The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri - ebook

The Divine Comedy ebook

Dante Alighieri

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The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia [diˈviːna komˈmɛːdja]) is an epic poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature. and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language. It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso

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The Divine Comedy

Dante Alighieri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Re-Image Publishing

Copyright: This work is available for countries where copyright is Life+70 and in the USA

Table of Contents
PARADISE
CANTO I
CANTO II
CANTO III
CANTO IV
CANTO V
CANTO VI
CANTO VII
CANTO VIII
CANTO IX
CANTO X
CANTO XI
CANTO XII
CANTO XIII
CANTO XIV
CANTO XV
CANTO XVI
CANTO XVII
CANTO XVIII
CANTO XIX
CANTO XX
CANTO XXI
CANTO XXII
CANTO XXIII
CANTO XXIV
CANTO XXV
CANTO XXVI
CANTO XXVII
CANTO XXVIII
CANTO XXIX
CANTO XXX
CANTO XXXI
CANTO XXXII
CANTO XXXIII
PURGATORY
CANTO I
CANTO II
CANTO III
CANTO IV
CANTO V
CANTO VI
CANTO VII
CANTO VIII
CANTO IX
CANTO X
CANTO XI
CANTO XII
CANTO XIII
CANTO XIV
CANTO XV
CANTO XVI
CANTO XVII
CANTO XVIII
CANTO XIX
CANTO XX
CANTO XXI
CANTO XXII
CANTO XXIII
CANTO XXIV
CANTO XXV
CANTO XXVI
CANTO XXVII
CANTO XXVIII
CANTO XXIX
CANTO XXX
CANTO XXXI
CANTO XXXII
CANTO XXXIII
HELL (OR THE INFERNO)
CANTO I
CANTO II
CANTO III
CANTO IV
CANTO V
CANTO VI
CANTO VII
CANTO VIII
CANTO IX
CANTO X
CANTO XI
CANTO XII
CANTO XIII
CANTO XIV
CANTO XV
CANTO XVI
CANTO XVII
CANTO XVIII
CANTO XIX
CANTO XX
CANTO XXI
CANTO XXII
CANTO XXIII
CANTO XXIV
CANTO XXV
CANTO XXVI
CANTO XXVII
CANTO XXVIII
CANTO XXIX
CANTO XXX
CANTO XXXI
CANTO XXXII
CANTO XXXIII
CANTO XXXIV

PARADISE

CANTO I

His glory, by whose might all things are mov'd,

Pierces the universe, and in one part

Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less.  In heav'n,

That largeliest of his light partakes, was I,

Witness of things, which to relate again

Surpasseth power of him who comes from thence;

For that, so near approaching its desire

Our intellect is to such depth absorb'd,

That memory cannot follow.  Nathless all,

That in my thoughts I of that sacred realm

Could store, shall now be matter of my song.

 

Benign Apollo! this last labour aid,

And make me such a vessel of thy worth,

As thy own laurel claims of me belov'd.

Thus far hath one of steep Parnassus' brows

Suffic'd me; henceforth there is need of both

For my remaining enterprise Do thou

Enter into my bosom, and there breathe

So, as when Marsyas by thy hand was dragg'd

Forth from his limbs unsheath'd.  O power divine!

If thou to me of shine impart so much,

That of that happy realm the shadow'd form

Trac'd in my thoughts I may set forth to view,

Thou shalt behold me of thy favour'd tree

Come to the foot, and crown myself with leaves;

For to that honour thou, and my high theme

Will fit me.  If but seldom, mighty Sire!

To grace his triumph gathers thence a wreath

Caesar or bard (more shame for human wills

Deprav'd) joy to the Delphic god must spring

From the Pierian foliage, when one breast

Is with such thirst inspir'd.  From a small spark

Great flame hath risen: after me perchance

Others with better voice may pray, and gain

From the Cirrhaean city answer kind.

 

Through diver passages, the world's bright lamp

Rises to mortals, but through that which joins

Four circles with the threefold cross, in best

Course, and in happiest constellation set

He comes, and to the worldly wax best gives

Its temper and impression.  Morning there,

Here eve was by almost such passage made;

And whiteness had o'erspread that hemisphere,

Blackness the other part; when to the left

I saw Beatrice turn'd, and on the sun

Gazing, as never eagle fix'd his ken.

As from the first a second beam is wont

To issue, and reflected upwards rise,

E'en as a pilgrim bent on his return,

So of her act, that through the eyesight pass'd

Into my fancy, mine was form'd; and straight,

Beyond our mortal wont, I fix'd mine eyes

Upon the sun.  Much is allowed us there,

That here exceeds our pow'r; thanks to the place

Made for the dwelling of the human kind

 

I suffer'd it not long, and yet so long

That I beheld it bick'ring sparks around,

As iron that comes boiling from the fire.

And suddenly upon the day appear'd

A day new-ris'n, as he, who hath the power,

Had with another sun bedeck'd the sky.

 

Her eyes fast fix'd on the eternal wheels,

Beatrice stood unmov'd; and I with ken

Fix'd upon her, from upward gaze remov'd

At her aspect, such inwardly became

As Glaucus, when he tasted of the herb,

That made him peer among the ocean gods;

Words may not tell of that transhuman change:

And therefore let the example serve, though weak,

For those whom grace hath better proof in store

 

If I were only what thou didst create,

Then newly, Love! by whom the heav'n is rul'd,

Thou know'st, who by thy light didst bear me up.

Whenas the wheel which thou dost ever guide,

Desired Spirit! with its harmony

Temper'd of thee and measur'd, charm'd mine ear,

Then seem'd to me so much of heav'n to blaze

With the sun's flame, that rain or flood ne'er made

A lake so broad.  The newness of the sound,

And that great light, inflam'd me with desire,

Keener than e'er was felt, to know their cause.

 

Whence she who saw me, clearly as myself,

To calm my troubled mind, before I ask'd,

Open'd her lips, and gracious thus began:

"With false imagination thou thyself

Mak'st dull, so that thou seest not the thing,

Which thou hadst seen, had that been shaken off.

Thou art not on the earth as thou believ'st;

For light'ning scap'd from its own proper place

Ne'er ran, as thou hast hither now return'd."

 

Although divested of my first-rais'd doubt,

By those brief words, accompanied with smiles,

Yet in new doubt was I entangled more,

And said: "Already satisfied, I rest

From admiration deep, but now admire

How I above those lighter bodies rise."

 

Whence, after utt'rance of a piteous sigh,

She tow'rds me bent her eyes, with such a look,

As on her frenzied child a mother casts;

Then thus began: "Among themselves all things

Have order; and from hence the form, which makes

The universe resemble God.  In this

The higher creatures see the printed steps

Of that eternal worth, which is the end

Whither the line is drawn.  All natures lean,

In this their order, diversely, some more,

Some less approaching to their primal source.

