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

The Fifth Heaven. Mars. The Happiness of Heroism
Foreknowledge and Freedom. Dante's Exile and First Refuge

As that one came to Cl?menė, who still
to sons makes fathers chary, to be sure
of that which he had heard against himself;
even such was I, and such was felt to be
by Beatrice, and by the holy lamp,
who first on my account had changed his place.

Wherefore my Lady said to me: "Express
thy wish's ardor, so that it may issue
clearly impressed by its internal stamp;
not that our knowledge may the greater grow
by words of thine, but that thou mayst get used
to tell thy thirst, that we may pour thee drink!"

"O my dear root, that so dost lift thyself,
that, as terrestrial minds perceive that no
triangle holds two angles which are both
obtuse; thou, likewise, gazing at the Point
to which all things are present, dost perceive
contingent things, ere in themselves they are;
while I by Virgil was accompanied,
upward around the Mount which healeth souls,
and downward through the region of the dead,
grave words were told me of my future life;
although, indeed, I feel myself foursquare
against the blows of fortune; my desire
would hence contented be, were I to hear
what kind of fortune is approaching me,
for slower comes an arrow when foreseen."

Thus to that light I spoke, which had before
addressed me; and, as Beatrice had willed,
so was my wish confessed. Not in vague terms,
in which the foolish folk of old were wont
to get entangled, ere the Lamb of God,
who taketh sins away, was put to death,
but with clear words and unambiguous speech,
that father's love replied, which by its smile
was both concealed and rendered manifest:

"Contingence, which outside your matter's volume
doth not extend, is in the Eternal Vision
wholly depicted; yet it taketh not
necessity therefrom, save as a ship,
while down a current moving, doth from eyes
which mirror it.
Therefrom, as from an organ
sweet harmony attains one's ears, the time
which is for thee preparing strikes my sight.

As through his false and cruel step-mother
Hippolytus left Athens, so must thou
leave Florence. This is willed already, this
is sought, and soon will be achieved by him
who meditates it there where every day
Christ is both bought and sold. As usually,
the blame will be imputed to the wronged
in public outcry; but revenge for it
will witness to the truth dispensing it.
Thou shalt abandon all that thou hast loved
with greatest tenderness; and of its shafts
this is the one which exile's bow shoots first.
Thou shalt find out how salt another's bread
is wont to taste, and what a painful thing
is going up and down another's stairs.
But what will bow thy shoulders most will be
the bad and foolish company, with whom
thou 'lt fall into this vale; for all ungrateful,
mad and malevolent will it become
against thee; but soon thereafter, it, not thou,
will have its forehead red with blood. Its deeds
will furnish proof of its bestiality;
hence well-becoming will it be for thee
to have made thyself a party by thyself.

Thy earliest refuge and first lodging-place
shall be the courtesy of that great Lombard,
who on the Ladder bears the holy Bird;
and who will have for thee such kind regard,
that 'tween you two, in doing and in asking,
that will be first, which is with others last.

With him the man thou 'lt see, who was, when born,
so stamped by this strong star, that notable
will be his deeds. By reason of his youth,
the nations are not yet aware of him,
for only nine years have these wheels revolved
around him; but, before the Gascon cheat
the noble Henry, sparks of his character
will manifest themselves by disregard
for money or for toil. And so well known
will his munificence hereafter be,
that ev'n his enemies will not be able
to still their tongues at it. On him rely,
and on his favors; many will be changed
because of him, the rich and those that beg
exchanging states; and written on thy mind
shalt thou bear hence, but shalt not tell it," - here
he told me things incredible to those
who shall be present. Then he added: "Son,
glosses are these on what was said to thee;
behold the snares which lie concealed behind
not many circlings of the sun. And yet
I would not have thee envious toward thy neighbors,
because thy life far longer will extend
than will the punishment of their bad faith."

When by his silence that blest soul had showed
that he was through with weaving in the woof
of that same web which I had given him warped,
then I began, like one who, doubting, longs
for counsel from a man who both perceives,
wills righteously and loves: "I clearly see,
my father, how toward me a time spurs on,
to deal me such a blow as heaviest is
to him who gives least heed to it; 't is, therefore, well
that I should so with foresight arm myself,
that if the place which is to me most dear
be taken from me, I lose not the rest
by these my verses. Downward through the world
whose bitterness is endless, and around
the Mount, from whose fair top my Lady's eyes
have lifted me, and afterward through Heaven
from light to light, things have I heard which, if
repeated, will for many have the taste
of bitter herbs; and yet, if I 'm to truth
a timid friend, I fear lest life I lose
with those who shall of this age speak as ancient."

The light, wherein that treasure smiled, which there
I found, sparkled at first, as in a sunbeam
a golden mirror would; and then replied:
"A conscience gloomy either with its own,
or with another's shame, will feel, indeed,
the harshness of thy words; yet, none the less,
all falsehood having been removed from it,
cause thy whole vision to be manifest,
and where the itch is let the scratching be!
For if, when tasted first, thy voice shall prove
offensive, it will after leave behind it,
when once digested, vital nourishment.
This cry of thine will do as doth the wind,
which strikes the loftiest summits most; and this
will no slight honor prove. Hence only souls
well known to fame were shown thee in these Heavens,
upon the Mount, and in the woeful Vale;
because the mind of him who hears rests not,
nor strengthens its belief by illustrations
based upon what is hidden and unknown,
or by an argument that is not clear."

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