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

The Eighth or Starry Heaven. The Twins
St. John examines Dante on Love. Adam

While I was frightened by my loss of vision,
from the refulgent flaming which had quenched it,
a breath, which caused me to give heed, came forth,
and said: "Till thou regain the sense of sight
which thou hast spent by gazing up at me,
't is well that thou make up for it by speech.
Therefore begin to speak; and say toward what
thy soul aspires, and also bear in mind
that sight in thee is lost, but not destroyed;
because the Lady who is leading thee
through this divine expanse, hath in her look
the power possessed by Ananias' hand."

"At her own pleasure, soon or late," I said,
let the cure reach the eyes which portals were,
when with that fire she entered, wherewithal
I ever burn. The Good which sates this court
is alpha and omega of all scriptures
Love reads to me in tones or low or loud."

And that same voice which rid me of the fear
the sudden blinding blaze had given me,
inspired me with a wish to speak again,
and said: "Thou surely through a finer sieve
must pass thy meaning; it behooves thee say
who toward so great a target turned thy bow."

And I: "By philosophic arguments,
and by authority which from up here descends,
must such a love needs stamp itself on me;
because the good, when understood as such,
enkindles love, and all the greater love,
the more it holds of goodness in itself.
Hence to that Being who so perfect is,
that every good which lies outside of Him
is nothing but a beam of His own radiance,
more than to any other must the mind
in love be moved, of all who recognize
the truth on which this argument is based.
He to mine understanding shows this truth,
who demonstrates to me the Primal Love
of all the sempiternal substances;
the Truthful Author's voice revealeth it,
when, speaking of Himself, He saith to Moses:
'All goodness shall I have thee see.' Thou, too,
revealest it to me when thou beginnest
the loud announcement which o'er other trumps
heralds on earth the secrets of this state."

Thereat I heard: "By human understanding,
and by authorities therewith concordant,
the sovereign of thy loves is turned to God.
But further say if other cords thou feel
attract thee toward Him; so that thou mayst say
how many of love's teeth are biting thee."

Not hidden was the purpose of Christ's Eagle;
nay, rather, I perceived to what he wished
to lead my love's profession to declare;
hence, "All those bitings" I began again,
"which possibly could turn one's heart to God,
have with my love of Him concurrent been;
for, both the world's existence, and mine own,
the death which He endured that I might live,
and that which all the faithful hope as I,
together with the mentioned living knowledge,
have drawn me from the sea of wrong desires,
and set me on the shore of righteous love.

I love the several leaves wherewith enleaved
is all the garden of the Eternal Gardener,
according to the good He giveth each."

As soon as I had ceased, a most sweet song
throughout all heaven resounded, and my Lady
said: "Holy, Holy, Holy!" with the rest.

And ev'n as at a vivid flash of light
one wakes from sleep, because one's visual power
turns toward the ray which moves from coat to coat;
and as the one awakened shrinketh back
from that which he hath seen, so senseless is
his sudden waking, till reflection helps;
thus Beatrice drove all motes from mine eyes
by the mere radiance of her own, whose light
shone further than a thousand miles away;
I, therefore, saw far better than before;
then, since I was amazed at it, I asked
about a fourth light I beheld with us.

My Lady then: "In yonder radiant light
the first soul which the first Power e'er created
is gazing joyfully upon his Maker."

Even as a bough which, while the wind is passing,
bends its top down, and then uplifts itself,
by innate strength which raises it again;
even so did I, amazed, while she was speaking;
and then the wish to speak, wherewith I burned,
made me feel reassured, and I began:

"O fruit that wast alone produced when ripe,
O ancient Father, thou to whom each bride
is both a daughter and a daughter-in-law,
I beg thee as devoutly as I can
to speak to me; thou see'st my wish, hence I,
that I may quickly hear thee, tell it not."

At times a covered animal so stirs,
that its own movement needs must be revealed,
because its covering corresponds to it;
so likewise did the first of souls display
to me, through that which covered it, how gladly
he came to give me pleasure. Then it breathed:

"Without its being told to me by thee,
better do I perceive what thou desirest,
than thou perceivest what thou knowest best;
for I behold it in the Truthful Mirror,
which of Itself makes other things a likeness,
though naught makes It a likeness of itself.
Thou fain wouldst hear how long it is since God
in that high garden placed me, where this Lady
prepared thee for so long a flight of stairs;
how long it was a pleasure to mine eyes;
the real occasion for the mighty wrath;
and what the tongue, which I both used and made.

Now, son, the tasting of the tree was not
itself the cause of such a banishment,
but only the transgression of the bound.
In that place, whence thy Lady started Virgil,
I, hence, for this assembly longed four thousand
three hundred revolutions of the sun
and two; and him I saw return again
to all his highway's lights nine hundred times
and thirty, while I still abode on earth.
The tongue I spoke had quite extinct become
a long time e'er the people under Nimrod
attempted their unfinishable task;
for never was a product of man's reason
apt to endure, for human appetite
renews itself according to the heavens.
That mankind speaks, a work of Nature is,
but if in this or that way, Nature then
leaves you to do according to your pleasure.
Ere I descended to the grieving place
below, the Highest Good, from whom proceeds
the joy which swathes me, was on earth called I;
EL was He called thereafter; this must be,
for human custom is, as on a bough
a leaf, which goeth as another comes.
Upon the Mount which highest from the sea
ascends, I lived, in innocence and sin,
from the first hour until the one which follows,
after the sun's first quadrant change, the sixth."

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