusi and Sinigaglia after them,
To hear how races waste themselves away,
Will seem to thee no novel thing nor hard,
Seeing that even cities have an end.
All things of yours have their mortality,
Even as yourselves; but it is hidden in some
That a long while endure, and lives are short;
And as the turning of the lunar heaven
Covers and bares the shores without a pause,
In the like manner fortune does with Florence.
Therefore should not appear a marvellous thing
What I shall say of the great Florentines
Of whom the fame is hidden in the Past.
I saw the Ughi, saw the Catellini,
Filippi, Greci, Ormanni, and Alberichi,
Even in their fall illustrious citizens;
And saw, as mighty as they ancient were,
With him of La Sannella him of Arca,
And Soldanier, Ardinghi, and Bostichi.
Near to the gate that is at present laden
With a new felony of so much weight
That soon it shall be jetsam from the bark,
The Ravignani were, from whom descended
The County Guido, and whoe'er the name
Of the great Bellincione since hath taken.
He of La Pressa knew the art of ruling
Already, and already Galigajo
Had hilt and pommel gilded in his house.
Mighty already was the Column Vair,
Sacchetti, Giuochi, Fifant, and Barucci,
And Galli, and they who for the bushel blush.
The stock from which were the Calfucci born
Was great already, and already chosen
To curule chairs the Sizii and Arrigucci.
O how beheld I those who are undone
By their own pride! and how the Balls of Gold
Florence enflowered in all their mighty deeds!
So likewise did the ancestors of those
Who evermore, when vacant is your church,
Fatten by staying in consistory.
The insolent race, that like a dragon follows
Whoever flees, and unto him that shows
His teeth or purse is gentle as a lamb,
Already rising was, but from low people;
So that it pleased not Ubertin Donato
That his wife's father should make him their kin.
Already had Caponsacco to the Market
From Fesole descended, and already
Giuda and Infangato were good burghers.
I'll tell a thing incredible, but true;
One entered the small circuit by a gate
Which from the Della Pera took its name!
Each one that bears the beautiful escutcheon
Of the great baron whose renown and name
The festival of Thomas keepeth fresh,
Knighthood and privilege from him received;
Though with the populace unites himself
To-day the man who binds it with a border.
Already were Gualterotti and Importuni;
And still more quiet would the Borgo be
If with new neighbours it remained unfed.
The house from which is born your lamentation,
Through just disdain that death among you brought
And put an end unto your joyous life,
Was honoured in itself and its companions.
O Buondelmonte, how in evil hour
Thou fled'st the bridal at another's promptings!
Many would be rejoicing who are sad,
If God had thee surrendered to the Ema
The first time that thou camest to the city.
But it behoved the mutilated stone
Which guards the bridge, that Florence should provide
A victim in her latest hour of peace.
With all these families, and others with them,
Florence beheld I in so great repose,
That no occasion had she whence to weep;
With all these families beheld so just
And glorious her people, that the lily
Never upon the spear was placed reversed,
Nor by division was vermilion made."
Paradiso: Canto XVII
As came to Clymene, to be made certain
Of that which he had heard against himself,
He who makes fathers chary still to children,
Even such was I, and such was I perceived
By Beatrice and by the holy light
That first on my account had changed its place.
Therefore my Lady said to me: "Send forth
The flame of thy desire, so that it issue
Imprinted well with the internal stamp;
Not that our knowledge may be greater made
By speech of thine, but to accustom thee
To tell thy thirst, that we may give thee drink."
"O my beloved tree, (that so dost lift thee,
That even as minds terrestrial perceive
No triangle containeth two obtuse,
So thou beholdest the contingent things
Ere in themselves they are, fixing thine eyes
Upon the point in which all times are present,)
While I was with Virgilius conjoined
Upon the mountain that the souls doth heal,
And when descending into the dead world,
Were spoken to me of my future life
Some grievous words; although I feel myself
In sooth foursquare against the blows of chance.
On this account my wish would be content
To hear what fortune is approaching me,
Because foreseen an arrow comes more slowly."
