The Divine Comedy/Paradiso/Canto XXVII

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The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso, Canto XXVII
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Glory be to the Father, to the Son,
   And Holy Ghost!" all Paradise began,
   So that the melody inebriate made me. 

What I beheld seemed unto me a smile
   Of the universe; for my inebriation
   Found entrance through the hearing and the sight. 

O joy!  O gladness inexpressible!
   O perfect life of love and peacefulness!
   O riches without hankering secure! 

Before mine eyes were standing the four torches
   Enkindled, and the one that first had come
   Began to make itself more luminous; 

And even such in semblance it became
   As Jupiter would become, if he and Mars
   Were birds, and they should interchange their feathers. 

That Providence, which here distributeth
   Season and service, in the blessed choir
   Had silence upon every side imposed. 

When I heard say: "If I my colour change,
   Marvel not at it; for while I am speaking
   Thou shalt behold all these their colour change. 

He who usurps upon the earth my place,
   My place, my place, which vacant has become
   Before the presence of the Son of God, 

Has of my cemetery made a sewer
   Of blood and stench, whereby the Perverse One,
   Who fell from here, below there is appeased!" 

With the same colour which, through sun adverse,
   Painteth the clouds at evening or at morn,
   Beheld I then the whole of heaven suffused. 

And as a modest woman, who abides
   Sure of herself, and at another's failing,
   From listening only, timorous becomes, 

Even thus did Beatrice change countenance;
   And I believe in heaven was such eclipse,
   When suffered the supreme Omnipotence; 

Thereafterward proceeded forth his words
   With voice so much transmuted from itself,
   The very countenance was not more changed. 

"The spouse of Christ has never nurtured been
   On blood of mine, of Linus and of Cletus,
   To be made use of in acquest of gold; 

But in acquest of this delightful life
   Sixtus and Pius, Urban and Calixtus,
   After much lamentation, shed their blood. 

Our purpose was not, that on the right hand
   Of our successors should in part be seated
   The Christian folk, in part upon the other; 

Nor that the keys which were to me confided
   Should e'er become the escutcheon on a banner,
   That should wage war on those who are baptized; 

Nor I be made the figure of a seal
   To privileges venal and mendacious,
   Whereat I often redden and flash with fire. 

In garb of shepherds the rapacious wolves
   Are seen from here above o'er all the pastures!
   O wrath of God, why dost thou slumber still? 

To drink our blood the Caorsines and Gascons
   Are making ready.  O thou good beginning,
   Unto how vile an end must thou needs fall! 

But the high Providence, that with Scipio
   At Rome the glory of the world defended,
   Will speedily bring aid, as I conceive; 

And thou, my son, who by thy mortal weight
   Shalt down return again, open thy mouth;
   What I conceal not, do not thou conceal." 

As with its frozen vapours downward falls
   In flakes our atmosphere, what time the horn
   Of the celestial Goat doth touch the sun, 

Upward in such array saw I the ether
   Become, and flaked with the triumphant vapours,
   Which there together with us had remained. 

My sight was following up their semblances,
   And followed till the medium, by excess,
   The passing farther onward took from it; 

Whereat the Lady, who beheld me freed
   From gazing upward, said to me: "Cast down
   Thy sight, and see how far thou art turned round." 

Since the first time that I had downward looked,
   I saw that I had moved through the whole arc
   Which the first climate makes from midst to end; 

So that I saw the mad track of Ulysses
   Past Gades, and this side, well nigh the shore
   Whereon became Europa a sweet burden. 

And of this threshing-floor the site to me
   Were more unveiled, but the sun was proceeding
   Under my feet, a sign and more removed. 

My mind enamoured, which is dallying
   At all times with my Lady, to bring back
   To her mine eyes was more than ever ardent. 

And if or Art or Nature has made bait
   To catch the eyes and so possess the mind,
   In human flesh or in its portraiture, 

All joined together would appear as nought
   To the divine delight which shone upon me
   When to her smiling face I turned me round. 

The virtue that her look endowed me with
   From the fair nest of Leda tore me forth,
   And up into the swiftest heaven impelled me. 

Its parts exceeding full of life and lofty
   Are all so uniform, I cannot say
   Which Beatrice selected for my place. 

But she, who was aware of my desire,
   Began, the while she smiled so joyously
   That God seemed in her countenance to rejoice: 

"The nature of that motion, which keeps quiet
   The centre and all the rest about it moves,
   From hence begins as from its starting point. 

And in this heaven there is no other Where
   Than in the Mind Divine, wherein is kindled
   The love that turns it, and the power it rains. 

Within a circle light and love embrace it,
   Even as this doth the others, and that precinct
   He who encircles it alone controls. 

Its motion is not by another meted,
   But all the others measured are by this,
   As ten is by the half and by the fifth. 

And in what manner time in such a pot
   May have its roots, and in the rest its leaves,
   Now unto thee can manifest be made. 

O Covetousness, that mortals dost ingulf
   Beneath thee so, that no one hath the power
   Of drawing back his eyes from out thy waves! 

Full fairly blossoms in mankind the will;
   But the uninterrupted rain converts
   Into abortive wildings the true plums. 

Fidelity and innocence are found
   Only in children; afterwards they both
   Take flight or e'er the cheeks with down are covered. 

One, while he prattles still, observes the fasts,
   Who, when his tongue is loosed, forthwith devours
   Whatever food under whatever moon; 

Another, while he prattles, loves and listens
   Unto his mother, who when speech is perfect
   Forthwith desires to see her in her grave. 

Even thus is swarthy made the skin so white
   In its first aspect of the daughter fair
   Of him who brings the morn, and leaves the night. 

Thou, that it may not be a marvel to thee,
   Think that on earth there is no one who governs;
   Whence goes astray the human family. 

Ere January be unwintered wholly
   By the centesimal on earth neglected,
   Shall these supernal circles roar so loud 

The tempest that has been so long awaited
   Shall whirl the poops about where are the prows;
   So that the fleet shall run its course direct, 

And the true fruit shall follow on the flower."