Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARADISO XXV - The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (English trans.)
PARADISO XXV - 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 Eighth or Starry Heaven. The Twins
Triumphant Spirits. St. James examines Dante on Hope
- If e’er it happen that the Sacred Poem,
- to which both Heaven and earth have so set hand,
- that it hath made me lean for many years,
- o’ercome the fierceness which against me bars
- the lovely fold, where as a lamb I slept,
- though hostile to the wolves that give it war;
- then, with another voice and other fleece
- a Poet I’ll return, and at the font
- of mine own baptism take the laurel crown;
- for there I entered first into the Faith,
- which makes souls known to God, and Peter later,
- because of my belief, thus wreathed my brow.
- Then toward us, after this, there moved a light
- out of the sphere, from which the first-fruit issued,
- which of his vicars Christ once left behind;
- and, full of joy, my Lady said to me:
- “Look, look! Behold the Baron, for whose sake
- men go to see Galicia down on earth!”
- As, when a dove alighteth near its mate,
- each, by its circling and its cooing, shows
- the other its affection; thus I saw
- one great and glorious Prince the other greet,
- and praise the food
- which sateth them up there.
- But when their mutual gratulations ceased,
- before me each in silence stopped, and flamed
- so brightly, that my face was forced to bow.
- Then, smiling, Beatrice: “Illustrious life,
- by whom the generous liberality
- of our basilica was once described,
- let Hope resound upon these heavenly heights;
- thou know’st that thou didst stand for it, as oft
- as Jesus showed most brightness to the three.”
- “Lift up thy head, and reassure thyself;
- for all that cometh from the mortal world
- up hither, must be ripened in our rays.”
- This comfort reached me from the second fire;
- hence to the hills I raised mine eyes, which erst
- had bowed them down by their excessive weight.
- “Since, of His Graciousness, our Emperor wills
- that thou, before thy death, shouldst face His Counts
- in His most secret hall; that, having seen
- the truth in this our court, thou mayst confirm,
- both in thyself and other souls, the Hope,
- which rightfully enamors men on earth;
- say what it is, and how therewith thy mind
- is blossoming, and whence it came to thee.”
- Thus, further, did the second light proceed.
- And that kind soul who to so high a flight
- had led the feathers of my wings, forestalled
- my answer thus:
- “No child of greater hope
- hath the Church Militant, as in the Sun
- is written, which irràdiates all our band,
- it, therefore, hath been granted him to come
- from Egypt to Jerusalem, and see,
- or e’er the period of his warfare end.
- Thine other two requests, made not for knowledge,
- but so that he may carry back with him
- to what extent this virtue pleases thee,
- I leave to him, for they will not be hard
- for him, nor matter for self-praise; to these
- let him reply, and may God’s Grace assist him.”
- Even as in that wherein he expert is,
- a pupil readily and willingly
- answers his teacher, that his worth be shown;
- “Hope is” I said, “a steadfast expectation
- of future glory, which by Grace divine
- and by preceding merit is produced.
- This light from many stars comes down to me;
- but he into my heart instilled it first,
- who was the Greatest Leader’s greatest bard.
- For “‘Let them hope in Thee, that know Thy Name!’
- the latter in his theody declares,
- and, if he have my faith, who knows it not?
- Then, thou with his instilling, didst so greatly
- instill that hope in me with thine epistle,
- that, filled with it, I pour your rain on others.”
- While I was speaking, in the living bosom
- of that great fire, a bright effulgence quivered
- quickly and often, like a lightning-flash;
- and then it breathed: “The love wherewith I still
- warm to the virtue which once followed me,
- till with the palm I issued from the field,
- would have me give my breath to thee again,
- that dost therein delight; and I am pleased
- to have thee say what promise Hope affords thee.”
- And I: “The Scriptures, both the new and old
- the goal establish of the souls whom God
- hath made His friends; this points it out to me.
- Isaiah says that each in his own land
- will in a double garment be arrayed;
- and his own land is this sweet life of ours;
- and, in a more explicit way, thy brother
- makes this same revelation manifest
- to us, where of the snow white robes the treats.”
- After these words had ended, first was heard
- above us, “Let them hope in Thee,” whereto
- all of the carols made reply; and then
- a light became so brilliant in their midst,
- that, if the Crab had such a crystal star,
- winter would have a month of one sole day.
- And as a happy maiden, rising, goes,
- in honor of the bride, to join the dance,
- and not for any failing on her part;
- even so I saw the splendor, brighter grown,
- approach the two, who in a wheel were turning,
- as it behooved the ardor of their love.
- Into the song and music then it entered;
- and on the three my Lady kept her gaze,
- silent and motionless as would a bride.
- “This is the one who on His breast reclined,
- who is our Pelican, and from the Cross
- selected was, to hold the filial office.”
- Even thus my Lady spoke;
- but no more after did her words withdraw
- her eyes from fixed attention, than before.
- Even as is he, who gazes at the sun,
- and tries to see it partially eclipsed,
- and who, because of seing, groweth blind;
- such I became before that latest fire,
- till this was said: “Why dost thou blind thyself,
- to see a thing which hath no being here?
- Earth is my body on the earth, and there
- will with the others stay, until our number
- shall with the eternal purpose correspond.
- With both their garments in the blessèd cloister
- are those two Lights alone, which hither rose;
- and this shalt thou take back unto your world.”
- Stilled was the flaming circle at these words,
- and with them that sweet mixture which was formed
- out of the music of the threefold breath,
- as, from fatigue or danger to escape,
- oars, which had stroked the water just before,
- are at a whistle’s sound all brought to rest.
- Ah, how disturbed in mind I then became,
- when I turned round to look at Beatrice,
- because I could not see her now, though close
- to her I was, and in the happy world!