1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

The Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri online

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Finding discordant fortune, like all seed

Out of its proper climate, thrives but ill.'

And were the world below content to mark

And Avork on the foundation nature lays,

It would not lack supply of excellence. 150

But ye i)erversely to religion strain

Him, who was born to gird on him the sword,

And of the fluent phrasemen make your king ;

Therefore your steps have wander'd from the paths."


After solution of my doubt, thy Charles,

O fail- Clemenza, of the treachery spake

That must befal his seed : but, " Tell it not,"

Said he, " and let the destin'd years come round."

Nor may I tell thee more, save that the meed 5

Of sorrow well-deserv'd shall quit your wrongs.

And now the visage of that saintly light
Was to the sun, that fills it, turn'd again,
As to the good, whose ])lenitude of bliss
Sufficeth all. O ye misguided souls ! 10

Infatuate, who from such a good estrange
Your hearts, and bend your gaze on vanity,
Alas for you ! — And lo ! toward me, next.
Another of those splendent forms approach'd,
That, by its outward bright'ning, testified 15

The will it hud to pleasure me. The eyes
Of Beatrice, resting, as before.
Firmly upon me, manifested forth
Approval of my wish. " And O," I cried,
"Blest spirit! quiekly be my will [lerform'd ; 20


And ])rove lli()\i to me, thnt my iimiost tliouglits

I can roriect on thee." Thereat the light,

That yet was new to mo, I'rom tiio recess.

Where it Lefoi-e was singing, tlius began,

As one who joys in kindness: "In tliat jjart 25

Of the de])ravM It;;Iian hand, Mliicli lies

Between Kialto, and the fonntain-springs

Ot" Brenta and of I'iava, there doth rise,

But to no lofty eminence, a hill.

From whence erewhile a firebrand did descend, 30

That sorely slient the region. From one root

I and it s])rang ; my name on earth Cunizza:

And here I glitter, for that by its liglit

This star o'ercanie me. Yet I naught repine,

Nor grudge myself the cause of this my lot, 35

Which haj)ly vulgar hearts can scarce conceive.

" This jewel, that is next me in our heaven,
Lustrous and costly, gi'eat renown hath left,
And not to })erish, ere these hundred years
Five times absolve their round. Consider thou, 40

If to excel be worthy man's endeavour.
When such life may attend the first. Yet they
Care not for this, the crowd that now are girt
By Adice and Tagliamento, still

Impenitent, tho' scourg'd. The hour is near, 45

When for their stubbornness at Padua's marsh,
The water shall be chang'd, that laves Vicena.
And where Cagnano meets with Sile, one
Lords it, and bears his head aloft, for wliom
The Aveb is now a-warping. Feltro too 5'>

Shall sorrow for its godless she])herd's fault,
Of so deep stain, that never, for the like.
Was Malta's bar unclos'd. Too large should be
The skillet, that would hold Ferrara's blood.
And wearied he, who ounce by ounce would weight it, 55
The which this priest, in show of ]>arty-zoal,
Courteous will give ; nor will the gift ill suit
The country's custom. We descry above.
Mirrors, ye call tliem thrones, from wliich to us
Reflected shine the judgments of our God ; 60



Whence these our sayings we avoucli for good."

She ended, and appear'd on other thoughts
Intent, re-ent'ring on tlie wheel slie late
Had left. Tliat other joyance meanwhile wax'd
A thing to marvel at, in si)lendour glowing, 65

Like choicest rul)y stricken by the sun.
For, in that upper clime, effulgence comes
Of gladness, as here laughter : and below,
As tlie mind saddens, murkier grows the shade.

" God seeth all : and in hini is thy sight," 70

Said I, "blest s])irit ! Therefore will of his
Cannot to thee be dark. Why then delays
Thy voice to satisfy my wish untold.
That voice which joins the inexpressive song,
Pastime of heav'n, the which those ardours sing, 75

That cowl them with six shadowing wings outspread V
I would not wait thy askiiig, wert thou known
To me, as thoroughly I to thee am known."

