Paradiso: Canto XIV
From centre unto
rim, from rim to centre,
a round vase the water moves itself,
As from without 'tis struck or from within.
Into my mind upon a
I am saying, at the moment when
Silent became the glorious life of Thomas,
Because of the
resemblance that was born
his discourse and that of Beatrice,
Whom, after him, it pleased thus to begin:
"This man has need
(and does not tell you so,
with the voice, nor even in his thought)
Of going to the root of one truth more.
Declare unto him if
the light wherewith
your substance shall remain with you
Eternally the same that it is now;
And if it do
remain, say in what manner,
ye are again made visible,
It can be that it injure not your sight."
As by a greater
gladness urged and drawn
who are dancing in a ring sometimes
Uplift their voices and their motions quicken;
So, at that orison
devout and prompt,
holy circles a new joy displayed
In their revolving and their wondrous song.
Whoso lamenteth him
that here we die
we may live above, has never there
Seen the refreshment of the eternal rain.
The One and Two and
Three who ever liveth,
reigneth ever in Three and Two and One,
Not circumscribed and all things circumscribing,
Three several times
was chanted by each one
those spirits, with such melody
That for all merit it were just reward;
And, in the lustre
most divine of all
lesser ring, I heard a modest voice,
Such as perhaps the Angel's was to Mary,
Answer: "As long as
Paradise shall be, so long our love
Shall radiate round about us such a vesture.
Its brightness is
proportioned to the ardour,
ardour to the vision; and the vision
Equals what grace it has above its worth.
When, glorious and
sanctified, our flesh
reassumed, then shall our persons be
More pleasing by their being all complete;
For will increase
whate'er bestows on us
light gratuitous the Good Supreme,
Light which enables us to look on Him;
vision must perforce increase,
the ardour which from that is kindled,
Increase the radiance which from this proceeds.
But even as a coal
that sends forth flame,
by its vivid whiteness overpowers it
So that its own appearance it maintains,
Thus the effulgence
that surrounds us now
be o'erpowered in aspect by the flesh,
Which still to-day the earth doth cover up;
Nor can so great a
splendour weary us,
strong will be the organs of the body
To everything which hath the power to please us."
So sudden and alert
appeared to me
one and the other choir to say Amen,
That well they showed desire for their dead bodies;
Nor sole for them
perhaps, but for the mothers,
fathers, and the rest who had been dear
Or ever they became eternal flames.
And lo! all round
about of equal brightness
a lustre over what was there,
Like an horizon that is clearing up.
And as at rise of
early eve begin
the welkin new appearances,
So that the sight seems real and unreal,
It seemed to me
that new subsistences
there to be seen, and make a circle
Outside the other two circumferences.
O very sparkling of
the Holy Spirit,
sudden and incandescent it became
Unto mine eyes, that vanquished bore it not!
But Beatrice so
beautiful and smiling
to me, that with the other sights
That followed not my memory I must leave her.
Then to uplift
themselves mine eyes resumed
power, and I beheld myself translated
To higher salvation with my Lady only.
Well was I ware
that I was more uplifted
the enkindled smiling of the star,
That seemed to me more ruddy than its wont.
With all my heart,
and in that dialect
is the same in all, such holocaust
To God I made as the new grace beseemed;
And not yet from my
bosom was exhausted
ardour of sacrifice, before I knew
This offering was accepted and auspicious;
For with so great a
lustre and so red
appeared to me in twofold rays,
I said: "O Helios who dost so adorn them!"
Even as distinct
with less and greater lights
between the two poles of the world
The Galaxy that maketh wise men doubt,
in the depths of Mars,
rays described the venerable sign
That quadrants joining in a circle make.
Here doth my memory
overcome my genius;
on that cross as levin gleamed forth Christ,
So that I cannot find ensample worthy;
But he who takes
his cross and follows Christ
will pardon me what I omit,
Seeing in that aurora lighten Christ.
From horn to horn,
and 'twixt the top and base,
were in motion, brightly scintillating
As they together met and passed each other;
Thus level and
aslant and swift and slow
here behold, renewing still the sight,
The particles of bodies long and short,
Across the sunbeam
move, wherewith is listed
the shade, which for their own defence
People with cunning and with art contrive.
And as a lute and
harp, accordant strung
many strings, a dulcet tinkling make
To him by whom the notes are not distinguished,
So from the lights
that there to me appeared
through the cross a melody,
Which rapt me, not distinguishing the hymn.
Well was I ware it
was of lofty laud,
there came to me, "Arise and conquer!"
As unto him who hears and comprehends not.
So much enamoured I
until then there was not anything
That e'er had fettered me with such sweet bonds.
Perhaps my word
appears somewhat too bold,
the delight of those fair eyes,
Into which gazing my desire has rest;
But who bethinks
him that the living seals
every beauty grow in power ascending,
And that I there had not turned round to those,
Can me excuse, if I
excuse myself, and see that I speak truly:
For here the holy joy is not disclosed,
it becomes more pure.