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The gentle Lady urged me on behind them

Up o'er that stairway by a single sign,

So did her virtue overcome my nature;
Nor here below, where one goes up and down

By natural law, was motion e'er so swift

That it could be compared unto my wing.
Reader, as I may unto that devout

Triumph return, on whose account I often

For my transgressions weep and beat my breast,-
Thou hadst not thrust thy finger in the fire

And drawn it out again, before I saw

The sign that follows Taurus, and was in it.
O glorious stars, O light impregnated

With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge

All of my genius, whatsoe'er it be,
With you was born, and hid himself with you,

He who is father of all mortal life,

When first I tasted of the Tuscan air;
And then when grace was freely given to me

To enter the high wheel which turns you round,

Your region was allotted unto me.
To you devoutly at this hour my soul

Is sighing, that it virtue may acquire

For the stern pass that draws it to itself. “ Thou art so near unto the last salvation,”

Thus Beatrice began, “ thou oughtest now

To have thine eyes unclouded and acute;
And therefore, ere thou enter farther in,

Look down once more, and see how vast a world

Thou hast already put beneath thy feet;
So that thy heart, as jocund as it may,

Present itself to the triumphant throng

That comes rejoicing through this rounded ether."
I with my sight returned through one and all

The sevenfold spheres, and I beheld this globe

Such that I smiled at its ignoble semblance;
And that opinion I approve as best

Which doth account it least ; and he who thinks

Of something else may truly be called just.
I saw the daughter of Latona shining

Without that shadow, which to me was cause

That once I had believed her rare and dense.
The aspect of thy son, Hyperion,

Here I sustained, and saw how move themselves
Around and near him Maia and Dione.


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Thence there appeared the temperateness of Jove

'Twixt son and father, and to me was clear

The change that of their whereabout they make; And all the seven made manifest to me

How great they are, and eke how swift they are,

And how they are in distant habitations. The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud,

To me revolving with the eternal Twins,

Was all apparent made from hill to harbour ! Then to the beauteous eyes mine eyes I turned.




EVEN as a bird, 'mid the beloved leaves,

Quiet upon the nest of her sweet brood

Throughout the night, that hideth all things from us, Who, that she may behold their longed-for looks

And find the food wherewith to nourish them,

In which, to her, grave labours grateful are, Anticipates the time on open spray

And with an ardent longing waits the sun,

Gazing intent as soon as breaks the dawn : Even thus my Lady standing was, erect

And vigilant, turned round towards the zone

Underneath which the sun displays less haste; So that beholding her distraught and wistful,

Such I became as he is who desiring

For something yearns, and hoping is appeased. But brief the space from one When to the other;

Of my awaiting, say I, and the seeing

The welkin grow resplendent more and more. And Beatrice exclaimed: “Behold the hosts

Of Christ's triumphal march, and all the fruit

Harvested by the rolling of these spheres !” It seemed to me her face was all aflame;

And eyes she had so full of ecstasy

That I must needs pass on without describing. As when in nights serene of the full moon

Smiles Trivia among the nymphs eternal

Who paint the firmament through all its gulfs,
Saw I, above the myriads of lamps,

A Sun that one and all of them enkindled,
E'en as our own doth the supernal sights,

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And through the living light transparent shone

The lucent substance so intensely clear

Into my sight, that I sustained it not. Beatrice, thou gentle guide and dear !

To me she said: “What overmasters thee

A virtue is from which naught shields itself. There are the wisdom and the omnipotence

That oped the thoroughfares 'twixt heaven and earth,

For which there erst had been so long a yearning.” As fire from out a cloud unlocks itself,

Dilating so it finds not room therein,

And down, against its nature, falls to earth, So did my mind, among those aliments

Becoming larger, issue from itself,

And that which it became cannot remember. “Open thine eyes, and look at what I am:

Thou hast beheld such things, that strong enough

Hast thou become to tolerate my smile.” I was as one who still retains the feeling

Of a forgotten vision, and endeavours

In vain to bring it back into his mind, When I this invitation heard, deserving

Of so much gratitude, it never fades

Out of the book that chronicles the past. If at this moment sounded all the tongues