Thus they to different havens are mov'd on

Through the vast sea of being, and each one

With instinct giv'n, that bears it in its course;

This to the lunar sphere directs the fire,

This prompts the hearts of mortal animals,

This the brute earth together knits, and binds.

Nor only creatures, void of intellect,

Are aim'd at by this bow; but even those,

That have intelligence and love, are pierc'd.

That Providence, who so well orders all,

With her own light makes ever calm the heaven,

In which the substance, that hath greatest speed,

Is turn'd: and thither now, as to our seat

Predestin'd, we are carried by the force

Of that strong cord, that never looses dart,

But at fair aim and glad.  Yet is it true,

That as ofttimes but ill accords the form

To the design of art, through sluggishness

Of unreplying matter, so this course

Is sometimes quitted by the creature, who

Hath power, directed thus, to bend elsewhere;

As from a cloud the fire is seen to fall,

From its original impulse warp'd, to earth,

By vicious fondness.  Thou no more admire

Thy soaring, (if I rightly deem,) than lapse

Of torrent downwards from a mountain's height.

There would in thee for wonder be more cause,

If, free of hind'rance, thou hadst fix'd thyself

Below, like fire unmoving on the earth."

 

So said, she turn'd toward the heav'n her face.

 

CANTO II

All ye, who in small bark have following sail'd,

Eager to listen, on the advent'rous track

Of my proud keel, that singing cuts its way,

Backward return with speed, and your own shores

Revisit, nor put out to open sea,

Where losing me, perchance ye may remain

Bewilder'd in deep maze.  The way I pass

Ne'er yet was run: Minerva breathes the gale,

Apollo guides me, and another Nine

To my rapt sight the arctic beams reveal.

Ye other few, who have outstretch'd the neck.

Timely for food of angels, on which here

They live, yet never know satiety,

Through the deep brine ye fearless may put out

Your vessel, marking, well the furrow broad

Before you in the wave, that on both sides

Equal returns.  Those, glorious, who pass'd o'er

To Colchos, wonder'd not as ye will do,

When they saw Jason following the plough.

 

The increate perpetual thirst, that draws

Toward the realm of God's own form, bore us

Swift almost as the heaven ye behold.

 

Beatrice upward gaz'd, and I on her,

And in such space as on the notch a dart

Is plac'd, then loosen'd flies, I saw myself

Arriv'd, where wond'rous thing engag'd my sight.

Whence she, to whom no work of mine was hid,

Turning to me, with aspect glad as fair,

Bespake me: "Gratefully direct thy mind

To God, through whom to this first star we come."

 

Me seem'd as if a cloud had cover'd us,

Translucent, solid, firm, and polish'd bright,

Like adamant, which the sun's beam had smit

Within itself the ever-during pearl

Receiv'd us, as the wave a ray of light

Receives, and rests unbroken.  If I then

Was of corporeal frame, and it transcend

Our weaker thought, how one dimension thus

Another could endure, which needs must be

If body enter body, how much more

Must the desire inflame us to behold

That essence, which discovers by what means

God and our nature join'd!  There will be seen

That which we hold through faith, not shown by proof,

But in itself intelligibly plain,

E'en as the truth that man at first believes.

 

I answered: "Lady! I with thoughts devout,

Such as I best can frame, give thanks to Him,

Who hath remov'd me from the mortal world.

But tell, I pray thee, whence the gloomy spots

Upon this body, which below on earth

Give rise to talk of Cain in fabling quaint?"

 

She somewhat smil'd, then spake: "If mortals err

In their opinion, when the key of sense

Unlocks not, surely wonder's weapon keen

Ought not to pierce thee; since thou find'st, the wings

Of reason to pursue the senses' flight

Are short.  But what thy own thought is, declare."

 

Then I: "What various here above appears,

Is caus'd, I deem, by bodies dense or rare."

 

She then resum'd: "Thou certainly wilt see

In falsehood thy belief o'erwhelm'd, if well

Thou listen to the arguments, which I

Shall bring to face it.  The eighth sphere displays

Numberless lights, the which in kind and size

May be remark'd of different aspects;

If rare or dense of that were cause alone,

One single virtue then would be in all,

Alike distributed, or more, or less.

Different virtues needs must be the fruits

Of formal principles, and these, save one,

Will by thy reasoning be destroy'd.  Beside,

If rarity were of that dusk the cause,

Which thou inquirest, either in some part

That planet must throughout be void, nor fed

With its own matter; or, as bodies share

Their fat and leanness, in like manner this

Must in its volume change the leaves.  The first,

If it were true, had through the sun's eclipse

Been manifested, by transparency

Of light, as through aught rare beside effus'd.

But this is not.  Therefore remains to see

The other cause: and if the other fall,

Erroneous so must prove what seem'd to thee.

If not from side to side this rarity

Pass through, there needs must be a limit, whence

Its contrary no further lets it pass.

And hence the beam, that from without proceeds,

Must be pour'd back, as colour comes, through glass

Reflected, which behind it lead conceals.

Now wilt thou say, that there of murkier hue

Than in the other part the ray is shown,

By being thence refracted farther back.

From this perplexity will free thee soon

Experience, if thereof thou trial make,

The fountain whence your arts derive their streame.

Three mirrors shalt thou take, and two remove

From thee alike, and more remote the third.

Betwixt the former pair, shall meet thine eyes;

Then turn'd toward them, cause behind thy back

A light to stand, that on the three shall shine,

And thus reflected come to thee from all.

Though that beheld most distant do not stretch

A space so ample, yet in brightness thou

Will own it equaling the rest.  But now,

As under snow the ground, if the warm ray

Smites it, remains dismantled of the hue

And cold, that cover'd it before, so thee,

Dismantled in thy mind, I will inform

With light so lively, that the tremulous beam

Shall quiver where it falls.  Within the heaven,

Where peace divine inhabits, circles round

A body, in whose virtue dies the being

Of all that it contains.  The following heaven,

That hath so many lights, this being divides,

Through  different essences, from it distinct,

And yet contain'd within it.  The other orbs

Their separate distinctions variously

Dispose, for their own seed and produce apt.

Thus do these organs of the world proceed,

As thou beholdest now, from step to step,

Their influences from above deriving,

And thence transmitting downwards.  Mark me well,

How through this passage to the truth I ford,

The truth thou lov'st, that thou henceforth alone,

May'st know to keep the shallows, safe, untold.

 

"The virtue and motion of the sacred orbs,

As mallet by the workman's hand, must needs

By blessed movers be inspir'd.  This heaven,

Made beauteous by so many luminaries,

From the deep spirit, that moves its circling sphere,

Its image takes an impress as a seal:

And as the soul, that dwells within your dust,

Through members different, yet together form'd,

In different pow'rs resolves itself; e'en so

The intellectual efficacy unfolds

Its goodness multiplied throughout the stars;

On its own unity revolving still.

