Paradiso: Canto VIII
The world used in
its peril to believe
the fair Cypria delirious love
Rayed out, in the third epicycle turning;
Wherefore not only
unto her paid honour
sacrifices and of votive cry
The ancient nations in the ancient error,
But both Dione
honoured they and Cupid,
as her mother, this one as her son,
And said that he had sat in Dido's lap;
And they from her,
whence I beginning take,
the denomination of the star
That woos the sun, now following, now in front.
I was not ware of
our ascending to it;
of our being in it gave full faith
My Lady whom I saw more beauteous grow.
And as within a
flame a spark is seen,
as within a voice a voice discerned,
When one is steadfast, and one comes and goes,
Within that light
beheld I other lamps
in a circle, speeding more and less,
Methinks in measure of their inward vision.
From a cold cloud
descended never winds,
visible or not, so rapidly
They would not laggard and impeded seem
To any one who had
those lights divine
come towards us, leaving the gyration
Begun at first in the high Seraphim.
And behind those
that most in front appeared
"Osanna!" so that never since
To hear again was I without desire.
Then unto us more
nearly one approached,
it alone began: "We all are ready
Unto thy pleasure, that thou joy in us.
We turn around with
the celestial Princes,
gyre and one gyration and one thirst,
To whom thou in the world of old didst say,
intelligent, the third heaven are moving;'
are so full of love, to pleasure thee
A little quiet will not be less sweet."
After these eyes of
mine themselves had offered
my Lady reverently, and she
Content and certain of herself had made them,
Back to the light
they turned, which so great promise
of itself, and "Say, who art thou?" was
My voice, imprinted with a great affection.
O how and how much
I beheld it grow
the new joy that superadded was
Unto its joys, as soon as I had spoken!
Thus changed, it
said to me: "The world possessed me
time below; and, if it had been more,
Much evil will be which would not have been.
My gladness keepeth
me concealed from thee,
rayeth round about me, and doth hide me
Like as a creature swathed in its own silk.
Much didst thou
love me, and thou hadst good reason;
had I been below, I should have shown thee
Somewhat beyond the foliage of my love.
margin, which doth bathe itself
Rhone, when it is mingled with the Sorgue,
Me for its lord awaited in due time,
And that horn of
Ausonia, which is towned
Bari, with Gaeta and Catona,
Whence Tronto and Verde in the sea disgorge.
upon my brow the crown
that dominion which the Danube waters
After the German borders it abandons;
Trinacria, that is murky
Pachino and Peloro, (on the gulf
Which greatest scath from Eurus doth receive,)
Typhoeus, but through nascent sulphur,
have awaited her own monarchs still,
Through me from Charles descended and from Rudolph,
If evil lordship,
that exasperates ever
subject populations, had not moved
Palermo to the outcry of 'Death! death!'
And if my brother
could but this foresee,
greedy poverty of Catalonia
Straight would he flee, that it might not molest him;
For verily 'tis
needful to provide,
him or other, so that on his bark
Already freighted no more freight be placed.
His nature, which
from liberal covetous
such a soldiery would need
As should not care for hoarding in a chest."
"Because I do
believe the lofty joy
speech infuses into me, my Lord,
Where every good thing doth begin and end
Thou seest as I see
it, the more grateful
it to me; and this too hold I dear,
That gazing upon God thou dost discern it.
Glad hast thou made
me; so make clear to me,
speaking thou hast stirred me up to doubt,
How from sweet seed can bitter issue forth."
This I to him; and
he to me: "If I
show to thee a truth, to what thou askest
Thy face thou'lt hold as thou dost hold thy back.
The Good which all
the realm thou art ascending
and contents, maketh its providence
To be a power within these bodies vast;
And not alone the
natures are foreseen
the mind that in itself is perfect,
But they together with their preservation.
thing this bow shoots forth
foreordained unto an end foreseen,
Even as a shaft directed to its mark.
If that were not,
the heaven which thou dost walk
in such manner its effects produce,
That they no longer would be arts, but ruins.
This cannot be, if
keep these stars in motion are not maimed,
And maimed the First that has not made them perfect.
Wilt thou this
truth have clearer made to thee?"
I: "Not so; for 'tis impossible
That nature tire, I see, in what is needful."
Whence he again:
"Now say, would it be worse
men on earth were they not citizens?"
"Yes," I replied; "and here I ask no reason."
"And can they be
so, if below they live not
unto offices diverse?
No, if your master writeth well for you."
So came he with
deductions to this point;
he concluded: "Therefore it behoves
The roots of your effects to be diverse.
Hence one is Solon
born, another Xerxes,
Melchisedec, and another he
Who, flying through the air, his son did lose.
which a signet is
mortal wax, doth practise well her art,
But not one inn distinguish from another;
Thence happens it
that Esau differeth
seed from Jacob; and Quirinus comes
From sire so vile that he is given to Mars.
A generated nature
its own way
always make like its progenitors,
If Providence divine were not triumphant.
Now that which was
behind thee is before thee;
that thou know that I with thee am pleased,
With a corollary will I mantle thee.
Evermore nature, if
it fortune find
to it, like each other seed
Out of its region, maketh evil thrift;
And if the world
below would fix its mind
the foundation which is laid by nature,
Pursuing that, 'twould have the people good.
But you unto
religion wrench aside
who was born to gird him with the sword,
And make a king of him who is for sermons;
footsteps wander from the road."