Canto XXXII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   ABSORBED in his deligllt, that contemplator
2   Assumed the willing office of a teacher
3   And gave beginning to these holy words:
 
4   The wound that Mary closed up and anointed,
5   She at her feet who is so beautiful,
6   She is the one who opened it and pierced it.
 
7   Within that order which the third seats make
8   Is seated Rachel, lower than the other,
9   With Beatrice, in manner as thou seest.
 
10   Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and her who was
11   Ancestress of the Singei, who for dole
12   Of the misdeed said,’miserere mei,’
 
13   Canst thou behold from seat to seat descending
14   Down in gradation, as witll each one’s name
15   I through the nose go down from leaf to leaf.
 
16   And downward from the seventh row, even as
17   Above the same, succeed the Hebrew women,
18   Dividing all the tresses of the flower
 
19   Because, according to the view which Faith
20   In Christ had taken, these are the partition
21   By which the sacred stairways are divided.
 
22   Upon this side, where perfect is the flower
23   With each one of its petals, seated are
24   Those who believed in Christ who was to come.
 
25   Upon the other side, where intersected
26   With vacant spaces are the semicircles,
27   Are those who looked to Christ already come.
 
28   And as, upon this side, the glorious seat
29   Of the Lady of Heaven, and the other seats
30   Below it, such a great division make,
 
31   So opposite doth that of the great John,
32   Who, ever holy, desert and martyrdom
33   Endured, and afterwards two years in Hell.
 
34   And under him thus to divide were chosen
35   Francis, and Belledict, and Augustine,
36   And down to us the rest from round to round;
 
37   Behold now the high providence divine;
38   For one and other aspect of the Faith
39   In equal measure shall this garden fill.
 
40   And know that downward from that rank which cleaves
41   Midway the sequence of the two divisions,
42   Not by their proper merit are they seated
 
43   But by another’s under fixed conditions;
44   For these are spirits one and all assoiled
45   Before they any true election had.
 
46   Well canst thou recognise it in their faces,
47   And also in their voices puerile,
48   If thou regard them well and hearken to them.
 
49   Now doubtest thou, and doubting thou art silent;
50   But I will loosen for thee the strong bond
51   In which thy subtile fancies hold thee fast.
 
52   Within the amplitude of this domain
53   No casual point can possibly find place,
54   No more than sadness can, or thirst, or hunger;
 
55   For by eternal law has been established
56   Whatever thou beholdest, so that closely
57   The ring is fitted to the finger here.
 
58   And therefore are these people, festinate
59   Unto true life, not sine causa here
60   More and less excellent an.ong themselves.
 
61   The King, by means of whom this realm reposes
62   In so great love and in so great delight
63   That no will ventureth to ask for more,
 
64   In his own joyous aspect every mind
65   Creating, at his pleasure dowers with grace
66   Diversely; and let here the effect suffice.
 
67   And this is clearly and expressly noted
68   For you in Holy Scripture, in those twins
69   Who in their mother had their anger roused.
 
70   According to the colour of the hair,
71   Therefore, with such a grace the light supreme
72   Consenteth that they worthily be crowned.
 
73   Without, then, any merit of their deeds,
74   Stationed are they in different gradations,
75   Differing only in their first acuteness.
 
76   ‘Tis true that in the early centuries,
77   With innocence, to work out their salvation
78   Sufficient was the faith of parents only.
 
79   After the earlier ages were completed,
80   Behoved it that the males by circumcision
81   Unto their innocent wings should virtue add;
 
82   But after that the time of grace had come
83   Wilhout the baptism absolute of Christ,
84   Such innocence below there was retained.
 
85   Look now into the face that unto Christ
86   Hath most resemblance j for its brightness only
87   Is able to prepare thee to see Christ.
 
88   On her did I behold so great a gladness
89   Rain down, borne onward in the holy minds
90   Created through that altihlde to fly,
 
91   That whatsoever I had seen before
92   Did not suspend me in such admiration,
93   Nor show me such similitude of God.
 
94   And the same Love that first descended there,
95   Ave Maria, gratia plena,singing,
96   In front of her his wings expanded wide.
 
97   Unto the canticle divine responded
98   From every part the court beatified,
99   So that each sight became serener for it.
 
100   O holy father, who for me endurest
101   To be below here, leaving the sweet place
102   In which thou sittest by eternal lot,
 
103   Who is the Angel that with so much joy
104   Into the eyes is looking of our Queen,
105   Enamoured so that he seems made of fire?
 
106   Thus I again recourse had to the teaching
107   Of that one who delighted him in Mary
108   As doth the star of morning in the sun.
 
109   And he to me: Such gallantry and grace
110   As there can be in Angel and in soul,
111   All is in him; and thus we fain would have it;
 
112   Because he is the one who bore the palm
113   Down unto Mary, when the Son of God
114   To take our burden on himself decreed.
 
115   But now come onward with thine eyes, as I
116   Speaking shall go, and note the great patricians
117   Of this most just and merciful of empires.
 
118   Those two that sit above there most enrapture
119   As being very near unto Augusta,
120   Are as it were the two roots of this Rose.
 
121   He who upon the left is near her placed
122   The father is, by whose audacious taste
123   The human species so much bitter tastes.
 
124   Upon the right thou seest that ancient father
125   Of Holy Church, into whose keeping Christ
126   The keys committed of this lovely flower.
 
127   And he who all the evil days beheld,
128   Before his death, of her the beauteous bride
129   Who with the spear and with the nails was won,
 
130   Beside him sits, and by the other rests
131   That leader under whom on manna lived
132   The people ingrate, fickle, and stiff-necked.
 
133   Opposite Peter seest thou Anna seated,
134   So well content to look upon her daughter,
135   Her eyes she moves not while she sings Hosanna.
 
136   And opposite the eldest household father
137   Luma sits, she who thy Lady moved
138   When to rush downward thou didst bend thy brows.
 
139   But since the moments of thy vision fly,
140   Here will we make full stop, as a good tailor
141   Who makes the gown according to his cloth,
 
142   And unto the first Love will turn our eyes,
143   That looking upon Him thou penetrate
144   As far as possible through his effulgence.
 
145   Truly, lest peradventure thou recede,
146   Moving thy wings believing to advance,
147   By prayer behoves it that grace be obtained;
 
148   Grace from that one who has the power to aid thee;
149   And thou shalt follow me with thy affection
150   That from my words thy heart turn not aside.
 
151   And he began this holy orison.