The Divine Comedy: Paradise, by Dante Alighieri

CANTO IX

After solution of my doubt, thy Charles,

O fair Clemenza, of the treachery spake

That must befall his seed: but, “Tell it not,”

Said he, “and let the destin’d years come round.”

Nor may I tell thee more, save that the meed

Of sorrow well-deserv’d shall quit your wrongs.

And now the visage of that saintly light

Was to the sun, that fills it, turn’d again,

As to the good, whose plenitude of bliss

Sufficeth all. O ye misguided souls!

Infatuate, who from such a good estrange

Your hearts, and bend your gaze on vanity,

Alas for you! — And lo! toward me, next,

Another of those splendent forms approach’d,

That, by its outward bright’ning, testified

The will it had to pleasure me. The eyes

Of Beatrice, resting, as before,

Firmly upon me, manifested forth

Approva1 of my wish. “And O,” I cried,

“Blest spirit! quickly be my will perform’d;

And prove thou to me, that my inmost thoughts

I can reflect on thee.” Thereat the light,

That yet was new to me, from the recess,

Where it before was singing, thus began,

As one who joys in kindness: “In that part

Of the deprav’d Italian land, which lies

Between Rialto, and the fountain-springs

Of Brenta and of Piava, there doth rise,

But to no lofty eminence, a hill,

From whence erewhile a firebrand did descend,

That sorely sheet the region. From one root

I and it sprang; my name on earth Cunizza:

And here I glitter, for that by its light

This star o’ercame me. Yet I naught repine,

Nor grudge myself the cause of this my lot,

Which haply vulgar hearts can scarce conceive.

“This jewel, that is next me in our heaven,

Lustrous and costly, great renown hath left,

And not to perish, ere these hundred years

Five times absolve their round. Consider thou,

If to excel be worthy man’s endeavour,

When such life may attend the first. Yet they

Care not for this, the crowd that now are girt

By Adice and Tagliamento, still

Impenitent, tho’ scourg’d. The hour is near,

When for their stubbornness at Padua’s marsh

The water shall be chang’d, that laves Vicena

And where Cagnano meets with Sile, one

Lords it, and bears his head aloft, for whom

The web is now a-warping. Feltro too

Shall sorrow for its godless shepherd’s fault,

Of so deep stain, that never, for the like,

Was Malta’s bar unclos’d. Too large should be

The skillet, that would hold Ferrara’s blood,

And wearied he, who ounce by ounce would weight it,

The which this priest, in show of party-zeal,

Courteous will give; nor will the gift ill suit

The country’s custom. We descry above,

Mirrors, ye call them thrones, from which to us

Reflected shine the judgments of our God:

Whence these our sayings we avouch for good.”

She ended, and appear’d on other thoughts

Intent, re-ent’ring on the wheel she late

Had left. That other joyance meanwhile wax’d

A thing to marvel at, in splendour glowing,

Like choicest ruby stricken by the sun,

For, in that upper clime, effulgence comes

Of gladness, as here laughter: and below,

As the mind saddens, murkier grows the shade.

“God seeth all: and in him is thy sight,”

Said I, “blest Spirit! Therefore will of his

Cannot to thee be dark. Why then delays

Thy voice to satisfy my wish untold,

That voice which joins the inexpressive song,

Pastime of heav’n, the which those ardours sing,

That cowl them with six shadowing wings outspread?

I would not wait thy asking, wert thou known

To me, as thoroughly I to thee am known.”

He forthwith answ’ring, thus his words began:

“The valley’ of waters, widest next to that

Which doth the earth engarland, shapes its course,

Between discordant shores, against the sun

Inward so far, it makes meridian there,

Where was before th’ horizon. Of that vale

Dwelt I upon the shore, ’twixt Ebro’s stream

And Macra’s, that divides with passage brief

Genoan bounds from Tuscan. East and west

Are nearly one to Begga and my land,

Whose haven erst was with its own blood warm.

Who knew my name were wont to call me Folco:

And I did bear impression of this heav’n,

That now bears mine: for not with fiercer flame

Glow’d Belus’ daughter, injuring alike

Sichaeus and Creusa, than did I,

Long as it suited the unripen’d down

That fledg’d my cheek: nor she of Rhodope,

That was beguiled of Demophoon;

Nor Jove’s son, when the charms of Iole

Were shrin’d within his heart. And yet there hides

No sorrowful repentance here, but mirth,

Not for the fault (that doth not come to mind),

But for the virtue, whose o’erruling sway

And providence have wrought thus quaintly. Here

The skill is look’d into, that fashioneth

With such effectual working, and the good

Discern’d, accruing to this upper world

From that below. But fully to content

Thy wishes, all that in this sphere have birth,

Demands my further parle. Inquire thou wouldst,

Who of this light is denizen, that here

Beside me sparkles, as the sun-beam doth

On the clear wave. Know then, the soul of Rahab

Is in that gladsome harbour, to our tribe

United, and the foremost rank assign’d.

He to that heav’n, at which the shadow ends

Of your sublunar world, was taken up,

First, in Christ’s triumph, of all souls redeem’d:

For well behoov’d, that, in some part of heav’n,

She should remain a trophy, to declare

The mighty contest won with either palm;

For that she favour’d first the high exploit

Of Joshua on the holy land, whereof

The Pope recks little now. Thy city, plant

Of him, that on his Maker turn’d the back,

And of whose envying so much woe hath sprung,

Engenders and expands the cursed flower,

That hath made wander both the sheep and lambs,

Turning the shepherd to a wolf. For this,

The gospel and great teachers laid aside,

The decretals, as their stuft margins show,

Are the sole study. Pope and Cardinals,

Intent on these, ne’er journey but in thought

To Nazareth, where Gabriel op’d his wings.

Yet it may chance, erelong, the Vatican,

And other most selected parts of Rome,

That were the grave of Peter’s soldiery,

Shall be deliver’d from the adult’rous bond.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/dante/d19pa/canto9.html

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