Canto XVIII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   Now was alone rejoicing in its word
2   That soul beatified, and I was tasting
3   My own, the bitter tempering with the sweet,
 
4   And the Lady who to God was leading me
5   Said: Change thy thought; consider that I am
6   Near unto Him who every wrong disburdens.
 
7   Unto the loving accents of my comfort
8   I turned me round, and then what love I saw
9   Within those holy eyes I here relinquish;
 
10   Not only that my language I distrust,
11   But that my mind cannot return so far
12   Above itself, unless another guide it.
 
13   Thus much upon that point can I repeat,
14   That, her again beholding, my affection
15   From every other longing was released.
 
16   While the eternal pleasure, which direct
17   Rayed upon Beatrice, from her fair face
18   Contented me with its reflected aspect,
 
19   Conquering me with the radiance of a smile,
20   She said to me, Turn thee about and listen;
21   Not in mine eyes alone is Paradise.
 
22   Even as sometimes here do we behold
23   The affection in the look, if it be such
24   That all the soul is wrapt away by it,
 
25   So, by the flaming of the effulgence holy
26   To which I turned, I recognized therein
27   The wish of speaking to me somewhat farther.
 
28   And it began: On this fifth resting-place
29   Upon the tree that liveth by its summit,
30   And aye bears fruit, and never loses leaf,
 
31   Are blessed spirits that below, ere yet
32   They came to Heaven, were of such great renown
33   That every Muse therewith would affluent be.
 
34   Therefore look thou upon the cross’s horns;
35   He whom I now shall name will there enact
36   What doth within a cloud its own swift fire.
 
37   I saw athwart the Cross a splendour drawn
38   By naming Joshua, (even as he did it,)
39   Nor noted I the word before the deed;
 
40   And at the name of the great Maccabee
41   I saw another move itself revolving,
42   And gladness was the whip unto that top.
 
43   Likewise for Charlemagne and for Orlando,
44   Two of them my regard attentive followed
45   As followeth the eye its falcon flying.
 
46   William thereafterward, and Renouard,
47   And the Duke Godfrey, did attract my sight
48   Along upon that Cross, and Robert Guiscard.
 
49   Then, moved and mingled with the other lights
50   The soul that had addressed me showed how great
51   An artist ’twas among the heavenly singers.
 
52   To my right side I turned myself around,
53   My duty to behold in Beatrice
54   Either by words or gesture signified;
 
55   And so translucent I beheld her eyes,
56   So full of pleasure, that her countenance
57   Surpassed its other and its latest wont.
 
58   And as, by feeling greater delectation,
59   A man in doing good from day to day
60   Becomes aware his virtue is increasing,
 
61   So I became aware that my gyration
62   With heaven together had increased its arc,
63   That miracle beholding more adorned.
 
64   And such as is the change, in little lapse
65   Of time, in a pale woman, when her face
66   Is from the load of bashfulness unladen.
 
67   Such was it in mine eyes, when I had turned,
68   Caused by the whiteness of the temperate star,
69   The sixth, which to itself had gathered me.
 
70   Within that Jovial torch did I behold
71   The sparkling of the love which was therein
72   Delineate our language to mine eyes.
 
73   And even as birds uprisen from the shore,
74   As in congratulation o’er their food,
75   Make squadrons of themselves, now round, now long,
 
76   So from within those lights the holy creatures
77   Sang flying to and fro, and in their figures
78   Made of themselves now D, now I, now L.
 
79   First singing they to their own music moved;
80   Then one becoming of these characters,
81   A little while they rested and were silent.
 
82   O divine Pegasea, thou who genius
83   Dost glorious make, and render it long-lived,
84   And this through thee the cities and the kingdoms,
 
85   Illume me with thyself, that I may bring
86   Their figures out as 1 have them conceived !
87   Apparent be thy power in these brief verses!
 
88   Themselves then they displayed in five times seven
89   Vowels and consonants; and I observed
90   The parts as they seemed spoken unto me.
 
91   Diligite justitian, these were
92   First verb and noun of all that was depicted;
93   Qui judicatis terram were the last.
 
94   Thereafter in the M of the fifth word
95   Remained they so arranged, that Jupiter
96   Seemed to be silver there with gold inlaid.
 
97   And other lights I saw descend where was
98   The summit of the M, and pause there singing
99   The good, I think, that draws them to itself
 
100   Then, as in striking upon burning logs
101   Upward there fly innumerable sparks,
102   Whence fools are wont to look for auguries,
 
103   More than a thousand lights seemed thence to rise,
104   And to ascend, some more, and others less,
105   Even as the Sun that lights them had allotted;
 
106   And, each one being quiet in its place,
107   The head and neck beheld I of an eagle
108   Delineated by that inlaid fire.
 
109   He who there paints has none to be his guide;
110   But Himself guides; and is from Him remembered
111   That virtue which is form unto the nest.
 
112   The other beatitude, that contented seemed
113   At first to bloom a lily on the M,
114   By a slight motion followed out the imprint.
 
115   O gentle star ! what and how many gems
116   Did demonstrate to me, that all our justice
117   Effect is of that heaven which thou ingemmest!
 
118   Wherefore I pray the Mind, in which begin
119   Thy motion and thy virtue, to regard
120   Whence comes the smoke that vitiates thy rays;
 
121   So that a second time it now be wroth
122   With buying and with selling in the temple
123   Whose walls were built with signs and martyrdoms!
 
124   O soldiery of heaven, whom I contemplate,
125   Implore for those who are upon the earth
126   All gone astray after the bad example!
 
127   Once ’twas the custom to make war with swords;
128   But now ’tis made by .taking here and there
129   The bread the pitying Father shuts from none.
 
130   Yet thou, who writest but to cancel, think
131   That Peter and that Paul, who for this vineyard
132   Which thou art spoiling died, are still alive !
 
133   Well canst thou say: So steadfast my desire
134   Is unto him who willed to live alone,
135   And for a dance was led to martyrdom,
 
136   That I know not the Fisherman nor Paul.