Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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
              




           
             
              
            

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