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From that one which I noted of most beauty
Beheld I issue forth a fire so happy
That none is left there of a greater splendour;
It whirled itself with so divine a song,
Since our imagination for such folds,
Thou dost unbind me from that beautiful sphere."
Which spake in fashion as I here have said.
To whom our Lord delivered up the keys
He carried down of this miraculous joy,
As good beseemeth thee, about the Faith
By means of which thou on the sea didst walk,
Is hid not from thee; for thou hast thy sight
SWhere everything beholds itself depicted.
By means of the true Faith, to glorify it
"Tis well he have the chance to speak thereof." As baccalaureate arms himself, and speaks not
Until the master doth propose the question,
To argue it and not to terminate it,
While she was speaking, that I might be ready
For such a questioner and such profession.
Unto that light from which this was breathed forth,
Prompt signals made to me that I should pour
The water forth from my internal fountain.
Began I, “ to the great Centurioni
Cause my conceptions all to be explicit!”
Father, of thy dear brother wrote of it,
Who put with thee Rome into the good way, * St. Peter thrice encircles Beatrice, as the Angel Gabriel did the Virgin Mary in the preceding canto.
+ Too glaring for painting such delicate draperies of song.
The great Head of the Church
Faith is the substance of the things we hope for,
And evidence of those that are not seen;
And this appears to me its quiddity."*
If well thou understandest why he placed it
With substances and then with evidences."
That here vouchsafe to me their outward show,
And therefore takes the nature of a substance.
To reason without having other views,
And hence it has the nature of evidence."
Below as doctrine were thus understood,
No sophist's subtlety would there find place."
Then added : "Thoroughly has been gone over
Already of this coin the alloy and weight;
And I: “Yes, both so shining and so round,
That in its stamp there is no peradventure.”
That there resplendent was: “This precious jewel,
Of the Holy Spirit, which has been diffused
All demonstration seems to me obtuse."
Postulates, that to thee are so conclusive,
Are the works subsequent, whereunto Nature
Ne'er heated iron yet, nor anvil beat."
That those works ever were ? the thing itself
I said, "withouten miracles, this one
Is such, the rest are not its hundredth part;
• In the Scholastic Philosophy the essence of a thing distinguishing it from all other things, was called its Quiddity; an answer to the question, Quid est ?
+ The Old and New Testaments,
Into the field to plant there the good plant, Which was a vine, and has become a thorn!" This being finished, the high, holy Court
Resounded through the spheres, “ One God we praise !
In melody that there above is chanted.
Examining, had thus conducted me,
Till the remotest leaves we were approaching, Did recommence once more: “ The Grace that lords it
Over thy intellect thy mouth has opened,
Up to this point, as it should opened be, So that I do approve what forth emerged;
But now thou must express what thou believest,
And whence to thy belief it was presented.” "O holy father, O thou spirit, who seest
What thou believedst, so that thou o'ercamest,
Towards the sepulchre, more youthful feet,"'+ Began I, “thou dost wish me to declare
Forthwith the manner of my prompt belief,
And likewise thou the cause thereof demandest, And I respond: In one God I believe,
Sole and eterne, who all the heaven doth move,
Himself unmoved, with love and with desire; And of such faith not only have I proofs
Physical and metaphysical, but gives them
Likewise the truth that from this place rains down Through Moses, through the Prophets, and the Psalms,
Through the Evangel, and through you, who wrote
After the fiery spirit sanctified you; I
One essence I believe, so one and trine,
They bear conjunction both with sunt and est. With the profound conjunction and divine,
Which now I touch upon, doth stamp my mind
Ofttimes the doctrine evangelical."
And, like a star in heaven, is sparkling in me.”
His servant straight embraces, giving thanks
For the good news, as soon as he is silent; So, giving me its benediction, singing,
Three times encircled me, when I was silent,
The apostolic light at whose command
* In the Middle Ages earthly titles were sometimes given to the saints. Thus Boecaccio speaks of Baron Messer San Antonio.
St. John, xx. 3-8. St. John was the first to reach the sepulchre, b ut St. Peter the first to enter it.
1 St. Peter and the other Apostles, after Pentecost.
If it e'er happen that the Poem Sacred, *
To which both heaven and earth have set their hand
Till it hath made me meagre many a year,
+From the fair sheepfold where a lamb I slumbered,
Obnoxious to the wolves that war upon it,
Will I return as poet, and at my fonti
Baptismal will I take the laurel crown;
All souls to God there entered I, and then
Peter for her sake so my brow encircled.
Out of that band whence issued the first fruits
Which of his vicars Christ behind hinı left,
Said unto me: “Look, look ! behold the Baron,
For whom below Galicia is frequented.”
Near his companion, both of them pour forth,
Circling about and murmuring, their affection,
Prince glorified to be with welcome greeted,
Landing the food that there above is eaten.
Silently coram me each one stood still,
So incandescent it o'ercame my sight.
“ Spirit august, by whom the benefactions
Of our Basilica || have been described,
* This “Divina Commedia," in which human science or Philosophy is symbolized in Virgil, and divine science or Theology in Beatrice. 7°"Fiorenza la Bella," Florence the Fair. In one of his canzoni Dante says :
“O mountain song of mine, thou goest thy way;
Florence my town thou shalt perchance behold,
Devoid of love and naked of compassion." 1 This allusion to the Church of San Giovanni: "Il mio bel San Giovanni,” as Dante calls it elsewhere (Inf. xix. 17) is a fitting prelude to the canto in which St. John is to appear. Like the laughing of the grass canto xxx. 77, it is a foreshadowing preface, ombrifero prefazio of what follows.
& St. James. Pilgrimages were made to his tomb at Compostella, in Galicia.
|| The general epistle of St. James, called the Epistola Cattolica, i. 17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights." Vur Basilica; the Church Triumphant, Paradise.
Thou knowest as oft thou dost personify it
As Jesus to the three* gave greater light."-
For what comes hither from the mortal world
Came; and mine eyes I lifted to the hills, I
Which bent them down before with too gieat weight. “ Since through his grace, our Emperor decrees
Thou shouldst confronted be, before thy death,
In the most secret chamber, with his Counts,||
Hope, which below there rightly fascinates
In thee, and others may thereby be strengthened;
Thy mind, and say from whence it came to thee;"
Thus did the second light continue still
The plumage of my wings in such high flight,
In the reply did thus anticipate me;
Of greater hope possesses, as is written
In that Sun ** which irradiates all our band;
# To come into Jerusalem to see,
Or ever get his warfare is completed.
How much this virtue unto thee is pleasing,
And may the Grace of God in this assist him!”
Ready and willing, where he is expert,
So that his excellence may be revealed,
Of glory in the hereafter, which proceedeth
* Peter, James, and John, representing the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, and distinguished above the other Apostles by clearer manifestations of their Master's favour.
St. James speaks. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalm cxxi. 1.
& The three Apostles, luminous above him overwhelming him with light. | The most august spirits of the celestial city.
Beatrice. ** In God, “Where everything beholds itself depicted."
Canto xxiv. 42. # To come from earth to heaven. 1t “Say what it is,” and “whence it cometh to thee."
$$ “Est spes certa expectatio futura beatitudinis, veniens ex Dei gratia et meritis precedentibus." Petrus Lombardus, Magister Sententiarum.