Wednesday, March 18, 2015

DANTE'S SUBLIME COMEDY: PARADISE: Chapter 7


                                         CHAPTER 7: Beatrice Explains


“To Heaven’s greatest height now praise our God
who gloriously brightens with his rays                                           
good hearth-fires everywhere on holy days!”          3
              
So sang that bright soul, dancing as he sang,
            that ruler who had striven to connect
            justice on earth and Heaven’s government.             6

In happy play the other shining souls
danced with him too, until like shooting stars
they disappeared by being far away                        9

and left me brooding in perplexity.
            I well knew Beatrice could quell my doubts
            so Tell her! Tell her! sounded in my head,             12

but reverence had overcome my tongue.
            Parts of her name (be, is) still strike me dumb.
            She did not leave me thus, for with a smile            15

that would have cheered a burning man she said,
            “You do not see why justice should demand
            vengeance upon revenge for ancient sin?               18

Listen and hear true doctrine straight from me.
            Adam, the only man not born but made,
            was given all good things men can enjoy                21

but could not bear one curb upon his will
            so damned himself and we who spring from him.
            Long ages passed before the Word of God             24      

descending, worked to free us from this ill.
            By one act of amazing love God took
            body with we who have rejected Him,                   27

became a sinner too, deserving death
            like me and you, and in Gethsemane
            sadly embraced that foul necessity,                         30

accepting Roman law so none can say
            our Maker never felt our suffering.
            If human need for death is understood                    33
  
indeed Christ’s death was good. If we respect
            His righteousness, nothing was more unjust.
            From that great act came opposite effects –            36

Christ’s death desired by God and Jewish priests,
            for which earth quaked and Heaven opened wide,
            and Solomon’s great temple was destroyed.           39

I fear your thoughts are fankled in a knot
            you can’t untie. Although my words are clear
            why God redeemed us thus is dark to you.             42

Brother, it is dark to everyone
            with minds unripened by the sun of love.                        
            I’ll say it all again in other words.                           45

God’s excellence is never envious,
so all the souls he makes possess like Him
            eternal life, like Him, freedom of choice.                48

These gifts are lost by people choosing sin.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God; believed
rejecting God would make them equal him,           51

thus they exchanged eternity for time.
            Justice cannot ignore so bad a crime
            which all folk born of women re-enact,                  54

so gaps between ourselves and Paradise
            are far too big for penitence to fill
            by any single act of human will                              57

though penitence is certainly required.
            Only a miracle could reconcile
            justice with mercy, and at last it came.                    60

God’s overflowing goodness made His Word
            human, like us; offered new birth, new life,
            eternally to all who follow Christ                            63

and grasp their cross – forgive who do them wrong –
            love enemies and promise not to sin.
            What better thing to save us could God do              66

than show all people how we ought to live?
            I see you want more news of sacred things,
            a thirst I’ll satisfy before you ask.                            69

 What troubles you is instability.
            God made the earth and water, fire and air
            so must have made them pure as Paradise –           72

pure as these starry spheres, this shining space
            through which we rise. Why on earth do all things
            change, age, sicken, die and rot? Here is why.       75

Our God himself did not directly make
            all of the world below. Live plants and beasts
            are generated in His elements                                 78

by things he made before. Sunlight is one.
            Yet on the sixth day of the Genesis
            He breathed His own soul into human clay.           81

All other earthly life will suffer death.
            Men, women are the great exception,
            created by His love to love Him back                                             

eternally, after resurrection.”                                              85
           
           




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