Paradiso: Canto XIV

 From centre unto rim, from rim to centre,   In a round vase the water moves itself,   As from without 'tis struck or from within. 
Into my mind upon a sudden dropped   What I am saying, at the moment when   Silent became the glorious life of Thomas, 
Because of the resemblance that was born   Of his discourse and that of Beatrice,   Whom, after him, it pleased thus to begin: 
"This man has need (and does not tell you so,   Nor with the voice, nor even in his thought)   Of going to the root of one truth more. 
Declare unto him if the light wherewith   Blossoms your substance shall remain with you   Eternally the same that it is now; 
And if it do remain, say in what manner,   After ye are again made visible,   It can be that it injure not your sight." 
As by a greater gladness urged and drawn   They who are dancing in a ring sometimes   Uplift their voices and their motions quicken; 
So, at that orison devout and prompt,   The holy circles a new joy displayed   In their revolving and their wondrous song. 
Whoso lamenteth him that here we die   That we may live above, has never there   Seen the refreshment of the eternal rain. 
The One and Two and Three who ever liveth,   And reigneth ever in Three and Two and One,   Not circumscribed and all things circumscribing, 
Three several times was chanted by each one   Among those spirits, with such melody   That for all merit it were just reward; 
And, in the lustre most divine of all   The lesser ring, I heard a modest voice,   Such as perhaps the Angel's was to Mary, 
Answer: "As long as the festivity   Of Paradise shall be, so long our love   Shall radiate round about us such a vesture. 
Its brightness is proportioned to the ardour,   The ardour to the vision; and the vision   Equals what grace it has above its worth. 
When, glorious and sanctified, our flesh   Is reassumed, then shall our persons be   More pleasing by their being all complete; 
For will increase whate'er bestows on us   Of light gratuitous the Good Supreme,   Light which enables us to look on Him; 
Therefore the vision must perforce increase,   Increase the ardour which from that is kindled,   Increase the radiance which from this proceeds. 
But even as a coal that sends forth flame,   And by its vivid whiteness overpowers it   So that its own appearance it maintains, 
Thus the effulgence that surrounds us now   Shall be o'erpowered in aspect by the flesh,   Which still to-day the earth doth cover up; 
Nor can so great a splendour weary us,   For strong will be the organs of the body   To everything which hath the power to please us." 
So sudden and alert appeared to me   Both one and the other choir to say Amen,   That well they showed desire for their dead bodies; 
Nor sole for them perhaps, but for the mothers,   The fathers, and the rest who had been dear   Or ever they became eternal flames. 
And lo! all round about of equal brightness   Arose a lustre over what was there,   Like an horizon that is clearing up. 
And as at rise of early eve begin   Along the welkin new appearances,   So that the sight seems real and unreal, 
It seemed to me that new subsistences   Began there to be seen, and make a circle   Outside the other two circumferences. 
O very sparkling of the Holy Spirit,   How sudden and incandescent it became   Unto mine eyes, that vanquished bore it not! 
But Beatrice so beautiful and smiling   Appeared to me, that with the other sights   That followed not my memory I must leave her. 
Then to uplift themselves mine eyes resumed   The power, and I beheld myself translated   To higher salvation with my Lady only. 
Well was I ware that I was more uplifted   By the enkindled smiling of the star,   That seemed to me more ruddy than its wont. 
With all my heart, and in that dialect   Which is the same in all, such holocaust   To God I made as the new grace beseemed; 
And not yet from my bosom was exhausted   The ardour of sacrifice, before I knew   This offering was accepted and auspicious; 
For with so great a lustre and so red   Splendours appeared to me in twofold rays,   I said: "O Helios who dost so adorn them!" 
Even as distinct with less and greater lights   Glimmers between the two poles of the world   The Galaxy that maketh wise men doubt, 
Thus constellated in the depths of Mars,   Those rays described the venerable sign   That quadrants joining in a circle make. 
Here doth my memory overcome my genius;   For on that cross as levin gleamed forth Christ,   So that I cannot find ensample worthy; 
But he who takes his cross and follows Christ   Again will pardon me what I omit,   Seeing in that aurora lighten Christ. 
From horn to horn, and 'twixt the top and base,   Lights were in motion, brightly scintillating   As they together met and passed each other; 
Thus level and aslant and swift and slow   We here behold, renewing still the sight,   The particles of bodies long and short, 
Across the sunbeam move, wherewith is listed   Sometimes the shade, which for their own defence   People with cunning and with art contrive. 
And as a lute and harp, accordant strung   With many strings, a dulcet tinkling make   To him by whom the notes are not distinguished, 
So from the lights that there to me appeared   Upgathered through the cross a melody,   Which rapt me, not distinguishing the hymn. 
Well was I ware it was of lofty laud,   Because there came to me, "Arise and conquer!"   As unto him who hears and comprehends not. 
So much enamoured I became therewith,   That until then there was not anything   That e'er had fettered me with such sweet bonds. 
Perhaps my word appears somewhat too bold,   Postponing the delight of those fair eyes,   Into which gazing my desire has rest; 
But who bethinks him that the living seals   Of every beauty grow in power ascending,   And that I there had not turned round to those, 
Can me excuse, if I myself accuse   To excuse myself, and see that I speak truly:   For here the holy joy is not disclosed, 
Because ascending it becomes more pure.