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

The Eighth or Starry Heaven. St. Peter's Invective
The Ninth Heaven. Primum Mobile. The Angelic Hierarchies

"Glory to Father, Son and Holy Ghost!"
all Paradise in such a way began,
that its sweet song intoxicated me.
What I was seeing seemed to me a smile
as of the Universe; for through both sight
and hearing my intoxication entered.

O joy! O gladness inexpressible!
O life by love and peace completely filled!
O wealth no longer longed for, but assured!

Before mine eyes the torches four remained
on fire, and that which was the first to come,
began to grow more luminous; and such
in its appearance it became, as Jove
would come to be, if he and Mars were birds,
and interchanged the plumage of their wings.

The Providence, which there above assigns
both turn and office, silence had imposed
upon the blessèd choir on every side,
when "If I change my color, marvel not";
I heard him say, "for ev'n while I am speaking,
thou shalt behold all these change color, too.

He who on earth usurps my place, my place,
my place, which in the sight
of God's own Son
is vacant, of my burial ground hath made
a sewer of blood and stench; whereby the Pervert,
who fell from hence, is there below appeased."

The whole of Heaven I then beheld o'erspread
with that same hue which colors clouds both morn
and evening, when the sun lies opposite;
and as a modest lady, who feels sure
of her own self, but at another's fault,
on merely hearing of it, timid grows;
so Beatrice changed her appearance then,
and such as hers, I think, was Heaven's eclipse,
what time the Sovereign Power suffered pain.

Thereat his words proceeded in a voice
so changed from what had been its wonted self,
that his appearance had no further changed:

"The Bride of Christ was not by my blood fed,
nor by the blood of Linus, nor by that
of Cletus, to be used for gain of gold;
but for the winning of this happy life,
both Sixtus, Pius, Urban and Calixtus
after much lamentation shed their blood.
'T was not our purpose that upon the right
of our successors one part of the folk
of Christ should sit, and on the left another;
nor that the Keys bestowed in trust on me,
should on a banner come to be an emblem,
and warfare wage on those that were baptized;
nor I become an image on a seal
for privileges venal and deceptive,
which often make me blush and flame with wrath.
Rapacious wolves disguised in shepherds' clothes
are seen in all the pastures from up here.
Vengeance of God, why art thou quiet still?
Men of Cahors and Gascons even now
prepare to drink our blood. O good beginning,
to what vile ending thou art doomed to fall!
But that high Providence, which saved for Rome,
through Scipio's help, the glory of the world,
will quickly succor her, as I conceive;
and thou, my son, who, for thy mortal weight
art to return below, open thy mouth,
and hide not that which I do not conceal!"

Ev'n as our atmosphere lets fall great flakes
of frozen vapor, when the horn of heaven's
she-Goat is in conjunction with the sun;
so I beheld the sky grow beautiful
and upward flaked with those triumphant flames
which for a while had sojourned with us there.

My sight was following their forms, and followed,
till the mid space, by reason of its vastness,
prevented it from passing further on.

Thereat the Lady who had seen that freed
I was from gazing up, said: "Lower now
thine eyes, and see how far thou hast revolved."

I saw that since the hour when I had first
looked downward, I had moved through all the arc
the first of climates makes from mid to end;
past Cadiz, hence, Ulysses' insane track
I saw, and nearly to the seashore where
Europa made herself so sweet a load.
And of this little threshing-floor, much more
would have been shown me; but the sun was circling
beneath my feet, a sign or more removed.

And my enamored mind, which in my Lady
always takes pleasure, more than ever now
was burning to restore mine eyes to her.
And if or art or Nature e'er made baits
in human flesh or in its painted forms,
to catch men's eyes, and capture thus their minds,
they all together would seem naught, compared
to that divine delight which on me shone,
when to her smiling face I turned around;
the virtue, therefore, which that look vouchsafed,
removed me from fair Leda's lovely nest,
and urged me on into the swiftest heaven.

Its nearest and its most exalted parts
are all so uniform, I cannot tell
which Beatrice selected as my place.
But she who saw my wish began to speak,
and smiled so happily, that God appeared
to be rejoicing in her countenance:

"The nature of the world, which quiet holds
the center, and around it moves the rest,
beginneth here as from its starting-point.
And this heaven hath no other 'where' than in
the Mind Divine, where kindled is the Love
which turns it, and the Power itself rains down.
One circle's Light and Love encircle it,
as it the other heavens; and He alone
this precinct understands, who girdeth it.
Its motion is not measured by another,
but all the others are by this, as ten
is measured by its half and by its fifth.
And now how time in such a flowerport
can have its hidden roots, and in the rest
its leaves, hereafter can be manifest to thee."

O thou Cupidity, that 'neath thyself
dost sink all mortals so, that none avails
out of thy waters to withdraw his eyes!
The will in human beings blossoms well,
but constant rains turn into blighted fruit
the genuine plums.
And faith and innocence
are found in children only, but take flight,
before their cheeks are covered up with hair.
While still a prattler, one observeth fasts,
who later, when his tongue is free, devours,
under whatever moon, whatever food;
and one who, while still lisping, loves
and harkens to his mother, later on
when speaking well, would see her in her grave.
Thus in the Primal Sight becometh black
the white face of the lovely child of him,
who brings the morn and leaves the eventide.
And that thou marvel not at this, recall
that there is none on earth who rules; and hence
the human family goes thus astray.
And yet ere January's month become
wholly unwintered, through the hundredth part
neglected there below, these upper spheres
shall roar so, that the storm so long foreseen
will turn the sterns to where the prows are now,
so that the fleet will run its course aright,
and good fruit follow on the blossom's flower."

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