Canto XXVII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   GLORY be to the Father, to the Son,
2   And Holy Ghost ! all Paradise began,
3   So that the melody inebriate made me.
 
4   What I beheld seemed unto me a smile
5   Of the universe; for my inebriation
6   Found entrance through the hearing and the sight
 
7   O joy! O gladness inexpressible!
8   O perfect life of love and peacefulness!
9   O riches without hankering secure!
 
10   Before mine eyes were standing the four torches
11   Enkindled, and the one that first had come
12   Began to make itself more luminous;
 
13   And even such in semblance it became
14   As Jupiter would become, if he and Mars
15   Were birds, and they should interchange their feathers.
 
16   That Providence, which here distributeth
17   Season and service, in the blessed choir
18   Had silence upon every side imposed.
 
19   When I heard say: If I my colour change,
20   Marvel not at it; for while I am speaking
21   Thou shalt behold all these their colour change.
 
22   He who usurps upon the earth my place,
23   My place, my place, which vacant has become
24   Before the presence of the Son of God,
 
25   Has of my cemetery made a sewer
26   Of blood and stench, whereby the Perverse One
27   Who fell from here, below there is appeased!
 
28   With the same colour which, through sun adverse,
29   Painteth the clouds at evening or at morn,
30   Beheld I then the whole of heaven suffused.
 
31   And as a modest woman, who abides
32   Sure of herself, and at another’s failing,
33   From listening only, timorous becomes,
 
34   Even thus did Beatrice change countenance;
35   And I believe in heaven was such eclipse,
36   When suffered the supreme Omnipotence;
 
37   Thereafterward proceeded forth his words
38   With voice so much transmuted from itself,
39   The very countenance was not more changed.
 
40   The spouse of Christ has never nurtured been
41   On blood of mine, of Linus and of Cletus,
42   To be made use of in acquest of gold;
 
43   But in acquest of this delightful life
44   Sixtus and Pius, Urban and Calixtus,
45   After much lamentation, shed their blood.
 
46   Our purpose was not, that on the right hand
47   Of our successors should in part be seated
48   The Christian folk, in part upon the other;
 
49   Nor that the keys which were to me confided
50   Should e’er become the escutcheon on a banner,
51   That should wage war on those who are baptized;
 
52   Nor I be made the figure of a seal
53   To privileges venal and mendacious,
54   Whereat I often redden and flash with fire.
 
55   In garb of shepherds the rapacious wolves
56   Are seen from here above o’er all the pastures !
57   O wrath of God, why dost thou slumber still
 
58   To drink our blood the Caorsines and Gascons
59   Are making ready. O thou good beginning,
60   Unto how vile an end must thou needs fall!
 
61   But the high Providence, that with Scipio
62   At Rome the glory of the world defended,
63   Will speedily bring aid, as I conceive;
 
64   And thou, my son, who by thy mortal weight
65   Shalt down return again, open thy mouth;
66   What I conceal not, do not thou conceal.’
 
67   As with its frozen vapours downward falls
68   In flakes our atmosphere, what time the horn
69   Of the celestial; Goat doth touch the sun,
 
70   Upward in such array saw I the ether
71   Become, and flaked with the triumphant vapours,
72   Which there together with us had remained.
 
73   My sight was following up their semblances,
74   And followed till the medium, by excess,
75   The passing farther onward took from it;
 
76   Whereat the Lady, who beheld me freed
77   From gazing upward, said to me: Cast down
78   Thy sight, and see how far thou art turned round.
 
79   Since the first time that I had downward looked,
80   I saw that I had moved through the whole arc
81   Which the first climate makes from midst to end;
 
82   So that I saw the mad track of Ulysses
83   Past Gades, and this side, well nigh the shore
84   Whereon became Europa a sweet burden.
 
85   And of this threshing-floor the site to me
86   Were more unveiled, but the sun was proceeding
87   Under my feet, a sign and more removed.
 
88   My mind enamoured, which is dallying
89   At all times with my Lady, to bring back
90   To her mine eyes was more than ever ardent.
 
91   And if or Art or Nature has made bait
92   To catch the eyes and so possess the mind,
93   In human flesh or in its portraiture,
 
94   All joined together would appear as nought
95   To the divine delight which shone upon me
96   When to her smiling face I turned me round.
 
97   The virtue that her look endowed me with
98   From the fair nest of Leda tore me forth,
99   And up into the swiftest heaven impelled me.
 
100   Its parts exceeding full of life and lofty
101   Are all so uniform, I cannot say
102   Which Beatrice selected for my place.
 
103   But she, who was aware of my desire,
104   Began, the while she smiled so joyously
105   That God seemed in her countenance to rejoice:
 
106   The nature of that motion, which keeps quiet
107   The centre and all the rest about it moves,
108   From hence begins as from its starting point.
 
109   And in this heaven there is no other Where
110   Than in the Mind Divine, wherein is kindled
111   The love that turns it, and the power it rains.
 
112   Within a circle light and love embrace it
113   Even as this doth the others, and that precinct
114   He who encircles it alone controls.
 
115   Its motion is not by another meted,
116   But all the others measured are by this,
117   As ten is by the half and by the fifth.
 
118   And in what manner time in such a pot
119   May have its roots, and in the rest its leaves,
120   Now unto thee can manifest be made.
 
121   O Covetousness, that mortals dost ingulf
122   Beneath thee so, that no one hath the power
123   Of drawing back his eyes from out thy waves!
 
124   Full fairly blossoms in mankind the will;
125   But the uninterrupted rain converts
126   Into abortive wildings the true plums.
 
127   Fidelity and innocence are found
128   Only in children; afterwards they both
129   Take flight or e’er the cheeks with down are covered.
 
130   One, while he prattles still, observes the fasts,
131   Who, when his tongue is loosed, forthwith devours
132   Whatever food under whatever moon;
 
133   Another, while he prattles, loves and listens
134   Unto his mother, who when speech is perfect
135   Forthwith desires to see her in her grave.
 
136   Even thus is swarthy made the skin so white
137   In its first aspect of the daughter fair
138   Of him who brings the morn, and leaves the night.
 
139   Thou, that it may not be a marvel to thee,
140   Think that on earth there is no one who governs;
141   Whence goes astray the human family.
 
142   Ere January be unwintered wholly
143   By the centesimal on earth neglected,
144   Shall these supernal circles roar so loud
 
145   The tempest that has been so long awaited
146   Shall whirl the poops about where are the prows;
147   So that the fleet shall run its course direct,
 
148   And the true fruit shall follow on the flower.