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AFTER the truth against the present life

Of miserable mortals was unfolded

By her who doth imparadise my mind, As in a looking-glass a taper's fame

He sees who from behind is lighted by it,

Before he has it in his sight or thought, And turns him round to see if so the glass

Tell him the truth, and sees that it accords

Therewith as doth a music with its metre, In similar wise my memory recollecteth

That I did, looking into those fair eyes,

Of which Love made the springes to ensnare me. And as I turned me round, and mine were touched

By that which is apparent in that volume,

Whenever on its gyre we gaze intent, A point beheld I, that was raying out

Light so acute, the sight which it enkindles

Must close perforce before such great acuteness. And whatsoever star seems smallest here

Would seem to be a moon, if placed beside it

As one star with another star is placed. Perhaps at such a distance as appears

A halo cincturing the light that paints it,

When densest is the vapor that sustains it, Thus distant round the point a circle of fire

So swiftly whirled, that it would have surpassed Whatever motion soonest girds the world;







And this was by another circumcinct,

That by a third, the third then by a fourth,

By a fifth the fourth, and then by a sixth the fifth ; The seventh followed thereupon in width

So ample now, that Juno's messenger

Entire would be too narrow to contain it. Even so the eighth and ninth; and every one

More slowly moved, according as it was

In number distant farther from the first. And that one had its Alame most crystalline

From which less distant was the stainless spark,

I think because more with its truth imbued. My Lady, who in my anxiety

Beheld me much perplexed, said: “ From that point

Dependent is the heaven and nature all. Behold that circle most conjoined to it,

And know thou, that its motion is so swift

Through burning love whereby it is spurred on.” And I to her: “ If the world were arranged

In the order which I see in yonder wheels,

What's set before me would have satisfied me;
But in the world of sense we can perceive
That evermore the circles are diviner

50 As they are from the centre more remote. Wherefore if


desire is to be ended In this miraculous and angelic temple,

That has for confines only love and light, To hear behoves me still how the example

And the exemplar go not in one fashion,

Since for myself in vain I contemplate it.” “ If thine own fingers unto such a knot Be insufficient, it is no great wonder,



The Circles of the Celestial Hierarchy

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