Paradiso: Canto XXVIII
After the truth
against the present life
miserable mortals was unfolded
By her who doth imparadise my mind,
As in a
looking-glass a taper's flame
sees who from behind is lighted by it,
Before he has it in his sight or thought,
And turns him round
to see if so the glass
him the truth, and sees that it accords
Therewith as doth a music with its metre,
In similar wise my
I did, looking into those fair eyes,
Of which Love made the springes to ensnare me.
And as I turned me
round, and mine were touched
that which is apparent in that volume,
Whenever on its gyre we gaze intent,
A point beheld I,
that was raying out
so acute, the sight which it enkindles
Must close perforce before such great acuteness.
And whatsoever star
seems smallest here
seem to be a moon, if placed beside it.
As one star with another star is placed.
Perhaps at such a
distance as appears
halo cincturing the light that paints it,
When densest is the vapour that sustains it,
Thus distant round
the point a circle of fire
swiftly whirled, that it would have surpassed
Whatever motion soonest girds the world;
And this was by
by a third, the third then by a fourth,
By a fifth the fourth, and then by a sixth the fifth;
followed thereupon in width
ample now, that Juno's messenger
Entire would be too narrow to contain it.
Even so the eighth
and ninth; and every one
slowly moved, according as it was
In number distant farther from the first.
And that one had
its flame most crystalline
which less distant was the stainless spark,
I think because more with its truth imbued.
My Lady, who in my
me much perplexed, said: "From that point
Dependent is the heaven and nature all.
Behold that circle
most conjoined to it,
know thou, that its motion is so swift
Through burning love whereby it is spurred on."
And I to her: "If
the world were arranged
the order which I see in yonder wheels,
What's set before me would have satisfied me;
But in the world of
sense we can perceive
evermore the circles are diviner
As they are from the centre more remote
Wherefore if my
desire is to be ended
this miraculous and angelic temple,
That has for confines only love and light,
To hear behoves me
still how the example
the exemplar go not in one fashion,
Since for myself in vain I contemplate it."
"If thine own
fingers unto such a knot
insufficient, it is no great wonder,
So hard hath it become for want of trying."
My Lady thus; then
said she: "Do thou take
I shall tell thee, if thou wouldst be sated,
And exercise on that thy subtlety.
corporal are wide and narrow
to the more or less of virtue
Which is distributed through all their parts.
goodness works the greater weal,
greater weal the greater body holds,
If perfect equally are all its parts.
Therefore this one
which sweeps along with it
universe sublime, doth correspond
Unto the circle which most loves and knows.
On which account,
if thou unto the virtue
thy measure, not to the appearance
Of substances that unto thee seem round,
Thou wilt behold a
more to greater, and of less to smaller,
In every heaven, with its Intelligence."
Even as remaineth
splendid and serene
hemisphere of air, when Boreas
Is blowing from that cheek where he is mildest,
Because is purified
and resolved the rack
erst disturbed it, till the welkin laughs
With all the beauties of its pageantry;
Thus did I
likewise, after that my Lady
me provided with her clear response,
And like a star in heaven the truth was seen.
And soon as to a
stop her words had come,
otherwise does iron scintillate
When molten, than those circles scintillated.
all the sparks repeated,
they so many were, their number makes
More millions than the doubling of the chess.
I heard them sing
hosanna choir by choir
the fixed point which holds them at the 'Ubi,'
And ever will, where they have ever been.
And she, who saw
the dubious meditations
my mind, "The primal circles," said,
"Have shown thee Seraphim and Cherubim.
Thus rapidly they
follow their own bonds,
be as like the point as most they can,
And can as far as they are high in vision.
Those other Loves,
that round about them go,
of the countenance divine are called,
Because they terminate the primal Triad.
And thou shouldst
know that they all have delight
much as their own vision penetrates
The Truth, in which all intellect finds rest.
From this it may be
seen how blessedness
founded in the faculty which sees,
And not in that which loves, and follows next;
And of this seeing
merit is the measure,
is brought forth by grace, and by good will;
Thus on from grade to grade doth it proceed.
The second Triad,
which is germinating
such wise in this sempiternal spring,
That no nocturnal Aries despoils,
threefold melody, that sounds in three
Orders of joy, with which it is intrined.
The three Divine
are in this hierarchy,
the Dominions, and the Virtues next;
And the third order is that of the Powers.
Then in the dances
Principalities and Archangels wheel;
The last is wholly of angelic sports.
These orders upward
all of them are gazing,
downward so prevail, that unto God
They all attracted are and all attract.
And Dionysius with
so great desire
contemplate these Orders set himself,
He named them and distinguished them as I do.
afterwards dissented from him;
as soon as he unclosed his eyes
Within this heaven, he at himself did smile.
And if so much of
secret truth a mortal
on earth, I would not have thee marvel,
For he who saw it here revealed it to him,
With much more of
the truth about these circles."