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Dante Alighieri - La Divina Commedia - Paradiso
Courtney Langdon - The Divine Comedy

The Fourth Heaven. The Sun. Intellectual Happiness
The Spirits of Theologians and Philosophers. St. Francis

O foolish care of mortal men, how full
of fallacies the syllogisms, which cause thee
over a nether course to beat thy wings!

One given to legal learning went his way,
one medicine, the priesthood one pursued,
and lordship one, by force or sophistry;
one practised theft, and public business one,
one, in the pleasures of the flesh involved,
was growing weary, one to idleness
and ease was giving up his life, while I,
from all these things set free, was up in Heaven
with Beatrice so gloriously received.

When each had to the point returned again,
where in the ring he was before, he stayed there,
still as a candle in a candle-stick.

And I within the light which had before
addressed me, heard one smilingly begin,
as more and more resplendent it became:
"As with Its radiance I am shining here,
so I, by gazing at the Eternal Light,
learn whence thou tak'st occasion for thy thoughts.
In doubt, thou wouldst that I repeat, in words
so clear and so distinct that they will suit
thine understanding, that late speech of mine,
wherein I said: 'Whereon one thriveth well,'
and where I said: 'No second hath arisen;'
for clearly must one needs distinguish here.

The Providence, which with that counsel rules
the world, whereby, before it reach the bottom,
every created sight is overcome,
in order that the Bride of Him, who cried
aloud, and spoused her with His blessèd blood,
might go toward her Delight, safe in herself,
and unto Him more faithful, too, ordained
in her behalf two Princes who should serve
as guides to her on this side and on that.
One, in his burning love, was all Seraphic;
the other, by his wisdom, was on earth
a splendor of Cherubic light. I 'll speak
of one of them, for both are spoken of,
when one is praised, whichever one be taken,
for to the same end were the deeds of both.

Between Tupino and the stream that flows
adown the hill which blest Ubaldo chose,
a lofty mountain's fertile slope impends,
from which Perugia feels at Porta Sole
both cold and heat; while, for their heavy yoke,
behind it Gualdo and Nocera weep.

Out of this hillside, where it breaketh most
its steepness, to the world a sun was born,
as out of Ganges this one is at times;
therefore let him who talks about that place
not say Ascesi, which were not enough;
but Orient say, if he would rightly speak.
Not distant from his rising was he yet,
when he began to cause the world to feel
somewhat encouraged by his wondrous virtue;
for, still a youth, he strove against his father
for such a Lady's sake, that unto her,
as unto death, none open pleasure's door;
and then, before his church's legal court,
and in his father's presence, joined himself
to her; and ever after day by day
loved her the more intensely. She, bereft
of her First Husband, slighted and scorned, remained
unwooed eleven hundred years and more,
till that one came; nor aught availed to hear,
that he, whom all the world was fearing, found her
undaunted, with Amyclas, by his voice;
nor aught, her being so unmoved and firm,
that ev'n when Mary stayed beneath it, she
went up with Christ upon the cross.
But now,
lest in my long talk I proceed too darkly,
take Poverty and Francis as these lovers.
Their concord and their joyful countenance
caused wonder, love and gentle looks to end
in others' holy thoughts; and so much so,
that venerable Bernard was the first
to bare his feet, and run behind such peace,
and, running, feel that he was slow of foot.
O wealth unrealized, O fertile goodness!
Egidio bares his feet, Sylvester his,
behind the groom, so pleasing is the bride!

That father, then, and master went his way
with both his Lady and that family,
which now was girding on the humble cord;
nor let base-heartedness weigh down his brow
for being Peter Bernardòne's son,
nor yet for seeming so contemptible
to others; but revealed his stern resolve
to Innocent with royal dignity,
and won from him his Order's primal seal.
When Poverty's belovèd followers
had grown behind the man, whose wondrous life
would in the glory of Heaven be better sung,
the holy purpose of this head of flocks
was through Honorius by the Holy Spirit
crowned with a second crown. Thereafter, when,
by reason of his thirst for martyrdom,
Christ and the rest, His followers, he had preached
before the haughty Soldan; and, on finding
his folk too restive to conversion, not
to stay in vain, returned to pick the fruit
of Latin fields; among the savage rocks,
which 'tween the Tiber and the Arno rise,
he took from Christ himself the final seal,
which on his limbs he bore for two whole years.
When Him it pleased, who granted him such weal,
to draw him up to that reward, which he,
by making himself lowly, had deserved,
to his own brethren, as to rightful heirs,
he recommended his most precious Lady,
and ordered them to love her faithfully;
then from her bosom his illustrious soul
willed to depart, and to its realm returned,
and for its body wished no other bier.

Think now what he was, who, as his companion,
was worthy deemed to keep the bark of Peter
true to its course, when sailing on the deep!
That was our Patriarch; thou, hence, canst see
that he who follows him as he commands,
loadeth his vessel with good merchandise.

And yet his flock, so greedy for new food
hath grown, that it can hardly fail to scatter
through various wood and mountain pasture lands;
and hence, the more his sheep like vagabonds
wander away, and further go from him,
emptier of milk do they regain the fold.
Yet surely some there are, who, dreading harm,
cling to their shepherd; but so few are these,
that little cloth will furnish them with cowls.

If, now, my words have not been indistinct,
and if thy hearing hath attentive been,
and thou recall to mind what I have said,
partly contented will thy wishes be;
because thou 'lt see the plant whence hewn they are,
and what the limitation means: 'Whereon
one thriveth well, if one go not astray."'

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