Canto XXXIII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   THOU Virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son
2   Humble and high beyond all other creature,
3   The limit fixed of the eternal counsel,
 
4   Thou art the one who such nobility
5   To human nature gave, that its Creator
6   Did not disdain to make himself its creature.
 
7   Within thy womb rekindled was the love,
8   By heat of which in the eternal peace
9   After such wise this flower has germinated.
 
10   Here unto us thou art a noonday torch
11   Of charity, and below there among mortals
12   Thou art the living fountain-head of hope.
 
13   Lady thou art so great, and so prevailing,
14   That he who wishes grace, nor runs to thee
15   His aspirations without wings would fly.
 
16   Not only thy benignity gives succour
17   To him who asketh it, but oftentimes
18   Forerunneth of its own accord the asking
 
19   In thee compassion is, in thee is pity,
20   In thee magnificence, in thee unites
21   Whate’er of goodness is in any creature.
 
22   Now doth this man, who from the lowest depth
23   Of the universe as far as here has seen
24   One after one the spiritual lives,
 
25   Supplicate thee through grace for so much power
26   That with his eyes he may uplift himself
27   Higher towards the uttermost salvation.
 
28   And I, who never hurned for my own seeing
29   More than I do for his, all of my prayers
30   Proffer to thee, and pray they come not short,
 
31   That thou wouldst scatter from him every cloud
32   Of his mortality so with thy prayers,
33   That the Chief Pleasure be to him displayed.
 
34   Still farther do I pray thee, Queen, who canst
35   Whate’er thou wilt, that sound thou mayst preserve
36   After so great a vision his affections.
 
37   Let thy protection conquer human movements;
38   See Beatrice and all the blessed ones
39   My prayers to second clasp their hands to thee!
 
40   The eyes beloved and revered of God,
41   Fastened upon the speaker, showed to us
42   How grateful unto her are prayers devout;
 
43   Then unto the Eternal Light they turned,
44   On which it is not credible could be
45   By any creature bent an eye so clear.
 
46   And I, who to the end of all desires
47   Was now approaching, even as I ought
48   The ardour of desire within me ended.
 
49   Bernand was beckoning unto me, and smiling,
50   That I should upward look; but I already
51   Was of my own accord such as he wished
 
52   Because my sight, becoming purified,
53   Was entering more and more into the ray
54   Of the High Light which of itself is true.
 
55   From that time forward what I saw was greater
56   Than our discourse, that to such vision yields,
57   And yields the memory unto such excess.
 
58   Even as he is who seeth in a dream,
59   And after dreaming the imprinted passion
60   Remains, and to his mind the rest returns not,
 
61   Even such am I, for almost utterly
62   Ceases my vision, and distilleth yet
63   Within my heart the sweetness born of it;
 
64   Even thus the snow is in the sun unsealed,
65   Even thus upon the wind in the light leaves
66   Were the soothsayings of the Sibyl lost.
 
67   O Light Supreme, that dost so far uplift thee
68   From the conceits of mortals, to my mmd
69   Of what thou didst appear re-lend a little,
 
70   And make my tongue of so great puissance,
71   That but a single sparkle of thy glory
72   It may bequeath unto the future people;
 
73   For by returning to my memory somewhat,
74   And by a little sounding in these verses,
75   More of thy victory shall be conceived!
 
76   I think the keenness of the living ray
77   Which I endured would have bewildered me,
78   If but mine eyes had been averted from it;
 
79   And I remember that I was more bold
80   On this account to bear, so that I joined
81   My aspect with the Glory Infinite.
 
82   O grace abundant, by which I presumed
83   To fix my sight upon the Light Eternal,
84   So that the seeing I consumed therein!
 
85   I saw that in its depth far down is Iying
86   Bound. up with love together in one volume,
87   What through the universe in leaves is scattered;
 
88   Substance, and accident, and their operations,
89   All interfused together in such wise
90   That what I speak of is one simple light.
 
91   The universal fashion of this knot
92   Methinks I saw, since more abundantly
93   In saying this I feel that I rejoice.
 
94   One moment is more lethargy to me,
95   Than five and twenty centuries to the emprise
96   That startled Neptune with the shade of Argo
 
97   My mind in this wise wholly in suspense,
98   Steadfast, immovable, attentive gazed,
99   And evermore with gazing grew enkindled.
 
100   In presence of that light one such becomes,
101   That to withdraw therefrom for other prospect
102   It is impossible he e’er consent;
 
103   Because the good, which object is of will,
104   Is gathered all in this, and out of it
105   That is defective which is perfect there.
 
106   Shorter henceforward will my language fall
107   Of what I yet remember, than an infant’s
108   Who still his tongue doth moisten at the breast
 
109   Not because more than one unmingled semblance
110   Was in the living light on which I looked,
111   For it is always what it was before;
 
112   But through the sight, that fortified itself
113   In me by looking, one appearance only
114   To me was ever changing as I changed.
 
115   Within the deep and luminous subsistence
116   Of the High Light appeared to me three circles,
117   Of threefold colour and of one dimension
 
118   And by the second seemed the first reflected
119   As Iris is by Iris, and the third
120   Seemed fire that equally from both is breathed.
 
121   O how all speech is feeble and falls short
122   Of my conceit, and this to what I saw
123   Is such, ’tis not enough to call it little!
 
124   O Light Eterne, sole in thyself that dwellest,
125   Sole knowest thyself, and, known unto thyself
126   And knowing, lovest and smilest on thyself!
 
127   That circulation, which being thus conceived
128   Appeared in thee as a reflected light,
129   When somewhat contemplated by mine eyes,
 
130   Within itself, of its own very colour
131   Seemed to me painted with our effigy,
132   Wherefore my sight was all absorbed therein.
 
133   As the geometrician, who endeavours
134   To square the circle, and discovers not.
135   By taking thought, the principle he wants,
 
136   Even such was I at that new apparitlon;
137   I wished to see how the image to the circle
138   Conformed itself, and how it there finds place;
 
139   But my own wings were not enough for this,
140   Had it not been that then my mind there smote
141   A flash of lightning, wherein came its wish.
 
142   Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy:
143   But now was turning my desire and will,
144   Even as a wheel that equally is moved,
 
145   The Love which moves the sun and the other stars.