Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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
           
                
           

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