That blessčd mirror was enjoying now
its thoughts alone, and I was tasting mine,
tempering their sweetness with their bitterness;
when that same Lady who was leading me
to God, said: "Change thy thought; recall that near
I am to Who unburdens every wrong."
I turned me at my Comfort's loving voice;
and in her holy eyes what kind of love
I then beheld, I here refrain from saying;
not only since mine own words I distrust,
but since my mind can not return so far
above itself, unless Another guide it.
This only of that moment can I tell,
that my affection, while I gazed at her,
was freed from longing for all other things,
as long as Joy Eternal, which directly shone
on Beatrice, with its reflected aspect
was from her lovely face contenting me.
Conquering me with the splendor of a smile,
she said: "Turn round and hark; for Paradise
is not exclusively within my eyes."
As our affection here is seen at times
upon our countenance, if such it be
that our whole spirit is thereby absorbed;
so, in the flaming of the blest effulgence
to whom I turned, I recognized his wish
to have a little further talk with me.
"In this fifth threshold of the Tree," it then
began, "which from its summit draws its life,
always bears fruit, and never loses leaves,
are blessčd spirits, who, before they came
to Heaven, enjoyed so great a fame below,
that every Muse would be thereby enriched.
Gaze, therefore, at the Cross's arms; and he,
whom I shall name, will there perform the act,
which in a cloud its own swift fire performs."
I saw a splendor drawn along the Cross
at Joshua's name, the moment it was uttered,
nor did I note the name before the deed.
And at great Maccabaeus' name, I saw
another spirit whirling as he moved;
and gladness was the whip that turned the top.
Likewise, at Charlemagne's and Roland's names,
my gaze intently followed two of them,
as doth a falconer's eye his flying bird.
Then William afterward, and Renoart,
Duke Godfrey next, and Robert Guiscard drew
my sight along that Cross. And then,
moving and mingling with the other lights,
the soul which had addressed me, showed how great
an artist 'mong Heaven's choristers he was.
Round to my right I turned me to behold
in Beatrice my duty, signified
by speech or act;
and I beheld her eyes
so joyous and so clear, that what she seemed
surpassed her other and her latest wont.
And as, because of feeling more delight
in doing good, a man from day to day
perceiveth that his virtue is increasing;
ev'n so, on seeing that that miracle
was fairer now, I noticed that the arc
of my revolving with the heavens had grown.
And as within a little space of time
a lady turneth white, whene'er her face
rids itself of the burden of its shame;
such to mine eyes the change, when I had turned,
through the white color of the temperate
sixth star, which had received me in itself.
I saw within that Jovial torch of light
the sparkling of the love contained in it,
shaping our language forth before mine eyes;
and even as birds on rising from the shore,
as if in gratulation at the food they've found,
form groups, now round, and now of other shapes;
thus holy creatures in those lights were singing,
as here and there they flew, and with their forms
made of themselves now D, now I, now L.
Each singing to its note, they moved at first;
then, on becoming one of these same letters,
they stopped a little while, and silent kept.
O thou divine Pegąsean Muse, that glorious
dost make men's genius, and dost render it
long-lived, as it through thee doth towns and realms,
so shed thy light on me, that I may here
describe their figures ev'n as I perceived them;
in these brief verses let thy power appear!
They then displayed themselves in consonants
and vowels five times seven; and as their parts
seemed to be said to me, I noted them.
Diligite Justitiam were first verb
and noun of all that was depicted there;
Qui Judicatis Terram were the last.
Then in the fifth word's M they so remained
arranged, that Jupiter seemed silver there
pricked out with gold.
And other lights I saw
descend upon the summit of the M,
and rest there, singing, I believe, the Good
which draws them to Itself. Then, as when logs
are struck while burning, endless sparks fly up,
whence fools are wont to draw their auguries;
more than a thousand lights appeared to rise,
and upward move, some much, and some a little,
even as the Sun, which setteth them on fire,
allotted them; and when they quiet were,
each in its place, an Eagle's head and neck
I saw portrayed by that outstanding fire.
He who paints there hath none to be His guide,
but is His own guide; and from Him derives
the instinct which is formative in nests.
The other blest ones, who at first appeared
content to form a Lily on the M,
went slowly on to shape the Eagle's form.
O gentle star, what and how many gems
proved to me that our justice here results
from that heaven's influence which is gemmed by thee!
I therefore pray the Mind, wherein thy motion
and virtue start, that It may so regard
the source, whence comes the smoke which spoils thy rays,
that It may now a second time be wroth
with sale and purchase in that temple's court,
whose walls were built with blood and martyrdom.
O soldiers of the heaven I contemplate,
pray ye for those that are on earth, all gone
astray behind the bad example there!
War was once carried on with swords; but now
by taking here and there that bread away,
the Pitying Father keepeth locked from none.
But thou, that writest but to cancel, think
that Peter and Paul, who for that vineyard died,
which thou art laying waste, are still alive!
Well mayst thou say: "So set is my desire
on him, whose will it was to live alone,
and for a dance was led to martyrdom,
that I know neither Fisherman nor Paul."