Different virtue compact different

Makes with the precious body it enlivens,

With which it knits, as life in you is knit.

From its original nature full of joy,

The virtue mingled through the body shines,

As joy through pupil of the living eye.

From hence proceeds, that which from light to light

Seems different, and not from dense or rare.

This is the formal cause, that generates

Proportion'd to its power, the dusk or clear."

 

 

CANTO III

That sun, which erst with love my bosom warm'd

Had of fair truth unveil'd the sweet aspect,

By proof of right, and of the false reproof;

And I, to own myself convinc'd and free

Of doubt, as much as needed, rais'd my head

Erect for speech.  But soon a sight appear'd,

Which, so intent to mark it, held me fix'd,

That of confession I no longer thought.

 

 

 

As through translucent and smooth glass, or wave

Clear and unmov'd, and flowing not so deep

As that its bed is dark, the shape returns

So faint of our impictur'd lineaments,

That on white forehead set a pearl as strong

Comes to the eye: such saw I many a face,

All stretch'd to speak, from whence I straight conceiv'd

Delusion opposite to that, which rais'd

Between the man and fountain, amorous flame.

 

Sudden, as I perceiv'd them, deeming these

Reflected semblances to see of whom

They were, I turn'd mine eyes, and nothing saw;

Then turn'd them back, directed on the light

Of my sweet guide, who smiling shot forth beams

From her celestial eyes.  "Wonder not thou,"

She cry'd, "at this my smiling, when I see

Thy childish judgment; since not yet on truth

It rests the foot, but, as it still is wont,

Makes thee fall back in unsound vacancy.

True substances are these, which thou behold'st,

Hither through failure of their vow exil'd.

But speak thou with them; listen, and believe,

That the true light, which fills them with desire,

Permits not from its beams their feet to stray."

 

Straight to the shadow which for converse seem'd

Most earnest, I addressed me, and began,

As one by over-eagerness perplex'd:

"O spirit, born for joy! who in the rays

Of life eternal, of that sweetness know'st

The flavour, which, not tasted, passes far

All apprehension, me it well would please,

If thou wouldst tell me of thy name, and this

Your station here." Whence she, with kindness prompt,

And eyes glist'ning with smiles: "Our charity,

To any wish by justice introduc'd,

Bars not the door, no more than she above,

Who would have all her court be like herself.

I was a virgin sister in the earth;

And if thy mind observe me well, this form,

With such addition grac'd of loveliness,

Will not conceal me long, but thou wilt know

Piccarda, in the tardiest sphere thus plac'd,

Here 'mid these other blessed also blest.

Our hearts, whose high affections burn alone

With pleasure, from the Holy Spirit conceiv'd,

Admitted to his order dwell in joy.

And this condition, which appears so low,

Is for this cause assign'd us, that our vows

Were in some part neglected and made void."

 

Whence I to her replied: "Something divine

Beams in your countenance, wond'rous fair,

From former knowledge quite transmuting you.

Therefore to recollect was I so slow.

But what thou sayst hath to my memory

Given now such aid, that to retrace your forms

Is easier.  Yet inform me, ye, who here

Are happy, long ye for a higher place

More to behold, and more in love to dwell?"

 

She with those other spirits gently smil'd,

Then answer'd with such gladness, that she seem'd

With love's first flame to glow: "Brother! our will

Is in composure settled by the power

Of charity, who makes us will alone

What we possess, and nought beyond desire;

If we should wish to be exalted more,

Then must our wishes jar with the high will

Of him, who sets us here, which in these orbs

Thou wilt confess not possible, if here

To be in charity must needs befall,

And if her nature well thou contemplate.

Rather it is inherent in this state

Of blessedness, to keep ourselves within

The divine will, by which our wills with his

Are one.  So that as we from step to step

Are plac'd throughout this kingdom, pleases all,

E'en as our King, who in us plants his will;

And in his will is our tranquillity;

It is the mighty ocean, whither tends

Whatever it creates and nature makes."

 

Then saw I clearly how each spot in heav'n

Is Paradise, though with like gracious dew

The supreme virtue show'r not over all.

 

But as it chances, if one sort of food

Hath satiated, and of another still

The appetite remains, that this is ask'd,

And thanks for that return'd; e'en so did I

In word and motion, bent from her to learn

What web it was, through which she had not drawn

The shuttle to its point.  She thus began:

"Exalted worth and perfectness of life

The Lady higher up enshrine in heaven,

By whose pure laws upon your nether earth

The robe and veil they wear, to that intent,

That e'en till death they may keep watch or sleep

With their great bridegroom, who accepts each vow,

Which to his gracious pleasure love conforms.

from the world, to follow her, when young

Escap'd; and, in her vesture mantling me,

Made promise of the way her sect enjoins.

Thereafter men, for ill than good more apt,

Forth snatch'd me from the pleasant cloister's pale.

God knows how after that my life was fram'd.

This other splendid shape, which thou beholdst

At my right side, burning with all the light

Of this our orb, what of myself I tell

May to herself apply.  From her, like me

A sister, with like violence were torn

The saintly folds, that shaded her fair brows.

E'en when she to the world again was brought

In spite of her own will and better wont,

Yet not for that the bosom's inward veil

Did she renounce.  This is the luminary

Of mighty Constance, who from that loud blast,

Which blew the second over Suabia's realm,

That power produc'd, which was the third and last."

 

She ceas'd from further talk, and then began

"Ave Maria" singing, and with that song

Vanish'd, as heavy substance through deep wave.

 

Mine eye, that far as it was capable,

Pursued her, when in dimness she was lost,

Turn'd to the mark where greater want impell'd,

And bent on Beatrice all its gaze.

But she as light'ning beam'd upon my looks:

So that the sight sustain'd it not at first.

Whence I to question her became less prompt.

 

 

CANTO IV

Between two kinds of food, both equally

Remote and tempting, first a man might die

Of hunger, ere he one could freely choose.

E'en so would stand a lamb between the maw

Of two fierce wolves, in dread of both alike:

E'en so between two deer a dog would stand,

Wherefore, if I was silent, fault nor praise

I to myself impute, by equal doubts

Held in suspense, since of necessity

It happen'd.  Silent was I, yet desire

Was painted in my looks; and thus I spake

My wish more earnestly than language could.

 

As Daniel, when the haughty king he freed

From ire, that spurr'd him on to deeds unjust

And violent; so look'd Beatrice then.

 

"Well I discern," she thus her words address'd,

"How contrary desires each way constrain thee,

So that thy anxious thought is in itself

Bound up and stifled, nor breathes freely forth.

