Canto XXXII

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   So steadfast and attentive were mine eyes
2   In satisfying their decennial thirst,
3   That all my other senses were extinct,
 
4   And upon this side and on that they had
5   Walls of indifference, so the holy smile
6   Drew them unto itself with the old net
 
7   When forcibly my sight was turned away
8   Towards my left hand by those goddesses,
9   Because l heard from them a Too intently!
 
10   And that condition of the sight which is
11   In eyes but lately smitten by the sun
12   Bereft me of my vision some short while;
 
13   But to the less when sight re-shaped itself,
14   I say the less in reference to the greater
15   Splendour from which perforce I had withdrawn,
 
16   I saw upon its right wing wheeled about
17   The glorious host returning with the sun
18   And with the sevenfold flames upon their faces.
 
19   As underneath its shields, to save itself,
20   A squadron turns, and with its banner wheels,
21   Before the whole thereof can change its front,
 
22   That soldiery of the celestial kingdom
23   Which marched in the advance had wholly passed us
24   Before the chariot had turned its pole.
 
25   Then to the wheels the maidens turned themselves,
26   And the Griffin moved his burden benedight,
27   But so that not a feather of him fluttered.
 
28   The lady fair who drew me through the ford
29   Followed with Statius and myself the wheel
30   Which made its orbit with the lesser arc.
 
31   So passing through the lofty forest, vacant
32   By fault of her who in the serpent trusted,
33   Angelic music made our steps keep time.
 
34   Perchance as great a space had in three flights
35   An arrow loosened from the string o’erpassed,
36   As we had moved when Beatrice descended.
 
37   I heard them murmur altogether,Adam!
38   Then circled they about a tree despoiled
39   Of blooms and other leafage on each bough.
 
40   Its tresses, which so much the more dilate
41   As higher they ascend, had been by Indians
42   Among their forests marvelled at for height.
 
43   Blessed art thou, O Griffin, who dost not
44   Pluck with thy beak these branches sweet to taste,
45   Since appetite by this was turned to evil.
 
46   After this fashion round the tree robust
47   The others shouted; and the twofold creature:
48   Thus is preserved the seed of all the just.
 
49   And turning to the pole which he had dragged,
50   He drew it close beneath the widowed bough,
51   And what was of it unto it left bound.
 
52   In the same manner as our trees (when downward
53   Falls the great light, with that together mingled
54   Which after the celestial Lasca shines)
 
55   Begin to swell, and then renew themselves,
56   Each one with its own colour, ere the Sun
57   Harness his steeds beneath another star:
 
58   Less than of rose and more than violet
59   A hue disclosing, was renewed the tree
60   That had erewhile its boughs so desolate.
 
61   I never heard, nor here below is sung,
62   The hymn which afterward that people sang,
63   Nor did I bear the melody throughout.
 
64   Had I the power to paint how fell asleep
65   Those eyes compassionless, of Syrinx hearing,
66   Those eyes to which more watching cost so dear,
 
67   Even as a painter who from model paints
68   I would portray how I was lulled asleep;
69   He may, who well can picture drowsihood.
 
70   Therefore I pass to what time I awoke,
71   And say a splendour rent from me the veil
72   Of slumber, and a calling: Rise, what dost thou?
 
73   As to behold the apple-tree in blossom
74   Which makes the Angels greedy for its fruit,
75   And keeps perpetual bridals in the Heaven,
 
76   Peter and John and James conducted were,
77   And, overcome, recovered at the word
78   By which still greater slumbers have been broken,
 
79   And saw their school diminished by the loss
80   Not only of Elias, but of Moses,
81   And the apparel of their Master changed;
 
82   So I revived, and saw that piteous one
83   Above me standing, who had been conductress
84   Aforetime of my steps beside the river,
 
85   And all in doubt I said, Where’s Beatrice?
86   And she: Behold her seated underneath
87   ‘I he leafage new, upon the root of it.
 
88   Behold the company that circles her;
89   The rest behind the Griffin are ascending
90   With more melodious song, and more profound.
 
91   And if her speech were more diffuse I know not,
92   Because already in my sight was she
93   Who from the hearing of aught else had shut me.
 
94   Alone she sat upon the very earth,
95   Left there as guardian of the chariot
96   Which I had seen the biform monster fasten.
 
97   Encircling her, a cloister made themselves
98   The seven Nymphs, with those lights in their hands
99   Which are secure from Aquilon and Auster.
 
100   Short while shalt thou be here a forester,
101   And thou shalt be with me for evermore
102   A citizen of that Rome where Christ is Roman.
 
103   Therefore, for that world’s good which liveth ill,
104   Fix on the car thine eyes, and what thou seest.
105   Having returned to earth, take heed thou write.
 
106   Thus Beatrice; and I, who at the feet
107   Of her commandments all devoted was,
108   My mind and eyes directed where she willed.
 
109   Never descended with so swift a motion
110   Fire from a heavy cloud, when it is raining
111   From out the region which is most remote,
 
112   As I beheld the bird of Jove descend
113   Down through the tree, rending away the bark,
114   As well as blossoms and the foliage new,
 
115   And he with all his might the chariot smote,
116   Whereat it reeled, like vessel in a tempest
117   Tossed by the waves, now starboard and now larboard.
 
118   Thereafter saw I leap into the body
119   Of the triumphal vehicle a Fox,
120   That seemed unfed with any wholesome food.
 
121   But for his hideous sins upbraiding him,
122   My Lady put him to as swift a flight
123   As such a fleshless skeleton could bear.
 
124   Then by the way that it before had come,
125   Into the chariot’s chest I saw the Eagle
126   Descend, and leave it feathered with his plumes.
 
127   And such as issues from a heart that mourns,
128   A voice from Heaven there issued, and it said:
129   My little bark, how badly art thou freighted!
 
130   Methought, then, that the earth did yawn between
131   Both wheels, and I saw rise from it a Dragon,
132   Who through the chariot upward fixed his tail,
 
133   And as a wasp that draweth back its sting,
134   Drawing unto himself his tail malign,
135   Drew out the floor, and went his way rejoicing
 
136   That which remained behind, even as with grass
137   A fertile region, with the feathers, offered
138   Perhaps with pure intention and benign,
 
139   Reclothed itself, and with them were reclothed
140   The pole and both the wheels so speedily,
141   A sigh doth longer keep the lips apart.
 
142   Transfigured thus the holy edifice
143   Thrust forward heads upon the parts of it,
144   Three on the pole and one at either corner.
 
145   The first were horned like oxen; but the four
146   Had but a single horn upon the forehead;
147   A monster such had never yet been seen!
 
148   Firm as a rock upon a mountain high,
149   Seated upon it, there appeared to me
150   A shameless whore, with eyes swift glancing round,
 
151   And, as if not to have her taken from him,
152   Upright beside her I beheld a giant j
153   And ever and anon they kissed each other.
 
154   But because she her wanton, roving eye
155   Turned upon me, her angry paramour
156   Did scourge her from her head unto her feet.
 
157   Then full of jealousy, and fierce with wrath,
158   He loosed the monster, and across the forest
159   Dragged it so far, he made of that alone
 
160   A shield unto the whore and the strange beast.