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

The Fifth Heaven. Mars. The Happiness of Heroism
Martyrs of Religion and Altruism. Cacciaguida

The kindly will, wherein is always shown
the love which is by righteousness inspired,
as greed is in the evil will revealed,
silence imposed on that sweet singing lyre,
and caused those holy chords to be at rest,
which Heaven's right hand slackens, and draweth tight.

How shall those substances to righteous prayers
be deaf, who ceased from song with one accord,
to give me the desire to pray to them?
'T is well that he should boundlessly lament,
who for the sake of that which lasteth not,
deprives himself forever of that love.

As through serene and quiet evening skies
there darts from time to time a sudden fire,
which startles tranquil eyes that were at rest,
and seems to be a star which changes place;
saving that naught is missing where it flashed,
and that itself lasts but a little while;
so, from the arm which to the right extends,
down to that cross's foot there ran a star
drawn from the constellation shining there;
nor from its ribbon did the gem depart,
but through the radial band ran on, and looked
like fire when back of alabaster moving.
With like affection did Anchises' shade
reach forth, if our best Muse deserve belief,
when in Elysium he perceived his son.

"O thou my blood, O overflowing Grace
of God, to whom, as unto thee, was e'er
the Gate of Heaven unlocked a second time?"

Thus spoke that light; hence I thereto gave heed;
then to my Lady turning back my face,
I was on this side and on that amazed;
for such a smile was glowing in her eyes,
that I with mine thought I had touched the depths
both of my grace and of my Paradise.

Thereat, a pleasure both to hear and see,
the spirit joined to his beginning things
I did not fathom, so profound his speech;
nor did he hide himself from me by choice,
but by necessity; for his conception
set itself higher than a mortal's aim.

And when the bow of his impassioned love
had so relaxed its tension, that his words
descended to the level of our mind,
the first thing that was understood by me
was "Blest be Thou, that, Trine and One, hast been
so courteous to my seed!" And he went on:

"A pleasing and a long-protracted fast
derived from reading in the Mighty Volume,
wherein nor white nor dark is ever changed,
hast thou relieved, my son, within this light
in which I now address thee, thanks to her,
who for the lofty flight hath feathered thee.
Thou deemest that to me thy thoughts flow down
from Him who Primal is, as from a one,
if known it be, proceeds a five and six;
yet who I am, thou dost not ask of me,
nor wherefore I appear to thee more glad
than any other in this joyous throng.
Thou deemest what is true; because the small
and great of this life at that Mirror gaze,
wherein, before thou think, thou show'st thy thought.
But that the holy love, wherewith I watch
with sight perpetual, and which causes me
to thirst with sweet desire, may be fulfilled
the better, let thy voice, firm, bold, and glad,
proclaim the will, proclaim the wish, whereto
my answer has already been decreed!"

To Beatrice I turned, and she had heard
before I spoke, and smiled a nod to me,
which caused the wings of my desire to grow.

Then I thus: "When the First Equality
revealed Himself to you, wisdom and love
became for each of you of equal weight;
because the Sun, whose heat and light illumed
and warmed you, is of such equality,
that all comparisons therewith are poor.
But in the case of mortals, will and speech,
because of reasons manifest to you,
are differently feathered in their wings;
hence I, who mortal am, now realize
this inequality, and render thanks
with heart alone to thy paternal greeting.
I earnestly beseech thee, living topaz,
set in this precious jewel like a gem,
that with thy name thou make me satisfied.

"O thou my leaf, in whom I pleasure took,
while still awaiting thee, thy root I was."
He thus, as he replied to me, began;
and then he said to me: "The one from whom
thy family is named, and who hath circled
the Mountain for a hundred years and more
around the first ledge, was my son, and thy
great-grand-sire; well behooveth it that thou
shouldst shorten by thy works his long fatigue.

Florence, within the ancient ring of walls,
from which she still receives her tierce and nones,
sober and modest still, abode in peace.
No bracelets had she then, nor coronets,
nor dames with ornamented shoes, or belts
more likely to be looked at than themselves;
nor did a daughter frighten yet at birth
her father; for her marriage-age and dowry
outran in neither way due measure yet.
No houses had she void of families;
nor yet had a Sardanapŕlus come,
to show us what could be achieved in halls.
Not yet had Montemalo been surpassed
by your Uccellatoio, which, outdone
in its ascent, will be so in its fall.
Bčllincion Berti going girt I saw
with bone and leather, and his lady leave
her looking-glass without a painted face;
and Nerli's lord I saw, and the Del Vecchio's
with unlined skins contented, and their dames
with spindle and with thread.
O lucky women!
Sure of her burial place was each, and none
as yet deserted in her bed for France.
One stayed awake, absorbed in cradle cares,
and used, in comforting, the speech which forms
a father's and a mother's first delight;
another, from her distaff drawing flax,
repeated for her household olden tales
about the Trojans, Fiesole and Rome.
As great a marvel then would a Cianghella,
or Lapo Salterello have been held,
as Cincinnatus or Cornelia now.

To such a calm and beautiful town life,
to such a safe community, to such
a pleasant inn, did Mary, called aloud,
give me; and at the same time I became
within your ancient baptist'ry a Christian,
and Cacciaguida. Moronto was my brother,
and Elisčo; from the Po's valley came
my lady to me, and from hčr name thine
was formed. The Emperor Conrad afterward
I followed, and among his chivalry
he belted me a knight, by my good deeds
I so obtained his favor. In his train
I went against that law's iniquity,
whose people, through your shepherds' fault, usurps
your jurisdiction.
There by that vile folk
was I released from that deceitful world,
the love of which debases many souls,
and from my martyrdom attained this peace."

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