Divine Comedy - Paradise

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[1] In the spring the sun rises from a point on the horizon, where the four great circles, namely, the horizon, the zodiac, theequator, and the equinoctial colure, meet, and, cutting each other, form three crosses. The sun is in the sign of Aries, "a better star," because the influence of this constellation was supposed to be benignant, and under it the earth reclothes itself. It was the season assigned to the Creation, and to the Annunciation.

[2] There, in the Earthly Paradise; here, on earth. It is the morning of Thursday, April 123. The hours from the mid-day preceding to this dawn are undescribed.

[3] The Earthly Paradise, made for man in his original excellence.

[4] So rapid was his ascent to the sphere of fire, drawn upward by the eyes of Beatrice.

Beatrice was standing with her eyes wholly fixed on the eternal wheels, and on her I fixed my eyes from thereabove removed. Looking at her I inwardly became such as Glaucus[1] became on tasting of the herb which made him consort in the sea of the other gods. Transhumanizing cannot be signified in words; therefore let the example[2] suffice for him to whom grace reserves experience. If I was only what of me thou didst the last create,[3] O Love that governest the heavens, Thou knowest, who with Thy light didst lift me. When the revolution which Thou, being desired, makest eternal,[4] made me attent unto itself with the harmony which Thou attunest and modulatest, so much of the heaven then seemed to me enkindled by the flame of the sun, that rain or river never made so broad a lake.

[1] A fisherman changed to a sea-god. The story is in Ovid (Metamorphoses, xiii.).

[2] Just cited, of Glauens.

[3] In the twenty-fifth Canto of Purgatory, Dante has said that when the articulation of the brain is perfect God breathes into it a new spirit, the living soul; and he means here that, like St. Paul caught up into Paradise, he cannot tell "whether in the body or Out of the body." (2 Corinthians, xii. 3).

[4] The desire to be united with God is the source of the eternal revolution of the heavens. "The Empyrean . . . is the cause of the most swift motion of the Primum Mobile. because of the most ardent desire of every part of the latter to be conjoined with every part of that most divine quiet heaven."--Convito, 14.

The novelty of the sound and the great light kindled in me a desire concerning their cause, never before felt with such acuteness. Whereupon she, who saw me as I see myself, to quiet my perturbed mind opened her mouth, ere I mine to ask, and began, "Thou thyself makest thyself dull with false imagining, so that thou seest not what thou wouldst see, if thou hadst shaken it off. Thou art not on earth, as thou believest; but lightning, flying from its proper site, never ran as thou who thereunto[1] returnest."

[1] To thine own proper site,--Heaven, the true home of the soul.

If I was divested of my first doubt by these brief little smiled- out words, within a new one was I the more enmeshed. And I said, "Already I rested content concerning a great wonder; but now I wonder how I can transcend these light bodies." Whereupon she, after a pitying sigh, directed her eyes toward me, with that look which a mother turns on her delirious son, and she began, "All things whatsoever have order among themselves; and this is the form which makes the universe like to God. Here[1] the high creatures[2] see the imprint of the eternal Goodness, which is the end for which the aforesaid rule is made. In the order of which I speak, all natures are arranged, by diverse lots, more or less near to their source;[3] wherefore they are moved to diverse ports through the great sea of being, and each one with an instinct given to it which may bear it on. This bears the fire upward toward the moon; this is the motive force in mortal hearts; this binds together and unites the earth. Nor does this bow shoot forth.[4] Only the created things which are outside intelligence, but also those which have understanding and love. The Providence that adjusts all this, with its own light makes forever quiet the heaven[5] within which that revolves which hath the greatest speed. And thither now, as to a site decreed, the virtue of that cord bears us on which directs to a joyful mark whatever it shoots. True is it, that as the form often accords not to the intention of the art, because the material is deaf to respond, so the creature sometimes deviates from this course; for it has power, though thus impelled, to incline in another direction (even as the fire of a cloud may be seen to fall[6]), if the first impetus, bent aside by false pleasure, turn it earthwards. Thou shouldst not, if I deem aright, wonder more at thy ascent, than at a stream if from a high mountain it descends to the base. A marvel it would be in thee, if, deprived of hindrance, thou hadst sat below, even as quiet in living fire on earth would be."

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