Canto XXV

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   IF e’er it happen that the Poem Sacred,
2   To which both heaven and earth have set their hand,
3   So that it many a year hath made me lean,
 
4   O’ercome the cruelty that bars me out
5   From the fair sheepfold, where a lamb I slumbered
6   An enemy to the wolves that war upon it,
 
7   With other voice forthwith, with other fleece
8   Poet will I return, and at my font
9   Baptismal will I take the laurel crown;
 
10   Because into the Faith that maketh known
11   All souls to God there entered I, and then
12   Peter for her sake thus my brow encircled.
 
13   Thereafterward towards us moved a light
14   Out of that band whence issued the first-fruits
15   Which of his vicars Christ behind him left,
 
16   And then my Lady, full of ecstasy,
17   Said unto me: Look, look ! behold the Baron
18   For whom below Galicia is frequented.
 
19   In the same way as, when a dove alights
20   Near his companion, both of them pour forth,
21   Circling about and murmuring, their affection,
 
22   So one beheld I by the other grand
23   Prince glorified to be with welcome greeted,
24   Lauding the food that there above is eaten.
 
25   But when their gratulations were complete,
26   Silently coram one each one stood still,
27   So incandescent it o’ercame my sight.
 
28   Smiling thereafterwards, said Beatrice:
29   Illustrious life, by whom the benefactions
30   Of our Basilica have been described,
 
31   Make Hope resound within this altitude;
32   Thou knowest as oft thou dost personify it
33   As Jesus to the three gave greater clearness.–
 
34   Lift up thy head, and make thyself assured;
35   For what comes hither from the mortal world
36   Must needs be ripened in our radiance.
 
37   This comfort came to me from the second fire;
38   Wherefore mine eyes I lifted to the hills,
39   Which bent them down before with too great weight.
 
40   Since, through his grace, our Emperor wills that thou
41   Shouldst find thee face to face, before thy death,
42   In the most secret chamber, with his Counts,
 
43   So that, the truth beholden of this court,
44   Hope, which below there rightfully enamours,
45   Thereby thou strengthen in thyself and others,
 
46   Say what it is, and how is flowering with it
47   Thy mind, and say from whence it came to thee.
48   Thus did the second light again continue.
 
49   And the Compassionate, who piloted
50   The plumage of my wings in such high flight,
51   Did in reply anticipate me thus:
 
52   No child whatever the Church Militant
53   Of greater hope possesses, as is written
54   In that Sun which irradiates all our band;
 
55   Therefore it is conceded him from Egypt
56   To come into Jerusalem to see,
57   Or ever yet his warfare be completed.
 
58   The two remaining points, that not for knowledge
59   Have been demanded, but that he report
60   How much this virtue unto thee is pleasing,
 
61   To him I leave; for hard he will not find them,
62   Nor of self-praise; and let him answer them;
63   And may the grace of God in this assist him!
 
64   As a disciple, who his teacher follows,
65   Ready and willing, where he is expert,
66   That his proficiency may be displayed,
 
67   Hope, said I, is the certain expectation
68   Of future glory, which is the effect
69   Of grace divine and merit precedent.
 
70   From many stars this light comes unto me;
71   But he instilled it first into my heart
72   Who was chief singer unto the chief captain.
 
73   ‘Sperent in te,’ in the high Theody
74   He sayeth, ‘ those who know thy name;’and who
75   Knoweth it not, if he my faith possess?
 
76   Thou didst instil me, then, with his instilling
77   In the Epistle, so that I am full,
78   And upon others rain again your rain.
 
79   While I was speaking, in the living bosom
80   Of that combustion quivered an efflugence,
81   Sudden and frequent, in the guise of lightning;
 
82   Then breathed: The love wherewith I am inflamed
83   Towards the virtue still which followed me
84   Unto the palm and issue of the field.
 
85   Wills that I breathe to thee that thou delight
86   In her; and grateful to me is thy telling
87   Whatever things Hope promises to thee.
 
88   And I: The ancient Scriptures and the new
89   The mark establish, and this shows it me,
90   Of all the souls whom God hath made his friends.
 
91   Isaiah saith, that each one garmented
92   In his own land shall be with twofold garments
93   And his own land is this delightful life.
 
94   Thy brother, too, far more explicitly,
95   There where he treateth of the robes of white,
96   This revelation manifests to us.
 
97   And first, and near the ending of these words,
98   Sperent in te from over us was heard,
99   To which responsive answered all the carols.
 
100   Thereafterward a light among them brightened,
101   So that, if Cancer one such crystal had,
102   Winter would have a month of one sole day.
 
103   And as uprises, goes, and enters the dance
104   A winsome maiden, only to do honour
105   To the new bride, and not from any failing,
 
106   Even thus did I behold the brightened splendour
107   Approach the two, who in a wheel revolved
108   As was beseeming to their ardent love.
 
109   Into the song and music there it entered;
110   And fixed on them my Lady kept her look,
111   Even as a bride silent and motionless.
 
112   This is the one who lay upon the breast
113   Of him our Pelican; and this is he
114   To the great office from the cross elected.
 
115   My Lady thus; but therefore none the more
116   Did move her sight from its attentive gaze
117   Before or afterward these words of hers.
 
118   Even as a man who gazes, and endeavours
119   To see the eclipsing of the sun a little,
120   And who, by seeing, sightless doth become,
 
121   So I became before that latest fire,
122   While it was said, Why dost thou daze thyself
123   To see a thing which here hath no existence?
 
124   Earth in the earth my body is, and shall be
125   With all the others there, until our number
126   With the eternal proposition tallies.
 
127   With the two garments in the blessed cloister
128   Are the two lights alone that have ascended:
129   And this shalt thou take back into your world.
 
130   And at this utterance the flaming circle
131   Grew quiet, with the dulcet intermingling
132   Of sound that by the trinal breath was made,
 
133   As to escape from danger or fatigue
134   The oars that erst were in the water beaten
135   Are all suspended at a whistle’s sound.
 
136   Ah, how much in my mind was I disturbed,
137   When I turned round to look on Beatrice,
138   That her I could not see, although I was
 
139   Close at her side and in the Happy World!