Canto XXII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   OPPRESSED with stupor, I unto my guide
2   Turned like a little child who always runs
3   For refuge there where he confideth most;
 
4   And she, even as a mother who straightway
5   Gives comfort to her pale and breathless boy
6   With voice whose wont it is to reassure him,
 
7   Said to me: Knowest thou not thou art in heaven,
8   And knowest thou not that heaven is holy all
9   And what is alone here cometh from good zeal?
 
10   After what wise the singing would have changed thee
11   And I by smiling, thou canst now imagine,
12   Since that the cry has startled thee so much,
 
13   In which if thou hadst understood its prayers
14   Already would be known to thee the vengeance
15   Which thou shalt look upon before thou diest.
 
16   The sword above here smiteth not in haste
17   Nor tardily, howe’er it seem to him
18   Who fearing or desiring waits for it.
 
19   But turn thee round towards the others now,
20   For very illustrious spirits shalt thou see,
21   If thou thy sight directest as I say.
 
22   As it seemed good to her mine eyes I turned,
23   And saw a hundred spherules that together
24   With mutual rays each other more embellished.
 
25   I stood as one who in himself represses
26   The point of his desire, and ventures not
27   To question, he so feareth the too much.
 
28   And now the largest and most luculent
29   Among those pearls came forward, that it might
30   Make my desire concerning it content.
 
31   Within it then I heard: If thou couldst see
32   Even as myself the charity that burns
33   Among us, thy conceits would be expressed;
 
34   But, that by waiting thou mayst not come late
35   To the high end, I will make answer even
36   Unto the thought of which thou art so chary.
 
37   That mountain on whose slope Cassino stands
38   Was frequented of old upon its summit
39   By a deluded folk and ill-disposed;
 
40   And I am he who first up thither bore
41   The name of Him who brought upon the earth
42   The truth that so much sublimateth us.
 
43   And such abundant grace upon me shone
44   That all the neighbouring towns I drew away
45   From the impious worship that seduced the world.
 
46   These other fires, each one of them, were men
47   Contemplative, enkindled by that heat
48   Which maketh holy flowers and fruits spring up.
 
49   Here is Macarius, here is Romualdus,
50   Here are my brethren, who within the cloisters
51   Their footsteps stayed and kept a steadfast heart.
 
52   And I to him: The affection which thou showest
53   Speaking with me, and the good countenance
54   Which I behold and note in all your ardours,
 
55   In me have so my confidence dilated
56   As the sun doth the rose, when it becomes
57   As far unfolded as it hath the power.
 
58   Therefore I pray, and thou assure me, father,
59   If I may so much grace receive, that I
60   May thee behold with countenance unveiled.
 
61   He thereupon: Brother, thy high desire
62   In the remotest sphere shall be fulfilled,
63   Where are fulfilled all others and my own.
 
64   There perfect is, and ripened, and complete,
65   Every desire; within that one alone
66   Is every part where it has always been;
 
67   For it is not in space, nor turns on poles,
68   And unto it our stairway reaches up,
69   Whence thus from out thy sight it steals away.
 
70   Up to that height the Patriarch Jacob saw it
71   Extending its supernal part, what time
72   So thronged with angels it appeared to him.
 
73   But to ascend it now no one uplifts
74   His feet from off the earth, and now my Rule
75   Below remaineth for mere waste of paper.
 
76   The walls that used of old to be an Abbey
77   Are changed to dens of robbers, and the cowls
78   Are sacks filled full of miserable flour.
 
79   But heavy usury is not taken up
80   So much against God’s pleasure as that fruit
81   Which maketh so insane the heart of monks;
 
82   For whatsoever hath the Church in keeping
83   Is for the folk that ask it in God’s name,
84   Not for one’s kindred or for something worse.
 
85   The flesh of mortals is so very soft,
86   That good beginnings down below suffice not
87   From springing of the oak to bearing acorns.
 
88   Peter began with neither gold nor silver,
89   And I with orison and abstinence,
90   And Francis with humility his convent.
 
91   And if thou lookest at each one’s beginning,
92   And then regardest whither he has run,
93   Thou shalt behold the white changed into brown.
 
94   In verity the Jordan backward turned,
95   And the sea’s fleeing, when God willed were more
96   A wonder to behold, than succour here.
 
97   Thus unto me he said j and then withdrew
98   To his own band, and the band closed together
99   Then like a whirlwind all was upward rapt.
 
100   The gentle Lady urged me on behind them
101   Up o’er that stairway by a single sign,
102   So did her virtue overcome my nature;
 
103   Nor here below, where one goes up and down
104   By natural law, was motion e’er so swift
105   That it could be compared unto my wing.
 
106   Reader, as I may unto that devout
107   Triumph return, on whose account I often
108   For my transgressions weep and beat my breast,–
 
109   Thou hadst not thrust thy finger in the fire
110   And drawn it out again, before I saw
111   The sign that follows Taurus, and was in it.
 
112   O glorious stars, O light impregnated
113   With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge
114   All of my genius, whatsoe’er it be,
 
115   you was born, and hid himself with you,
116   He who is father of all mortal life,
117   When first I tasted of the Tuscan air;
 
118   then when grace was freely given to me
119   To enter the high wheel which turns you round,
120   Your region was allotted unto me.
 
121   To you devoutly at this hour my soul
122   Is sighing, that it virtue may acquire
123   For the stern pass that draws it to itself.
 
124   Thou art so near unto the last salvation,
125   Thus Beatrice began,thou oughtest now
126   To have thine eves unclouded and acute
 
127   And therefore, ere thou enter farther in,
128   Look down once more, and see how vast a world
129   Thou hast already put beneath thy feet;
 
130   So that thy heart, as jocund as it may,
131   Present itself to the triumphant throng
132   That comes rejoicing through this rounded ether.
 
133   with my sight returned through one and all
134   The sevenfold spheres, and I beheld this globe
135   Such that I smiled at its ignoble semblance
 
136   And that opinion I approve as best
137   Which doth account it least; and he who thinks
138   Of something else may truly be called just.
 
139   I saw the daughter of Latona shining
140   Without that shadow, which to me was cause
141   That once I had believed her rare and dense.
 
142   The aspect of thy son, Hyperion,
143   Here I sustained, and saw how move themselves
144   Around and near him Maia and Dione.
 
145   Thence there appeared the temperateness of Jove
146   ‘Twixt son and father, and to me was clear
147   The change that of their whereabout they make
 
148   And all the seven made manifest to me
149   How great they are, and eke how swift they are,
150   And how they are in distant habitations.
 
151   The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud,
152   To me revolving with the eternal Twins,
153   Was all apparent made from hill to harbour!
 
154   Then to the beauteous eyes mine eyes I turned.