Thou arguest; if the good intent remain;

What reason that another's violence

Should stint the measure of my fair desert?

 

"Cause too thou findst for doubt, in that it seems,

That spirits to the stars, as Plato deem'd,

Return.  These are the questions which thy will

Urge equally; and therefore I the first

Of that will treat which hath the more of gall.

Of seraphim he who is most ensky'd,

Moses and Samuel, and either John,

Choose which thou wilt, nor even Mary's self,

Have not in any other heav'n their seats,

Than have those spirits which so late thou saw'st;

Nor more or fewer years exist; but all

Make the first circle beauteous, diversely

Partaking of sweet life, as more or less

Afflation of eternal bliss pervades them.

Here were they shown thee, not that fate assigns

This for their sphere, but for a sign to thee

Of that celestial furthest from the height.

Thus needs, that ye may apprehend, we speak:

Since from things sensible alone ye learn

That, which digested rightly after turns

To intellectual.  For no other cause

The scripture, condescending graciously

To your perception, hands and feet to God

Attributes, nor so means: and holy church

Doth represent with human countenance

Gabriel, and Michael, and him who made

Tobias whole.  Unlike what here thou seest,

The judgment of Timaeus, who affirms

Each soul restor'd to its particular star,

Believing it to have been taken thence,

When nature gave it to inform her mold:

Since to appearance his intention is

E'en what his words declare: or else to shun

Derision, haply thus he hath disguis'd

His true opinion.  If his meaning be,

That to the influencing of these orbs revert

The honour and the blame in human acts,

Perchance he doth not wholly miss the truth.

This principle, not understood aright,

Erewhile perverted well nigh all the world;

So that it fell to fabled names of Jove,

And Mercury, and Mars.  That other doubt,

Which moves thee, is less harmful; for it brings

No peril of removing thee from me.

 

"That, to the eye of man, our justice seems

Unjust, is argument for faith, and not

For heretic declension.  To the end

This truth may stand more clearly in your view,

I will content thee even to thy wish

 

"If violence be, when that which suffers, nought

Consents to that which forceth, not for this

These spirits stood exculpate.  For the will,

That will not, still survives unquench'd, and doth

As nature doth in fire, tho' violence

Wrest it a thousand times; for, if it yield

Or more or less, so far it follows force.

And thus did these, whom they had power to seek

The hallow'd place again.  In them, had will

Been perfect, such as once upon the bars

Held Laurence firm, or wrought in Scaevola

To his own hand remorseless, to the path,

Whence they were drawn, their steps had hasten'd back,

When liberty return'd: but in too few

Resolve so steadfast dwells.  And by these words

If duly weigh'd, that argument is void,

Which oft might have perplex'd thee still.  But now

Another question thwarts thee, which to solve

Might try thy patience without better aid.

I have, no doubt, instill'd into thy mind,

That blessed spirit may not lie; since near

The source of primal truth it dwells for aye:

And thou might'st after of Piccarda learn

That Constance held affection to the veil;

So that she seems to contradict me here.

Not seldom, brother, it hath chanc'd for men

To do what they had gladly left undone,

Yet to shun peril they have done amiss:

E'en as Alcmaeon, at his father's suit

Slew his own mother, so made pitiless

Not to lose pity.  On this point bethink thee,

That force and will are blended in such wise

As not to make the' offence excusable.

Absolute will agrees not to the wrong,

That inasmuch as there is fear of woe

From non-compliance, it agrees.  Of will

Thus absolute Piccarda spake, and I

Of th' other; so that both have truly said."

 

Such was the flow of that pure rill, that well'd

From forth the fountain of all truth; and such

The rest, that to my wond'ring thoughts I found.

 

"O thou of primal love the prime delight!

Goddess!"  I straight reply'd, "whose lively words

Still shed new heat and vigour through my soul!

Affection fails me to requite thy grace

With equal sum of gratitude: be his

To recompense, who sees and can reward thee.

Well I discern, that by that truth alone

Enlighten'd, beyond which no truth may roam,

Our mind can satisfy her thirst to know:

Therein she resteth, e'en as in his lair

The wild beast, soon as she hath reach'd that bound,

And she hath power to reach it; else desire

Were given to no end.  And thence doth doubt

Spring, like a shoot, around the stock of truth;

And it is nature which from height to height

On to the summit prompts us.  This invites,

This doth assure me, lady, rev'rently

To ask thee of other truth, that yet

Is dark to me.  I fain would know, if man

By other works well done may so supply

The failure of his vows, that in your scale

They lack not weight."  I spake; and on me straight

Beatrice look'd with eyes that shot forth sparks

Of love celestial in such copious stream,

That, virtue sinking in me overpower'd,

I turn'd, and downward bent confus'd my sight.

 

 

CANTO V

"If beyond earthly wont, the flame of love

Illume me, so that I o'ercome thy power

Of vision, marvel not: but learn the cause

In that perfection of the sight, which soon

As apprehending, hasteneth on to reach

The good it apprehends.  I well discern,

How in thine intellect already shines

The light eternal, which to view alone

Ne'er fails to kindle love; and if aught else

Your love seduces, 't is but that it shows

Some ill-mark'd vestige of that primal beam.

 

"This would'st thou know, if failure of the vow

By other service may be so supplied,

As from self-question to assure the soul."

 

Thus she her words, not heedless of my wish,

Began; and thus, as one who breaks not off

Discourse, continued in her saintly strain.

"Supreme of gifts, which God creating gave

Of his free bounty, sign most evident

Of goodness, and in his account most priz'd,

Was liberty of will, the boon wherewith

All intellectual creatures, and them sole

He hath endow'd.  Hence now thou mayst infer

Of what high worth the vow, which so is fram'd

That when man offers, God well-pleas'd accepts;

For in the compact between God and him,

This treasure, such as I describe it to thee,

He makes the victim, and of his own act.

What compensation therefore may he find?

If that, whereof thou hast oblation made,

By using well thou think'st to consecrate,

Thou would'st of theft do charitable deed.

Thus I resolve thee of the greater point.

 

"But forasmuch as holy church, herein

Dispensing, seems to contradict the truth

I have discover'd to thee, yet behooves

Thou rest a little longer at the board,

Ere the crude aliment, which thou hast taken,

Digested fitly to nutrition turn.

Open thy mind to what I now unfold,

And give it inward keeping.  Knowledge comes

Of learning well retain'd, unfruitful else.

 

"This sacrifice in essence of two things

Consisteth; one is that, whereof 't is made,

The covenant the other.  For the last,

It ne'er is cancell'd if not kept: and hence

I spake erewhile so strictly of its force.

For this it was enjoin'd the Israelites,

Though leave were giv'n them, as thou know'st, to change

The offering, still to offer.  Th' other part,

The matter and the substance of the vow,

May well be such, to that without offence

It may for other substance be exchang'd.

