The Divine Comedy: Paradise, by Dante Alighieri

CANTO X

Looking into his first-born with the love,

Which breathes from both eternal, the first Might

Ineffable, whence eye or mind

Can roam, hath in such order all dispos’d,

As none may see and fail to enjoy. Raise, then,

O reader! to the lofty wheels, with me,

Thy ken directed to the point, whereat

One motion strikes on th’ other. There begin

Thy wonder of the mighty Architect,

Who loves his work so inwardly, his eye

Doth ever watch it. See, how thence oblique

Brancheth the circle, where the planets roll

To pour their wished influence on the world;

Whose path not bending thus, in heav’n above

Much virtue would be lost, and here on earth,

All power well nigh extinct: or, from direct

Were its departure distant more or less,

I’ th’ universal order, great defect

Must, both in heav’n and here beneath, ensue.

Now rest thee, reader! on thy bench, and muse

Anticipative of the feast to come;

So shall delight make thee not feel thy toil.

Lo! I have set before thee, for thyself

Feed now: the matter I indite, henceforth

Demands entire my thought. Join’d with the part,

Which late we told of, the great minister

Of nature, that upon the world imprints

The virtue of the heaven, and doles out

Time for us with his beam, went circling on

Along the spires, where each hour sooner comes;

And I was with him, weetless of ascent,

As one, who till arriv’d, weets not his coming.

For Beatrice, she who passeth on

So suddenly from good to better, time

Counts not the act, oh then how great must needs

Have been her brightness! What she was i’ th’ sun

(Where I had enter’d), not through change of hue,

But light transparent — did I summon up

Genius, art, practice — I might not so speak,

It should be e’er imagin’d: yet believ’d

It may be, and the sight be justly crav’d.

And if our fantasy fail of such height,

What marvel, since no eye above the sun

Hath ever travel’d? Such are they dwell here,

Fourth family of the Omnipotent Sire,

Who of his spirit and of his offspring shows;

And holds them still enraptur’d with the view.

And thus to me Beatrice: “Thank, oh thank,

The Sun of angels, him, who by his grace

To this perceptible hath lifted thee.”

Never was heart in such devotion bound,

And with complacency so absolute

Dispos’d to render up itself to God,

As mine was at those words: and so entire

The love for Him, that held me, it eclips’d

Beatrice in oblivion. Naught displeas’d

Was she, but smil’d thereat so joyously,

That of her laughing eyes the radiance brake

And scatter’d my collected mind abroad.

Then saw I a bright band, in liveliness

Surpassing, who themselves did make the crown,

And us their centre: yet more sweet in voice,

Than in their visage beaming. Cinctur’d thus,

Sometime Latona’s daughter we behold,

When the impregnate air retains the thread,

That weaves her zone. In the celestial court,

Whence I return, are many jewels found,

So dear and beautiful, they cannot brook

Transporting from that realm: and of these lights

Such was the song. Who doth not prune his wing

To soar up thither, let him look from thence

For tidings from the dumb. When, singing thus,

Those burning suns that circled round us thrice,

As nearest stars around the fixed pole,

Then seem’d they like to ladies, from the dance

Not ceasing, but suspense, in silent pause,

List’ning, till they have caught the strain anew:

Suspended so they stood: and, from within,

Thus heard I one, who spake: “Since with its beam

The grace, whence true love lighteth first his flame,

That after doth increase by loving, shines

So multiplied in thee, it leads thee up

Along this ladder, down whose hallow’d steps

None e’er descend, and mount them not again,

Who from his phial should refuse thee wine

To slake thy thirst, no less constrained were,

Than water flowing not unto the sea.

Thou fain wouldst hear, what plants are these, that bloom

In the bright garland, which, admiring, girds

This fair dame round, who strengthens thee for heav’n.

I then was of the lambs, that Dominic

Leads, for his saintly flock, along the way,

Where well they thrive, not sworn with vanity.

He, nearest on my right hand, brother was,

And master to me: Albert of Cologne

Is this: and of Aquinum, Thomas I.

If thou of all the rest wouldst be assur’d,

Let thine eye, waiting on the words I speak,

In circuit journey round the blessed wreath.

That next resplendence issues from the smile

Of Gratian, who to either forum lent

Such help, as favour wins in Paradise.

The other, nearest, who adorns our quire,

Was Peter, he that with the widow gave

To holy church his treasure. The fifth light,

Goodliest of all, is by such love inspired,

That all your world craves tidings of its doom:

Within, there is the lofty light, endow’d

With sapience so profound, if truth be truth,

That with a ken of such wide amplitude

No second hath arisen. Next behold

That taper’s radiance, to whose view was shown,

Clearliest, the nature and the ministry

Angelical, while yet in flesh it dwelt.

In the other little light serenely smiles

That pleader for the Christian temples, he

Who did provide Augustin of his lore.

Now, if thy mind’s eye pass from light to light,

Upon my praises following, of the eighth

Thy thirst is next. The saintly soul, that shows

The world’s deceitfulness, to all who hear him,

Is, with the sight of all the good, that is,

Blest there. The limbs, whence it was driven, lie

Down in Cieldauro, and from martyrdom

And exile came it here. Lo! further on,

Where flames the arduous Spirit of Isidore,

Of Bede, and Richard, more than man, erewhile,

In deep discernment. Lastly this, from whom

Thy look on me reverteth, was the beam

Of one, whose spirit, on high musings bent,

Rebuk’d the ling’ring tardiness of death.

It is the eternal light of Sigebert,

Who ’scap’d not envy, when of truth he argued,

Reading in the straw-litter’d street.” Forthwith,

As clock, that calleth up the spouse of God

To win her bridegroom’s love at matin’s hour,

Each part of other fitly drawn and urg’d,

Sends out a tinkling sound, of note so sweet,

Affection springs in well-disposed breast;

Thus saw I move the glorious wheel, thus heard

Voice answ’ring voice, so musical and soft,

It can be known but where day endless shines.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 15:58