Wednesday, May 20, 2015


CHAPTER 30: The Empyrean

The sun behind the world’s vast curvature
cast its steep cone of shadow to the height
            where constellations gleamed throughout the night   3

until a faint dawn, shining in the East
            increased, tilted the shadow to the West.
            Sky paled. The stars became invisible,                      6

even the Morning Star among the rest.
            The light to which I soared with Beatrice
            was infinitely brighter than the sun:                           9

a radiance that held the universe,
            so dazzling that, apart from Beatrice,
            I could not see a thing. If all I’ve said                        12

in praise of her before was harmonised
            in a great anthem of triumphant praise
            it could not hint at her new loveliness.                       15

I am like one too blinded by Sun’s rays
            to recollect its colour and its shape.
            From the first day I saw her as a child                        18

her beauty made my verses beautiful.
            Soon I must cease from making songs to her –
            all artists’ inspirations have an end.                            21

She would go on to finer fanfares than
            my lips can blow. She still spoke as a guide,
            giving good words to a departing friend.                   24

“We have arisen high above the spheres
            of Heaven seen from earth – here all is bright
            with purest love and intellect: goodness                    27

beatified with absolute delight.
            When your eyesight is strengthened once again
            you will find in high paradise both ranks:                 30

redeemed mankind with angels by their side.”
            Suddenly I was shrouded yet once more
            by blinding glares of mist and could not see             33

until she said, “Love ruling Paradise
            welcomes new souls like this, for it prepares
            each candle for a better flame.” At this                     36

I felt my mind enlarged beyond itself.
            My vision knew nothing would baffle it.
            I saw a river of splendid light flow                           39

between banks of marvellous Spring flowers.
From that bright stream living sparks leapt into
the blossoms, like rubies setting themselves             42

in gold, then as if drunk with sweet scent, went
            plunging back into the glorious flood
from which new living jewels sparkled out.             45

“Your wish to understand what you see here
            pleases me the more it grows. To satisfy
            that thirst you will now drink these waters first,”     48

my Lady said. “The flashing jewelry
            exchanged between the river and the blooms
            are shadows of the truths you aught to see.              51

Your mortal sight is not yet purified
            enough to let in much reality.”
            No baby waking hungry, having slept                       54

more than it should, sucks at a mother’s breast
            more eagerly than I flung myself down
            beside the stream that would improve my eyes.         57

Hardly were the two eyelids wet when both
            river and banks expanded to a space
            in which the waves and blossoms were dissolved     60

till they exposed a nobler festival —
            all courts of Paradise! Glory to God
            for giving me the strength of sight and soul               63

to view the triumph of your kingdom there!
            Now give me words to speak of what I saw!
            The purest light made the Creator seen                      66

by all who find their final peace in Him.
            It spreads so wide, the orbit of the sun
            within it is a very tiny ring.                                        69

There the First Mover lights the mighty width
            from source and summit of its potency
            down to its base. As a fine grassy hill                        72

might see itself reflected in a lake
            my eyes took in surrounding me over
            a thousand tiers of petals, God’s white rose –            75

the seats of blesséd souls redeemed from earth.
            The lowest level held such piercing light
            I gaped at how it reached the topmost height.            78

No natural perspective law worked here
            for distance made no detail indistinct.
            She who had brought me to this inmost heart,           81

this glowing yellow centre of God’s rose
            said, “see the blesséd white-robed multitude
            in the arena of our citadel.                                         84

See how few the thrones remain unfilled.
            Notice above one an emperor’s crown.
            That is for the noble Henry’s soul,                            87

summoned to rightly govern Italy
            when she is unfit – a bad child pushing
            nurse away, Kirk undermining Crown while            90

pretending to support. Henry will sit
            there before you die. God will damn that pope
            with Simon Magus in the malebolge                                              

where he will thrust his predecessor down.”                         93


Post a Comment

<< Home