But at his own discretion none may shift

The burden on his shoulders, unreleas'd

By either key, the yellow and the white.

Nor deem of any change, as less than vain,

If the last bond be not within the new

Included, as the quatre in the six.

No satisfaction therefore can be paid

For what so precious in the balance weighs,

That all in counterpoise must kick the beam.

Take then no vow at random: ta'en, with faith

Preserve it; yet not bent, as Jephthah once,

Blindly to execute a rash resolve,

Whom better it had suited to exclaim,

'I have done ill,' than to redeem his pledge

By doing worse or, not unlike to him

In folly, that great leader of the Greeks:

Whence, on the alter, Iphigenia mourn'd

Her virgin beauty, and hath since made mourn

Both wise and simple, even all, who hear

Of so fell sacrifice.  Be ye more staid,

O Christians, not, like feather, by each wind

Removable: nor think to cleanse ourselves

In every water.  Either testament,

The old and new, is yours: and for your guide

The shepherd of the church let this suffice

To save you.  When by evil lust entic'd,

Remember ye be men, not senseless beasts;

Nor let the Jew, who dwelleth in your streets,

Hold you in mock'ry.  Be not, as the lamb,

That, fickle wanton, leaves its mother's milk,

To dally with itself in idle play."

 

Such were the words that Beatrice spake:

These ended, to that region, where the world

Is liveliest, full of fond desire she turn'd.

 

Though mainly prompt new question to propose,

Her silence and chang'd look did keep me dumb.

And as the arrow, ere the cord is still,

Leapeth unto its mark; so on we sped

Into the second realm.  There I beheld

The dame, so joyous enter, that the orb

Grew brighter at her smiles; and, if the star

Were mov'd to gladness, what then was my cheer,

Whom nature hath made apt for every change!

 

 

 

 

As in a quiet and clear lake the fish,

If aught approach them from without, do draw

Towards it, deeming it their food; so drew

Full more than thousand splendours towards us,

And in each one was heard: "Lo! one arriv'd

To multiply our loves!" and as each came

The shadow, streaming forth effulgence new,

Witness'd augmented joy.  Here, reader! think,

If thou didst miss the sequel of my tale,

To know the rest how sorely thou wouldst crave;

And thou shalt see what vehement desire

Possess'd me, as soon as these had met my view,

To know their state.  "O born in happy hour!

Thou to whom grace vouchsafes, or ere thy close

Of fleshly warfare, to behold the thrones

Of that eternal triumph, know to us

The light communicated, which through heaven

Expatiates without bound.  Therefore, if aught

Thou of our beams wouldst borrow for thine aid,

Spare not; and of our radiance take thy fill."

 

Thus of those piteous spirits one bespake me;

And Beatrice next: "Say on; and trust

As unto gods!"—"How in the light supreme

Thou harbour'st, and from thence the virtue bring'st,

That, sparkling in thine eyes, denotes thy joy,

l mark; but, who thou art, am still to seek;

Or wherefore, worthy spirit! for thy lot

This sphere assign'd, that oft from mortal ken

Is veil'd by others' beams."  I said, and turn'd

Toward the lustre, that with greeting, kind

Erewhile had hail'd me.  Forthwith brighter far

Than erst, it wax'd: and, as himself the sun

Hides through excess of light, when his warm gaze

Hath on the mantle of thick vapours prey'd;

Within its proper ray the saintly shape

Was, through increase of gladness, thus conceal'd;

And, shrouded so in splendour answer'd me,

E'en as the tenour of my song declares.

 

 

CANTO VI

"After that Constantine the eagle turn'd

Against the motions of the heav'n, that roll'd

Consenting with its course, when he of yore,

Lavinia's spouse, was leader of the flight,

A hundred years twice told and more, his seat

At Europe's extreme point, the bird of Jove

Held, near the mountains, whence he issued first.

There, under shadow of his sacred plumes

Swaying the world, till through successive hands

To mine he came devolv'd.  Caesar I was,

And am Justinian; destin'd by the will

Of that prime love, whose influence I feel,

From vain excess to clear th' encumber'd laws.

Or ere that work engag'd me, I did hold

Christ's nature merely human, with such faith

Contented.  But the blessed Agapete,

Who was chief shepherd, he with warning voice

To the true faith recall'd me.  I believ'd

His words: and what he taught, now plainly see,

As thou in every contradiction seest

The true and false oppos'd.  Soon as my feet

Were to the church reclaim'd, to my great task,

By inspiration of God's grace impell'd,

I gave me wholly, and consign'd mine arms

To Belisarius, with whom heaven's right hand

Was link'd in such conjointment, 't was a sign

That I should rest.  To thy first question thus

I shape mine answer, which were ended here,

But that its tendency doth prompt perforce

To some addition; that thou well, mayst mark

What reason on each side they have to plead,

By whom that holiest banner is withstood,

Both who pretend its power and who oppose.

"Beginning from that hour, when Pallas died

To give it rule, behold the valorous deeds

Have made it worthy reverence.  Not unknown

To thee, how for three hundred years and more

It dwelt in Alba, up to those fell lists

Where for its sake were met the rival three;

Nor aught unknown to thee, which it achiev'd

Down to the Sabines' wrong to Lucrece' woe,

With its sev'n kings conqu'ring the nation round;

Nor all it wrought, by Roman worthies home

'Gainst Brennus and th' Epirot prince, and hosts

Of single chiefs, or states in league combin'd

Of social warfare; hence Torquatus stern,

And Quintius nam'd of his neglected locks,

The Decii, and the Fabii hence acquir'd

Their fame, which I with duteous zeal embalm.

By it the pride of Arab hordes was quell'd,

When they led on by Hannibal o'erpass'd

The Alpine rocks, whence glide thy currents, Po!

Beneath its guidance, in their prime of days

Scipio and Pompey triumph'd; and that hill,

Under whose summit thou didst see the light,

Rued its stern bearing.  After, near the hour,

When heav'n was minded that o'er all the world

His own deep calm should brood, to Caesar's hand

Did Rome consign it; and what then it wrought

From Var unto the Rhine, saw Isere's flood,

Saw Loire and Seine, and every vale, that fills

The torrent Rhone.  What after that it wrought,

When from Ravenna it came forth, and leap'd

The Rubicon, was of so bold a flight,

That tongue nor pen may follow it.  Tow'rds Spain

It wheel'd its bands, then tow'rd Dyrrachium smote,

And on Pharsalia with so fierce a plunge,

E'en the warm Nile was conscious to the pang;

Its native shores Antandros, and the streams

Of Simois revisited, and there

Where Hector lies; then ill for Ptolemy

His pennons shook again; lightning thence fell

On Juba; and the next upon your west,

At sound of the Pompeian trump, return'd.

