Paradiso: Canto XXXII
Absorbed in his
delight, that contemplator
the willing office of a teacher,
And gave beginning to these holy words:
"The wound that
Mary closed up and anointed,
at her feet who is so beautiful,
She is the one who opened it and pierced it.
Within that order
which the third seats make
seated Rachel, lower than the other,
With Beatrice, in manner as thou seest.
Judith, and her who was
of the Singer, who for dole
Of the misdeed said, 'Miserere mei,'
Canst thou behold
from seat to seat descending
in gradation, as with each one's name
I through the Rose go down from leaf to leaf.
And downward from
the seventh row, even as
the same, succeed the Hebrew women,
Dividing all the tresses of the flower;
to the view which Faith
Christ had taken, these are the partition
By which the sacred stairways are divided.
Upon this side,
where perfect is the flower
each one of its petals, seated are
Those who believed in Christ who was to come.
Upon the other
side, where intersected
vacant spaces are the semicircles,
Are those who looked to Christ already come.
And as, upon this
side, the glorious seat
the Lady of Heaven, and the other seats
Below it, such a great division make,
So opposite doth
that of the great John,
ever holy, desert and martyrdom
Endured, and afterwards two years in Hell.
And under him thus
to divide were chosen
and Benedict, and Augustine,
And down to us the rest from round to round.
Behold now the high
one and other aspect of the Faith
In equal measure shall this garden fill.
And know that
downward from that rank which cleaves
the sequence of the two divisions,
Not by their proper merit are they seated;
But by another's
under fixed conditions;
these are spirits one and all assoiled
Before they any true election had.
Well canst thou
recognise it in their faces,
also in their voices puerile,
If thou regard them well and hearken to them.
Now doubtest thou,
and doubting thou art silent;
I will loosen for thee the strong bond
In which thy subtile fancies hold thee fast.
amplitude of this domain
casual point can possibly find place,
No more than sadness can, or thirst, or hunger;
For by eternal law
has been established
thou beholdest, so that closely
The ring is fitted to the finger here.
And therefore are
these people, festinate
true life, not 'sine causa' here
More and less excellent among themselves.
The King, by means
of whom this realm reposes
so great love and in so great delight
That no will ventureth to ask for more,
In his own joyous
aspect every mind
at his pleasure dowers with grace
Diversely; and let here the effect suffice.
And this is clearly
and expressly noted
you in Holy Scripture, in those twins
Who in their mother had their anger roused.
According to the
colour of the hair,
with such a grace the light supreme
Consenteth that they worthily be crowned.
Without, then, any
merit of their deeds,
are they in different gradations,
Differing only in their first acuteness.
'Tis true that in
the early centuries,
innocence, to work out their salvation
Sufficient was the faith of parents only.
After the earlier
ages were completed,
it that the males by circumcision
Unto their innocent wings should virtue add;
But after that the
time of grace had come
the baptism absolute of Christ,
Such innocence below there was retained.
Look now into the
face that unto Christ
most resemblance; for its brightness only
Is able to prepare thee to see Christ."
On her did I behold
so great a gladness
down, borne onward in the holy minds
Created through that altitude to fly,
That whatsoever I
had seen before
not suspend me in such admiration,
Nor show me such similitude of God.
And the same Love
that first descended there,
Maria, gratia plena," singing,
In front of her his wings expanded wide.
Unto the canticle
every part the court beatified,
So that each sight became serener for it.
"O holy father, who
for me endurest
be below here, leaving the sweet place
In which thou sittest by eternal lot,
Who is the Angel
that with so much joy
the eyes is looking of our Queen,
Enamoured so that he seems made of fire?"
Thus I again
recourse had to the teaching
that one who delighted him in Mary
As doth the star of morning in the sun.
And he to me: "Such
gallantry and grace
there can be in Angel and in soul,
All is in him; and thus we fain would have it;
Because he is the
one who bore the palm
unto Mary, when the Son of God
To take our burden on himself decreed.
But now come onward
with thine eyes, as I
shall go, and note the great patricians
Of this most just and merciful of empires.
Those two that sit
above there most enrapture
being very near unto Augusta,
Are as it were the two roots of this Rose.
He who upon the
left is near her placed
father is, by whose audacious taste
The human species so much bitter tastes.
Upon the right thou
seest that ancient father
Holy Church, into whose keeping Christ
The keys committed of this lovely flower.
And he who all the
evil days beheld,
his death, of her the beauteous bride
Who with the spear and with the nails was won,
Beside him sits,
and by the other rests
leader under whom on manna lived
The people ingrate, fickle, and stiff-necked.
seest thou Anna seated,
well content to look upon her daughter,
Her eyes she moves not while she sings Hosanna.
And opposite the
eldest household father
sits, she who thy Lady moved
When to rush downward thou didst bend thy brows.
But since the
moments of thy vision fly,
will we make full stop, as a good tailor
Who makes the gown according to his cloth,
And unto the first
Love will turn our eyes,
looking upon Him thou penetrate
As far as possible through his effulgence.
peradventure thou recede,
thy wings believing to advance,
By prayer behoves it that grace be obtained;
Grace from that one
who has the power to aid thee;
thou shalt follow me with thy affection
That from my words thy heart turn not aside."
And he began this