Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARADISO III - The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (English trans.)
PARADISO III - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (English trans.) 
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The Italian Text with a Translation in English Blank Verse and a Commentary by Courtney Langdon, Vol. 3 Paradiso (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1921).
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The First Heaven. The Moon. Reflected Happiness
Inconstant Spirits who failed to keep their Vows
- That sun which erst had warmed my heart with love,
- by proving and refuting, had revealed
- to me the pleasing face of lovely truth;
- and I, in order to confess myself
- corrected and assured, lifted my head
- as high as utterance of assent required.
- But, that I might behold it, there appeared
- a sight, which to itself so closely held me,
- that my confession I remembered not.
- Even as from polished or transparent glasses,
- or waters clear and still, but not so deep,
- that wholly lost to vision is their bed,
- the features of our faces are returned
- so faintly, that upon a pallid brow
- a pearl comes no less faintly to our eyes;
- thus saw I many a face that longed to speak;
- I therefore ran into the fault opposed
- to that which kindled love ’tween man and fount.
- As soon as I became aware of them,
- supposing they were mirrored images,
- to find out whose they were, I turned mine eyes;
- and seeing nothing, back again I turned them
- straight on into the light of my sweet Guide,
- whose holy eyes were glowing as she smiled.
- “Be not surprised” she said, “that I should smile
- at what is childish in thy present thought,
- since on the truth it trusts not yet its foot,
- but, as its wont is, turneth thee in vain.
- Real substances are these whom thou perceivest,
- assigned here for a vow not wholly kept.
- Speak to them, then, and hear them, and believe;
- for from Itself the True Light which contents them,
- permits them not to turn their feet away.”
- And I addressed me to the shade which seemed
- most eager to converse, and I began,
- like one confounded by too great desire:
- “O well-created spirit, that in rays
- of life eternal dost that sweetness taste,
- which never is, untasted, understood,
- ’t will grateful be to me, if thou content me
- with thine own name, and thy companions’ lot.”
- Hence promptly and with laughing eyes she said:
- “Not otherwise doth our love lock its doors
- against a just desire, than that Love doth,
- who wills that all His court be like Himself.
- A virgin sister was I in the world;
- and if within itself thy mind look well,
- my being fairer will not hide me from thee,
- but thou wilt recognize that I ’m Piccarda,
- who, placed here with these other blessèd ones,
- am happy in the slowest moving sphere.
- Our wishes, which are only set on fire
- by that which is the Holy Spirit’s pleasure,
- rejoice in that our joy was willed by Him.
- And this allotment, which appears so low,
- is therefore giv’n to us, because our vows
- neglected were, and not completely kept.”
- Hence I to her: “In these your wondrous faces
- there shines I know not what that is divine,
- which from your old appearance changes you;
- hence in remembering you I was not quick;
- but what thou now dost tell me helps me so,
- that I more easily recall thy face.
- But, tell me, ye who here so happy are,
- are ye desirous of a higher place,
- that ye may see more friends, or make you more?”
- First with those other shades she smiled a little,
- and then replied to me so joyously,
- that she appeared to burn with love’s first fire:
- “Brother, love’s virtue sets our will at rest,
- and makes us wish for only what we have,
- and doth not make us thirsty for aught else.
- If higher we desired to be, our wishes
- would be discordant with the will of Him,
- who here discerneth us, which, thou wilt see,
- can in these circles not occur, if love
- be necessary to existence here,
- and if love’s nature thou consider well.
- Nay more, essential to this blessèd life
- it is, that we should be within the Will
- Divine, whereby our wills become one will;
- and so, even as we are, from grade to grade
- throughout this Realm, to all the Realm is pleasing,
- as to its King, who in His Will in-wills us;
- and His Will is our Peace; and that
- the Ocean is, whereunto moveth all
- that It creates, and all that Nature makes.”
- Clear was it then to me that every where
- in Heaven is Paradise, and yet the Grace
- of Good Supreme rains there in many ways.
- But as it happens that, if one food sate,
- and longing for another still remain,
- for one we ask, and one decline with thanks;
- even thus with word and act did I, to learn
- from her what was the nature of the web,
- whose shuttle she drew not unto its end.
- “High worth and perfect life in-heaven” she said,
- “a lady higher up here, in whose rule
- the robe and veil are worn, that, till death come,
- both watch and sleep they may beside that Spouse,
- who every vow accepts, which love conforms
- to that which pleases Him. To follow her,
- when I was but a girl I fled the world,
- and in her habit clothing me, I promised
- that I would keep within her order’s path.
- Thereafter men more used to ill than good,
- out of that pleasant cloister dragged me forth,
- and God knows what my life was after that.
- This other splendor also, which reveals
- itself to thee upon my right, and glows
- with all the radiance of this sphere of ours,
- takes to herself what of myself I say;
- a nun she was, and likewise from her head
- the shadow of the sacred veils was torn.
- But when she, too, was brought back to the world
- against her wishes and against good usage,
- she never from the heart’s veil freed herself.
- This is the splendor of the great Costanza,
- who by the second Wind of Swabia gave
- the third and final Power birth.” She thus
- addressed me, and thereat ‘Ave, Maria’
- began to sing, and, singing, disappeared,
- as through deep water heavy objects do.
- Mine eyes which followed after her as far
- as it was possible, on losing her,
- back to the mark of greater longing turned,
- and unto Beatrice reverted wholly;
- but she so flashed upon me, as I gazed,
- that first my sight endured it not; and this
- the slower made me in my questioning.