Canto XXXI

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   In fashion then as of a snow-white rose
2   Displayed itself to me the saintly host,
3   Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride,
4   But the other host, that flying sees and sings
5   The glory of Him who doth enamour it,
6   And the goodness that created it so noble,
7   Even as a swarm of bees, that sinks in flowers
8   One moment, and the next returns again
9   To where its labour is to sweetness turned,
10   Sank into the great flower, that is adorned
11   With leaves so many, and thence reascended
12   To where its love abideth evermore.
13   Their faces had they all of living flame,
14   And wings of gold, and all the rest so white
15   No snow unto that limit doth attain.
16   From bench to bench, into the flower descending,
17   They carried something of the peace and ardour
18   Which by the fanning of their flanks they won.
19   Nor did the interposing ‘twixt the flower
20   And what was o’er it of such plenitude
21   Of flying shapes impede the sight and splendour;
22   Because the light divine so penetrates
23   I he universe, according to its merit,
24   That naught can be an obstacle against it.
25   This realm secure and full of gladsomeness,
26   Crowded with ancient people and with modern,
27   Unto one mark had all its look and love.
28   O Trinal Light, that in a single star
29   Sparkling upon their sight so satisfies them,
30   Look down upon our tempest here below!
31   If the barbarians, coming from some region
32   That every day by Helice is covered,
33   Revolving with her son whom she delights in,
34   Beholding Rome and all her noble works,
35   Were wonder-struck, what time the Lateran
36   Above all mortal things was eminent,–
37   I who to the divine had from the human,
38   From time unto eternity, had come,
39   From Florence to a people just and sane,
40   With what amazement must I have been filled!
41   Truly between this and the joy, it was
42   My pleasure not to hear, and to be mute.
43   And as a pilgrim who delighteth him
44   In gazing round the temple of his vow,
45   And hopes some day to retell how it was,
46   So through the living light my way pursuing
47   Directed I mine eyes o’er all the ranks,
48   Now up, now down, and now all round about.
49   Faces I saw of charity persuasive,
50   Embellished by His light and their own smile,
51   And attitudes adorned with every grace.
52   The general form of Paradise already
53   My glance had comprehended,l as a whole,
54   In no part hitherto remaining fixed,
55   And round I turned me with rekindled wish
56   My Lady to interrogate of things
57   Concerning which my mind was in suspense.
58   One thing I meant, another answered me;
59   I thought I should see Beatrice, and saw
60   An Old Man habited like the glorious people.
61   O’erflowing was he in his eyes and cheeks
62   With joy benign, in attitude of pity
63   As to a tender father is becoming.
64   And She, where is she?instantly I said;
65   Whence he: To put an end to thy desire,
66   Me Beatrice hath sent from mine own place.
67   And if thou lookest up to the third round
68   Of the first rank, again shalt thou behold her
69   Upon the throne her merits have assigned her.
70   Without reply I lifted up mine eyes,
71   And saw her, as she made herself a crown
72   Reflecting from herself the eternal rays.
73   Not from that region which the highest thunders
74   Is any mortal eye so far removed,
75   In whatsoever sea it deepest sinks,
76   As there from Beatrice my sight; but this
77   Was nothing unto me; because her image
78   Descended not to me by medium blurred.
79   O Lady, thou in whom my hope is strong,
80   And who for my salvation didst endure
81   In Hell to leave the imprint of thy feet,
82   Of whatsoever things I have beheld,
83   As coming from thy power and from thy goodness
84   I recognise the virtue and the grace.
85   Thou from a slave hast brought me unto freedom,
86   By all those ways, by all the expedients,
87   Whereby thou hadst the power of doing it.
88   Preserve towards me thy magnificence,
89   So that this soul of mine, which thou hast healed,
90   Pleasing to thee be loosened from the body.
91   Thus I implored j and she, so far away,
92   Smiled, as it seemed, and looked once more at me
93   Then unto the eternal fountain turned.
94   And said the Old Man holy: That thou mayst
95   Accomplish perfectly thy journeying,
96   Whereunto prayer and holy love have sent me,
97   Fly with thine eyes all round about this garden
98   For seeing it will discipline thy sight
99   Farther to mount along the ray divine.
100   And she, the Queen of Heaven, for whom I burn
101   Wholly with love, will grant us every grace,
102   Because that I her faithful Bernard am.
103   As he who peradventure from Croatia
104   Cometh to gaze at our Veronica,
105   Who through its ancient fame is never sated,
106   But says in thought, the while it is displayed,
107   My Lord, Christ Jesus, God of very God,
108   Now was your semblance made like unto this?
109   Even such was I while gazing at the living
110   Charity of the man, who in this world
111   By contemplation tasted of that peace.
112   Thou son of grace, this jocund life,began he,
113   Will not be known to thee by keeping ever
114   Thine eyes below here on the lowest place
115   But mark the circles to the most remote,
116   Until thou shalt behold enthroned the Queen
117   To whom this realm is subject and devoted.
118   I lifted up mine eyes, and as at morn
119   The oriental part of the horizon
120   Surpasses that wherein the sun goes down,
121   Thus, as if going with mine eyes from vale
122   To mount, I saw a part in the remoteness
123   Surpass in splendour all the other front.
124   And even as there where we await the pole
125   That Phaeton drove badly, blazes more
126   The light, and is on either side diminished,
127   So likewise that pacific oriflamme
128   Gleamed brightest in the centre, and each side
129   In equal measure did the flame abate.
130   And at that centre, with their wings expanded,
131   More than a thousand jubilant Angels saw I,
132   Each differing in effulgence and in kind.
133   I saw there at their sports and at their songs
134   A beauty smiling, which the gladness was
135   Within the eyes of all the other saints
136   And if I had in speaking as much wealth
137   As in imagining, I should not dare
138   To attempt the smallest part of its delight
139   Bernard, as soon as he beheld mine eyes
140   Fixed and intent upon its fervid fervour,
141   His own with such affection turned to her
142   That it made mine more ardent to behold.