He forthwith answ'ring, thus his words began :
" The valley' of Avaters, widest next to that 80

Which doth the earth engarland, shapes its course,
J3etwcen discordant shores, against the sun
Inward so far, it makes meridian there.
Where was before th' horizon. Of that vale
Dwelt I upon the shore, 'twixt Ebro's stream 85

And Macra's, that divides Avith ])assage brief
Genoan bounds from Tuscan. East and west
Are nearly one to Begga and my land.
Whose haven erst was with its own blood warm.
Who knew my name were wont to call me Folco : 00

And I did bear impression of this heav'n,
That now bears mine : for not with fiercer flame
Glow'd Belus' daughter, injuring alike
SichjBus and Creusa, than did I,

Long as it suited the unripen'd down 05

That fledg'd my cheek: nor she of IMiodope,
That was beguiled of 7)emophoon ;
Nor Jove's son, when the charms of lole
Were shrin'd within his lieart. And yet there bides
No sorrowful repentance liere, but mirth, 100



I Not for the fault (tli.it doth not come to mind),

'. ]>utfor tlic virtue, whose o'erruhng sway

I And ])r()videuee have wrouglit thus quaintly. Here

II 'i'lie skill is look'd into, that fashioneth

I "With such effectual Avorking, and the good 105

I- Discern'd, accruing to this upper Avorld
P'roiu that below. But fully to content
Thy wishes, all that in this sphere have birth,
Demands my further parle. Inquire thou wouldst,
Who of this light is denizen, that here 110

Beside me sparkles, as the sun-beam doth
On the clear wave. Know then, the soul of Rahab
Is in that gladsome harbour, to our tribe
United, and the foremost rank assign'd.
lie to that heav'n, at which the shadow ends 115

Of your sublunar Avorld, was taken up.
First, in Christ's triumph, of all souls redeera'd :
For well behov'd, that, in some part of heav'n,
She should remain a trophy, to declare
The mighty conquest won with either palm ; 120

For that she favour'd first the high exploit
Of Joshua on the holy land, whereof
The Pope recks little now. Thy city, plant
Of him, that on his Maker turn'd the back.
And of whose envying so much vroe hath sprung, 125
Engenders and exj^ands the cursed flower,
That hath made wander both the sheep and lambs,
Turning the shepherd to a wolf. For this,
The gospel and great teachers laid aside,
The decretals, as their stuft margins show, 180

Are the sole study. Pope and Cardinals,
Intent on these, ne'er journey but in thought
To Nazareth, where Gabriel op'd his wings.
Yet it may chance, erelong, the Vatican,
And other most selected parts of Rome, 185

That were the grave of Peter's soldiery.
Shall be deliver'd from the' adult'rous bond."



Looking into liis first-born witli tlio love,

Wliicli breathes fi'om botli eternal, the first Might

Ineffable, wherever eye or mind

Can roam, hath in snch order all disjios'd.

As none may see and fail to' enjoy. Raise, then, 5

reader! to the lofty wheels, with me.

Thy ken directed to the point, whereat

One motion strikes on th' otlier. There begin

Thy wonder of the mighty Arcliitect,

Who loves lus work so inwardly, his eye 10

Doth ever watch it. See, how thence oblique

Brancheth the circle, where the planets roll

To pour their wishe<l influence on the world ;

Whose ])ath not bending thus, in heav'n above

Much virtue would be lost, and here on earth, 15

All power well nigh extinct : or, from direct

Were its departure distant more or less,

I' th' universal order, great defect

Must, both in heav'n and here beneath, ensue.

Now rest thee, reader ! on thy bench, and muse 20

Anticipative of the feast to come ;
So shall delight make thee not feel thy toil.
Lo ! I have set before thee, for thyself
Feed now : the matter I indite, henceforth
Demands entire my thought, Join'd with the i)art, 25
Which late we told of, the great minister
Of nature, that upon the world imprints
The virtue of the heaven, and doles out
Time for us with his beam, went circling on
Along the spires, where each hour sooner conies'; 30

And I was with him, weetless of ascent.
As one, who till arriv'd, weets not his coming.