Thus did I say unto that selfsame light
That unto me had spoken before; and even
As Beatrice willed was my own will confessed.
Not in vague phrase, in which the foolish folk
Ensnared themselves of old, ere yet was slain
The Lamb of God who taketh sins away,
But with clear words and unambiguous
Language responded that paternal love,
Hid and revealed by its own proper smile:
"Contingency, that outside of the volume
Of your materiality extends not,
Is all depicted in the eternal aspect.
Necessity however thence it takes not,
Except as from the eye, in which 'tis mirrored,
A ship that with the current down descends.
From thence, e'en as there cometh to the ear
Sweet harmony from an organ, comes in sight
To me the time that is preparing for thee.
As forth from Athens went Hippolytus,
By reason of his step-dame false and cruel,
So thou from Florence must perforce depart.
Already this is willed, and this is sought for;
And soon it shall be done by him who thinks it,
Where every day the Christ is bought and sold.
The blame shall follow the offended party
In outcry as is usual; but the vengeance
Shall witness to the truth that doth dispense it.
Thou shalt abandon everything beloved
Most tenderly, and this the arrow is
Which first the bow of banishment shoots forth.
Thou shalt have proof how savoureth of salt
The bread of others, and how hard a road
The going down and up another's stairs.
And that which most shall weigh upon thy shoulders
Will be the bad and foolish company
With which into this valley thou shalt fall;
For all ingrate, all mad and impious
Will they become against thee; but soon after
They, and not thou, shall have the forehead scarlet.
Of their bestiality their own proceedings
Shall furnish proof; so 'twill be well for thee
A party to have made thee by thyself.
Thine earliest refuge and thine earliest inn
Shall be the mighty Lombard's courtesy,
Who on the Ladder bears the holy bird,
Who such benign regard shall have for thee
That 'twixt you twain, in doing and in asking,
That shall be first which is with others last.
With him shalt thou see one who at his birth
Has by this star of strength been so impressed,
That notable shall his achievements be.
Not yet the people are aware of him
Through his young age, since only nine years yet
Around about him have these wheels revolved.
But ere the Gascon cheat the noble Henry,
Some sparkles of his virtue shall appear
In caring not for silver nor for toil.
So recognized shall his magnificence
Become hereafter, that his enemies
Will not have power to keep mute tongues about it.
On him rely, and on his benefits;
By him shall many people be transformed,
Changing condition rich and mendicant;
And written in thy mind thou hence shalt bear
Of him, but shalt not say it"--and things said he
Incredible to those who shall be present.
Then added: "Son, these are the commentaries
On what was said to thee; behold the snares
That are concealed behind few revolutions;
Yet would I not thy neighbours thou shouldst envy,
Because thy life into the future reaches
Beyond the punishment of their perfidies."
When by its silence showed that sainted soul
That it had finished putting in the woof
Into that web which I had given it warped,
Began I, even as he who yearneth after,
Being in doubt, some counsel from a person
Who seeth, and uprightly wills, and loves:
"Well see I, father mine, how spurreth on
The time towards me such a blow to deal me
As heaviest is to him who most gives way.
Therefore with foresight it is well I arm me,
That, if the dearest place be taken from me,
I may not lose the others by my songs.
Down through the world of infinite bitterness,
And o'er the mountain, from whose beauteous summit
The eyes of my own Lady lifted me,
And afterward through heaven from light to light,
I have learned that which, if I tell again,
Will be a savour of strong herbs to many.
And if I am a timid friend to truth,
I fear lest I may lose my life with those
Who will hereafter call this time the olden."
The light in which was smiling my own treasure
Which there I had discovered, flashed at first
As in the sunshine doth a golden mirror;
Then made reply: "A conscience overcast
Or with its own or with another's shame,
Will taste forsooth the tartness of thy word;
But ne'ertheless, all falsehood laid aside,
Make manifest thy vision utterly,
And let them scratch wherever is the itch;
For if thine utterance shall offensive be
At the first taste, a vital nutriment
'Twill leave thereafter, when it is digested.
