Paradiso: Canto XIII
Let him imagine,
who would well conceive
now I saw, and let him while I speak
Retain the image as a steadfast rock,
The fifteen stars,
that in their divers regions
sky enliven with a light so great
That it transcends all clusters of the air;
Let him the Wain
imagine unto which
vault of heaven sufficeth night and day,
So that in turning of its pole it fails not;
Let him the mouth
imagine of the horn
in the point beginneth of the axis
Round about which the primal wheel revolves,--
To have fashioned
of themselves two signs in heaven,
unto that which Minos' daughter made,
The moment when she felt the frost of death;
And one to have its
rays within the other,
both to whirl themselves in such a manner
That one should forward go, the other backward;
And he will have
some shadowing forth of that
constellation and the double dance
That circled round the point at which I was;
Because it is as
much beyond our wont,
swifter than the motion of the Chiana
Moveth the heaven that all the rest outspeeds.
There sang they
neither Bacchus, nor Apollo,
in the divine nature Persons three,
And in one person the divine and human.
The singing and the
dance fulfilled their measure,
unto us those holy lights gave need,
Growing in happiness from care to care.
Then broke the
silence of those saints concordant
light in which the admirable life
Of God's own mendicant was told to me,
And said: "Now that
one straw is trodden out
that its seed is garnered up already,
Sweet love invites me to thresh out the other.
Into that bosom,
thou believest, whence
drawn the rib to form the beauteous cheek
Whose taste to all the world is costing dear,
And into that
which, by the lance transfixed,
and since, such satisfaction made
That it weighs down the balance of all sin,
Whate'er of light
it has to human nature
lawful to possess was all infused
By the same power that both of them created;
And hence at what I
said above dost wonder,
I narrated that no second had
The good which in the fifth light is enclosed.
Now ope thine eyes
to what I answer thee,
thou shalt see thy creed and my discourse
Fit in the truth as centre in a circle.
That which can die,
and that which dieth not,
nothing but the splendour of the idea
Which by his love our Lord brings into being;
Because that living
Light, which from its fount
flows, so that it disunites not
From Him nor from the Love in them intrined,
Through its own
goodness reunites its rays
nine subsistences, as in a mirror,
Itself eternally remaining One.
Thence it descends
to the last potencies,
from act to act becoming such
That only brief contingencies it makes;
contingencies I hold to be
generated, which the heaven produces
By its own motion, with seed and without.
Neither their wax,
nor that which tempers it,
immutable, and hence beneath
The ideal signet more and less shines through;
happens, that the selfsame tree
its kind bears worse and better fruit,
And ye are born with characters diverse.
If in perfection
tempered were the wax,
were the heaven in its supremest virtue,
The brilliance of the seal would all appear;
But nature gives it
the like manner working as the artist,
Who has the skill of art and hand that trembles.
If then the fervent
Love, the Vision clear,
primal Virtue do dispose and seal,
Perfection absolute is there acquired.
Thus was of old the
earth created worthy
all and every animal perfection;
And thus the Virgin was impregnate made;
So that thine own
opinion I commend,
human nature never yet has been,
Nor will be, what it was in those two persons.
Now if no farther
forth I should proceed,
in what way was he without a peer?'
Would be the first beginning of thy words.
But, that may well
appear what now appears not,
who he was, and what occasion moved him
To make request, when it was told him, 'Ask.'
I've not so spoken
that thou canst not see
he was a king who asked for wisdom,
That he might be sufficiently a king;
'Twas not to know
the number in which are
motors here above, or if 'necesse'
With a contingent e'er 'necesse' make,
'Non si est dare
primum motum esse,'
if in semicircle can be made
Triangle so that it have no right angle.
Whence, if thou
notest this and what I said,
regal prudence is that peerless seeing
In which the shaft of my intention strikes.
And if on 'rose'
thou turnest thy clear eyes,
see that it has reference alone
To kings who're many, and the good are rare.
distinction take thou what I said,
thus it can consist with thy belief
Of the first father and of our Delight.
And lead shall this
be always to thy feet,
make thee, like a weary man, move slowly
Both to the Yes and No thou seest not;
For very low among
the fools is he
affirms without distinction, or denies,
As well in one as in the other case;
Because it happens
that full often bends
opinion in the false direction,
And then the feelings bind the intellect.
Far more than
uselessly he leaves the shore,
he returneth not the same he went,)
Who fishes for the truth, and has no skill;
And in the world
proofs manifest thereof
Melissus, Brissus are,
And many who went on and knew not whither;
Thus did Sabellius,
Arius, and those fools
have been even as swords unto the Scriptures
In rendering distorted their straight faces.
Nor yet shall
people be too confident
judging, even as he is who doth count
The corn in field or ever it be ripe.
For I have seen all
winter long the thorn
show itself intractable and fierce,
And after bear the rose upon its top;
And I have seen a
ship direct and swift
o'er the sea throughout its course entire,
To perish at the harbour's mouth at last.
Let not Dame Bertha
nor Ser Martin think,
one steal, another offering make,
To see them in the arbitrament divine;
For one may rise,
and fall the other may."