Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARADISO XIV - The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (English trans.)
PARADISO XIV - 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 Fourth Heaven. The Sun. The Fifth Heaven
Mars. The Happiness of Heroism
- In rounded vessels water moves from rim
- to center, and from center so to rim,
- according as one strikes it from without
- or from within. What I am saying here
- fell suddenly into my mind, when once
- the glorious life of Thomas ceased to speak,
- because of the resemblance which arose
- between his speech and that of Beatrice,
- who, after him, was pleased to speak as follows:
- “This spirit needs, although he tells you so
- neither by voice, nor ev’n by thinking it,
- to reach the root of still another truth.
- Tell him, then, if the light, wherewith your substance
- is flowering, will remain with you the same
- eternally as even now it is;
- and if it still remain so, tell him how,
- when ye have been made visible again,
- it can be such as not to hurt your sight.”
- As when impelled and drawn by greater gladness,
- those who are dancing lift at times their voices,
- and give their actions greater sprightliness;
- so, at that prompt and reverent request,
- the holy circles showed new joyousness,
- both in their whirl and in their wondrous song.
- He that lamenteth that we die down here
- to live up yonder, hath not seen up there
- the comfort of the eternal rain. That One
- and Two and Three, who ever lives and reigns
- in Three and Two and One, uncircumscribed,
- and circumscribing everything, was there
- by each and all of yonder spirits sung
- with such a melody, that it would be
- a just reward for any one’s desert.
- And in the smallest ring’s divinest light
- I heard a gentle voice, like that with which,
- perhaps, the Angel spoke to Mary, answer:
- “As long as Paradise’s joy shall last,
- so long our love will radiate around it
- a garment such as this. Its clarity
- is patterned on our ardor, and our ardor
- upon our vision, and as keen is that,
- as is the grace it hath above its worth.
- When with our glorious and perfected flesh
- we ’re clothed again, our persons will give greater
- pleasure, because of being all complete;
- wherefore, whatever freely given light
- the Good Supreme may grant us, will increase —
- a light permitting us to see Him; whence
- our vision needs must grow; and grow the ardor
- which from it is enkindled, and hence grow
- the radiance, likewise, which proceeds from this.
- But as a burning coal emits a flame,
- and by its vivid glow surpasses it,
- so that its own appearance is maintained;
- so will this brightness which surrounds us now
- be vanquished in appearance by the flesh,
- which still is covered by the earth; nor will
- so great a light avail to weary us,
- because our body’s organs will be strong
- for whatsoe’er is able to delight us.”
- So quick and careful seemed both choirs to say
- ‘Amen!’, that clearly a desire they showed
- to have their buried bodies; and not, perhaps,
- for their own sakes alone, but for their mothers,
- and fathers and the others, who were dear
- to them, ere they became eternal flames.
- Then round us everywhere, of equal brightness,
- outside the luster there, another rose,
- like an horizon which is growing clear;
- and as new apparitions come in sight
- throughout the sky, at early evening’s rise,
- sò that one’s vision seems, and seems not, true;
- meseemed that new subsistences I there
- began to see, and that a ring was forming
- outside the other two circumferences.
- O thou true sparkling of the Holy Spirit!
- How suddenly and glowingly it flashed
- before mine eyes, which, vanquished, stood it not!
- But Beatrice revealed herself so fair
- and smiling, that this vision must be left
- ’mong those that followed not my memory.
- I hence gained strength to raise mine eyes again;
- and with my Lady alone I saw myself
- borne to a higher grade of blessedness.
- I well perceived that I was higher up,
- by reason of the star’s enkindled smile,
- which ruddier seemed to me than is its wont.
- With all my heart and with that kind of speech
- which is the same in all, I made to God
- such holocaust as was befitting this
- new grace; and the ardor of my offered self
- had not yet been exhausted from my breast,
- when I perceived that sacrifice was welcome
- and pleasing; for to me there then appeared
- splendors between two rays, so bright and red,
- that I exclaimed: “O Helios, who dost so
- adorn them!” As the Galaxy, bedecked
- with smaller and with greater lights, so glimmers
- ’tween the world’s poles, that even the wise are led
- to doubt; thus, constellated in the depths
- of Mars, those rays described the honored sign,
- which in a circle quadrant-joinings make.
- My memory overcomes my genius here;
- because that Cross so lightened forth the Christ,
- that I can find therefor no fit example;
- but whosoever taketh up his cross
- and follows Christ, will pardon me again
- for what I leave, when in that glow he sees
- the Christ flash forth. Lights moved about from arm
- to arm, and ’tween the summit and the base,
- and sparkled brightly when they met, and when
- they passed each other. Thus we here see, straight
- and crooked, swift and slow, and ever
- renewing their appearance, particles
- of bodies long and short, as through a ray
- they move, whereby at times that shade is streaked,
- which folk, to shield them, make with skill and art.
- And as a viol or a harp, attuned
- with many strings, a pleasant tinkling makes
- for one by whom the music is not caught;
- so from the lights which there appeared to me,
- a melody was gathered through the Cross,
- which rapt me, though I made not out the hymn.
- I well perceived it was of lofty praise,
- because ‘Arise!’ and ‘Conquer!’ came to me,
- as to who heard, but did not understand.
- So much in love with it did I become,
- that naught had ever fettered me before
- with such sweet bonds. My words, perhaps,
- appear too bold, in that they lower set
- the pleasure giv’n me by the lovely eyes,
- looking in which my longing finds its rest;
- but who considers that the living seals
- of all fair things do more, the higher up,
- and that I had not there looked up at them,
- may pardon me for what, to be excused,
- I ’m self-accused, and see that I speak true;
- for here the holy joy is not excluded,
- since, as it mounts, the purer it becomes.