This cry of thine shall do as doth the wind,
Which smiteth most the most exalted summits,
And that is no slight argument of honour.
Therefore are shown to thee within these wheels,
Upon the mount and in the dolorous valley,
Only the souls that unto fame are known;
Because the spirit of the hearer rests not,
Nor doth confirm its faith by an example
Which has the root of it unknown and hidden,
Or other reason that is not apparent."
Paradiso: Canto XVIII
Now was alone rejoicing in its word
That soul beatified, and I was tasting
My own, the bitter tempering with the sweet,
And the Lady who to God was leading me
Said: "Change thy thought; consider that I am
Near unto Him who every wrong disburdens."
Unto the loving accents of my comfort
I turned me round, and then what love I saw
Within those holy eyes I here relinquish;
Not only that my language I distrust,
But that my mind cannot return so far
Above itself, unless another guide it.
Thus much upon that point can I repeat,
That, her again beholding, my affection
From every other longing was released.
While the eternal pleasure, which direct
Rayed upon Beatrice, from her fair face
Contented me with its reflected aspect,
Conquering me with the radiance of a smile,
She said to me, "Turn thee about and listen;
Not in mine eyes alone is Paradise."
Even as sometimes here do we behold
The affection in the look, if it be such
That all the soul is wrapt away by it,
So, by the flaming of the effulgence holy
To which I turned, I recognized therein
The wish of speaking to me somewhat farther.
And it began: "In this fifth resting-place
Upon the tree that liveth by its summit,
And aye bears fruit, and never loses leaf,
Are blessed spirits that below, ere yet
They came to Heaven, were of such great renown
That every Muse therewith would affluent be.
Therefore look thou upon the cross's horns;
He whom I now shall name will there enact
What doth within a cloud its own swift fire."
I saw athwart the Cross a splendour drawn
By naming Joshua, (even as he did it,)
Nor noted I the word before the deed;
And at the name of the great Maccabee
I saw another move itself revolving,
And gladness was the whip unto that top.
Likewise for Charlemagne and for Orlando,
Two of them my regard attentive followed
As followeth the eye its falcon flying.
William thereafterward, and Renouard,
And the Duke Godfrey, did attract my sight
Along upon that Cross, and Robert Guiscard.
Then, moved and mingled with the other lights,
The soul that had addressed me showed how great
An artist 'twas among the heavenly singers.
To my right side I turned myself around,
My duty to behold in Beatrice
Either by words or gesture signified;
And so translucent I beheld her eyes,
So full of pleasure, that her countenance
Surpassed its other and its latest wont.
And as, by feeling greater delectation,
A man in doing good from day to day
Becomes aware his virtue is increasing,
So I became aware that my gyration
With heaven together had increased its arc,
That miracle beholding more adorned.
And such as is the change, in little lapse
Of time, in a pale woman, when her face
Is from the load of bashfulness unladen,
Such was it in mine eyes, when I had turned,
Caused by the whiteness of the temperate star,
The sixth, which to itself had gathered me.
Within that Jovial torch did I behold
The sparkling of the love which was therein
Delineate our language to mine eyes.
And even as birds uprisen from the shore,
As in congratulation o'er their food,
Make squadrons of themselves, now round, now long,
So from within those lights the holy creatures
Sang flying to and fro, and in their figures
Made of themselves now D, now I, now L.
First singing they to their own music moved;
Then one becoming of these characters,
A little while they rested and were silent.
O divine Pegasea, thou who genius
Dost glorious make, and render it long-lived,
And this through thee the cities and the kingdoms,
Illume me with thyself, that I may bring
Their figures out as I have them conceived!
Apparent be thy power in these brief verses!
Themselves then they displayed in five times seven
Vowels and consonants; and I observed
The parts as they seemed spoken unto me.
'Diligite justitiam,' these were
First verb and noun of all that was depicted;
'Qui judicatis terram' were the last.
Thereafter in the M of the fifth word
Remained they so arranged, that Jupiter
Seemed to be silver there with gold inlaid.
