Canto VII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   Osanna sanctus Deus Sabaoth,
2   Superillustrans claritate tua
3   Felices ignes horum malahoth!
4   ln this wise, to his melody returning,
5   This substance, upon which a double light
6   Doubles itself, was seen by me to sing,
7   And to their dance this and the others moved,
8   And in the manner of swift-hurrying sparks
9   Veiled themselves from me with a sudden distance.
10   Doubting was I, and saying,Tell her, tell her,
11   Within me, tell her, saying, tell my Lady,
12   Who slakes my thirst with her sweet effluences;
13   And yet that reverence which doth lord it over
14   The whole of me only by B and ICE,
15   Bowed me again like unto one who drowses.
16   Short while did Beatrice endure me thus;
17   And she began, lighting me with a smile
18   Such as would make one happy in the fire:
19   According to infallible advisement,
20   After what manner a just vengeance justly
21   Could be avenged has put thee upon thinking,
22   But I will speedily thy mind unloose;
23   And do thou listen, for these words of mine
24   Of a great doctrine will a present make thee.
25   By not enduring on the power that wills
26   Curb for his good, that man who ne’er was born,
27   Damning himself damned all his progeny;
28   Whereby the human species down below
29   Lay sick for many centuries in great error,
30   Till to descend it pleased the Word of God
31   To where the nature, which from its own Maker
32   Estranged itself, he joined to him in person
33   By the sole act of his eternal love.
34   Now unto what is said direct thy sight;
35   This nature when united to its Maker,
36   Such as created, was sincere and good;
37   But by itself alone was banished forth
38   From Paradise, because it turned aside
39   Out of the way of truth and of its life.
40   Therefore the penalty the cross held out,
41   If measured by the nature thus assumed,
42   None ever yet with so great justice stung,
43   And none was ever of so great injustice,
44   Considering who the Person was that suffered,
45   Within whom such a nature was contracted.
46   From one act therefore issued things diverse;
47   To God and to the Jews one death was pleasing;
48   Earth trembled at it and the Heaven was opened.
49   It should no longer now seem difficult
50   To thee, when it is said that a just vengeance
51   By a just court was afterward avenged.
52   But now do I behold thy mind entangled
53   From thought to thought within a knot, from which
54   With great desire it waits to free itself
55   Thou sayest, ‘Well discern I what I hear;
56   But it is hidden from me why God willed
57   For our redemption only this one mode.’
58   Buried remaineth, brother, this decree
59   Unto the eyes of every one whose nature
60   Is in the flame of love not yet adult.
61   Verily, inasmuch as at this mark
62   One gazes long and little is discerned,
63   Wherefore this mode was worthiest will I say.
64   Goodness Divine, which from itself doth spurn
65   All envy, burning in itself so sparkles
66   That the eternal beauties it unfolds.
67   Whate’er from this immediately distils
68   Has afterwards no end, for ne’er removed
69   Is its impression when it sets its seal.
70   Whate’er from this immediately rains down
71   Is wholly free, because it is not subject
72   Unto the influences of novel things.
73   The more conformed thereto, the more it pleases;
74   For the blest ardour that irradiates all things
75   In that most like itself is most vivacious.
76   With all of these things has advantaged been
77   The human creature; and if one be wanting,
78   From his nobility he needs must fall.
79   ‘Tis sin alone which doth disfranchise him,
80   And render him unlike the Good Supreme,
81   So that he little with its light is blanched,
82   And to his dignity no more returns,
83   Unless he fill up where transgression empties
84   With righteous pains for criminal delights.
85   Your nature when it sinned so utterly
86   In its own seed. out of these dignities
87   Even as out of Paradise was driven,
88   Nor could itself recover, if thou notest
89   With nicest subtilty, by any way,
90   Except by passing one of these two fords:
91   Either that God through clemency alone
92   Had pardon granted, or that man himself
93   Had satisfaction for his folly made.
94   Fix now thine eye deep into the abyss
95   Of the eternal counsel, to my speech
96   As far as may be fastened steadfastly!
97   Man in his limitations had not power
98   To satisfy, not having power to sink
99   In his humility obeying then,
100   Far as he disobeying thought to rise;
101   And for this reason man has been from power
102   Of satisfying by himself excluded.
103   Therefore it God behoved in his own ways
104   Man to restore unto his perfect life
105   I say in one, or else in both of them.
106   But since the action of the doer is
107   So much more grateful, as it more presents
108   The goodness of the heart from which it issues,
109   Goodness Divine, that doth imprint the world,
110   Has been contented to proceed by each
111   And all its ways to lift you up again;
112   Nor ‘twixt the first day and the final night
113   Such high and such magnificent proceeding
114   By one or by the other was or shall be;
115   For God more bounteous was himself to give
116   To make man able to uplift himself,
117   Than if he only of himself had pardoned;
118   And all the other modes were insufficient
119   For justice, were it not the Son of God
120   Himself had humbled to become incarnate.
121   Now, to fill fully each desire of thine,
122   Return I to elucidate one place,
123   In order that thou there mayst see as I do.
124   Thou sayst:’I see the air, I see the fire,
125   The water, and the earth, and all their mixtures
126   Come to corruption, and short while endure;
127   And these things notwithstanding were created;
128   Therefore if that which I have said were true,
129   They should have been secure against corruption.
130   The Angels, brother, and the land sincere
131   In which thou art, created may be called
132   Just as they are in their entire existence;
133   But all the elements which thou hast named,
134   And all those things which out of them are made,
135   By a created virtue are informed.
136   Created was the matter which they have;
137   Created was the informing influence
138   Within these stars that round about them go.
139   The soul of every brute and of the plants
140   By its potential temperament attracts
141   The ray and motion of the holy lights;
142   But your own life immediately inspires
143   Supreme Beneficence, and enamours it
144   So with herself, it evermore desires her.
145   And thou from this mayst argue furthermore
146   Your resurrection, if thou think again
147   How human flesh was fashioned at that time
148   When the first parents both of them were made.