 

"What following and in its next bearer's gripe

It wrought, is now by Cassius and Brutus

Bark'd off in hell, and by Perugia's sons

And Modena's was mourn'd.  Hence weepeth still

Sad Cleopatra, who, pursued by it,

Took from the adder black and sudden death.

With him it ran e'en to the Red Sea coast;

With him compos'd the world to such a peace,

That of his temple Janus barr'd the door.

 

"But all the mighty standard yet had wrought,

And was appointed to perform thereafter,

Throughout the mortal kingdom which it sway'd,

Falls in appearance dwindled and obscur'd,

If one with steady eye and perfect thought

On the third Caesar look; for to his hands,

The living Justice, in whose breath I move,

Committed glory, e'en into his hands,

To execute the vengeance of its wrath.

 

"Hear now and wonder at what next I tell.

After with Titus it was sent to wreak

Vengeance for vengeance of the ancient sin,

And, when the Lombard tooth, with fangs impure,

Did gore the bosom of the holy church,

Under its wings victorious, Charlemagne

Sped to her rescue.  Judge then for thyself

Of those, whom I erewhile accus'd to thee,

What they are, and how grievous their offending,

Who are the cause of all your ills.  The one

Against the universal ensign rears

The yellow lilies, and with partial aim

That to himself the other arrogates:

So that 't is hard to see which more offends.

Be yours, ye Ghibellines, to veil your arts

Beneath another standard: ill is this

Follow'd of him, who severs it and justice:

And let not with his Guelphs the new-crown'd Charles

Assail it, but those talons hold in dread,

Which from a lion of more lofty port

Have rent the easing.  Many a time ere now

The sons have for the sire's transgression wail'd;

Nor let him trust the fond belief, that heav'n

Will truck its armour for his lilied shield.

 

"This little star is furnish'd with good spirits,

Whose mortal lives were busied to that end,

That honour and renown might wait on them:

And, when desires thus err in their intention,

True love must needs ascend with slacker beam.

But it is part of our delight, to measure

Our wages with the merit; and admire

The close proportion.  Hence doth heav'nly justice

Temper so evenly affection in us,

It ne'er can warp to any wrongfulness.

Of diverse voices is sweet music made:

So in our life the different degrees

Render sweet harmony among these wheels.

 

"Within the pearl, that now encloseth us,

Shines Romeo's light, whose goodly deed and fair

Met ill acceptance.  But the Provencals,

That were his foes, have little cause for mirth.

Ill shapes that man his course, who makes his wrong

Of other's worth.  Four daughters were there born

To Raymond Berenger, and every one

Became a queen; and this for him did Romeo,

Though of mean state and from a foreign land.

Yet envious tongues incited him to ask

A reckoning of that just one, who return'd

Twelve fold to him for ten.  Aged and poor

He parted thence: and if the world did know

The heart he had, begging his life by morsels,

'T would deem the praise, it yields him, scantly dealt."

 

 

CANTO VII

"Hosanna Sanctus Deus Sabaoth

Superillustrans claritate tua

Felices ignes horum malahoth!"

Thus chanting saw I turn that substance bright

With fourfold lustre to its orb again,

Revolving; and the rest unto their dance

With it mov'd also; and like swiftest sparks,

In sudden distance from my sight were veil'd.

 

Me doubt possess'd, and "Speak," it whisper'd me,

"Speak, speak unto thy lady, that she quench

Thy thirst with drops of sweetness."  Yet blank awe,

Which lords it o'er me, even at the sound

Of Beatrice's name, did bow me down

As one in slumber held.  Not long that mood

Beatrice suffer'd: she, with such a smile,

As might have made one blest amid the flames,

Beaming upon me, thus her words began:

"Thou in thy thought art pond'ring (as I deem),

And what I deem is truth how just revenge

Could be with justice punish'd: from which doubt

I soon will free thee; so thou mark my words;

For they of weighty matter shall possess thee.

 

"That man, who was unborn, himself condemn'd,

And, in himself, all, who since him have liv'd,

His offspring: whence, below, the human kind

Lay sick in grievous error many an age;

Until it pleas'd the Word of God to come

Amongst them down, to his own person joining

The nature, from its Maker far estrang'd,

By the mere act of his eternal love.

Contemplate here the wonder I unfold.

The nature with its Maker thus conjoin'd,

Created first was blameless, pure and good;

But through itself alone was driven forth

From Paradise, because it had eschew'd

The way of truth and life, to evil turn'd.

Ne'er then was penalty so just as that

Inflicted by the cross, if thou regard

The nature in assumption doom'd: ne'er wrong

So great, in reference to him, who took

Such nature on him, and endur'd the doom.

God therefore and the Jews one sentence pleased:

So different effects flow'd from one act,

And heav'n was open'd, though the earth did quake.

Count it not hard henceforth, when thou dost hear

That a just vengeance was by righteous court

Justly reveng'd.  But yet I see thy mind

By thought on thought arising sore perplex'd,

And with how vehement desire it asks

Solution of the maze.  What I have heard,

Is plain, thou sayst: but wherefore God this way

For our redemption chose, eludes my search.

 

"Brother! no eye of man not perfected,

Nor fully ripen'd in the flame of love,

May fathom this decree.  It is a mark,

In sooth, much aim'd at, and but little kenn'd:

And I will therefore show thee why such way

Was worthiest.  The celestial love, that spume

All envying in its bounty, in itself

With such effulgence blazeth, as sends forth

All beauteous things eternal.  What distils

Immediate thence, no end of being knows,

Bearing its seal immutably impress'd.

Whatever thence immediate falls, is free,

Free wholly, uncontrollable by power

Of each thing new: by such conformity

More grateful to its author, whose bright beams,

Though all partake their shining, yet in those

Are liveliest, which resemble him the most.

These tokens of pre-eminence on man

Largely bestow'd, if any of them fail,

He needs must forfeit his nobility,

No longer stainless.  Sin alone is that,

Which doth disfranchise him, and make unlike

To the chief good; for that its light in him

Is darken'd.  And to dignity thus lost

Is no return; unless, where guilt makes void,

He for ill pleasure pay with equal pain.

Your nature, which entirely in its seed

Trangress'd, from these distinctions fell, no less

Than from its state in Paradise; nor means

Found of recovery (search all methods out

As strickly as thou may) save one of these,

The only fords were left through which to wade,

Either that God had of his courtesy

Releas'd him merely, or else man himself

For his own folly by himself aton'd.

 

"Fix now thine eye, intently as thou canst,

On th' everlasting counsel, and explore,

Instructed by my words, the dread abyss.

