Paradiso: Canto XXXI
In fashion then as
of a snow-white rose
itself to me the saintly host,
Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride,
But the other host,
that flying sees and sings
glory of Him who doth enamour it,
And the goodness that created it so noble,
Even as a swarm of
bees, that sinks in flowers
moment, and the next returns again
To where its labour is to sweetness turned,
Sank into the great
flower, that is adorned
leaves so many, and thence reascended
To where its love abideth evermore.
Their faces had
they all of living flame,
wings of gold, and all the rest so white
No snow unto that limit doth attain.
From bench to
bench, into the flower descending,
carried something of the peace and ardour
Which by the fanning of their flanks they won.
Nor did the
interposing 'twixt the flower
what was o'er it of such plenitude
Of flying shapes impede the sight and splendour;
Because the light
divine so penetrates
universe, according to its merit,
That naught can be an obstacle against it.
This realm secure
and full of gladsomeness,
with ancient people and with modern,
Unto one mark had all its look and love.
O Trinal Light,
that in a single star
upon their sight so satisfies them,
Look down upon our tempest here below!
If the barbarians,
coming from some region
every day by Helice is covered,
Revolving with her son whom she delights in,
Beholding Rome and
all her noble works,
wonder-struck, what time the Lateran
Above all mortal things was eminent,--
I who to the divine
had from the human,
time unto eternity, had come,
From Florence to a people just and sane,
With what amazement must I have been filled!
between this and the joy, it was
My pleasure not to hear, and to be mute.
And as a pilgrim
who delighteth him
gazing round the temple of his vow,
And hopes some day to retell how it was,
So through the
living light my way pursuing
I mine eyes o'er all the ranks,
Now up, now down, and now all round about.
Faces I saw of
by His light and their own smile,
And attitudes adorned with every grace.
The general form of
glance had comprehended as a whole,
In no part hitherto remaining fixed,
And round I turned
me with rekindled wish
Lady to interrogate of things
Concerning which my mind was in suspense.
One thing I meant,
another answered me;
thought I should see Beatrice, and saw
An Old Man habited like the glorious people.
O'erflowing was he
in his eyes and cheeks
joy benign, in attitude of pity
As to a tender father is becoming.
And "She, where is
she?" instantly I said;
he: "To put an end to thy desire,
Me Beatrice hath sent from mine own place.
And if thou lookest
up to the third round
the first rank, again shalt thou behold her
Upon the throne her merits have assigned her."
Without reply I
lifted up mine eyes,
saw her, as she made herself a crown
Reflecting from herself the eternal rays.
Not from that
region which the highest thunders
any mortal eye so far removed,
In whatsoever sea it deepest sinks,
As there from
Beatrice my sight; but this
nothing unto me; because her image
Descended not to me by medium blurred.
"O Lady, thou in
whom my hope is strong,
who for my salvation didst endure
In Hell to leave the imprint of thy feet,
things I have beheld,
coming from thy power and from thy goodness
I recognise the virtue and the grace.
Thou from a slave
hast brought me unto freedom,
all those ways, by all the expedients,
Whereby thou hadst the power of doing it.
Preserve towards me
that this soul of mine, which thou hast healed,
Pleasing to thee be loosened from the body."
Thus I implored;
and she, so far away,
as it seemed, and looked once more at me;
Then unto the eternal fountain turned.
And said the Old
Man holy: "That thou mayst
perfectly thy journeying,
Whereunto prayer and holy love have sent me,
Fly with thine eyes
all round about this garden;
seeing it will discipline thy sight
Farther to mount along the ray divine.
And she, the Queen
of Heaven, for whom I burn
with love, will grant us every grace,
Because that I her faithful Bernard am."
As he who
peradventure from Croatia
to gaze at our Veronica,
Who through its ancient fame is never sated,
But says in
thought, the while it is displayed,
Lord, Christ Jesus, God of very God,
Now was your semblance made like unto this?"
Even such was I
while gazing at the living
of the man, who in this world
By contemplation tasted of that peace.
"Thou son of grace,
this jocund life," began he,
not be known to thee by keeping ever
Thine eyes below here on the lowest place;
But mark the
circles to the most remote,
thou shalt behold enthroned the Queen
To whom this realm is subject and devoted."
I lifted up mine
eyes, and as at morn
oriental part of the horizon
Surpasses that wherein the sun goes down,
Thus, as if going
with mine eyes from vale
mount, I saw a part in the remoteness
Surpass in splendour all the other front.
And even as there
where we await the pole
Phaeton drove badly, blazes more
The light, and is on either side diminished,
So likewise that
brightest in the centre, and each side
In equal measure did the flame abate.
And at that centre,
with their wings expanded,
than a thousand jubilant Angels saw I,
Each differing in effulgence and in kind.
I saw there at
their sports and at their songs
beauty smiling, which the gladness was
Within the eyes of all the other saints;
And if I had in
speaking as much wealth
in imagining, I should not dare
To attempt the smallest part of its delight.
Bernard, as soon as
he beheld mine eyes
and intent upon its fervid fervour,
His own with such affection turned to her
That it made mine
more ardent to behold.