Paradiso: Canto XIX
Appeared before me
with its wings outspread
beautiful image that in sweet fruition
Made jubilant the interwoven souls;
Appeared a little
ruby each, wherein
of the sun was burning so enkindled
That each into mine eyes refracted it.
And what it now
behoves me to retrace
voice has e'er reported, nor ink written,
Nor was by fantasy e'er comprehended;
For speak I saw,
and likewise heard, the beak,
utter with its voice both 'I' and 'My,'
When in conception it was 'We' and 'Our.'
And it began:
"Being just and merciful
I exalted here unto that glory
Which cannot be exceeded by desire;
And upon earth I
left my memory
that the evil-minded people there
Commend it, but continue not the story."
So doth a single
heat from many embers
itself felt, even as from many loves
Issued a single sound from out that image.
thereafter: "O perpetual flowers
the eternal joy, that only one
Make me perceive your odours manifold,
within me the great fast
a long season has in hunger held me,
Not finding for it any food on earth.
Well do I know,
that if in heaven its mirror
Divine another realm doth make,
Yours apprehends it not through any veil.
You know how I
attentively address me
listen; and you know what is the doubt
That is in me so very old a fast."
Even as a falcon,
issuing from his hood,
move his head, and with his wings applaud him,
Showing desire, and making himself fine,
Saw I become that
standard, which of lauds
interwoven of the grace divine,
With such songs as he knows who there rejoices.
Then it began: "He
who a compass turned
the world's outer verge, and who within it
Devised so much occult and manifest,
Could not the
impress of his power so make
all the universe, as that his Word
Should not remain in infinite excess.
And this makes
certain that the first proud being,
was the paragon of every creature,
By not awaiting light fell immature.
And hence appears
it, that each minor nature
scant receptacle unto that good
Which has no end, and by itself is measured.
In consequence our
vision, which perforce
be some ray of that intelligence
With which all things whatever are replete,
Cannot in its own
nature be so potent,
it shall not its origin discern
Far beyond that which is apparent to it.
Therefore into the
power of vision that your world receives,
As eye into the ocean, penetrates;
Which, though it
see the bottom near the shore,
the deep perceives it not, and yet
'Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth.
There is no light
but comes from the serene
never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness
Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison.
Amply to thee is
opened now the cavern
has concealed from thee the living justice
Of which thou mad'st such frequent questioning.
For saidst thou:
'Born a man is on the shore
Indus, and is none who there can speak
Of Christ, nor who can read, nor who can write;
And all his
inclinations and his actions
good, so far as human reason sees,
Without a sin in life or in discourse:
He dieth unbaptised
and without faith;
is this justice that condemneth him?
Where is his fault, if he do not believe?'
Now who art thou,
that on the bench wouldst sit
judgment at a thousand miles away,
With the short vision of a single span?
Truly to him who
with me subtilizes,
so the Scripture were not over you,
For doubting there were marvellous occasion.
O animals terrene,
O stolid minds,
primal will, that in itself is good,
Ne'er from itself, the Good Supreme, has moved.
So much is just as
is accordant with it;
good created draws it to itself,
But it, by raying forth, occasions that."
Even as above her
nest goes circling round
stork when she has fed her little ones,
And he who has been fed looks up at her,
So lifted I my
brows, and even such
the blessed image, which its wings
Was moving, by so many counsels urged.
Circling around it
sang, and said: "As are
notes to thee, who dost not comprehend them,
Such is the eternal judgment to you mortals."
splendours of the Holy Spirit
quiet then, but still within the standard
That made the Romans reverend to the world.
"Unto this kingdom never
one who had not faith in Christ,
Before or since he to the tree was nailed.
But look thou, many
crying are, 'Christ, Christ!'
at the judgment shall be far less near
To him than some shall be who knew not Christ.
shall the Ethiop condemn,
the two companies shall be divided,
The one for ever rich, the other poor.
What to your kings
may not the Persians say,
they that volume opened shall behold
In which are written down all their dispraises?
There shall be
seen, among the deeds of Albert,
which ere long shall set the pen in motion,
For which the realm of Prague shall be deserted.
There shall be seen
the woe that on the Seine
brings by falsifying of the coin,
Who by the blow of a wild boar shall die.
There shall be seen
the pride that causes thirst,
makes the Scot and Englishman so mad
That they within their boundaries cannot rest;
Be seen the luxury
and effeminate life
him of Spain, and the Bohemian,
Who valour never knew and never wished;
Be seen the Cripple
goodness represented by an I,
While the reverse an M shall represent;
Be seen the avarice
him who guards the Island of the Fire,
Wherein Anchises finished his long life;
And to declare how
pitiful he is
be his record in contracted letters
Which shall make note of much in little space.
And shall appear to
each one the foul deeds
uncle and of brother who a nation
So famous have dishonoured, and two crowns.
And he of Portugal
and he of Norway
there be known, and he of Rascia too,
Who saw in evil hour the coin of Venice.
O happy Hungary, if
she let herself
wronged no farther! and Navarre the happy,
If with the hills that gird her she be armed!
And each one may
believe that now, as hansel
do Nicosia and Famagosta
Lament and rage because of their own beast,
Who from the
others' flank departeth not."