Paradiso: Canto XXIX
At what time both
the children of Latona,
by the Ram and by the Scales,
Together make a zone of the horizon,
As long as from the
time the zenith holds them
equipoise, till from that girdle both
Changing their hemisphere disturb the balance,
So long, her face
depicted with a smile,
Beatrice keep silence while she gazed
Fixedly at the point which had o'ercome me.
Then she began: "I
say, and I ask not
thou dost wish to hear, for I have seen it
Where centres every When and every 'Ubi.'
Not to acquire some
good unto himself,
is impossible, but that his splendour
In its resplendency may say, 'Subsisto,'
In his eternity
outside of time,
all other limits, as it pleased him,
Into new Loves the Eternal Love unfolded.
Nor as if torpid
did he lie before;
neither after nor before proceeded
The going forth of God upon these waters.
Matter and Form
unmingled and conjoined
into being that had no defect,
E'en as three arrows from a three-stringed bow.
And as in glass, in
amber, or in crystal
sunbeam flashes so, that from its coming
To its full being is no interval,
So from its Lord
did the triform effect
forth into its being all together,
Without discrimination of beginning.
con-created and constructed
substances, and summit of the world
Were those wherein the pure act was produced.
held the lowest part;
bound potentiality with act
Such bond that it shall never be unbound.
Jerome has written
unto you of angels
a long lapse of centuries
Or ever yet the other world was made;
But written is this
truth in many places
writers of the Holy Ghost, and thou
Shalt see it, if thou lookest well thereat.
And even reason
seeth it somewhat,
it would not concede that for so long
Could be the motors without their perfection.
Now dost thou know
both where and when these Loves
were, and how; so that extinct
In thy desire already are three fires.
Nor could one
reach, in counting, unto twenty
swiftly, as a portion of these angels
Disturbed the subject of your elements.
The rest remained,
and they began this art
thou discernest, with so great delight
That never from their circling do they cease.
The occasion of the
fall was the accursed
of that One, whom thou hast seen
By all the burden of the world constrained.
Those whom thou
here beholdest modest were
recognise themselves as of that goodness
Which made them apt for so much understanding;
On which account
their vision was exalted
the enlightening grace and their own merit,
So that they have a full and steadfast will.
I would not have
thee doubt, but certain be,
meritorious to receive this grace,
According as the affection opens to it.
Now round about in
mayst thou contemplate, if these my words
Be gathered up, without all further aid.
But since upon the
earth, throughout your schools,
teach that such is the angelic nature
That it doth hear, and recollect, and will,
More will I say,
that thou mayst see unmixed
truth that is confounded there below,
Equivocating in such like prelections.
since in God's countenance
jocund were, turned not away their sight
From that wherefrom not anything is hidden;
Hence they have not
their vision intercepted
object new, and hence they do not need
To recollect, through interrupted thought.
So that below, not
sleeping, people dream,
they speak truth, and not believing;
And in the last is greater sin and shame.
Below you do not
journey by one path
so transporteth you
Love of appearance and the thought thereof.
And even this above
here is endured
less disdain, than when is set aside
The Holy Writ, or when it is distorted.
They think not
there how much of blood it costs
sow it in the world, and how he pleases
Who in humility keeps close to it.
Each striveth for
appearance, and doth make
own inventions; and these treated are
By preachers, and the Evangel holds its peace.
One sayeth that the
moon did backward turn,
the Passion of Christ, and interpose herself
So that the sunlight reached not down below;
And lies; for of
its own accord the light
itself; whence to Spaniards and to Indians,
As to the Jews, did such eclipse respond.
Florence has not so
many Lapi and Bindi
fables such as these, that every year
Are shouted from the pulpit back and forth,
In such wise that
the lambs, who do not know,
back from pasture fed upon the wind,
And not to see the harm doth not excuse them.
Christ did not to
his first disciples say,
forth, and to the world preach idle tales,'
But unto them a true foundation gave;
And this so loudly
sounded from their lips,
in the warfare to enkindle Faith,
They made of the Evangel shields and lances.
Now men go forth
with jests and drolleries
preach, and if but well the people laugh,
The hood puffs out, and nothing more is asked.
But in the cowl
there nestles such a bird,
if the common people were to see it,
They would perceive what pardons they confide in,
For which so great
on earth has grown the folly,
without proof of any testimony,
To each indulgence they would flock together.
By this Saint
Anthony his pig doth fatten,
many others, who are worse than pigs,
Paying in money without mark of coinage.
But since we have
back thine eyes forthwith to the right path,
So that the way be shortened with the time.
This nature doth so
numbers, that there never yet was speech
Nor mortal fancy that can go so far.
And if thou notest
that which is revealed
Daniel, thou wilt see that in his thousands
Number determinate is kept concealed.
The primal light,
that all irradiates it,
modes as many is received therein,
As are the splendours wherewith it is mated.
Hence, inasmuch as
on the act conceptive
affection followeth, of love the sweetness
Therein diversely fervid is or tepid.
The height behold
now and the amplitude
the eternal power, since it hath made
Itself so many mirrors, where 'tis broken,
One in itself
remaining as before."