For Beatrice, she who passeth on
So suddenly from good to better, time
Counts not the act, oh then how great must needs 35

Have been her brightness ! What she was i' th' sun
(Where I had enter'd), not through change of hue,
But light transparent — did I summon up

276 PAliADISK.

Genius, art, practice — I miglit not so speak,

It sliould be e'er imagin'd : yet believ'd 40

It may be, and the sight be justly crav'd.

Aiul if our fantasy fail of such height,

Wliat marvel, since no eye above the sun

Ilath ever travel'd ? Such are they dwell here,

Fourth family of the Omnipotent Sire, 45

Who of his spirit and of his offspring shows ;

And holds them still enraptur'd with the view.

And thus to me Beatrice : " Thank, oh thank,

The Sun of angels, him, who by his grace

To this perceptible hath lifted thee." 60

Never was heart in such devotion bound,
And with complacency so absolute
Dispos'd to render up itself to God,
As mine was at those words : and so entire
Tlie love for Him, that held me, it eclips'd 55

Beatrice in oblivion. Naught displeased
Was she, but smil'd thereat so joyously.
That of her laughing eyes the radiance brake
And scatter'd my collected mind abroad.

Then saw I a bright band, in liveliness 60

Surpassing, Avho themselves did make the crown,
And us their centre : yet more sweet in voice.
Than in their visage beaming. Cinctur'd thus,
Sometime Latona's daughter we behold.
When the impregnate air retains the thread, 65

That weaves her zone. In the celestial court,
Whence I return, are many jewels found,
So dear and beautiful, they cannot brook
Transporting from that realm : and of these lights
Such was the song. Who doth not prune his wing 70
To soar up thither, let him look from thence
For tidings from the dumb. When, singing thus.
Those burning suns that circled round us thrice.
As nearest stars around the fixed pole.
Then seem'd they like to ladies, from the dance 7£

Not ceasing, but sus^^ense, in silent pause,
List'ning, till they have caught the strain anew :
Susi^ended so they stood : and, from within,


Tims lioard I one, wlio spake: " Since with its beam

Tlie gi-ace, wlience true love ligliteth first his flame, 80

That aflcii- (loth increase by loving, shines

So inultiplied in thee, it leads thee up

Along this ladder, down whose hallow'd steps

None e'er descend, and mount them not again,

j Who from his phial should refuse thee wine 85

I To slake thy thirst, no less constrained were,

j Than water flowing not unto the sea.

Thou fain wouldst hear, what i)lants are these, that

I bloom

In the bright garland, which, admiring, girds

This fair dame round, who strengthens thee for heav'n. 90

I then was of the lambs, that Dominic

Leads, for his saintly flock, along the way,

Where well they thrive, not swoln with vanity.

He, nearest on my right hand, brother was,

I And master to me : Albert of Cologne 95

i Is this : and of Aquinum, Thomas I.

; If thou of all the rest wouldst be assur'd,

I Let thine eye, waiting on the words I speak,

I In circuit journey round the blessed wreath.

That next res])lendence issues from the smile 100

Of Gratian, who to either forum lent

!! Such help, as favour wins in Paradise.
The other, nearest, who adorns our quire,

I Was Peter, he that with the widow gave

\ To holy church his treasure. The fifth light, 105

> Goodliest of all, is. by such love inspir'd,

j That all your world craves tidings of its doom :

! Within, there is the lofty light, endow'd

I With sapience so profound, if truth be truth,

j That with a ken of such wide amplitude 110

I No second liath arisen. Next behold

[ That taper's radiance, to whose view was shown,

\ Clearliest, the nature and the ministry

I Angelical, while yet in flesh it dwelt.

• In the other little light serenely smiles 115

That ])leader for the Christian temples, he,
Who did provide Augustin of his lore.

