The Vision, Or, Hell, Purgatory and Paradise of Dante Alighieri (Google Books)

Set upon sold and lying privileges:
Which makes me oft to bicker and turn red.
In shepherd’s clothing, greedy wolves’ below
Range wide o’er all the pastures. Arm of God!
Why longer sleep’st thou? Cahorsines and Gascons?
Prepare to quaff our blood. O good beginning !
To what a vile conclusion must thou stoop.
But the high providence, which did defend,
Through Scipio, the world’s empery for Rome,
Will not delay its succour; and thou, son”,
Who through thy mortal weight shalt yet again
Return below, open thy lips, nor hide
What is by me not hidden.” As a flood
Of frozen vapours streams adown the air,
What time the she-goat” with her skiey horn
Touches the sun; so saw I there stream wide
The vapours, who with us had linger’d late,
And with glad triumph deck the ethereal cope.
Onward my sight their semblances pursued;
So far pursued, as till the space between –
From its reach sever’d them : whereat the guide
Celestial, marking me no more intent
On upward gazing, said, “Look down, and see
What circuit thou hast compast.” From the hour?
When I before had cast my view beneath,
All the first region overpast I saw, –
Which from the midmost to the boundary winds; .
That onward, thence, from Gades”, I beheld
The unwise passage of Laertes’ son;
And hitherward the shoré), where thou, Europa,
Madest thee a joyful burden; and yet more
Of this dim spot had seen, but that the sun”,
A constellation off and more, had ta’en
His progress in the zodiac underneath.
Then by the spirit, that doth never leave
Its amorous dalliance with my lady’s looks,
Back with redoubled ardour were mine eyes
Led unto her: and from her radiant smiles,
Whenas I turn’d me, pleasure so divine
Did lighten on me, that whatever bait .
Or art or nature in the human flesh, .
Or in its limn’d resemblance, can combine
Through greedy eyes to take the soul withal,

From the fair nest of Leda? rapt me forth,

. . And wafted on into the swiftest heaven.

What place for entrance Beatrice chose, I may not say: so uniform was all, Liveliest and loftiest. She my secret wish Divined ; and, with such gladness, that God’s love Seem’d from her visage shining, thus began : “Here is the goal, whence motion on his race Starts: motionless the centre, and the rest All moved around. . Except the soul divine, Place in this heaven is none; the soul divine, . Wherein the love, which ruleth o’er its orb, Is kindled, and the virtue, that it sheds: One circle, light and love, enclasping it, . As this doth clasp the others; and to Him, “ .

| Who draws the bound, its limit only known.

Measured itself by none, it doth divide . . .
Motion to all, counted unto them forth,
As by the fifth or half ye count forth ten. [seest:
The vase, wherein time’s roots” are plunged, thou
Look elsewhere for the leaves. O mortal lust!
That canst not lift thy head above the waves –
Which whelm and sink thee down. The will in man
Bears goodly blossoms; but its ruddy promise
Is, by the dripping of perpetual rain, – – –
Made mere abortion : faith and innocence – –
Are met with but in babes ; each taking leave,
Ere cheeks with down are sprinkled : he, that fasts
While yet a stammerer, with his tongue let loose
Gluts every food alike in every moon:
One, yet a babbler, loves and listens to
His mother ; but no sooner hath free use
Of speech, than he doth wish her in her grave.
So suddenly-doth the fair child of him it, –

| Whose welcome is the morn and eve his parting,

To negro blackness change her virgin white. “Thou, to abate thy wonder, note, that none”

Bears rule in earth; and its frail family

Are therefore wanderers. Yet before the date”,

|When, through the hundredth in his reckoning .

Pale January must be shoved aside {dropt, From winter’s calendar, these heavenly spheres Shall roar so loud, that fortune shall be fain” . To turn the poop, where she hath now the prow ;

Were, to her beauty, nothing. Its boon influence

1 Wolves.] – . . . Wolves shall succeed to teachers, grievous wolves. * Milton, P. L. b. xii. 508. * Cahorsines and Gascons.]. He alludes to Jacques d’Ossa, a native of Cahors, who filled the papal chair in 1316, after it had been two years vacant, and assumed the name of John XXII. and to Clement W. a Gascon, of whom see Hell, Canto xix. 86, and note. – – – * Thou, son.] Beatrus Petrus—multaque lorutus est, et docuit me de veteri testamento, de hominibus etiam adhuc in seculo adhue virentibus plura peccata intonuit mihi, precepitolue, ut ea quae de illis audieram eis referrem. Alberio Visio, $45. * The she-goat.] When the sun is in Capricorn. * From the hour.]. Since he had last looked (see Cantoxxii.) he perceived that he had past from the meridian circle to the eastern horizon; the half of our hemisphere, and a quarter of the heaven. . . – • From Gades.] See Hell, Canto xxvi. 106. “ – * The shore.] Phoenicia, where Europa, the daughter of Agonor, mounted on the back of Jupiter, in his shape of a bull. – –

* The sun.] Dante was in the constellation Gemini, and the sun in Aries. There was, therefore, part of those two constellations, and the whole of Taurus, between them.

