The Divine Comedy
translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Paradiso: Canto I
The glory of Him
who moveth everything
penetrate the universe, and shine
In one part more and in another less.
Within that heaven
which most his light receives
I, and things beheld which to repeat
Nor knows, nor can, who from above descends;
Because in drawing
near to its desire
intellect ingulphs itself so far,
That after it the memory cannot go.
Truly whatever of
the holy realm
had the power to treasure in my mind
Shall now become the subject of my song.
O good Apollo, for
this last emprise
of me such a vessel of thy power
As giving the beloved laurel asks!
One summit of
been enough for me, but now with both
I needs must enter the arena left.
Enter into my
bosom, thou, and breathe
at the time when Marsyas thou didst draw
Out of the scabbard of those limbs of his.
O power divine,
lend'st thou thyself to me
that the shadow of the blessed realm
Stamped in my brain I can make manifest,
Thou'lt see me come
unto thy darling tree,
crown myself thereafter with those leaves
Of which the theme and thou shall make me worthy.
So seldom, Father,
do we gather them
triumph or of Caesar or of Poet,
(The fault and shame of human inclinations,)
That the Peneian
foliage should bring forth
to the joyous Delphic deity,
When any one it makes to thirst for it.
A little spark is
followed by great flame;
with better voices after me
Shall prayer be made that Cyrrha may respond!
To mortal men by
the world's lamp; but by that one
Which circles four uniteth with three crosses,
With better course
and with a better star
it issues, and the mundane wax
Tempers and stamps more after its own fashion.
Almost that passage
had made morning there
evening here, and there was wholly white
That hemisphere, and black the other part,
towards the left-hand side
saw turned round, and gazing at the sun;
Never did eagle fasten so upon it!
And even as a
second ray is wont
issue from the first and reascend,
Like to a pilgrim who would fain return,
Thus of her action,
through the eyes infused
my imagination, mine I made,
And sunward fixed mine eyes beyond our wont.
There much is
lawful which is here unlawful
our powers, by virtue of the place
Made for the human species as its own.
Not long I bore it,
nor so little while
I beheld it sparkle round about
Like iron that comes molten from the fire;
And suddenly it
seemed that day to day
added, as if He who has the power
Had with another sun the heaven adorned.
With eyes upon the
Beatrice all intent, and I, on her
Fixing my vision from above removed,
Such at her aspect
Glaucus, tasting of the herb that made him
Peer of the other gods beneath the sea.
transhumanise in words
were; the example, then, suffice
Him for whom Grace the experience reserves.
If I was merely
what of me thou newly
Love who governest the heaven,
Thou knowest, who didst lift me with thy light!
When now the wheel,
which thou dost make eternal
thee, made me attentive to it
By harmony thou dost modulate and measure,
Then seemed to me
so much of heaven enkindled
the sun's flame, that neither rain nor river
E'er made a lake so widely spread abroad.
The newness of the
sound and the great light
in me a longing for their cause,
Never before with such acuteness felt;
Whence she, who saw
me as I saw myself,
quiet in me my perturbed mind,
Opened her mouth, ere I did mine to ask,
And she began:
"Thou makest thyself so dull
false imagining, that thou seest not
What thou wouldst see if thou hadst shaken it off.
Thou art not upon
earth, as thou believest;
lightning, fleeing its appropriate site,
Ne'er ran as thou, who thitherward returnest."
If of my former
doubt I was divested
these brief little words more smiled than spoken,
I in a new one was the more ensnared;
And said: "Already
did I rest content
great amazement; but am now amazed
In what way I transcend these bodies light."
after a pitying sigh,
eyes directed tow'rds me with that look
A mother casts on a delirious child;
And she began: "All
things whate'er they be
order among themselves, and this is form,
That makes the universe resemble God.
Here do the higher
creatures see the footprints
the Eternal Power, which is the end
Whereto is made the law already mentioned.
In the order that I
speak of are inclined
natures, by their destinies diverse,
More or less near unto their origin;
Hence they move
onward unto ports diverse
the great sea of being; and each one
With instinct given it which bears it on.
This bears away the
fire towards the moon;
is in mortal hearts the motive power
This binds together and unites the earth.
Nor only the
created things that are
intelligence this bow shoots forth,
But those that have both intellect and love.
The Providence that
regulates all this
with its light the heaven forever quiet,
Wherein that turns which has the greatest haste.
And thither now, as
to a site decreed,
us away the virtue of that cord
Which aims its arrows at a joyous mark.
True is it, that as
oftentimes the form
not with the intention of the art,
Because in answering is matter deaf,
So likewise from
this course doth deviate
the creature, who the power possesses,
Though thus impelled, to swerve some other way,
(In the same wise
as one may see the fire
from a cloud,) if the first impetus
Earthward is wrested by some false delight.
Thou shouldst not
wonder more, if well I judge,
thine ascent, than at a rivulet
From some high mount descending to the lowland.
Marvel it would be
in thee, if deprived
hindrance, thou wert seated down below,
As if on earth the living fire were quiet."
heavenward turned again her face.