Looking upon His Son with all the Love,
which both of them eternally breathe forth,
the Primal and Unutterable Power
with so great order made whate'er revolves
through mind or space, that none who look at it
can ever be without a taste of Him.
Lift, therefore, Reader, to the heavenly wheels
thine eyes with me, directly to the region,
where one of their two motions strikes the other;
and there begin to contemplate with love
that Master's art, who in Himself so loves it,
that never doth His eye abandon it.
And now see how from thence the oblique ring,
which bears the planets with it, branches off,
to please the world which calls upon them; how,
in case their path were not thus bent aside,
in vain would be much virtue in the heavens,
and dead well nigh all potencies down here;
and how, if from the straight line, more or less
removed, it swerved, much in the mundane order
would lacking be below and up above.
Now, Reader, on thy bench remain, and what
is here foretasted, follow out in thought,
if thou, e'er weary, wouldst be very glad.
Food have I set before thee; feed thou now
thyself; because the theme, whose scribe I 'm made,
unto itself is wresting all my care!
The greatest of the ministers of Nature,
which with the power of Heaven imprints the world,
and with its light measures our time for us,
joined with the section touched upon above,
was circling now around the spiral rings,
wherein it earlier shows itself each day;
and I was in it, but was not aware
of my ascent, except as one, before
a thought has come, is conscious of its coming.
'T is Beatrice, who thus from good to better
conducts one with such swiftness, that her act
extendeth not through time. In its own self
how bright must that have been, which in the Sun,
which I had entered, was not visible
by color, but by light! Though I on genius,
practice and art should call, I could not so
describe it, that it e'er could be imagined;
but it can be believed, and sight of it
should be desired! And for such heights if low
be our imagination, is no wonder;
for no eye ever reached beyond the sun.
Such the fourth family here of that Exalted
Father, who ever states it by revealing
how He breathes forth, and how He generates.
And Beatrice began: "Give thanks, give thanks
unto the Angels' Sun, who, of His Grace,
hath raised thee up to this material one!"
No mortal heart was ever so disposed
to be devoted, and with all its pleasure
give itself up to God, as I became
at those last words of hers; hence all my love
set itself so on Him, that Beatrice
in my forgetting mind became eclipsed.
And she disliked it not, but smiled at it,
so that the splendor of her laughing eyes
shared with more things my undivided mind.
I many keen and dazzling splendors saw,
who, sweeter voiced than in appearance bright,
made us a center and themselves a crown.
Latona's daughter we behold at times
thus girded, when so pregnant is the air,
that it retains the thread that forms her zone.
Within the court of Heaven, whence I return,
are many jewels found, so fair and precious,
that from the Kingdom they may not be moved;
and of these was the singing of those lights.
Let him who doth not feather him to fly
up there, await the dumb for news from thence.
And then, when singing thus, those burning suns
had all around us whirled themselves three times,
like stars, that near unmoving poles revolve,
ladies they seemed to me, who though not through
with dancing, yet in silence stop a while, and list
till they have caught the music's coming notes.
In one I heard beginning: "Since the ray
of Grace, whereby true love is set on fire,
and afterward, by dint of loving, grows
and multiplies, is shining in thee so,
that it conducts thee upward o'er the stairs
which none without remounting e'er descends;
he who thy thirst the wine within his flask
refused, would be no more at liberty,
than water is which falls not to the sea.
Thou fain wouldst know what blooms this wreath enflowers
itself withal, which, circling round her, woos
the Lady fair who makes thee strong for Heaven.
One of that holy flock's young lambs was I,
which Dominic leads along the path, whereon
one thriveth well, if one go not astray.
The nearest on my right here was my brother
and teacher; he was Albert of Cologne,
and Thomas of Aquinum I. If thus
of all the other lights thou wouldst be sure,
follow behind my speaking with thy face
revolving upward round the blessèd wreath.
That other flaming issues from the smile
of Gratian, who to both the courts of law
was such a help, that Paradise is pleased.
The next, who at his side adorns our choir,
that Peter was, who, like the needy widow,
offered his treasure up to Holy Church.
The fifth light, which is fairest in our midst,
is with such love inspired, that all the world
down there is hungry to have news of it.
In it is that great mind, wherein was placed
wisdom so deep, that if the truth be true,
no second hath arisen to see so much.
See next to it that candle's light which saw
most inwardly, when in the flesh below,
the Angels' nature and their ministry.
In the next little light that advocate
of Christian times is smiling, of whose work
in Latin Augustine availed himself.
If now thy mind's eye thou art moving on,
from light to light, behind my words of praise,
thou now remainest thirsting for the eighth.
Because it sees all good things, therewithin
that holy soul rejoices, which reveals
the cheating world to one who hears him well.
Down yonder in Cieldauro lies the body,
from which this soul was driv'n; and to this peace
from martyrdom and banishment it came.
Flaming beyond it see the burning breath
of Isidore, of Bede, and of Riccardo,
who was in speculation more than man.
And this, from whom thy glance returns to me,
the light is of a spirit, unto whom,
in deep thoughts lost, it seemed that death came slowly.
This is the light eternal of Sigièri,
who, when he lectured in the Street of Straw,
proved by his syllogisms displeasing truths.
Then like a clock, which calls us at the hour,
at which the Bride of God awakes to sing
her Spouse a morning-song, and win His love,
and as one part or draws or drives the other,
and sounds 'Ting, ting' with such delightful notes,
that spirits well disposed are filled with love;
even so I saw that glorious circle move,
and fuse its voices in a harmony,
and with a sweetness, which can not be known,
except where joy is self-eternalized.