• The fair nest of Leda.] “From the Gemini;” thus called, because Leda was the mother of the twins, Castor and Pollux.

10 Time’s roots.] “Here,” says Beatrice, “are the roots, from whence time springs: for the parts, into which it is divided, the other heavens must be considered.” And she then breaks out into an exclamation on the degeneracy of

human nature, which does not lift itself to the contemplation of divine things. Thus in the Quadriregio, lib. ii, cap. vi. Il tempo, e’l ciel, che sopranoi e volto, – E una cosa, e non voltando il cielo, Cio che da tempo pende saria tolto. Time, and the heaven that turneth o’er our heads, Are but as one ; and if the heaven turn’d not, That, which depends on time, were done away. . . 11 The fair child of him.]. There is something very similar in our Author’s Treatise de Monarchià, lib. i. p. 104. “ Humanum genus filius est coeli quod est perfectissimum in omni opere sno. Generat enim homo hominem et sol juxta secundam in Naturali Auditu.” This, therefore, is intended for a philosophical truth, and not for a figure, as when Pindar calls “ the day” “child of the sun:”. – ‘Autézy – * – rzio,’ ‘Axsov. . . . Ol. ii. 59. 12 Nome.] Because, as has been before said, the shepherds are become wolves. : . . 13 Before the date.] “Before many ages are past: before those fractions, which are dropt in the reckoning of every . year, shall amount to so large a portion of time, that January shall be no more a winter month.” By this periphrasis is meant “in a short time;” as we say familiarly, such a thing will happen before a thousand years are over, when we mean, it will happen soon. Thus Petrarch — . . . .. Ben sa ch’il prova, e siati cosa piana Anzi mill’ anni. Trionfo d’Amore, cap, i. 14 Fortune shall be fain.] The commentators, in general, suppose, that our Poet here * that great reform, which – N

[graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic]
So that the fleet run onward : and true fruit, Expected long, shall crown at last the bloom.”

CAN TO XXVIII.

ARGUMENT.

still in the ninth heaven, our Poet is permitted to behold

the divine essence; and then sees, in three hierarchies,

the nine choirs of angels. Beatrice clears some diffi

culties which occur to him on this occasion. So she, who doth imparadise my soul, Had drawn the veil from off our present life, And bared the truth of poor mortality: When lo! as one who, in a mirror, spies The shining of a flambeau at his back, Lit sudden ere he deem of its approach, And turneth to resolve him, if the glass Have told him true, and sees the record faithful As note is to its metre ; even thus, I well remember, did befal to me, Looking upon the beauteous eyes, whence love Had made the leash to take me. As I turn’d ; And that which none, who in that volume” looks, Can miss of, in itself apparent, struck My view; a point I saw, that darted light So sharp, no lid, unclosing, may bear up Against its keenness. The least star we ken From hence, had seem’d a moon; set by its side, As star by side of star. And so far off, Perchance, as is the halo from the light Which paintsit, when most dense the vapourspreads; There wheel’d about the point a circle of fire, More rapid than the motion which surrounds, Speediest, the world. Another this enring’d ; And that a third ; the third a fourth, and that A fifth encompass’d, which a sixth next bound; And over this, a seventh, following, reach’d Circumference so ample, that its bow, Within the span of Juno’s messenger, Had scarce been held entire. Beyond the seventh, Ensued yet other two. And every one, As more in number distant from the first, Was tardier in motion : and that glow’d With flame most pure, that to the sparkle of truth, Was nearest; as partaking most, methinks, Of its reality. The guide beloved Saw me in anxious thought suspense, and spake : “Heaven, and all nature, hangs upon that point”. The circle thereto most conjoin’d observe ; And know, that by intenser love its course Is, to this swiftness, wing’d.” To whom I thus:

he vainly hoped would follow on the arrival of the Emperor Henry VII. in Italy. Lombardi refers the prognostication to Can Grande della Scala; and when we consider that this Canto was not finished till after the death of Henry, as apars from the mention that is made of John XXII. it cannot e denied but the conjecture is probable. Troya (Veltro Allegorico, p. 1S6) suggests Matteo Visconti, or Castruccio Castracani, as the expected reformer. 1 That rolume.] The ninth heaven; as Vellutello, I think, rightly interprets it. 2 Hearen, and all nature, hangs upon that point.] łx rouzúrns àgz &zo; #871-2, 3 obézvo; xzi ž pool;. Aristot. Metaph. lib. xii. c. 7. “From that beginning depend heaven and nature.” 3 such difference.] The material world and the intelligential (the copy and the pattern) appear to Dante to differ in this respect, that the orbits of the latter are more swift, the nearer they are to the centre, whereas the contrary is the case with the orbits of the former. The seeming contradiction is thus accounted for by Beatrice. In the material world, the more ample the body is, the greater is the good,

