DANTE'S SUBLIME COMEDY: PARADISE: Chapter 10
CHAPTER 10: The Sun
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost unite
to nourish worlds below in time and space
with flow of endless love and endless light. 3
Raise your eyes with me, reader, to the skies!
Who recognize the glory there, taste God,
giver of warmth even the blind can feel 6
combining bodies in the universe.
Each part of it shows the Creator’s art
keeping the movement neat. A fool may think 9
the cosmos squint. No planet goes agley.
If planets strayed a fraction more or less
out of their course collisions would ensue. 12
Reader, stay with this book. Because you glimpse
the daring of its scope, before the end
you may feel weariness, yet find delight. 15
Now comes the food I cannot make you eat.
Here I describe experience beyond
reach of both common sense and common speech. 18
Beatrice raised me to each higher state
so softly, instantly, it took no time.
I did not notice how I came to be 21
within the sun, that ministry of light
revealing breadth of space and time of day.
The people in the sun were all so bright 24
I saw them clearly through its radiance
which is our source of light. How this could be
I cannot say. Believe me, it was true. 27
Said Beatrice, “Praises and thanks are due
the Son of God who lifted you into
this sun of Paradise.” No mortal heart, 30
I think, loved Jesus more than I did then,
in adoration quite forgetting she
who laughed aloud with joy to see me thus. 33
And then I saw a ring of shining souls
surrounding us like halo round the moon.
Only the sweetness of their tongues excelled 36
the glory of their smiling eyes, a sound
more wonderful than words can tell. Take wings –
fly to the solar sphere to hear that song. 39
The splendours circled us like stars around
the arctic pole three times, and then they paused
like dancers waiting for another tune. 42
Before it came I heard a near one say,
“Your thirst for knowledge glows within your face.
I cannot keep it from you any more 45
than clouds can keep their showers from the sea.
You wish to know the flowers in this wreath
garlanding lovingly the fair one who 48
strengthens you here. Know that I was a lamb
of that well-ordered flock Dominic led,
where is good fattening, unless we stray. 51
That great instructor Albert of Cologne
is on my right. He taught me how to see
Greek science strengthens Christ’s theology. 54
I am Thomas Aquinas. Let my words
lead your eyes round this circle of the blest
and introduce the rest. Gratian is next 57
who reconciled the laws of Church and State;
then modest scholar Peter Abelard,
wise commentator on prophetic lore. 60
See the fifth light, most beautiful of all!
Solomon he, whose wisdom was so great
none ever rose as high; then Dionysius 63
teacher of angelic hierarchies.
Orosius, the small light after him,
taught Christian history to Augustine. 66
My praises now have led you through seven lights.
The next is excellent Boethius
whose writing shows the world’s deceits, and how 69
we all can gain peace here through martyrdom.
See flaming after him four lights of God:
encyclopaedic Isadore; and Bede 72
the venerable English monk; Richard
the mystic Scot; and then before your eyes
return to me, see one from whose grave thoughts 75
came truths some did not want to know – Siger!”
That twelfth name sounded like a striking clock
telling the time when a whole Church must rise 78
to sing the praise of Jesus Christ our King.
Now half the solar voices drew or drove
the rest to chime in harmony so sweet 81
my spirits soared to join the melody
as the glad golden sun-sphere carried round
that choir, adding such glory to the words
only in endless joy can they be heard. 85