Canto XXVI

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   WHILE I was doubting for my vision quenched,
2   Out of the flame refulgent that had quenched it
3   Issued a breathing, that attentive made me,
 
4   Saying: While thou recoverest the sense
5   Of seeing which in me thou hast consumed,
6   ‘Tis well that speaking thou shouldst compensate it.
 
7   Begin then, and declare to what thy soul
8   Is aimed, and count it for a certainty,
9   Sight is in thee bewildered and not dead;
 
10   Because the Lady, who through this divine
11   Region conducteth thee, has in her look
12   The power the hand of Ananias had.
 
13   I said: As pleaseth her, or soon or late
14   Let the cure come to eyes that portals were
15   When she with fire I ever burn with entered.
 
16   The Good, that gives contentment to this Court,
17   The Alpha and Omega is of all
18   The writing that love reads me low or loud.
 
19   The selfsame voice, that taken had from me
20   The terror of the sudden dazzlement,
21   To speak still farther put it in my thought;
 
22   And said: In verity with finer sieve
23   Behoveth thee to sift; thee it behovetn
24   To say who aimed thy bow at such a target.
 
25   And I: By philosophic arguments,
26   And by authority that hence descends,
27   Such love must needs imprint itself in me;
 
28   For Good, so far as good, when comprehended
29   Doth straight enkindle love, and so much greater
30   As more of goodness in itself it holds;
 
31   Then to that Essence (whose is such advantage
32   That every good which out of it is found
33   Is nothing but a ray of its own light)
 
34   More than elsewhither must the mind be moved
35   Of every one, in loving, who discerns
36   The truth in which this evidence is founded.
 
37   Such truth he to my intellect reveals
38   Who demonstrates to me the primal love
39   Of all the sempiternal substances.
 
40   The voice reveals it of the truthful Author,
41   Who says to Moses, speaking of Himself,
42   ‘I will make all my goodness pass before thee.’
 
43   Thou too revealest it to me, beginning
44   The loud Evangel, that proclaims the secret
45   Of heaven to earth above all other edict.
 
46   And I heard say: By human intellect
47   And by authority concordant with it,
48   Of all thy loves reserve for God the highest.
 
49   But say again if other cords thou feelest,
50   Draw thee towards Him, that thou mayst proclaim
51   With how many teeth this love is biting thee.
 
52   The holy purpose of the Eagle of Christ
53   Not latent was nay, rather I perceived
54   Whither he fain would my profession lead.
 
55   Therefore I recommenced: All of those bites
56   Which have the power to turn the heart to God
57   Unto my charity have been concurrent.
 
58   The being of the world, and my own being,
59   The death which He endured that I may live,
60   And that which all the faithful hope, as I do,
 
61   With the forementioned vivid consciousness
62   Have drawn me from the sea of love perverse,
63   And of the right have placed me on the shore.
 
64   The leaves, wherewith embowered is all the garden
65   Of the Eternal Gardener, do I love
66   As much as he has granted them of good.
 
67   As soon as I had ceased, a song most sweet
68   Throughout the heaven resounded, and my Lady
69   Said with the others, Holy, holy, holy!
 
70   And as at some keen light one wakes from sleep
71   By reason of the visual spirit that r ms
72   Unto the splendour passed from coat to coat,
 
73   And he who wakes abhorreth what he sees,
74   So all unconscious is his sudden waking,
75   Until the judgment cometh to his aid,
 
76   So from before mine eyes did Beatrice
77   Chase every mote with radiance of her own,
78   That cast its light a thousand miles and more.
 
79   Whence better after than before I saw,
80   And in a kind of wonderment I asked
81   About a fourth light that I saw with us.
 
82   And said my Lady: There within those rays
83   Gazes upon its Maker the first soul
84   That ever the first virtue did create.
 
85   Even as the bough that downward bends its top
86   At transit of the wind, and then is lifted
87   By its own virtue, which inclines it upward,
 
88   Likewise did I, the while that she was speaking,
89   Being amazed, and then I was made bold
90   By a desire to speak wherewith I burned.
 
91   And I began: O apple, that mature
92   Alone hast been produced, O ancient father,
93   To whom each wife is daughter and daughter-in-law,
 
94   Devoutly as I can I supplicate thee
95   That thou wouldst speak to me; thou seest my wish;
96   And I, to hear thee quickly, speak it not.
 
97   Sometimes an animal, when covered, struggles
98   So that his impulse needs must be apparent,
99   By reason of the wrappage following it;
 
100   And in like manner the primeval soul
101   Made clear to me athwart its covering
102   How jubilant it was to give me pleasure.
 
103   Then breathed: Without thy uttering it to me,
104   Thine inclination better I discern
105   Than thou whatever thing is surest to thee;
 
106   For I behold it in the truthful mirror,
107   That of Himself all things parhelion makes,
108   And none makes Him parhelion of itself
 
109   Thou fain wouldst hear how long ago God placed me
110   Within the lofty garden, where this Lady
111   Unto so long a stairway thee disposed.
 
112   And how long to mine eyes it was a pleasure,
113   And of the great disdain the proper cause,
114   And the language that I used and that I made.
 
115   Now, son of mine, the tasting of the tree
116   Not in itself was cause of so great exile,
117   But solely the o’erstepping of the bounds.
 
118   There, whence thy Lady moved Virgilius,
119   Four thousand and three hundred and two circuits
120   Made by the sun, this Council I desired;
 
121   And him I saw return to all the lights
122   Of his highway nine hundred times and thirty,
123   Whilst I upon the earth was tarrying.
 
124   The language that I spake was quite extinct
125   Before that in the work interminable
126   The people under Nimrod were employed;
 
127   For nevermore result of reasoning
128   (Because of human pleasure that doth change,
129   Obedient to the heavens) was durable.
 
130   A natural action is it that man speaks;
131   But whether thus or thus, doth nature leave
132   To your own art, as seemeth best to you.
 
133   Ere I descended to the infernal anguish,
134   El was on earth the name of the Chief Good,
135   From whom comes all the joy that wraps me round
 
136   Eli he then was called, and that is proper,
137   Because the use of men is like a leaf
138   On bough, which goeth and another cometh.
 
139   Upon the mount that highest o’er the wave
140   Rises was I, in life or pure or sinful,
141   From the first hour to that which is the second,
 
142   As the sun changes quadrant, to the sixth.