The Divine Comedy: Paradiso: Canto XXII
Paradiso: Canto XXII
Oppressed with stupor, I unto my guide Turned like a little child who always runs For refuge there where he confideth most;
And she, even as a mother who straightway Gives comfort to her pale and breathless boy With voice whose wont it is to reassure him,
Said to me: "Knowest thou not thou art in heaven, And knowest thou not that heaven is holy all And what is done here cometh from good zeal?
After what wise the singing would have changed thee And I by smiling, thou canst now imagine, Since that the cry has startled thee so much,
In which if thou hadst understood its prayers Already would be known to thee the vengeance Which thou shalt look upon before thou diest.
The sword above here smiteth not in haste Nor tardily, howe'er it seem to him Who fearing or desiring waits for it.
But turn thee round towards the others now, For very illustrious spirits shalt thou see, If thou thy sight directest as I say."
As it seemed good to her mine eyes I turned, And saw a hundred spherules that together With mutual rays each other more embellished.
I stood as one who in himself represses The point of his desire, and ventures not To question, he so feareth the too much.
And now the largest and most luculent Among those pearls came forward, that it might Make my desire concerning it content.
Within it then I heard: "If thou couldst see Even as myself the charity that burns Among us, thy conceits would be expressed;
But, that by waiting thou mayst not come late To the high end, I will make answer even Unto the thought of which thou art so chary.
That mountain on whose slope Cassino stands Was frequented of old upon its summit By a deluded folk and ill-disposed;
And I am he who first up thither bore The name of Him who brought upon the earth The truth that so much sublimateth us.
And such abundant grace upon me shone That all the neighbouring towns I drew away From the impious worship that seduced the world.
These other fires, each one of them, were men Contemplative, enkindled by that heat Which maketh holy flowers and fruits spring up.
Here is Macarius, here is Romualdus, Here are my brethren, who within the cloisters Their footsteps stayed and kept a steadfast heart."
And I to him: "The affection which thou showest Speaking with me, and the good countenance Which I behold and note in all your ardours,
In me have so my confidence dilated As the sun doth the rose, when it becomes As far unfolded as it hath the power.
Therefore I pray, and thou assure me, father, If I may so much grace receive, that I May thee behold with countenance unveiled."
He thereupon: "Brother, thy high desire In the remotest sphere shall be fulfilled, Where are fulfilled all others and my own.
There perfect is, and ripened, and complete, Every desire; within that one alone Is every part where it has always been;
For it is not in space, nor turns on poles, And unto it our stairway reaches up, Whence thus from out thy sight it steals away.
Up to that height the Patriarch Jacob saw it Extending its supernal part, what time So thronged with angels it appeared to him.
But to ascend it now no one uplifts His feet from off the earth, and now my Rule Below remaineth for mere waste of paper.
The walls that used of old to be an Abbey Are changed to dens of robbers, and the cowls Are sacks filled full of miserable flour.
But heavy usury is not taken up So much against God's pleasure as that fruit Which maketh so insane the heart of monks;
For whatsoever hath the Church in keeping Is for the folk that ask it in God's name, Not for one's kindred or for something worse.
The flesh of mortals is so very soft, That good beginnings down below suffice not From springing of the oak to bearing acorns.
Peter began with neither gold nor silver, And I with orison and abstinence, And Francis with humility his convent.
And if thou lookest at each one's beginning, And then regardest whither he has run, Thou shalt behold the white changed into brown.
In verity the Jordan backward turned, And the sea's fleeing, when God willed were more A wonder to behold, than succour here."
Thus unto me he said; and then withdrew To his own band, and the band closed together; Then like a whirlwind all was upward rapt.
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 eves 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.
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.