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

The Eighth Heaven. The Fixed Stars. The Twins
Triumphant Spirits. The Son of God. The Mother of Christ

Even as a bird, among the leaves she loves,
settles upon the nest of her sweet brood
throughout the night, which hides things from our eyes,
and then - that she may see their longed for looks,
and find the food wherewith to nourish them,
in doing which she deems hard work a pleasure -
comes forth betimes upon an outer branch,
and gazing steadfastly with burning love,
waits for the sun till break of dawn; so stood
my Lady, toward that region turned intent,
'neath which the sun
appears to show least haste;
hence I, on seeing her absorbed in thought,
became like one who, yearning with desire
for other things, contents himself with hope.

But little time elapsed between each 'when,'
I mean from when I waited, till the sky
I saw grow more and more suffused with light.
Then Beatrice exclaimed: "Behold the hosts
of Christ's victorious triumph, and all the fruit
ingathered by the circling of these spheres!"

To me her countenance seemed all on fire,
and so replete with happiness her eyes,
that I must pass without describing them.

As, when in cloudless skies the moon is full,
Trývia among those nymphs eternal smiles,
who deck with light the whole expanse of heaven;
so I, above a thousand thousand lamps,
beheld a Sun which kindled one and all,
as our sun kindles all the stars on high;
and through the living light the Shining Substance
was so transparent, and so brightly shone
upon my face, that I endured it not.

O Beatrice, thou dear and gentle Guide!
"That which o'erwhelms thee is a Power," she said,
"against which nothing can defend itself.
This is the Wisdom, this the Virtue is,
which opened wide the road 'tween Heaven and earth,
which was in olden times so long desired."

As fire is liberated from a cloud,
when so dilating that it finds no room,
and falls, against its nature, to the earth;
even so my mind, as it became enlarged
among those viands, issued from itself;
but what it then became, can not recall.

"Open thine eyes, and see what now I am!
Such things hast thou perceived, that thou art now
equipped with power to look upon my smile."

I was like one who, when aroused from sleep,
is of a dream aware which he forgets,
and tries in vain to bring it back to mind,
when I had heard a bidding which deserves
such gratitude, that never from the book
which holds past records will it be effaced.

If now, to help me, all those tongues should speak,
which Polyhymnia and her sisters fed
most richly with the sweetest of their milk,
the thousandth portion of the truth would not
be reached, ev'n though they sang the holy smile,
and how it lighted up the holy face;
hence, painting Paradise,
the sacred Poem
must leap like one who finds his path cut off.
But none, who to its weighty theme gave thought,
and to the mortal shoulder bearing it,
would blame it, should it tremble 'neath its load.
No waters for a little boat are these,
my daring plow goes cleaving on its way,
nor for a pilot who would spare himself.

"Why doth my countenance enamor thee
so much, that to the garden beautiful
thou turnest not, which blooms beneath Christ's rays?
Here is the Rose, in which the Word Divine
became incarnate; here the Lilies are,
whose scent led men to take the righteous path."

Thus Beatrice; and I, who for her counsels
was wholly ready, gave myself again
to fight the battle of the feeble brows.

As once my overshadowed eyes beheld
a field of flowers in a ray of sunlight
which through a riven cloud was shining clear;
thus many a throng of splendors saw I now,
illumined from on high by burning rays,
but not the source of their refulgent light.

O Kindly Virtue, who dost thus impress them,
thou didst uplift thyself, to give mine eyes,
which were not strong yet, greater room to see.

The name of that fair Flower which I invoke
each morn and evening, too, forced all my mind
to turn its gaze upon the greatest fire;
but when in both mine eyes the magnitude
and splendor of that living Star was painted,
which vanquishes up there, as once down here;
a torch, formed ring-wise like a crown, descended
from midmost heaven, and girdling her about,
around her whirled. Whatever melody
sounds sweetest here on earth, and to itself
most strongly draws the soul, would seem a peal
of thunder breaking from a cloud,
if measured by the music of the lyre,
with which that lovely Sapphire crowned itself,
whereby ensapphired glows the brightest heaven.

"Angelic Love am I, and circle round
the exalted gladness breathing from the womb
which was the hostelry of our Desire;
and I shall whirl around it, Lady of Heaven,
until thy Son thou follow, and diviner
render the loftiest sphere by entering it."

The circling melody thus closed itself
as with a seal; and all the other lights
made Mary's name resound. The royal robe
of all the convolutions of the world,
which burneth most,
and by the breath and ways
of God is quickened with the greatest life,
had its internal shore so far above us,
that, where I was, its semblance was not yet
revealed to me; mine eyes, hence, could not follow
the Flame which, crowned,
behind its Offspring rose.

And as a child, who, having had its milk,
stretches its little arms up toward its mother,
urged by the love which outwardly flames forth;
thus each of those white spirits with its flame
stretched up in such a way, that its deep love
for Mary was made manifest to me.
Thereafter they remained there in my presence,
singing 'O Queen of Heaven' so tenderly
that its delight hath never left me since.

Oh, how abundant is the store heaped up
in those most wealthy coffers, which were once
good husbandmen for sowing seed below!
Here, living on it, they enjoy the treasure,
which, weeping in their exile, they acquired
in Babylon, where gold was left untouched.
Here triumphs, subject to the Exalted Son
of God and Mary, in His victory,
together with the councils old and new,
he who of such great glory holds the Keys.

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