Paradiso: Canto XX
When he who all the world illuminates Out of our hemisphere so far descends That on all sides the daylight is consumed,
The heaven, that erst by him alone was kindled, Doth suddenly reveal itself again By many lights, wherein is one resplendent.
And came into my mind this act of heaven, When the ensign of the world and of its leaders Had silent in the blessed beak become;
Because those living luminaries all, By far more luminous, did songs begin Lapsing and falling from my memory.
O gentle Love, that with a smile dost cloak thee, How ardent in those sparks didst thou appear, That had the breath alone of holy thoughts!
After the precious and pellucid crystals, With which begemmed the sixth light I beheld, Silence imposed on the angelic bells,
I seemed to hear the murmuring of a river That clear descendeth down from rock to rock, Showing the affluence of its mountain-top.
And as the sound upon the cithern's neck Taketh its form, and as upon the vent Of rustic pipe the wind that enters it,
Even thus, relieved from the delay of waiting, That murmuring of the eagle mounted up Along its neck, as if it had been hollow.
There it became a voice, and issued thence From out its beak, in such a form of words As the heart waited for wherein I wrote them.
"The part in me which sees and bears the sun In mortal eagles," it began to me, "Now fixedly must needs be looked upon;
For of the fires of which I make my figure, Those whence the eye doth sparkle in my head Of all their orders the supremest are.
He who is shining in the midst as pupil Was once the singer of the Holy Spirit, Who bore the ark from city unto city;
Now knoweth he the merit of his song, In so far as effect of his own counsel, By the reward which is commensurate.
Of five, that make a circle for my brow, He that approacheth nearest to my beak Did the poor widow for her son console;
Now knoweth he how dearly it doth cost Not following Christ, by the experience Of this sweet life and of its opposite.
He who comes next in the circumference Of which I speak, upon its highest arc, Did death postpone by penitence sincere;
Now knoweth he that the eternal judgment Suffers no change, albeit worthy prayer Maketh below to-morrow of to-day.
The next who follows, with the laws and me, Under the good intent that bore bad fruit Became a Greek by ceding to the pastor;
Now knoweth he how all the ill deduced From his good action is not harmful to him, Although the world thereby may be destroyed.
And he, whom in the downward arc thou seest, Guglielmo was, whom the same land deplores That weepeth Charles and Frederick yet alive;
Now knoweth he how heaven enamoured is With a just king; and in the outward show Of his effulgence he reveals it still.
Who would believe, down in the errant world, That e'er the Trojan Ripheus in this round Could be the fifth one of the holy lights?
Now knoweth he enough of what the world Has not the power to see of grace divine, Although his sight may not discern the bottom."
Like as a lark that in the air expatiates, First singing and then silent with content Of the last sweetness that doth satisfy her,
Such seemed to me the image of the imprint Of the eternal pleasure, by whose will Doth everything become the thing it is.
And notwithstanding to my doubt I was As glass is to the colour that invests it, To wait the time in silence it endured not,
But forth from out my mouth, "What things are these?" Extorted with the force of its own weight; Whereat I saw great joy of coruscation.
Thereafterward with eye still more enkindled The blessed standard made to me reply, To keep me not in wonderment suspended:
"I see that thou believest in these things Because I say them, but thou seest not how; So that, although believed in, they are hidden.
Thou doest as he doth who a thing by name Well apprehendeth, but its quiddity Cannot perceive, unless another show it.
'Regnum coelorum' suffereth violence From fervent love, and from that living hope That overcometh the Divine volition;
Not in the guise that man o'ercometh man, But conquers it because it will be conquered, And conquered conquers by benignity.
The first life of the eyebrow and the fifth Cause thee astonishment, because with them Thou seest the region of the angels painted.
They passed not from their bodies, as thou thinkest, Gentiles, but Christians in the steadfast faith Of feet that were to suffer and had suffered.
For one from Hell, where no one e'er turns back Unto good will, returned unto his bones, And that of living hope was the reward, -
Of living hope, that placed its efficacy In prayers to God made to resuscitate him, So that 'twere possible to move his will.
The glorious soul concerning which I speak, Returning to the flesh, where brief its stay, Believed in Him who had the power to aid it;
And, in believing, kindled to such fire Of genuine love, that at the second death Worthy it was to come unto this joy.
The other one, through grace, that from so deep A fountain wells that never hath the eye Of any creature reached its primal wave,
Set all his love below on righteousness; Wherefore from grace to grace did God unclose His eye to our redemption yet to be,
Whence he believed therein, and suffered not From that day forth the stench of paganism, And he reproved therefor the folk perverse.
Those Maidens three, whom at the right-hand wheel Thou didst behold, were unto him for baptism More than a thousand years before baptizing.
O thou predestination, how remote Thy root is from the aspect of all those Who the First Cause do not behold entire!
And you, O mortals! hold yourselves restrained In judging; for ourselves, who look on God, We do not know as yet all the elect;
And sweet to us is such a deprivation, Because our good in this good is made perfect, That whatsoe'er God wills, we also will."
After this manner by that shape divine, To make clear in me my short-sightedness, Was given to me a pleasant medicine;
And as good singer a good lutanist Accompanies with vibrations of the chords, Whereby more pleasantness the song acquires,
So, while it spake, do I remember me That I beheld both of those blessed lights, Even as the winking of the eyes concords,
Moving unto the words their little flames.