The Divine Comedy/Paradiso/Canto XII

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso, Canto XII
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Soon as the blessed flame had taken up
   The final word to give it utterance,
   Began the holy millstone to revolve, 

And in its gyre had not turned wholly round,
   Before another in a ring enclosed it,
   And motion joined to motion, song to song; 

Song that as greatly doth transcend our Muses,
   Our Sirens, in those dulcet clarions,
   As primal splendour that which is reflected. 

And as are spanned athwart a tender cloud
   Two rainbows parallel and like in colour,
   When Juno to her handmaid gives command, 

(The one without born of the one within,
   Like to the speaking of that vagrant one
   Whom love consumed as doth the sun the vapours,) 

And make the people here, through covenant
   God set with Noah, presageful of the world
   That shall no more be covered with a flood, 

In such wise of those sempiternal roses
   The garlands twain encompassed us about,
   And thus the outer to the inner answered. 

After the dance, and other grand rejoicings,
   Both of the singing, and the flaming forth
   Effulgence with effulgence blithe and tender, 

Together, at once, with one accord had stopped,
   (Even as the eyes, that, as volition moves them,
   Must needs together shut and lift themselves,) 

Out of the heart of one of the new lights
   There came a voice, that needle to the star
   Made me appear in turning thitherward. 

And it began: "The love that makes me fair
   Draws me to speak about the other leader,
   By whom so well is spoken here of mine. 

'Tis right, where one is, to bring in the other,
   That, as they were united in their warfare,
   Together likewise may their glory shine. 

The soldiery of Christ, which it had cost
   So dear to arm again, behind the standard
   Moved slow and doubtful and in numbers few, 

When the Emperor who reigneth evermore
   Provided for the host that was in peril,
   Through grace alone and not that it was worthy; 

And, as was said, he to his Bride brought succour
   With champions twain, at whose deed, at whose word
   The straggling people were together drawn. 

Within that region where the sweet west wind
   Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith
   Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh, 

Not far off from the beating of the waves,
   Behind which in his long career the sun
   Sometimes conceals himself from every man, 

Is situate the fortunate Calahorra,
   Under protection of the mighty shield
   In which the Lion subject is and sovereign. 

Therein was born the amorous paramour
   Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate,
   Kind to his own and cruel to his foes; 

And when it was created was his mind
   Replete with such a living energy,
   That in his mother her it made prophetic. 

As soon as the espousals were complete
   Between him and the Faith at holy font,
   Where they with mutual safety dowered each other, 

The woman, who for him had given assent,
   Saw in a dream the admirable fruit
   That issue would from him and from his heirs; 

And that he might be construed as he was,
   A spirit from this place went forth to name him
   With His possessive whose he wholly was. 

Dominic was he called; and him I speak of
   Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
   Elected to his garden to assist him. 

Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ,
   For the first love made manifest in him
   Was the first counsel that was given by Christ. 

Silent and wakeful many a time was he
   Discovered by his nurse upon the ground,
   As if he would have said, 'For this I came.' 

O thou his father, Felix verily!
   O thou his mother, verily Joanna,
   If this, interpreted, means as is said! 

Not for the world which people toil for now
   In following Ostiense and Taddeo,
   But through his longing after the true manna, 

He in short time became so great a teacher,
   That he began to go about the vineyard,
   Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser; 

And of the See, (that once was more benignant
   Unto the righteous poor, not through itself,
   But him who sits there and degenerates,) 

Not to dispense or two or three for six,
   Not any fortune of first vacancy,
   'Non decimas quae sunt pauperum Dei,' 

He asked for, but against the errant world
   Permission to do battle for the seed,
   Of which these four and twenty plants surround thee. 

Then with the doctrine and the will together,
   With office apostolical he moved,
   Like torrent which some lofty vein out-presses; 

And in among the shoots heretical
   His impetus with greater fury smote,
   Wherever the resistance was the greatest. 

Of him were made thereafter divers runnels,
   Whereby the garden catholic is watered,
   So that more living its plantations stand. 

If such the one wheel of the Biga was,
   In which the Holy Church itself defended
   And in the field its civic battle won, 

Truly full manifest should be to thee
   The excellence of the other, unto whom
   Thomas so courteous was before my coming. 

But still the orbit, which the highest part
   Of its circumference made, is derelict,
   So that the mould is where was once the crust. 

His family, that had straight forward moved
   With feet upon his footprints, are turned round
   So that they set the point upon the heel. 

And soon aware they will be of the harvest
   Of this bad husbandry, when shall the tares
   Complain the granary is taken from them. 

Yet say I, he who searcheth leaf by leaf
   Our volume through, would still some page discover
   Where he could read, 'I am as I am wont.' 

'Twill not be from Casal nor Acquasparta,
   From whence come such unto the written word
   That one avoids it, and the other narrows. 

Bonaventura of Bagnoregio's life
   Am I, who always in great offices
   Postponed considerations sinister. 

Here are Illuminato and Agostino,
   Who of the first barefooted beggars were
   That with the cord the friends of God became. 

Hugh of Saint Victor is among them here,
   And Peter Mangiador, and Peter of Spain,
   Who down below in volumes twelve is shining; 

Nathan the seer, and metropolitan
   Chrysostom, and Anselmus, and Donatus
   Who deigned to lay his hand to the first art; 

Here is Rabanus, and beside me here
   Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
   He with the spirit of prophecy endowed. 

To celebrate so great a paladin
   Have moved me the impassioned courtesy
   And the discreet discourses of Friar Thomas, 

And with me they have moved this company."