Before me now, with wings outspread, appeared
the lovely image, which in sweet fruition
those joyous interwoven spirits made.
Each one of them a little ruby seemed,
wherein a ray of sunlight burned so brightly,
that it was mirrored back into mine eyes.
And what I now must needs relate, no voice
hath e'er reported, nor hath ink inscribed,
nor hath imagination ever grasped;
for I both saw and heard the beak converse,
and utter in its voice both 'I' and 'My,'
when in its meaning it was 'We' and 'Our.'
And it began: "Because of being just
and merciful, I'm to a glory raised
up here, which doth not let itself be won
by mere desire; and such a fame I left
on earth, that evil people there commend it,
but fail to follow its recorded works."
As out of many embers one sole heat
makes itself felt, so from that image, formed
by many loves, a single voice came forth.
Hence I thereafter: "O perpetual flowers
of joy eternal, who let all your odors
seem only one to me, by breathing, break
the painful fast,
which long hath given me hunger,
for I on earth have found no food for it.
Well do I know that, even if in Heaven
Justice Divine makes of another realm
its looking-glass, yours apprehends it not
through any veil. Ye know with what attention
I gird myself to listen; and ye know
the doubt which is so old a fast for me."
And as a falcon, from his hood set free,
tosses his head, and, flapping his proud wings,
displays his eagerness, and plumes himself;
such I beheld the symbol which is weaved
by praises of the Grace Divine, become
with songs, which who up there rejoices knows.
It then began: "He who His compass turned
around the world's last verge, and in it parted
its many hidden things from those revealed,
was not so able to impress His Virtue
on all the world, that His conceived ideal
should not remain in infinite excess.
And this assures one that the first proud being
who greater was than all created spirits,
through not awaiting light, untimely fell;
it hence results that every lesser nature
is but a scant recipient for the Good
which hath no end, and measures Self by Self.
Your vision, therefore, which must needs be one
of that Mind's rays,
wherewith all things are filled,
of its own nature cannot be so strong,
that it should not perceive its Source as being
far greater than is all that it can see.
The vision, therefore, which your world receives,
into Eternal Justice penetrates
as doth an eye into the sea; because,
though it perceive its bottom near the shore,
when on the deep it sees it not; yet there
it is, but its great depth conceals it.
That is not light, which comes not from the Sky
which never clouds itself; but rather darkness,
a shadow of the flesh, or else its poison.
Sufficiently disclosed to thee is now
the hiding-place which once concealed from thee
the Living Justice, which so frequently
it was thy wont to question; for thou saidst:
'A man is born upon the Indus' banks,
with no one there to speak of Christ, or read,
or write; and all his actions and desires
are good, as far as human reason sees,
and without sin in either life or speech;
then, unbaptized and without faith, he dies.
Wherein consists the Justice which condemns him?
Where is his fault, if he believeth not?'
Now who art thou, that as a judge would'st sit
to judge of things a thousand miles away
with the short vision of a human span?
Surely for him who subtly strives with me,
were not the Scriptures ruling over you,
wondrous occasions would there be for doubt.
O earthly creatures! O uncultured minds!
The Primal Will, which of Itself is Good,
ne'er from Itself, the Highest Goodness, moved.
That much is just, which is therewith accordant;
no good created draws It to itself,
but It by radiating causes it."
As o'er her nest a stork moves circling round,
after the feeding of her little ones,
and as the one that 's fed looks up at her;
such did the blessèd shape become, which moved
its pinions, by so many counsels urged,
and, likewise, so did I lift up my brows.
Wheeling around, it sang and said: "As now
my notes to thee, that understand'st them not,
such to you mortals is Eternal Justice."
When those bright flamings of the Holy Spirit
had come to rest, still in the shape which caused
the Romans to be honored by the world,
"None to this Kingdom" it began again,
"ever ascended without faith in Christ,
either before, or after He was nailed
upon the tree. But many, lo! shout 'Christ!'
who at the Judgment shall be far less near Him,
than will be such an one who knows not Christ;
Christians like these the Ethiop will condemn,
when parted shall the two assemblies be,
one rich eternally, the other poor.
What will the Persians to your rulers say,
when lying open they shall see the Book,
wherein all their dispraises are inscribed?
There will be seen, among the deeds of Albert,
that which ere long will move the pen, because
thereby Prague's kingdom will become a waste.
There will be seen the woe, which on the Seine
he who shall perish by a boar skin's blow,
bringeth about by falsifying coin.
There will be seen the pride and thirsty greed,
which makes the Scot and Englishman so mad,
that neither can remain within his bounds.
One will see there the easy life and lust
of him of Spain, and of Bohemia, too,
who neither of them knew, nor cared for, valor.
One will see there, marked with a single I,
the virtues of Jerusalem's lame king,
whereas an M will mark the contrary.
One will see there the greed and cowardice
of him who ruleth o'er the isle of fire,
where once Anchises ended his long life.
And, to explain his insignificance,
his record will consist of shortened words,
which in a little space will notice much.
And there to each and all will be revealed
the foul deeds of his uncle and his brother,
who two crowns and a noble line disgraced.
And he of Portugal, and he of Norway,
will there be known, as also Rascia's prince,
who in an ill hour saw Venetia's coin.
O happy Hungary, if she no more
shall let herself be wronged! Happy Navarre,
if with her girding hills she arm herself!
And both these should believe that Nicosìa
and Famagosta, as a proof of this,
are wailing now, and raging at their beast,
because he does not differ from the rest."