Poetry of Dante Alighieri
The Divine Comedy - Paradiso

Paradiso: Canto XXII

Oppressed with stupor, I unto my guide
  Turned like a little child who always runs
  For refuge there where he confideth most;

And she, even as a mother who straightway
  Gives comfort to her pale and breathless boy
  With voice whose wont it is to reassure him,

Said to me: "Knowest thou not thou art in heaven,
  And knowest thou not that heaven is holy all
  And what is done here cometh from good zeal?

After what wise the singing would have changed thee
  And I by smiling, thou canst now imagine,
  Since that the cry has startled thee so much,

In which if thou hadst understood its prayers
  Already would be known to thee the vengeance
  Which thou shalt look upon before thou diest.

The sword above here smiteth not in haste
  Nor tardily, howe'er it seem to him
  Who fearing or desiring waits for it.

But turn thee round towards the others now,
  For very illustrious spirits shalt thou see,
  If thou thy sight directest as I say."

As it seemed good to her mine eyes I turned,
  And saw a hundred spherules that together
  With mutual rays each other more embellished.

I stood as one who in himself represses
  The point of his desire, and ventures not
  To question, he so feareth the too much.

And now the largest and most luculent
  Among those pearls came forward, that it might
  Make my desire concerning it content.

Within it then I heard: "If thou couldst see
  Even as myself the charity that burns
  Among us, thy conceits would be expressed;

But, that by waiting thou mayst not come late
  To the high end, I will make answer even
  Unto the thought of which thou art so chary.

That mountain on whose slope Cassino stands
  Was frequented of old upon its summit
  By a deluded folk and ill-disposed;

And I am he who first up thither bore
  The name of Him who brought upon the earth
  The truth that so much sublimateth us.

And such abundant grace upon me shone
  That all the neighbouring towns I drew away
  From the impious worship that seduced the world.

These other fires, each one of them, were men
  Contemplative, enkindled by that heat
  Which maketh holy flowers and fruits spring up.

Here is Macarius, here is Romualdus,
  Here are my brethren, who within the cloisters
  Their footsteps stayed and kept a steadfast heart."

And I to him: "The affection which thou showest
  Speaking with me, and the good countenance
  Which I behold and note in all your ardours,

In me have so my confidence dilated
  As the sun doth the rose, when it becomes
  As far unfolded as it hath the power.

Therefore I pray, and thou assure me, father,
  If I may so much grace receive, that I
  May thee behold with countenance unveiled."

He thereupon: "Brother, thy high desire
  In the remotest sphere shall be fulfilled,
  Where are fulfilled all others and my own.

There perfect is, and ripened, and complete,
  Every desire; within that one alone
  Is every part where it has always been;

For it is not in space, nor turns on poles,
  And unto it our stairway reaches up,
  Whence thus from out thy sight it steals away.

Up to that height the Patriarch Jacob saw it
  Extending its supernal part, what time
  So thronged with angels it appeared to him.

But to ascend it now no one uplifts
  His feet from off the earth, and now my Rule
  Below remaineth for mere waste of paper.

The walls that used of old to be an Abbey
  Are changed to dens of robbers, and the cowls
  Are sacks filled full of miserable flour.

But heavy usury is not taken up
  So much against God's pleasure as that fruit
  Which maketh so insane the heart of monks;

For whatsoever hath the Church in keeping
  Is for the folk that ask it in God's name,
  Not for one's kindred or for something worse.

The flesh of mortals is so very soft,
  That good beginnings down below suffice not
  From springing of the oak to bearing acorns.

Peter began with neither gold nor silver,
  And I with orison and abstinence,
  And Francis with humility his convent.

And if thou lookest at each one's beginning,
  And then regardest whither he has run,
  Thou shalt behold the white changed into brown.

In verity the Jordan backward turned,
  And the sea's fleeing, when God willed were more
  A wonder to behold, than succour here."

Thus unto me he said; and then withdrew
  To his own band, and the band closed together;
  Then like a whirlwind all was upward rapt.

The gentle Lady urged me on behind them
  Up o'er that stairway by a single sign,
  So did her virtue overcome my nature;

Nor here below, where one goes up and down
  By natural law, was motion e'er so swift
  That it could be compared unto my wing.

Reader, as I may unto that devout
  Triumph return, on whose account I often
  For my transgressions weep and beat my breast,--

Thou hadst not thrust thy finger in the fire
  And drawn it out again, before I saw
  The sign that follows Taurus, and was in it.

O glorious stars, O light impregnated
  With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge
  All of my genius, whatsoe'er it be,

With you was born, and hid himself with you,
  He who is father of all mortal life,
  When first I tasted of the Tuscan air;

And then when grace was freely given to me
  To enter the high wheel which turns you round,
  Your region was allotted unto me.

To you devoutly at this hour my soul
  Is sighing, that it virtue may acquire
  For the stern pass that draws it to itself.

"Thou art so near unto the last salvation,"
  Thus Beatrice began, "thou oughtest now
  To have thine eves unclouded and acute;

And therefore, ere thou enter farther in,
  Look down once more, and see how vast a world
  Thou hast already put beneath thy feet;

So that thy heart, as jocund as it may,
  Present itself to the triumphant throng
  That comes rejoicing through this rounded ether."

I with my sight returned through one and all
  The sevenfold spheres, and I beheld this globe
  Such that I smiled at its ignoble semblance;

And that opinion I approve as best
  Which doth account it least; and he who thinks
  Of something else may truly be called just.

I saw the daughter of Latona shining
  Without that shadow, which to me was cause
  That once I had believed her rare and dense.

The aspect of thy son, Hyperion,
  Here I sustained, and saw how move themselves
  Around and near him Maia and Dione.

Thence there appeared the temperateness of Jove
  'Twixt son and father, and to me was clear
  The change that of their whereabout they make;

And all the seven made manifest to me
  How great they are, and eke how swift they are,
  And how they are in distant habitations.

The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud,
  To me revolving with the eternal Twins,
  Was all apparent made from hill to harbour!

Then to the beauteous eyes mine eyes I turned.