And other lights I saw descend where was
The summit of the M, and pause there singing
The good, I think, that draws them to itself.
Then, as in striking upon burning logs
Upward there fly innumerable sparks,
Whence fools are wont to look for auguries,
More than a thousand lights seemed thence to rise,
And to ascend, some more, and others less,
Even as the Sun that lights them had allotted;
And, each one being quiet in its place,
The head and neck beheld I of an eagle
Delineated by that inlaid fire.
He who there paints has none to be his guide;
But Himself guides; and is from Him remembered
That virtue which is form unto the nest.
The other beatitude, that contented seemed
At first to bloom a lily on the M,
By a slight motion followed out the imprint.
O gentle star! what and how many gems
Did demonstrate to me, that all our justice
Effect is of that heaven which thou ingemmest!
Wherefore I pray the Mind, in which begin
Thy motion and thy virtue, to regard
Whence comes the smoke that vitiates thy rays;
So that a second time it now be wroth
With buying and with selling in the temple
Whose walls were built with signs and martyrdoms!
O soldiery of heaven, whom I contemplate,
Implore for those who are upon the earth
All gone astray after the bad example!
Once 'twas the custom to make war with swords;
But now 'tis made by taking here and there
The bread the pitying Father shuts from none.
Yet thou, who writest but to cancel, think
That Peter and that Paul, who for this vineyard
Which thou art spoiling died, are still alive!
Well canst thou say: "So steadfast my desire
Is unto him who willed to live alone,
And for a dance was led to martyrdom,
That I know not the Fisherman nor Paul."
Paradiso: Canto XIX
Appeared before me with its wings outspread
The beautiful image that in sweet fruition
Made jubilant the interwoven souls;
Appeared a little ruby each, wherein
Ray of the sun was burning so enkindled
That each into mine eyes refracted it.
And what it now behoves me to retrace
Nor voice has e'er reported, nor ink written,
Nor was by fantasy e'er comprehended;
For speak I saw, and likewise heard, the beak,
And utter with its voice both 'I' and 'My,'
When in conception it was 'We' and 'Our.'
And it began: "Being just and merciful
Am I exalted here unto that glory
Which cannot be exceeded by desire;
And upon earth I left my memory
Such, that the evil-minded people there
Commend it, but continue not the story."
So doth a single heat from many embers
Make itself felt, even as from many loves
Issued a single sound from out that image.
Whence I thereafter: "O perpetual flowers
Of the eternal joy, that only one
Make me perceive your odours manifold,
Exhaling, break within me the great fast
Which a long season has in hunger held me,
Not finding for it any food on earth.
Well do I know, that if in heaven its mirror
Justice Divine another realm doth make,
Yours apprehends it not through any veil.
You know how I attentively address me
To listen; and you know what is the doubt
That is in me so very old a fast."
Even as a falcon, issuing from his hood,
Doth move his head, and with his wings applaud him,
Showing desire, and making himself fine,
Saw I become that standard, which of lauds
Was interwoven of the grace divine,
With such songs as he knows who there rejoices.
Then it began: "He who a compass turned
On the world's outer verge, and who within it
Devised so much occult and manifest,
Could not the impress of his power so make
On all the universe, as that his Word
Should not remain in infinite excess.
And this makes certain that the first proud being,
Who was the paragon of every creature,
By not awaiting light fell immature.
And hence appears it, that each minor nature
Is scant receptacle unto that good
Which has no end, and by itself is measured.
In consequence our vision, which perforce
Must be some ray of that intelligence
With which all things whatever are replete,
Cannot in its own nature be so potent,
That it shall not its origin discern
Far beyond that which is apparent to it.
Therefore into the justice sempiternal
The power of vision that your world receives,
As eye into the ocean, penetrates;
Which, though it see the bottom near the shore,
Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet
'Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth.
There is no light but comes from the serene
That never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness
Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison.
Amply to thee is opened now the cavern
Which has concealed from thee the living justice
Of which thou mad'st such frequent questioning.
