Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARADISO XXVIII - The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (English trans.)
PARADISO XXVIII - 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 Ninth Heaven. Primum Mobile. The Angelic Hierarchies
The Point. The Nine Orders of Angels and the Nine Heavens
- After the truth against the present life
- of wretched mortals had been shown to me
- by her who lifts my mind to Paradise,
- as in a mirror he perceives its flame,
- who from behind is lighted by a torch,
- before he has it in his sight or thought,
- and turns around to notice if the glass
- have told the truth, and sees that it accords
- therewith, as with its music’s time a song;
- so likewise now my memory recalls
- that I did, as I gazed in those fair eyes,
- whence Love had made a cord to capture me.
- And as I turned around, and mine were touched
- by that which in that sphere becomes apparent,
- whene’er one looks intently at its center,
- a Point I saw, which rays out light so keen
- that eyes which it enkindles needs must close
- by reason of its great intensity;
- and any star that from down here seems smallest,
- would seem to be a moon, if set beside it,
- as at each other’s side the stars are set.
- Perhaps as near as e’er a halo seems
- to gird the light around, which colors it,
- when densest is the air which gives it form;
- a ring of fire was whirling round the Point
- so swiftly, that it would have overcome
- the motion which most quickly girds the world;
- and by another this was girt around,
- that by a third, as this one by a fourth,
- then by a fifth the fourth, and by a sixth
- the fifth. The seventh came next, outside of these
- so widely spread, that Juno’s messenger,
- full circled, were too narrow to contain it.
- Like these the eighth ring and the ninth; and each
- more slowly moved, as in its order’s number
- it whirled at greater distance from the first;
- and that one had the clearest flame of all,
- whence the Pure Spark least distant was, because,
- I think, it most in-truths itself therein.
- My Lady, who profoundly lost in thought
- beheld me, said to me: “On yonder Point
- Heaven and the whole of Nature are dependent.
- Look at the circle most conjoined to It;
- and know thou that it moves so rapidly
- because spurred onward by its burning love.”
- And I to her: “If ordered were the world
- as I perceive it is in yonder wheels,
- what is before me set had sated me;
- but in the world of sense all revolutions
- may be perceived to be the more divine
- as from the center they are more remote;
- hence, if my longing is to be appeased
- in this mirific and angelic temple,
- whose only boundaries are light and love,
- ’t is fit that I hear further why the example
- and its exemplar do not correspond;
- for by myself I think on this in vain.”
- “No wonder is it, if for such a knot
- thy fingers insufficient are, so hard
- hath it become, through lack of being tried!”
- My Lady thus; she then continued: “Take
- what I shall tell thee, wouldst thou sated be;
- and on it subtly concentrate thy mind.
- The embodied circles wide or narrow are,
- according to the more or less of virtue
- distributed through all their several parts.
- A greater goodness makes for greater weal;
- a greater body greater weal bespeaks,
- if all its parts are perfect equally.
- Hence that which with itself sweeps onward all
- the universe remaining, corresponds
- to yonder circle which most loves and knows.
- If, then, thou stretch thy measure round the virtue,
- not round the appearance, of the substances
- which seem arranged in circles to thy sight,
- thou ’lt see a marvelous conformity
- of more to larger and of less to smaller,
- in every heaven, to its Intelligence.”
- Even as the hemisphere of air remains
- resplendent and serene, when Boreas blows
- out of the cheek, from which he mildest proves,
- whereby the fog which troubled it before,
- is cleansed and cleared, until the welkin smiles
- upon us with the charms of all its wards;
- even such did I become, when once my Lady
- had with her clear reply provided me,
- and, like a star in heaven, the truth was seen.
- And when her words had ceased, not otherwise
- doth iron when still boiling scintillate,
- than yonder circles sparkled. Every spark
- followed its Kindler; and so many were they,
- that their whole number far more thousands counts,
- than ever did the doubling of the chess.
- From choir to choir I heard Hosanna sung
- to that Fixed Point which holds them at the ‘where,’
- and ever will, where they have always been.
- And she who in my mind my doubtful thoughts
- was seeing, said: “The primal rings have shown
- the Seraphs to thee, and the Cherubim.
- Thus swiftly do they heed their bonds, to make them
- as like the Point as may be, and as like It
- they can be, as their vision is sublime.
- Those other loves that round about them move,
- Thrones of the Countenance Divine are called,
- and for this reason end the primal triad.
- And thou shouldst know that all of them are happy,
- according as their vision plumbs the Truth,
- wherein all understanding is at rest.
- From this it may be seen how blessedness
- is founded on the faculty which sees,
- and not on that which loves and follows after;
- the measure of this vision is the merit,
- which both of Grace and of good will is born;
- such, then, is their advance from grade to grade.
- The second triad which, like that above,
- produces buds in this eternal spring,
- whose foliage no nocturnal Aries spoils,
- sings endlessly its vernal song of praise
- to three sweet melodies, which sound in three
- orders of joy, wherewith it trines itself.
- Three goddesses are in that hierarchy;
- the Dominations first, the Virtues next;
- the third one is the Order of the Powers.
- Then, in the last two dancing choirs but one,
- with Principalities Archangels whirl;
- the last is wholly of Angelic Joys.
- All these Angelic orders upward look,
- and downward so prevail, that all to God
- attracted are, and all in turn attract.
- And Dionysius with such great desire
- gave himself up to contemplate these orders,
- that he both named and graded them as I;
- but with him, later, Gregory disagreed,
- and hence, as soon as ever in this heaven
- he oped his eyes, at his own self he smiled.
- Nor would I have thee wonder that on earth
- a mortal should disclose a truth so secret,
- for he who saw it here, revealed it to him,
- with many other truths about these rings.”