DANTE'S SUBLIME COMEDY: PARADISE: Chapter 9
CHAPTER 9: Prophecies
Mother or wife of Charles, if you read this,
know that he spoke of woe ahead for you
and his posterity, but also said, 3
“Don’t speak of it. Let the years take their course.
Tell them that Paradise will note their tears,
and justice crush who causes them. That’s sure.” 6
He, loving holy light, now faced the sun
whose goodness is the main wealth we require.
Alas, for foolish creatures who admire 9
only the works of human vanity.
Another shining soul approaching me,
revealed delight by its increasing glow. 12
Beatrice once more signaling assent
I cried out, “Blest spirit, please let me know
what you have come to make me understand.” 15
The light whose face I could not see replied,
“In the degraded land of Italy
between the isles of Venice and the springs 18
from which the Brenta and Piave flow,
is the Romano stronghold, whose tough lord
with fire and sword plunder the plain below. 21
He was my brother Ezzalino, who
is boiling now with other brutal men
in Hell’s hot river of the blood they shed. 24
I am Cunizza, widely known because
so often conquered by this brilliant star.
Venus helped me inspire a troubadour 27
and follow where he led. Though often wed
I always forgave myself, and suspect
good citizens like you will find that strange. 30
The poet you see gleaming at my side
has written what ensures his lasting fame.
In our first life we all should do so well 33
that people later smile to hear our name,
but who thinks so in Padua where mobs
now dominate that unrepenting state? 36
Defeated once, destruction comes again
and the day nears when Paduan blood will stain
boggy Vicenza’s mud. In Travigi one lord 39
still holding his head high will die
by assassins hand. Feltro will bewail
her bishop who breaks sanctuary vows 42
giving to slaughter those he should protect.
No fouler priest was ever clapped in jail.
The barrels must be big if they’ll contain 45
gore of Farrarese slain by courtesy
of that vile cleric’s proof he is a Whig.
Such vileness suits his city’s evil ways. 48
Angelic mirrors up in Heaven’s height
(you call them thrones) reflect God’s judgment down
to we who have the right to say such things." 51
Here she returned to dancing in her sphere,
leaving the other spirit at my side.
Like a rare jewel caught in ray of light 54
he now was sparkling with a ruby glow,
for in that place a greater brightness comes
with gladness, just as laughter happens here, 57
and darkness deepens grievous gloom in Hell.
Said I, “The Seraphim robed in six wings
well know what God perceives, and so do you. 60
Were I in you as you exist in me,
I’d not delay in saying what you will.”
Said he, “The vastest valley in the world 63
flooded by ocean, is the Middle Sea.
My birthplace on its shore was Genoa
where the third planet’s ray moulded my clay. 66
Called Folco, I was bishop of Marseilles
after my hair turned grey, but earlier
I doubt if Hercules, Phyllis, Dido, 69
were more amorous. I do not rejoice
in having sinned. Forgiveness blesses us
so happily, we know and share the love 72
moving Paradise above the earth below.
Please listen more before ascending more.
This brightness like a sunbeam at my side 75
gleaming in clearest water, was the whore
Rahab, one of Christ’s ancestors
freed from death by His Resurrection 78
with Adam, Eve, Abraham and the rest.
Jesus made Rahab foremost in this sphere
(last planet touched by shadow of the earth) 81
for she helped Joshua to victory
when taking Palestine, that holy land
God gave his chosen folk, land conquered since 84
by Saracens, who modern popes ignore.
O Florentine, a founder of your state
worshipped the first sworn enemy of God! 87
There grow the golden florins, currency
of worldwide trade and worldwide jealousy.
That gold has led astray both sheep and lambs 90
by turning shepherds into hungry beasts.
The Words of God and theologians
are studied less by popes and cardinals 93
than books of canon law telling how fines,
penalties and wills can accumulate
property for priests. They think less about 96
Nazareth where Gabriel spread his wings
announcing Christ will come, than about Rome
where Peter and many who followed him 99
came to be crucified; think more about
the Vatican’s bank vaults than saving souls.
Why will our Church not work to win free of
wealth’s despicable adulteration? 103