“It were enough ; nor should I further seek,
Had I but witness’d order, in the world
Appointed, such as in these wheels is seen.
But in the sensible world such difference” is,
That in each round shows more divinity,
As each is wider from the centre. Hence,
If in this wondrous and angelic temple,
That hath, for confine, only light and love,
My wish may have completion, I must know,
Wherefore such disagreement is between
The exemplar and its copy: for myself,
Contemplating, I fail to pierce the cause.”
“It is no marvel, if thy fingers foil’d
Do leave the knot untied : so hard ‘t is grown
For want of tenting.” Thus she said: “But take,”
She added, “if thou wish thy cure, my words,
And entertain them subtly. Every orb,
Corporeal, doth proportion its extent
Unto the virtue through its parts diffused.
The greater blessedness preserves the more.
The greater is the body (if all parts
Share equally) the more is to preserve.
Therefore the circle, whose swift course enwheels
The universal frame, answers to that
Which is supreme in knowledge and in love.
Thus by the virtue, not the seeming breadth
Of substance, measuring, thou shalt see the heavens,
Each to the intelligence that ruleth it,
Greater to more, and smaller unto less,
Suited in strict and wondrous harmony.”
As when the north” blows from his milder cheek
A blast, that scours the sky, forthwith our air,
Clear’d of the rack that hung on it before,
Glitters; and, with his beauties all unveil’d,
The firmament looks forth serene, and smiles:
Such was my cheer, when Beatrice drove
With clear reply the shadows back, and truth
Was manifested, as a star in heaven.
And when the words were ended, not unlike
To iron in the furnace, every cirque,
Ebullient, shot forth scintillating fires:
And every sparkle shivering to new blaze,
In number * did outmillion the account
Reduplicate upon the chequer’d board.
Then heard I echoing on, from choir to choir,
“Hosanna,” to the fixed point, that holds,
And shall for ever hold them to their place,
From everlasting, irremovable.
Musing awhile I stood; and she, who saw
My inward meditations, thus began :
“In the first circles, they, whom thou beheld’st,
Are seraphim and dio. Thus swift

of which it is capable; supposing all the parts to be equally perfect. But in the intelligential world, the circles are more excellent and powerful, the more they approximate to the central point, which is God. Thus the first circle, that of the seraphim, corresponds to the ninth sphere, or primum mobile; the second, that of the cherubim, to the eighth sphere, or heaven of fixed stars; the third, or circle of thrones, to the seventh sphere, or planet of Saturn ; and in like manner throughout the two other trimes of circles and spheres. — In orbs Of circuit inexpressible they stood, Orb within orb. Milton, P. L. b. v. 596.

* The north.] By “ond’ epiù leno,” some understand that point from whence “the wind is mildest,” others, that “ in which there is most force.” The former interpretation is probably right.

5 in number.] The sparkles exceeded the number which would be produced by the sixty-four squares of a chessboard, if for the first we reckoned one; for the next, two; for the third, four; and so went on doubling to the end of the account.

Follow their hoops, in likeness to the point,
Near as they can, approaching; and they can
The more, the loftier their vision. Those,
That round them fleet, gazing the Godhead next,
Are thrones; in whom the first trine ends. And all
Are blessed, even as their sight descends
Deeper into the truth, wherein rest is
For every mind. Thus happiness hath root
In seeing, not in loving, which of sight
Is aftergrowth. And of the seeing such
The meed, as unto each, in due degree,
Grace and good-will their measure have assign’d.
The other trine, that with still opening buds
In this eternal springtide blossom fair,
Fearless of bruising from the nightly ram’,
Breathe up in warbled melodies threefold
Hosannas, blending ever; from the three,
Transmitted, hierarchy of gods, for aye
Rejoicing; dominations” first; next them,
Virtues; and powers the third; the next to whom
Are princedoms and archangels, with glad round
To tread their festal ring; and last, the band
Angelical, disporting in their sphere.
All, as they circle in their orders, look
Aloft; and, downward, with such sway prevail,
That all with mutual impulse tend to God.
These once a mortal view beheld. Desire,
In Dionysius”, so intensely wrought,
That he, as I have done, ranged them; and named
Their orders, marshal’d in his thought. From him,
Dissentient, one refused his sacred read.
But soon as in this heaven his doubting eyes
Were open’d, Gregory” at his error smiled.
Nor marvel, that a denizen of earth
Should scan such secret truth ; for he had learnt”
Both this and much beside of these our orbs,
From an eye-witness to heaven’s mysteries.”

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