"1 "•■


Now, if tliy miii<Ts eye ]t;iss from lii^-lit to light,

Upon iny j)raises following, of the eighth

Thy thirst is next. The suintly soul, that shows 120

The world's deceitfulness, to all who hear him,

Is, Avith the siglit of all the good, that is,

Blest there. Tlie limbs, whence it was driven, lie

Down in Cieldauro, and from martyrdom

And exile came it here. Lo ! further on, 125

Where flames the ardurous spirit of Isidore,

Of Bede, and Richard, more than man, erewhile,

In deep discernment. Lastly this, from whom

Thy look on me reverteth, was the beam

Of one, whose spirit, on high musings bent, 130

Rebuk'd tlie ling'ring tardiness of death.

It is the eternal light of Sigebert,

Who 'scap'd not envy, Avhen of truth he argued,

Reading in the straw-litter'd street." Forthwith,

As clock, that calleth up the spouse of God 135

To win her bridegroom's love at matin's hour,

Each part of other fitly drawn and urg'd.

Sends out a tinkling sound, of note so sweet,

Affection springs in well-disposed breast ;

Thus saw I move the glorious wheel, thus heard 140

Voice answ'ring voice, so musical and soft,

It can be known but where day endless shines.


O POND anxiety of mortal men !

How vain and inconclusive arguments

Are those, which make thee beat thy wings below !

For statues one, and one for aphorisms

Was hunting ; this the priesthood follow'd, that 5

By force or sophistry nspir'd to rule ;

To rob another, and another sought

By civil business wealth ; one moiling lay

Tangled in net of sensual delight.

And one to witless indolence resign'd ; 10

What time from all those emiity things escap'd,


VV^itli r>catrico, I llius gloriously

Was rais'd aloft, and made the guest of heav'n.

They of the circle to that point, each one.
Wliere erst it was, had turn'd ; and steady glow'd, 15
As candle in his socket. Then within
Tile lustre, that erewhile l)esj)ake me, smiling
Witli merer gladness, heard I thus begin :

" E'en as his beam illumes me, so I look
Into the eternal light, and clearly mark 20

Thy thoughts, from whence they rise. Thou art in

And wouldst, that I should bolt my words afresh
In such plain open phrase, as may be smooth
To thy perception, where I told thee late
That ' well they thrive ; ' and that ' no second such 25
Hath risen,' which no small distinction needs.

" The providence, that governeth the world,
In de|)th of counsel by created ken
Unfathomable, to the end that she.

Who with loud cries was 's])ous'd in precious blood, 30
Might keep her footing towards her well-belov'd,
Safe in herself and constant unto him,
Ilath two ordain'd, who should on either hand
In chief escort her : one seraphic all

In fervency ; for wisdom upon earth, 35

The other sj^lendour of cherubic light. -
I but of one will tell : he tells of both,
Who one commendeth, Avhich of them so'er
Be taken : for their deeds were to one end.

" Between Tupino, and the wave, that falls 40

From blest Ubaldo's chosen hill, there hangs
Rich slope of mountain high, whence heat and cold
Are wafted through Perugia's eastern gate :
And Norcera with Gualdo, in its rear
Mourn for their heavy yoke. Upon that side, 45

Where it doth break its steepness most, arose
A sun upon the world, as duly this
From Ganges doth : therefore let none, who speak
Of that place, say Ascesi ; for its name
Were lamely so deliver'd ; but the East, 50


To call tliinf^s rio;litly, be it licnccfortli stylM.
Jle was not yet much distant from liis rising,
When Lis good influence 'gan to bless the earth.
A dame to whom none o])eneth phnisure's gate
More than to death, was, 'gainst his father's will, 55

His stripling choice : and he did make her his,
J^cfore the sj)iritual court, by nuptial bonds.
And in his father's sight : from day to day,
Then lov'd her more devoutly. She, bereav'd
Of her first husband, slighted and obscure, 60

