Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARADISO V - The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (English trans.)
PARADISO V - 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. The Second Heaven. Mercury
The Happiness of Beneficent Activity. Ambitious Spirits
- “If in the heat of love I flame on thee
- beyond the measure which is seen on earth,
- and vanquish thus the power of thine eyes,
- wonder thou not thereat, for this proceeds
- from perfect sight, which, as it sees, directs
- its feet to penetrate the good perceived.
- I clearly see that in thine intellect
- the Light Eternal is already shining,
- which, if but seen, always enkindles love;
- and if aught else seduce the love of men,
- ’t is nothing but some vestige of that Light,
- which there, ill-recognized, is shining through.
- Thou now wouldst know if for an unkept vow,
- one could with other service pay enough,
- ’gainst prosecution to ensure the soul.”
- ’T was thus that Beatrice began this canto;
- and ev’n as one who cuts not short his speech,
- her holy argument continued thus:
- “The greatest gift which, of His bounty, God
- bestowed, when He created, and the nearest
- like His own Goodness, and the one most prized
- by Him, was Freedom of the Will,
- wherewith all creatures with intelligence,
- and they alone, both were and are endowed.
- Now, if from this thou argue, thou ’lt perceive
- a vow’s high value, if so made it be,
- that God gives His consent, when thou giv’st thine;
- for when this pact is closed ’tween God and man
- a sacrifice is made of this great treasure,
- whereof I speak, and made by its own act.
- What, then, in compensation can be given?
- In thinking thou canst use thine offering well,
- good wouldst thou do with wrongly gotten gain.
- On the chief question thou art now informed;
- but since in this thing Holy Church exempts,
- which seems against the truth I showed to thee,
- a little longer must thou sit at table,
- because the solid food which thou hast taken,
- requires for thy digestion further help.
- Open thy mind to what I now reveal,
- and fix it therewithin; for having heard
- without retaining doth not knowledge make.
- In the essence of this sacrifice two things
- combine; one, that whereof the sacrifice
- is made; the other is the pact itself.
- This last can never cancelled be, except
- by being kept; and very definite
- concerning this is what was said above.
- The Hebrews, therefore, were alone compelled
- to make an offering, though their offer might,
- in some events, be changed, as thou must know.
- The other, which thou knowest as its matter,
- may well be such, that there will be no sin,
- if for some other matter it be changed.
- But at his own free will let no one shift
- the burden he has placed upon his back,
- unless the white and yellow Keys are turned;
- and let him deem all permutations foolish,
- unless the thing abandoned be contained
- in that which is assumed, as four in six.
- Whatever, then, weighs by its worth so much,
- that it can cause all scales to tip, can not,
- by any other spending, be made good.
- Let mortals not act lightly with their vows!
- Be faithful, and in this thing be not thoughtless,
- as Jephthah was, when offering up ‘the first,’
- who should have said: ‘I wrongly did,’ than keep
- his vow, and so do worse; and thou mayst deem
- as impious that great leader of the Greeks,
- because of whom Iphigenìa mourned
- for her fair face, and for herself made fools
- and wise men weep, who heard of such a rite.
- Ye Christians, be more serious when ye act!
- Be not like feathers in all winds, nor think
- that any water will avail to cleanse you!
- Ye have the Testaments, both Old and New,
- to guide you, and the Shepherd of the Church;
- let this for your salvation be enough.
- If evil greed should teach you otherwise,
- be men, and not like undiscerning sheep,
- that in your midst no Jew may laugh at you.
- Nor do as doth a little lamb, that leaves
- its mother’s milk, and like a wanton fool,
- against itself for its own pleasure fights.”
- Thus Beatrice to me, even as I write;
- then full of eagerness she turned in that
- direction, where the world is most alive.
- Her silence and her change of countenance
- silence imposed upon my eager mind,
- which had ahead of it new questions now.
- Then as an arrow doth, which strikes the mark,
- before the bowstring is at rest, even so
- did we speed on into the second realm.
- So joyous did I see my Lady there,
- as into that heaven’s light she entered, that,
- because of it, the planet brighter grew.
- And if the star was changed and smiled, what, then,
- did I become, who, by my very nature,
- in all ways am susceptible of change!
- As in a fishpond which is still and clear,
- the fish draw near to that which from without
- so cometh, that they take it for their food;
- I thus saw far more than a thousand splendors
- approaching us, and there was heard in each:
- “Lo, here is one, who shall increase our loves.”
- And as each one came up to me, the shade
- was seen replete with joy within the bright
- effulgence issuing from its midst.
- Think, Reader, if what here is entered on
- should not proceed, how full of pain would be
- thy craving to know more; and by thyself
- thou ’lt see how great was my desire to hear
- from these, about the state of their existence,
- as soon as to mine eyes they were revealed.
- “O well-born spirit, to whom Grace permits
- to see the thrones of Heaven’s eternal triumph,
- ère thy life militant be left behind,
- we by the light throughout all Heaven diffused
- are kindled; hence, wouldst thou inform thyself
- respecting us, be sated at thy will.”
- Thus was it said to me by one of those
- kind spirits; and by Beatrice: “Speak, speak,
- with freedom, and, as thou wouldst gods, believe!”
- “I clearly see how thou in thine own light
- dost nest thyself, and from thine eyes dost flash it,
- they beam so radiantly, when thou dost smile;
- but who thou art I know not, nor why thou,
- deserving soul, hast that sphere’s grade, which veils
- itself from mortals with another’s rays.”
- Thus I, when I had turned me toward the light
- which had addressed me first; far brighter then
- it made itself than it had been before.
- As doth the sun, which by exceeding splendor
- itself conceals itself, whene’er its heat
- has gnawed away the tempering of dense mists;
- so by increase of joy that holy form
- in its own radiance hid itself from me;
- and, wholly thus wrapped up, in such a way
- replied to me, as sings the following song.