 

"Man in himself had ever lack'd the means

Of satisfaction, for he could not stoop

Obeying, in humility so low,

As high he, disobeying, thought to soar:

And for this reason he had vainly tried

Out of his own sufficiency to pay

The rigid satisfaction.  Then behooved

That God should by his own ways lead him back

Unto the life, from whence he fell, restor'd:

By both his ways, I mean, or one alone.

But since the deed is ever priz'd the more,

The more the doer's good intent appears,

Goodness celestial, whose broad signature

Is on the universe, of all its ways

To raise ye up, was fain to leave out none,

Nor aught so vast or so magnificent,

Either for him who gave or who receiv'd

Between the last night and the primal day,

Was or can be.  For God more bounty show'd.

Giving himself to make man capable

Of his return to life, than had the terms

Been mere and unconditional release.

And for his justice, every method else

Were all too scant, had not the Son of God

Humbled himself to put on mortal flesh.

 

"Now, to fulfil each wish of thine, remains

I somewhat further to thy view unfold.

That thou mayst see as clearly as myself.

 

"I see, thou sayst, the air, the fire I see,

The earth and water, and all things of them

Compounded, to corruption turn, and soon

Dissolve.  Yet these were also things create,

Because, if what were told me, had been true

They from corruption had been therefore free.

 

"The angels, O my brother! and this clime

Wherein thou art, impassible and pure,

I call created, as indeed they are

In their whole being.  But the elements,

Which thou hast nam'd, and what of them is made,

Are by created virtue' inform'd: create

Their substance, and create the' informing virtue

In these bright stars, that round them circling move

The soul of every brute and of each plant,

The ray and motion of the sacred lights,

With complex potency attract and turn.

But this our life the' eternal good inspires

Immediate, and enamours of itself;

So that our wishes rest for ever here.

 

"And hence thou mayst by inference conclude

Our resurrection certain, if thy mind

Consider how the human flesh was fram'd,

When both our parents at the first were made."

 

CANTO VIII

The world was in its day of peril dark

Wont to believe the dotage of fond love

From the fair Cyprian deity, who rolls

In her third epicycle, shed on men

By stream of potent radiance: therefore they

Of elder time, in their old error blind,

Not her alone with sacrifice ador'd

And invocation, but like honours paid

To Cupid and Dione, deem'd of them

Her mother, and her son, him whom they feign'd

To sit in Dido's bosom: and from her,

Whom I have sung preluding, borrow'd they

The appellation of that star, which views,

Now obvious and now averse, the sun.

 

I was not ware that I was wafted up

Into  its orb; but the new loveliness

That grac'd my lady, gave me ample proof

That we had entered there.  And as in flame

A sparkle is distinct, or voice in voice

Discern'd, when one its even tenour keeps,

The other comes and goes; so in that light

I other luminaries saw, that cours'd

In circling motion rapid more or less,

As their eternal phases each impels.

 

Never was blast from vapour charged with cold,

Whether invisible to eye or no,

Descended with such speed, it had not seem'd

To linger in dull tardiness, compar'd

To those celestial lights, that tow'rds us came,

Leaving the circuit of their joyous ring,

Conducted by the lofty seraphim.

And after them, who in the van appear'd,

Such an hosanna sounded, as hath left

Desire, ne'er since extinct in me, to hear

Renew'd the strain.  Then parting from the rest

One near us drew, and sole began: "We all

Are ready at thy pleasure, well dispos'd

To do thee gentle service.  We are they,

To whom thou in the world erewhile didst Sing

'O ye! whose intellectual ministry

Moves the third heaven!' and in one orb we roll,

One motion, one impulse, with those who rule

Princedoms in heaven; yet are of love so full,

That to please thee 't will be as sweet to rest."

 

After mine eyes had with meek reverence

Sought the celestial guide, and were by her

Assur'd, they turn'd again unto the light

Who had so largely promis'd, and with voice

That bare the lively pressure of my zeal,

"Tell who ye are," I cried.  Forthwith it grew

In size and splendour, through augmented joy;

And thus it answer'd: "A short date below

The world possess'd me.  Had the time been more,

Much evil, that will come, had never chanc'd.

My gladness hides thee from me, which doth shine

Around, and shroud me, as an animal

In its own silk unswath'd.  Thou lov'dst me well,

And had'st good cause; for had my sojourning

Been longer on the earth, the love I bare thee

Had put forth more than blossoms.  The left bank,

That Rhone, when he hath mix'd with Sorga, laves."

 

 

 

 

 

"In me its lord expected, and that horn

Of fair Ausonia, with its boroughs old,

Bari, and Croton, and Gaeta pil'd,

From where the Trento disembogues his waves,

With Verde mingled, to the salt sea-flood.

Already on my temples beam'd the crown,

Which gave me sov'reignty over the land

By Danube wash'd, whenas he strays beyond

The limits of his German shores.  The realm,

Where, on the gulf by stormy Eurus lash'd,

Betwixt Pelorus and Pachynian heights,

The beautiful Trinacria lies in gloom

(Not through Typhaeus, but the vap'ry cloud

Bituminous upsteam'd), THAT too did look

To have its scepter wielded by a race

Of monarchs, sprung through me from Charles and Rodolph;

had not ill lording which doth spirit up

The people ever, in Palermo rais'd

The shout of 'death,' re-echo'd loud and long.

Had but my brother's foresight kenn'd as much,

He had been warier that the greedy want

Of Catalonia might not work his bale.

And truly need there is, that he forecast,

Or other for him, lest more freight be laid

On his already over-laden bark.

Nature in him, from bounty fall'n to thrift,

Would ask the  guard of braver arms, than such

As only care to have their coffers fill'd."

 

"My liege, it doth enhance the joy thy words

Infuse into me, mighty as it is,

To think my gladness manifest to thee,

As to myself, who own it, when thou lookst

Into the source and limit of all good,

There, where thou markest that which thou dost speak,

Thence priz'd of me the more.  Glad thou hast made me.

Now make intelligent, clearing the doubt

Thy speech hath raised in me; for much I muse,

How bitter can spring up, when sweet is sown."

 

I thus inquiring; he forthwith replied:

"If I have power to show one truth, soon that

Shall face thee, which thy questioning declares

Behind thee now conceal'd.  The Good, that guides

And blessed makes this realm, which thou dost mount,

Ordains its providence to be the virtue

In these great bodies: nor th' all perfect Mind

Upholds their nature merely, but in them

Their energy to save: for nought, that lies

Within the range of that unerring bow,

But is as level with the destin'd aim,

As ever mark to arrow's point oppos'd.

Were it not thus, these heavens, thou dost visit,

Would their effect so work, it would not be

Art, but destruction; and this may not chance,

If th' intellectual powers, that move these stars,

Fail not, or who, first faulty made them fail.

Wilt thou this truth more clearly evidenc'd?"