For saidst thou: 'Born a man is on the shore
Of Indus, and is none who there can speak
Of Christ, nor who can read, nor who can write;
And all his inclinations and his actions
Are good, so far as human reason sees,
Without a sin in life or in discourse:
He dieth unbaptised and without faith;
Where is this justice that condemneth him?
Where is his fault, if he do not believe?'
Now who art thou, that on the bench wouldst sit
In judgment at a thousand miles away,
With the short vision of a single span?
Truly to him who with me subtilizes,
If so the Scripture were not over you,
For doubting there were marvellous occasion.
O animals terrene, O stolid minds,
The primal will, that in itself is good,
Ne'er from itself, the Good Supreme, has moved.
So much is just as is accordant with it;
No good created draws it to itself,
But it, by raying forth, occasions that."
Even as above her nest goes circling round
The stork when she has fed her little ones,
And he who has been fed looks up at her,
So lifted I my brows, and even such
Became the blessed image, which its wings
Was moving, by so many counsels urged.
Circling around it sang, and said: "As are
My notes to thee, who dost not comprehend them,
Such is the eternal judgment to you mortals."
Those lucent splendours of the Holy Spirit
Grew quiet then, but still within the standard
That made the Romans reverend to the world.
It recommenced: "Unto this kingdom never
Ascended one who had not faith in Christ,
Before or since he to the tree was nailed.
But look thou, many crying are, 'Christ, Christ!'
Who at the judgment shall be far less near
To him than some shall be who knew not Christ.
Such Christians shall the Ethiop condemn,
When the two companies shall be divided,
The one for ever rich, the other poor.
What to your kings may not the Persians say,
When they that volume opened shall behold
In which are written down all their dispraises?
There shall be seen, among the deeds of Albert,
That which ere long shall set the pen in motion,
For which the realm of Prague shall be deserted.
There shall be seen the woe that on the Seine
He brings by falsifying of the coin,
Who by the blow of a wild boar shall die.
There shall be seen the pride that causes thirst,
Which makes the Scot and Englishman so mad
That they within their boundaries cannot rest;
Be seen the luxury and effeminate life
Of him of Spain, and the Bohemian,
Who valour never knew and never wished;
Be seen the Cripple of Jerusalem,
His goodness represented by an I,
While the reverse an M shall represent;
Be seen the avarice and poltroonery
Of him who guards the Island of the Fire,
Wherein Anchises finished his long life;
And to declare how pitiful he is
Shall be his record in contracted letters
Which shall make note of much in little space.
And shall appear to each one the foul deeds
Of uncle and of brother who a nation
So famous have dishonoured, and two crowns.
And he of Portugal and he of Norway
Shall there be known, and he of Rascia too,
Who saw in evil hour the coin of Venice.
O happy Hungary, if she let herself
Be wronged no farther! and Navarre the happy,
If with the hills that gird her she be armed!
And each one may believe that now, as hansel
Thereof, do Nicosia and Famagosta
Lament and rage because of their own beast,
Who from the others' flank departeth not."
Paradiso: Canto XX
When he who all the world illuminates
Out of our hemisphere so far descends
That on all sides the daylight is consumed,
The heaven, that erst by him alone was kindled,
Doth suddenly reveal itself again
By many lights, wherein is one resplendent.
And came into my mind this act of heaven,
When the ensign of the world and of its leaders
Had silent in the blessed beak become;
Because those living luminaries all,
By far more luminous, did songs begin
Lapsing and falling from my memory.
O gentle Love, that with a smile dost cloak thee,
How ardent in those sparks didst thou appear,
That had the breath alone of holy thoughts!
After the precious and pellucid crystals,
With which begemmed the sixth light I beheld,
Silence imposed on the angelic bells,
I seemed to hear the murmuring of a river
That clear descendeth down from rock to rock,
Showing the affluence of its mountain-top.
And as the sound upon the cithern's neck
Taketh its form, and as upon the vent
Of rustic pipe the wind that enters it,
Even thus, relieved from the delay of waiting,
That murmuring of the eagle mounted up
Along its neck, as if it had been hollow.