Thousand and hundred years and more, remain'd
Without a single suitor, till he came.
Nor aught avail'd, that, with Amyclas, she
Was found unmov'd at rumour of his voice,
Who shook the world : nor aught her constant bold-
ness 05
Wliereby with Christ she monnted on the cross,
When Mary stay'd beneath. But not to deal
Thus closely with thee longer, take at large
The lovers' titles — Poverty and Francis.
Their concord and glad looks, wonder and love, 70
And sweet regard gave birth to holy thoughts.
So much, that venerable Bernard first
Did bare his feet, and, in pursuit of jieace
So lieavenly, ran, yet dcem'd his footing slow.
O hidden riches ! O prolific good ! 75
Egidius bares him next, and next Sylvester,
And follow both the bridegroom ; so the bride
Can please them. Thenceforth goes he on his way,
^ The father and the master, with his spouse,
I And with that family, Avhoni now the cord 80
\ Girt humbly : nor did abjectness of heart
I Weigh down his eyelids, for that he was son
I Of Pietro Bernardone, and by men
I In wond'rous sort despis'd. But royally
I His hard intention he to Innocent 85
I Set forth, and from him first receiv'd the seal
f Ou his religion. Then, wdien numerous flock'd
I The tribe of lowly ones, that trac'd his steps,
i Whose marvellous life deservedly were sung


In hciglits OTn]iyroa], tlu-oi'.oli Ilonorins' hand 90

A second crown, to deck llieir Clunrdinn's virtues,
Was by tlie' eternal Sj>irit inwreath'd : and "wlien
lie liad, tlirou^li tliir^t of niartyrdoui, stood up
In tlie ])i-oud Soldan's presence, and tliere preach'd
Clirist and his followers ; but found tlie race 96

Unrijien'd for conversion : back once more
He liasted (not to intermit liis toil),
And reaj)'d Ausonian lands. On the hard rock,
'Twixt Arno and the Tybei-, he from Christ
Took the last signet, which his limbs two years 100

Did carry. Then the season come, that he,
Who to such good had destin'd him, Avas ].'leas'd
( T' advance him to the meed, Avhich he had earu'd
I By his self-humbling, to his brotherhood,
i As their just heritage, he gave in charge 105

{ Plis dearest lady, and enjoin'd their love

And faith to her : and, from her bosom, will'd
( Plis goodly s})irit should move forth, returning
I To its appointed kingdom, nor would have
s His body laid upon another bier. 110

I " Think noAV of one, who were a fit colleague,

I To keep the bark of Peter in deej5 sea
i Helm'd to right point ; and such our Patriarch was.
; Therefore who follow him, as he enjoins,
I Thou mayst be certain, take good lading in. 115

I But hunger of new viands tempts his flock,
i So that they needs into strange pastures wide
; INIust spread them : and the more remote from him
t The stragglers wander, so much more they come
I Home to tlie sheep-fold, destitute of milk. 120

I There are of them, in truth, who fear their harm,
; And to the shepherd cleave ; but these so few,
j A little stuff may furnish out their cloaks.

"Now, if my words be clear, if thou have ta'en
I Good heed, if that, which I h.ave told, recall 125

I To mind, thy Avish may be in part fulfill'd :

For thou Avilt see the ]dant from Avhence they split,
j Nor miss of the reproof, Avhich that implies,
' That Avell they thrive not sAvolu Avith vanity.' "



Soon as its final word the blessed flame

Had rais'd for utterance, straight the holy mill

Began to wheel, nor yet had once revolv'd,

Or ere another, circling, compass'd it,

Motion to motion, song to song, conjoining, 6

Song, that as much our muses doth excel,

Our Syrens with their tuneful ])ij)es, as ray

Of primal splendour doth its faint reflex.

As when, if Juno bid her handmaid forth,
Two arches parallel, and trick'd alike, 10

Span the thin cloud, the outer taking birth
From that within (in manner of that voice
Whom love did melt away, as sun the mist).
And they who gaze, presageful call to mind
The compact, made with Noah, of the world 15

No more to be o'erflow'd ; about us thus
Of sempiternal roses, bending, wreath'd
Those garlands twain, and to the innermost
E'en thus tli' external answered. When the footing,
And other great festivity, of song, 20

And radiance, light with light accordant, each
Jocund and blythe, had at their pleasure still'd
(E'en as the eyes by quick volition mov'd.
Are shut and rais'd together), from the heart
Of one amongst the new lights mov'd a voice, 25

