Paradiso: Canto XXXII

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