There it became a voice, and issued thence
From out its beak, in such a form of words
As the heart waited for wherein I wrote them.
"The part in me which sees and bears the sun
In mortal eagles," it began to me,
"Now fixedly must needs be looked upon;
For of the fires of which I make my figure,
Those whence the eye doth sparkle in my head
Of all their orders the supremest are.
He who is shining in the midst as pupil
Was once the singer of the Holy Spirit,
Who bore the ark from city unto city;
Now knoweth he the merit of his song,
In so far as effect of his own counsel,
By the reward which is commensurate.
Of five, that make a circle for my brow,
He that approacheth nearest to my beak
Did the poor widow for her son console;
Now knoweth he how dearly it doth cost
Not following Christ, by the experience
Of this sweet life and of its opposite.
He who comes next in the circumference
Of which I speak, upon its highest arc,
Did death postpone by penitence sincere;
Now knoweth he that the eternal judgment
Suffers no change, albeit worthy prayer
Maketh below to-morrow of to-day.
The next who follows, with the laws and me,
Under the good intent that bore bad fruit
Became a Greek by ceding to the pastor;
Now knoweth he how all the ill deduced
From his good action is not harmful to him,
Although the world thereby may be destroyed.
And he, whom in the downward arc thou seest,
Guglielmo was, whom the same land deplores
That weepeth Charles and Frederick yet alive;
Now knoweth he how heaven enamoured is
With a just king; and in the outward show
Of his effulgence he reveals it still.
Who would believe, down in the errant world,
That e'er the Trojan Ripheus in this round
Could be the fifth one of the holy lights?
Now knoweth he enough of what the world
Has not the power to see of grace divine,
Although his sight may not discern the bottom."
Like as a lark that in the air expatiates,
First singing and then silent with content
Of the last sweetness that doth satisfy her,
Such seemed to me the image of the imprint
Of the eternal pleasure, by whose will
Doth everything become the thing it is.
And notwithstanding to my doubt I was
As glass is to the colour that invests it,
To wait the time in silence it endured not,
But forth from out my mouth, "What things are these?"
Extorted with the force of its own weight;
Whereat I saw great joy of coruscation.
Thereafterward with eye still more enkindled
The blessed standard made to me reply,
To keep me not in wonderment suspended:
"I see that thou believest in these things
Because I say them, but thou seest not how;
So that, although believed in, they are hidden.
Thou doest as he doth who a thing by name
Well apprehendeth, but its quiddity
Cannot perceive, unless another show it.
'Regnum coelorum' suffereth violence
From fervent love, and from that living hope
That overcometh the Divine volition;
Not in the guise that man o'ercometh man,
But conquers it because it will be conquered,
And conquered conquers by benignity.
The first life of the eyebrow and the fifth
Cause thee astonishment, because with them
Thou seest the region of the angels painted.
They passed not from their bodies, as thou thinkest,
Gentiles, but Christians in the steadfast faith
Of feet that were to suffer and had suffered.
For one from Hell, where no one e'er turns back
Unto good will, returned unto his bones,
And that of living hope was the reward,--
Of living hope, that placed its efficacy
In prayers to God made to resuscitate him,
So that 'twere possible to move his will.
The glorious soul concerning which I speak,
Returning to the flesh, where brief its stay,
Believed in Him who had the power to aid it;
And, in believing, kindled to such fire
Of genuine love, that at the second death
Worthy it was to come unto this joy.
The other one, through grace, that from so deep
A fountain wells that never hath the eye
Of any creature reached its primal wave,
Set all his love below on righteousness;
Wherefore from grace to grace did God unclose
His eye to our redemption yet to be,
Whence he believed therein, and suffered not
From that day forth the stench of paganism,
And he reproved therefor the folk perverse.
Those Maidens three, whom at the right-hand wheel
Thou didst behold, were unto him for baptism
More than a thousand years before baptizing.
O thou predestination, how remote
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