 

To whom I thus: "It is enough: no fear,

I see, lest nature in her part should tire."

 

He straight rejoin'd: "Say, were it worse for man,

If he liv'd not in fellowship on earth?"

 

"Yea," answer'd I; "nor here a reason needs."

 

"And may that be, if different estates

Grow not of different duties in your life?

Consult your teacher, and he tells you 'no."'

 

Thus did he come, deducing to this point,

And then concluded: "For this cause behooves,

The roots, from whence your operations come,

Must differ.  Therefore one is Solon born;

Another, Xerxes; and Melchisidec

A third; and he a fourth, whose airy voyage

Cost him his son.  In her circuitous course,

Nature, that is the seal to mortal wax,

Doth well her art, but no distinctions owns

'Twixt one or other household.  Hence befalls

That Esau is so wide of Jacob: hence

Quirinus of so base a father springs,

He dates from Mars his lineage.  Were it not

That providence celestial overrul'd,

Nature, in generation, must the path

Trac'd by the generator, still pursue

Unswervingly.  Thus place I in thy sight

That, which was late behind thee.  But, in sign

Of more affection for thee, 't is my will

Thou wear this corollary.  Nature ever

Finding discordant fortune, like all seed

Out of its proper climate, thrives but ill.

And were the world below content to mark

And work on the foundation nature lays,

It would not lack supply of excellence.

But ye perversely to religion strain

Him, who was born to gird on him the sword,

And of the fluent phrasemen make your king;

Therefore your steps have wander'd from the paths."

 

 

CANTO IX

After solution of my doubt, thy Charles,

O fair Clemenza, of the treachery spake

That must befall his seed: but, "Tell it not,"

Said he, "and let the destin'd years come round."

Nor may I tell thee more, save that the meed

Of sorrow well-deserv'd shall quit your wrongs.

 

And now the visage of that saintly light

Was to the sun, that fills it, turn'd again,

As to the good, whose plenitude of bliss

Sufficeth all.  O ye misguided souls!

Infatuate, who from such a good estrange

Your hearts, and bend your gaze on vanity,

Alas for you!—And lo! toward me, next,

Another of those splendent forms approach'd,

That, by its outward bright'ning, testified

The will it had to pleasure me.  The eyes

Of Beatrice, resting, as before,

Firmly upon me, manifested forth

Approval of my wish.  "And O," I cried,

"Blest spirit! quickly be my will perform'd;

And prove thou to me, that my inmost thoughts

I can reflect on thee."  Thereat the light,

That yet was new to me, from the recess,

Where it before was singing, thus began,

As one who joys in kindness: "In that part

Of the deprav'd Italian land, which lies

Between Rialto, and the fountain-springs

Of Brenta and of Piava, there doth rise,

But to no lofty eminence, a hill,

From whence erewhile a firebrand did descend,

That sorely sheet the region.  From one root

I and it sprang; my name on earth Cunizza:

And here I glitter, for that by its light

This star o'ercame me.  Yet I naught repine,

Nor grudge myself the cause of this my lot,

Which haply vulgar hearts can scarce conceive.

 

"This jewel, that is next me in our heaven,

Lustrous and costly, great renown hath left,

And not to perish, ere these hundred years

Five times absolve their round.  Consider thou,

If to excel be worthy man's endeavour,

When such life may attend the first.  Yet they

Care not for this, the crowd that now are girt

By Adice and Tagliamento, still

Impenitent, tho' scourg'd.  The hour is near,

When for their stubbornness at Padua's marsh

The water shall be chang'd, that laves Vicena

And where Cagnano meets with Sile, one

Lords it, and bears his head aloft, for whom

The web is now a-warping.  Feltro too

Shall sorrow for its godless shepherd's fault,

Of so deep stain, that never, for the like,

Was Malta's bar unclos'd.  Too large should be

The skillet, that would hold Ferrara's blood,

And wearied he, who ounce by ounce would weight it,

The which this priest, in show of party-zeal,

Courteous will give; nor will the gift ill suit

The country's custom.  We descry above,

Mirrors, ye call them thrones, from which to us

Reflected shine the judgments of our God:

Whence these our sayings we avouch for good."

 

She ended, and appear'd on other thoughts

Intent, re-ent'ring on the wheel she late

Had left.  That other joyance meanwhile wax'd

A thing to marvel at, in splendour glowing,

Like choicest ruby stricken by the sun,

For, in that upper clime, effulgence comes

Of gladness, as here laughter: and below,

As the mind saddens, murkier grows the shade.

 

"God seeth all: and in him is thy sight,"

Said I, "blest Spirit!  Therefore will of his

Cannot to thee be dark.  Why then delays

Thy voice to satisfy my wish untold,

That voice which joins the inexpressive song,

Pastime of heav'n, the which those ardours sing,

That cowl them with six shadowing wings outspread?

I would not wait thy asking, wert thou known

To me, as thoroughly I to thee am known."

 

He forthwith answ'ring, thus his words began:

"The valley' of waters, widest next to that

Which doth the earth engarland, shapes its course,

Between discordant shores, against the sun

Inward so far, it makes meridian there,

Where was before th' horizon.  Of that vale

Dwelt I upon the shore, 'twixt Ebro's stream

And Macra's, that divides with passage brief

Genoan bounds from Tuscan.  East and west

Are nearly one to Begga and my land,

Whose haven erst was with its own blood warm.

Who knew my name were wont to call me Folco:

And I did bear impression of this heav'n,

That now bears mine: for not with fiercer flame

Glow'd Belus' daughter, injuring alike

Sichaeus and Creusa, than did I,

Long as it suited the unripen'd down

That fledg'd my cheek: nor she of Rhodope,

That was beguiled of Demophoon;

Nor Jove's son, when the charms of Iole

Were shrin'd within his heart.  And yet there hides

No sorrowful repentance here, but mirth,

Not for the fault (that doth not come to mind),

But for the virtue, whose o'erruling sway

And providence have wrought thus quaintly.  Here

The skill is look'd into, that fashioneth

With such effectual working, and the good

Discern'd, accruing to this upper world

From that below.  But fully to content

Thy wishes, all that in this sphere have birth,

Demands my further parle.  Inquire thou wouldst,

Who of this light is denizen, that here

Beside me sparkles, as the sun-beam doth

On the clear wave.  Know then, the soul of Rahab

Is in that gladsome harbour, to our tribe

United, and the foremost rank assign'd.

He to that heav'n, at which the shadow ends

Of your sublunar world, was taken up,

First, in Christ's triumph, of all souls redeem'd:

For well behoov'd, that, in some part of heav'n,

She should remain a trophy, to declare

The mighty contest won with either palm;

For that she favour'd first the high exploit

Of Joshua on the holy land, whereof

The Pope recks little now.  Thy city, plant