Divine Comedy - Paradise

Play Audio | Get the Book | Del.icio.us

CANTO XXVIII. The Heavenly Hierarchy.

CANTO XXIX. Discourse of Beatrice concerning the creation and nature of the Angels.--She reproves the presumption and foolishness of preachers.

CANTO XXX. Ascent to the Empyrean.--The River of Light.--The celestial Rose.--The seat of Henry VII.--The last words of Beatrice.

CANTO XXXI. The Rose of Paradise.--St. Bernard.--Prayer to Beatrice.--The glory of the Blessed Virgin.

CANTO XXXII. St. Bernard describes the order of the Rose, and points out many of the Saints.--The children in Paradise.--The angelic festival.--The patricians of the Court of Heaven.

CANTO XXXIII. Prayer to the Virgin.--The Beatific Vision.--The Ultimate Salvation.


CANTO I. Proem.--Invocation.--Beatrice and Dante ascend to the Sphere of Fire.--Beatrice explains the cause of their ascent.

The glory of Him who moves everything penetrates through the universe, and shines in one part more and in another less. In the heaven that receives most of its light I have been, and have seen things which he who descends from thereabove neither knows how nor is able to recount; because, drawing near to its own desire,[1] our understanding enters so deep, that the memory cannot follow. Truly whatever of the Holy Realm I could treasure up in my mind shall now be the theme of my song.

[1] The innate desire of the soul is to attain the vision of God.

O good Apollo, for this last labor make me such a vessel of thy power as thou demandest for the gift of the loved laurel.[1] Thus far one summit of Parnassus has been enough for me, but now with both[2] I need to enter the remaining, arena. Enter into my breast, and breathe thou in such wise as when thou drewest Marsyas from out the sheath of his limbs. O divine Power, if thou lend thyself to me so that I may make manifest the image of the Blessed Realm imprinted within my head, thou shalt see me come to thy chosen tree, and crown myself then with those leaves of which the theme and thou will make me worthy. So rarely, Father, are they gathered for triumph or of Caesar or of poet (fault and shame of the human wills), that the Peneian leaf[3] should bring forth joy unto the joyous Delphic deity, whenever it makes any one to long for it. Great flame follows a little spark: perhaps after me prayer shall be made with better voices, whereto Cyrrha[4] may respond.

[1] So inspire me in this labor that I may deserve the gift of the laurel.

[2] The Muses were fabled to dwell on one peak of Parnassus, Apollo on the other. At the opening of the preceding parts of his poem Dante has invoked the Muses only.

[3] Daphne, who was changed to the laurel, was the daughter of Peneus.

[4] Cyrrha, a city sacred to Apollo, not far from the foot of Parnassus, and here used for the name of the god himself.

The lamp of the world rises to mortals through different passages, but from that which joins four circles with three crosses it issues with better course and conjoined with a better star, and it tempers and seals the mundane wax more after its own fashion[1] Almost such a passage had made morning there and evening here;[2] and there all that hemisphere was white, and the other part black, when I saw Beatrice turned upon the left side, and looking into the sun: never did eagle so fix himself upon it. And even as a second ray is wont to issue from the first, and mount upward again, like a pilgrim who wishes to return; thus of her action, infused through the eyes into my imagination, mine was made, and I fixed my eyes upon the sun beyond our use. Much is allowed there which here is not allowed to our faculties, thanks to the place made for the human race as its proper, abode.[3] Not long did I endure it, nor so little that I did not see it sparkling round about, like iron that issues boiling from the fire. And on a sudden,[4] day seemed to be added to day, as if He who is able had adorned the heaven with another sun.

Next Page