Between the third hour's close and day's beginning
as much as is apparent of the sphere,
which like a child is ever given to play,
so much now of its course toward evening seemed
remaining to the sun; 't was vespers there,
and midnight here; and fully on the face
its rays were striking us, because the Mount
had so been circled by us, that we now
were going on directly toward the West;
when, far more blindingly than e'er before,
I felt my forehead overcome by splendor,
and was bewildered by these unknown things;
over my eyebrows, hence, I raised my hands,
and made myself the screen which, filing off,
tempers excessive light in what is seen.
As when from water, or a looking-glass,
a ray leaps up in the opposite direction,
and in the same way mounts that down it came,
and from the falling of a stone departs
at equal distance to the same extent,
as both experiment and art reveal;
even so it seemed to me that I was smitten
as by a light, reflected there before me;
because of which my sight was swift to flee.
"Dear Father, what is that," said I, "from which
I cannot screen my face sufficiently
to help me, and which toward us seems to come?"
"Wonder thou not" he answered me, "if still
Heaven's family affect thy sight; an Angel
is this, who comes to ask us to ascend.
It soon will happen that to see such things
will be no burden, but as great a joy,
as Nature hath enabled thee to feel."
As soon as we had reached the blessèd Angel,
with joyful voice he said: "Enter from hence
a stairway far less steep than were the rest!"
We were ascending, having thence departed,
when "Blessèd are the Merciful!" was sung
behind us, and "Rejoice, O thou that winnest!"
My Teacher then, and I, we two alone,
were going up; and, as we went, I thought
of how I might get profit from his words;
whereat I turned toward him, and asked: "What meant
that spirit from Romagna, when he mentioned
'forbidden,' and 'companionship' in things?"
Hence he: "Of his worst fault he knows the harm;
hence let it not surprise, if he therefor
rebuke men, that it be lamented less.
Because your wishes aim at that, wherein
each share is lessened through companionship,
envy fain moves the bellows for your sighs.
If love, though, for the highest sphere of all
were upward turning your desires, that fear
would not be in your breast; because the more
there are up yonder by whom 'Ours' is said,
so much more good doth each of them possess,
and so much more love in that cloister burns."
"I fast much more from being satisfied,"
said I, "than had I silent been at first;
and more of doubt I gather in my mind.
How can it be, then, that a good that's shared
should make more owners richer with itself,
than if by but a few it be possessed?"
And he to me: "Because thou fastenest
thy mind exclusively on earthly things,
thou drawest darkness out of very light.
That Good, Ineffable and Infinite,
which dwells up yonder, runs as fast to love,
as to bright bodies comes a ray of light.
So much It gives Itself, as is the warmth
It findeth; hence, as is the extent of love,
so much the Eternal Worth spreads over it.
The more there are up there that love each other,
the more there are to love, and more the love,
and, mirror-like, the more of love each sheds
on each. And if my talk sate not thy hunger,
thou shalt see Beatrice, and she will fully
free thee from this and every other want.
Do thou, then, see to it that speedily
thou have removed, as two already are,
the five wounds which are closed by causing pain."
Wishing to say: "Thou satisfiest me,"
I saw that I had reached the following ring;
my fond eyes, therefore, caused me to keep still.
There it appeared to me that I was wrapt
in an ecstatic vision all at once,
and that within a temple I perceived
much people; and a Lady at the door,
who with the sweet mien of a mother said:
"Wherefore, my Son, hast thou thus dealt with us?
Behold, thy father and I have sought for thee
in sorrow!" Here, when she had ceased to speak,
that disappeared which had before appeared.
Then there appeared another, o'er whose cheeks
those tears were streaming down, which grief distills,
when born of great resentment toward another,
saying: "If thou art master of the city,
about whose name there was among the gods
such strife, and whence all knowledge sparkles forth,
avenge thyself on those audacious arms,
Pisìstratus, which dared embrace our daughter!"
Kindly and gently then that lord appeared
to answer her with looks of self-control:
"What shall we do to him who hateth us,
if he who loves us is by us condemned?"
Then folk I saw inflamed by anger's fire
who, bent on killing a young man with stones,
cried to each other naught but: "Kill him, kill!"
And him I saw, bowed to the ground in death
which now oppressed him; of his eyes he e'er
made gates of Heaven, and in that anguish prayed
the Lord on high with looks which unlock pity,
that He his persecutors would forgive.
When once my mind returned outside again
to those things which outside of it are true,
I recognized my not untruthful errors.
My Leader, who could see that I was acting
like one who frees himself from slumber, said:
"What aileth thee, that thou canst not stand up,
but hast been coming more than half a league,
veiling thine eyes, and reeling with thy legs,
like one o'ercome by either wine or sleep?"
"O my dear Father, if thou listen to me,
I 'll tell thee what it was appeared to me,"
said I, "when I was thus deprived of legs."
And he: "If on thy face a hundred masks
thou hadst, thy thoughts would not be hid from me,
however small they were. What thou hast seen
was lest thou free thyself from opening up
thy heart unto those waters of thy peace,
which from the Eternal Fountain are diffused.
I did not ask 'What ails thee?' as would one,
who looks but with the eye which seeth not,
when once the body lies inanimate;
but asked it to endow thy feet with strength;
so must the indolent be spurred, when slow
to use their waking time, when it returns."
On through the vesper hours we went along,
forward intent, as far as e'er our eyes
could reach, against the late and shining rays;
when lo, a smoke in our direction came
little by little, and as dark as night;
nor was there any place of shelter from it;
this of pure air deprived us and of eyes.