Canto XII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   SOON as the blessed flame had taken up
2   The final word to give it utterance,
3   Began the holy millstone to revolve,
 
4   And in its gyre had not turned wholly round,
5   Before another in a ring enclosed it,
6   And motion joined to motion, song to song;
 
7   Song that as greatly doth transcend our Muses,
8   Our Sirens, in those dulcet clarions,
9   As primal splendour that which is reflected.
 
10   And as are spanned athwart a tender cloud
11   Two rainbows parallel and like in colour,
12   When Juno to her handmaid gives command,
 
13   (The one without born of the one within,
14   Like to the speaking of that vagrant one
15   Whom love consumed as doth the sun the vapours,)
 
16   And make the people here, through covenant
17   God set with Noah, presageful of the world
18   That shall no more be covered with a flood,
 
19   In such wise of those sempiternal roses
20   The garlands twain encompassed us about,
21   And thus the outer to the inner answered.
 
22   After the dance, and other grand rejoicings,
23   Both of the singing, and the flaming forth
24   Effulgence with effulgence blithe and tender,
 
25   Together, at once, with one accord had stopped,
26   (Even as the eyes, that, as volition moves them,
27   Must needs together shut and lift themselves,)
 
28   Out of the heart of one of the new lights
29   There came a voice, that needle to the star
30   Made me appear in turning thitherward.
 
31   And it began: The love that makes me fair
32   Draws me to speak about the other leader,
33   By whom so well is spoken here of mine.
 
34   ‘Tis right, where one is, to bring in the other,
35   That, as they were united in their warfare,
36   Together likewise may their glory shine.
 
37   The soldiery of Christ, which it had cost
38   So dear to arm again, behind the standard
39   Moved slow and doubtful and in numbers few,
 
40   When the Emperor who reigneth evermore
41   Provided for the host that was in peril,
42   Through grace alone and not that it was worthy;
 
43   And, as was said, he to his Bride brought succour
44   With champions twain, at whose deed, at whose word
45   The straggling people were together drawn.
 
46   Within that region where the sweet west wind
47   Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith
48   Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh,
 
49   Not far off from the beating of the waves,
50   Behind which in his long career the sun
51   Sometimes conceals himself from every man,
 
52   Is situate the fortunate Calahorra,
53   Under protection of the mighty shield
54   In which the Lion subject is and sovereign.
 
55   Therein was born the amorous paramour
56   Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate,
57   Kind to his own and cruel to his foes;
 
58   And when it was created was his mind
59   Replete with such a living energy,
60   ‘That in his mother her it made prophetic.
 
61   As soon as the espousals were complete
62   Between him and the Faith at holy font,
63   Where they with mutual safety dowered each
 
64   The woman, who for him had given assent,
65   Saw in a dream the admirable fruit
66   That issue would from him and from his heirs;
 
67   And that he might be construed as he was,
68   A spirit from this place went forth to name him
69   With His possessive whose he wholly was.
 
70   ! Dominic was he called; and him I speak of
71   Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
72   Elected to his garden to assist him.
 
73   Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ,
74   For the first love made manifest in him
75   Was the first counsel that was given by Christ.
 
76   Silent and wakeful many a time was he
77   Discovered by his nurse upon the ground,
78   As if he would have said, ‘For this I came.’
 
79   O thou his father, Felix verily!
80   O thou his mother, verily Joanna,
81   If this, interpreted, means as is said!
 
82   Not for the world which people toil for now
83   In following Ostiense and Taddeo,
84   But through his longing after the true manna,
 
85   He in short time became so great a teacher,
86   That he began to go about the vineyard,
87   Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser;
 
88   And of the See, (that once was more benignant
89   Unto the righteous poor, not through itself,
90   But him who sits there and degenerates,)
 
91   Not to dispense or two or three for six,
92   Not any fortune of first vacancy,
93   Non decimas quae sunt pauperum Dei,
 
94   He asked for, but against the errant world
95   Permission to do battle for the seed,
96   Of which these four and twenty plants surround
 
97   Then with the doctrine and the will together,
98   With office apostolical he moved,
99   Like torrent which some lofty vein out-presses;
 
100   And in among the shoots heretical
101   His impetus with greater fury smote,
102   Wherever the resistance was the greatest.
 
103   Of him were made thereafter divers runnels,
104   Whereby the garden catholic is watered,
105   So that more living its plantations stand.
 
106   If such the one wheel of the Biga was,
107   In which the Holy Church itself defended
108   And in the field its civic battle won,
 
109   Truly full manifest should be to thee
110   The excellence of the other, unto whom
111   Thomas so courteous was before my coming.
 
112   But still the orbit, which the highest part
113   Of its circumference made, is derelict,
114   So that the mould is where was once the crust.
 
115   His family, that had straight forward moved
116   With feet upon his footprints, are turned round
117   So that they set the point upon the heel.
 
118   And soon aware they will be of the harvest
119   Of this bad husbandry, when shall the tares
120   Complain the granary is taken from them.
 
121   Yet say I, he who searcheth leaf by leaf
122   Our volume through, would still some page discover
123   Where he could read, ‘ I am as I am wont.’
 
124   ‘Twill not be from Casal nor Acquasparta,
125   From whence come such unto the written word
126   That one avoids it, and the other narrows.
 
127   Bonaventura of Bagnoregio’s life
128   Am I, who always in great offices
129   Postponed considerations sinister.
 
130   Here are Illuminato and Agostino,
131   Who of the first barefooted beggars were
132   That with the cord the friends of God became.
 
133   Hugh of Saint Victor is among them here,
134   And Peter Mangiador, and Peter of Spain,
135   Who down below in volumes twelve is shining;
 
136   Nathan the seer, and metropolitan
137   Chrysostom, and Anselmus, and Donatus
138   Who deigned to lay his hand to the first art;
 
139   Here is Rabanus, and beside me here
140   Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
141   He with the spirit of prophecy endowed.
 
142   To celebrate so great a paladin
143   Have moved me the impassioned courtesy
144   And the discreet discourses of Friar Thomas,
 
145   And with me they have moved this company.