That Polyhymnia and her sisters made

Most lubrical with their delicious milk, To aid me, to a thousandth of the truth

It would not reach, singing the holy smile

And how the holy aspect it illumed. And therefore, representing Paradise,

The sacred poem must perforce leap over,

Even as a man who finds his way cut off ; But whoso thinketh of the ponderous theme,

And of the mortal shoulder laden with it,

Should blame it not, if under this it tremble. It is no passage for a little boat

This which goes cleaving the audacious prow,

Nor for a pilot who would spare himself. “Why doth my face so much enamour thee,

That to the garden fair thou turnest not,

Which under the rays of Christ is blossoming ?
There is the Rose in which the Word Divine

Became incarnate ; there the lilies are
By whose perfume the good way was discovered."

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Thus Beatrice; and I, who to her counsels

Was wholly ready, once again betook me

Unto the battle of the feeble brows. As in the sunshine, that unsullied streams

Through fractured cloud, ere now a meadow of flowers

Mine eyes with shadow covered o'er have seen, So troops of splendours manifold I saw

Illumined from above with burning rays,

Beholding not the source of the effulgence. O power benignant that dost so imprint them !

Thou didst exalt thyself to give more scope

There to mine eyes, that were not strong enough. The name of that fair flower I e'er invoke

Morning and evening utterly enthralled

My soul to gaze upon the greater fire. And when in both mine eyes depicted were

The glory and greatness of the living star

Which there excelleth, as it here excelled, Athwart the heavens a little torch descended

Formed in a circle like a coronal,

And cinctured it, and whirled itself about it. Whatever melody most sweetly soundeth

On earth, and to itself most draws the soul,

Would seem a cloud that, rent asunder, thunders, Compared unto the sounding of that lyre

Wherewith was crowned the sapphire beautiful,

Which gives the clearest heaven its sapphire hue. “I am Angelic Love, that circle round

The joy sublime which breathes from out the womb

That was the hostelry of our Desire; And I shall circle, Lady of Heaven, while

Thou followest thy Son, and mak'st diviner

The sphere supreme, because thou enterest there." Thus did the circulated melody

Seal itself up; and all the other lights

Were making to resound the name of Mary. The regal mantle of the volumes all

Of that world, which most fervid is and living

With breath of God and with his works and ways, Extended over us its inner border,

So very distant, that the semblance of it

There where I was not yet appeared to ine.
Therefore mine eyes did not possess the power

Of following the incoronated flame,
Which mounted upward near to its own seed.

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And as a little child, that towards its mother

Stretches its arms, when it the milk has taken,

Through impulse kindled into outward flame, Each of those gleams of whiteness upward reached

So with its summit, that the deep affection

They had for Mary was revealed to me. Thereafter they remained there in my sight,

Regina cæli singing with such sweetness,

That ne'er from me has the delight departed. O, what exuberance is garnered up

Within those richest coffers, which had been

Good husbandmen for sowing here below! There they enjoy and live upon the treasure

Which was acquired while weeping in the exile

Of Babylon, wherein the gold was left. There triumpheth, beneath the exalted Son

Of God and Mary, in his victory,

Both with the ancient council and the new, He who doth keep the keys of such a glory.




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“ O COMPANY elect to the great supper

Of the Lamb benedight, who feedeth you

So that for ever full is your desire,
If by the grace of God this man foretaste

Something of that which falleth from your table,

Or ever death prescribe to him the time, Direct your mind to his immense desire,

And him somewhat bedew; ye drinking are

For ever at the fount whence comes his thought.” Thus Beatrice ; and those souls beatified

Transformed themselves to spheres on steadfast foles,

Flaming intensely in the guise of comets. And as the wheels in works of horologes

Revolve so that the first to the beholder

Motionless seems, and the last one to fly, So in like manner did those carols, dancing

In different measure, of their affluence

Give me the gauge, as they were swift or slow.
From that one which I noted of most beauty

Beheld I issue forth a fire so happy
That none it left there of a greater brightnesss

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