Wednesday, March 18, 2015


CHAPTER 1: First Ascent

God’s glory moves and shows the universe
            shining in some parts more, in others less.
            With joy too great for speech I entered Heavens        3

that most receive his light. I must convey
            pale shadows of that holy, blissful state
            which back on earth I treasure in this song.                6

Virgil and the nine Muses helped me write
            of the descent and climb to reach this height.
            Sun-king Apollo, you inspired their aid!                    9

Now I must beg, please give it to me straight –
            turn me into a perfect instrument
            so tuned, the Heavens consent to hear me sing         12

about their grandest things, and crown myself
            with laurels, the one headgear fit for use
            by a true poet or great conqueror.                             15

Their fewness demonstrates in human kind
            a shameful lack of will. If I succeed,
            like spark from which flames leap, some after me    18

may be inspired to write with greater skill.
            The sunrise greets us most days of the year
            from several degrees to North or South.                   21

When solar path touches the other rings
            (equators earthly and celestial,
            ecliptic and the equinoctial)                                      24

four circles make three crosses and so bring
            more harmony, and Summer can begin.
            The sun this morning rose at that good point.           27

When Beatrice looked up at height of noon
            no eagle ever fixed upon the sun
            a gaze as clear, and since reflected rays                    30
rebound to source like pilgrims going home,
            twin beams of light now linked her sight and sun.
            I copied her. Eden was made for ease                      33
of humankind. There it was possible
            for me to see what here would make me blind.
            Gazing into the solar blaze I saw,                            36

like molten silver splashed from crucible,
            such fountains of tremendous light I thought
that He Who Can had made an extra sun.               39

I saw too Beatrice now looked upon
            the high, eternal, starry, singing wheels
            so lowering my eyes to rest on hers                        42

I heard them too. Eating a magic herb
            changed Glaucus to an ancient Greek sea-god.
            The love-light in the face of Beatrice                      45

transhumaned me in ways I cannot say.
            Of new sensations knowledge cannot speak
            unless it learns new words. Did God lift up            48

my eager mind to his eternal sphere?
            No rain or river filled so vast a lake
            as this whole sky now kindled into flame.              51

The brilliance of its harmony and light
            provoked an appetite to know the cause,
            so she who understood me perfectly                       54

smiling replied before I questioned her,
            “Dullard, do you not see you’ve left the earth?                            
Lightning never flashed faster from a cloud            57

than we ascend to your right place and mine.”
            Her smile and words erased perplexities
            before I found one more. “But why,” said I,           60

“does solid me rise above lighter things?”
            Like mother soothing sickly child she said,
            “Order is God’s first law. All that He made            63

have places in eternal excellence, for which
            in minerals, plants, animals they strive
            instinctively, in people willingly.                            66

When ill will leads astray our souls can’t rest
            until we reach our given place and are
            at last in harmony with all that’s best.                     69

 We are now soaring to our origin
            as naturally as a waterfall
            pours down a cliff. Those who forget their place   72

by choosing base delight, are very like  
materials no artists can use well,
so dump into the midden heaps of Hell.                   75

Guilt cannot weight you. That is why you rise.
            Innocent souls who stay below, defy
            nature and reason, like a static flame.”

Pausing she turned her eyes toward the sky.                      79


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