Paradiso: Canto XVIII
Now was alone
rejoicing in its word
soul beatified, and I was tasting
My own, the bitter tempering with the sweet,
And the Lady who to
God was leading me
"Change thy thought; consider that I am
Near unto Him who every wrong disburdens."
Unto the loving
accents of my comfort
turned me round, and then what love I saw
Within those holy eyes I here relinquish;
Not only that my
language I distrust,
that my mind cannot return so far
Above itself, unless another guide it.
Thus much upon that
point can I repeat,
her again beholding, my affection
From every other longing was released.
While the eternal
pleasure, which direct
upon Beatrice, from her fair face
Contented me with its reflected aspect,
Conquering me with
the radiance of a smile,
said to me, "Turn thee about and listen;
Not in mine eyes alone is Paradise."
Even as sometimes
here do we behold
affection in the look, if it be such
That all the soul is wrapt away by it,
So, by the flaming
of the effulgence holy
which I turned, I recognized therein
The wish of speaking to me somewhat farther.
And it began: "In
this fifth resting-place
the tree that liveth by its summit,
And aye bears fruit, and never loses leaf,
Are blessed spirits
that below, ere yet
came to Heaven, were of such great renown
That every Muse therewith would affluent be.
Therefore look thou
upon the cross's horns;
whom I now shall name will there enact
What doth within a cloud its own swift fire."
I saw athwart the
Cross a splendour drawn
naming Joshua, (even as he did it,)
Nor noted I the word before the deed;
And at the name of
the great Maccabee
saw another move itself revolving,
And gladness was the whip unto that top.
Charlemagne and for Orlando,
of them my regard attentive followed
As followeth the eye its falcon flying.
thereafterward, and Renouard,
the Duke Godfrey, did attract my sight
Along upon that Cross, and Robert Guiscard.
Then, moved and
mingled with the other lights,
soul that had addressed me showed how great
An artist 'twas among the heavenly singers.
To my right side I
turned myself around,
duty to behold in Beatrice
Either by words or gesture signified;
And so translucent
I beheld her eyes,
full of pleasure, that her countenance
Surpassed its other and its latest wont.
And as, by feeling
man in doing good from day to day
Becomes aware his virtue is increasing,
So I became aware
that my gyration
heaven together had increased its arc,
That miracle beholding more adorned.
And such as is the
change, in little lapse
time, in a pale woman, when her face
Is from the load of bashfulness unladen,
Such was it in mine
eyes, when I had turned,
by the whiteness of the temperate star,
The sixth, which to itself had gathered me.
Within that Jovial
torch did I behold
sparkling of the love which was therein
Delineate our language to mine eyes.
And even as birds
uprisen from the shore,
in congratulation o'er their food,
Make squadrons of themselves, now round, now long,
So from within
those lights the holy creatures
flying to and fro, and in their figures
Made of themselves now D, now I, now L.
First singing they
to their own music moved;
one becoming of these characters,
A little while they rested and were silent.
O divine Pegasea,
thou who genius
glorious make, and render it long-lived,
And this through thee the cities and the kingdoms,
Illume me with
thyself, that I may bring
figures out as I have them conceived!
Apparent be thy power in these brief verses!
they displayed in five times seven
and consonants; and I observed
The parts as they seemed spoken unto me.
justitiam,' these were
verb and noun of all that was depicted;
'Qui judicatis terram' were the last.
Thereafter in the M
of the fifth word
they so arranged, that Jupiter
Seemed to be silver there with gold inlaid.
And other lights I
saw descend where was
summit of the M, and pause there singing
The good, I think, that draws them to itself.
Then, as in
striking upon burning logs
there fly innumerable sparks,
Whence fools are wont to look for auguries,
More than a
thousand lights seemed thence to rise,
to ascend, some more, and others less,
Even as the Sun that lights them had allotted;
And, each one being
quiet in its place,
head and neck beheld I of an eagle
Delineated by that inlaid fire.
He who there paints
has none to be his guide;
Himself guides; and is from Him remembered
That virtue which is form unto the nest.
beatitude, that contented seemed
first to bloom a lily on the M,
By a slight motion followed out the imprint.
O gentle star! what
and how many gems
demonstrate to me, that all our justice
Effect is of that heaven which thou ingemmest!
Wherefore I pray
the Mind, in which begin
motion and thy virtue, to regard
Whence comes the smoke that vitiates thy rays;
So that a second
time it now be wroth
buying and with selling in the temple
Whose walls were built with signs and martyrdoms!
O soldiery of
heaven, whom I contemplate,
for those who are upon the earth
All gone astray after the bad example!
Once 'twas the
custom to make war with swords;
now 'tis made by taking here and there
The bread the pitying Father shuts from none.
Yet thou, who
writest but to cancel, think
Peter and that Paul, who for this vineyard
Which thou art spoiling died, are still alive!
Well canst thou
say: "So steadfast my desire
unto him who willed to live alone,
And for a dance was led to martyrdom,
That I know not the
Fisherman nor Paul."