That made me seem like needle to the star,
In turning to its whereabout, and thus
Began : " The love, that makes me beautiful.
Prompts me to tell of th' other guide, for whom
Such good of mine is spoken. Where one is, 30

The other worthily should also be ;
That as their warfare was alike, alike
Should be their glory. Slow, and full of doubt.
And with thin ranks, after its banner mov'd
The army' of Christ (which it so dearly cost 35

To reappoint), when its imperial Head,
Who reigneth ever, for the drooping host
Did make provision, thorough grace alone,


And not tlirongli its deserving. As tlioii hofird'st,

Two cliainpions to the succour of his spouse 40

He sent, wlio by tlieir deeds and words miglit jo'u

Again liis scatter'd people. In tliat clime,

Where sjirings the pleasant west-wind to unfold

The fresh leaves, with Avhich Europe sees hersel'

Kew-garmented ; nor from those hillows far, 45

Beyond whose chiding, after weary course,

Tlie sun doth sometimes hide him, safe abides

The liappy Callaroga, under guard

Of the great shield, Avherein the lion lies

Subjected and supreme. And there was born 50

The loving minion of the Christian faith,

The hollow'd Avrestler, gentle to his own,

And to his enemies terrible. So replete

His soul with lively virtue, that when first

Created, even in the mother's womb, 55

It prophesied. When, at the sacred font,

The spousals were complete 'twixt faith and him,

Where pledge of mutual safety was exchang'd,

The dame, wlio was his surety, in her sleep

Beheld the wondrous fruit, that was fi'om him 60

And from his heirs to issue. And that such

He might be construed, as indeed he Avas,

She was inspir'd to name hira of his owner.

Whose he was wholly, and so call'd him Dominic.

And I speak of him, as the labourer, 65

Whom Christ in his own garden chose to be

His help-mate. Messenger he seem'd, and friend

Fast-knit to Christ; and the first love he show'd,

Was after the first counsel that Christ gave.

Many a time his nurse, at entering, found 70

That he had ris'n in silence, and was prostrate,

As who should say, ' My errand was for this.'

O hajipy father ! Felix rightly nam'd !

O favour'd mother! rightly nam'd Joanna!

If that do mean, as men interpret it. 75

Not for the world's sake, for which now they pore

Upon Ostiense and Taddeo's page,

But for the real manna, soon he grew


Mi,<>lity in learning;, and did set liiinsflf
To go about the vineyard, that soon turns 80

To wan and vvither'd, if not tended well :
And from the see (whose bounty to the just
And needy is gone by, not through its fault,
]]ut his who fills it basely), he besought,
No disj)ensation for commuted wrong, 85

Nor the first vacant fortune, nor the tenths,
That to God's paujiers riglitly appertain.
But, 'gainst an erring and degenerate world.
Licence to h'ght, in favour of that seed,
From which the twice twelve cions gird thee round. 90
Then, with sage doctrhie and good will to help,
P^orth on his great apostleship he far'd.
Like torrent bursting from a lofty vein ;
And, dashing 'gainst the stocks of heresy.
Smote fiercest, where resistance Avas most stout. 95

Thence many rivulets have since been turn'd,
Over the garden Catholic to lead
Their living waters, and have fed its plants.
" If such one wheel of that two-yoked car,
Wherein the holy church defended her, 100

And rode trium})hant through the civil broil.
Thou canst not doubt its fellow's excellence.
Which Thomas, ere my coming, hath declar'd
So courteously unto thee. But the track,
Which its smooth fellies made, is now deserted : 105

That mouldy mother is where late were lees.
His family, that wont to trace his path.
Turn backward, and invert their steps ; erelong
To rue the gathering in of their ill crop,
When the rejected tares in vain shall ask 110

Admittance to the barn. I question not
But he, who search'd our volume, leaf by leaf,
Might still find page with this inscription on't,
'I am as I was wont.' Yet such Avere not
From Acquasparta nor Casale, whence lit

Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriThe Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri → online text (page 21 of 37)