Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 12 St. Buonaventura recounts the Life of St. Dominic. Lament ove_he State of the Franciscan Order. The Second Circle.

  • Soon as the blessed flame had taken up
  • The final word to give it utterance,
  • Began the holy millstone to revolve,
  • And in its gyre had not turned wholly round,
  • Before another in a ring enclosed it,
  • And motion joined to motion, song to song;
  • Song that as greatly doth transcend our Muses,
  • Our Sirens, in those dulcet clarions,
  • As primal splendour that which is reflected.
  • And as are spanned athwart a tender cloud
  • Two rainbows parallel and like in colour,
  • When Juno to her handmaid gives command,
  • (The one without born of the one within,
  • Like to the speaking of that vagrant one
  • Whom love consumed as doth the sun the vapours,)
  • And make the people here, through covenant
  • God set with Noah, presageful of the world
  • That shall no more be covered with a flood,
  • In such wise of those sempiternal roses
  • The garlands twain encompassed us about,
  • And thus the outer to the inner answered.
  • After the dance, and other grand rejoicings,
  • Both of the singing, and the flaming forth
  • Effulgence with effulgence blithe and tender,
  • Together, at once, with one accord had stopped,
  • (Even as the eyes, that, as volition moves them,
  • Must needs together shut and lift themselves,)
  • Out of the heart of one of the new lights
  • There came a voice, that needle to the star
  • Made me appear in turning thitherward.
  • And it began: "The love that makes me fair
  • Draws me to speak about the other leader,
  • By whom so well is spoken here of mine.
  • 'Tis right, where one is, to bring in the other,
  • That, as they were united in their warfare,
  • Together likewise may their glory shine.
  • The soldiery of Christ, which it had cost
  • So dear to arm again, behind the standard
  • Moved slow and doubtful and in numbers few,
  • When the Emperor who reigneth evermore
  • Provided for the host that was in peril,
  • Through grace alone and not that it was worthy;
  • And, as was said, he to his Bride brought succour
  • With champions twain, at whose deed, at whose word
  • The straggling people were together drawn.
  • Within that region where the sweet west wind
  • Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith
  • Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh,
  • Not far off from the beating of the waves,
  • Behind which in his long career the sun
  • Sometimes conceals himself from every man,
  • Is situate the fortunate Calahorra,
  • Under protection of the mighty shield
  • In which the Lion subject is and sovereign.
  • Therein was born the amorous paramour
  • Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate,
  • Kind to his own and cruel to his foes;
  • And when it was created was his mind
  • Replete with such a living energy,
  • That in his mother her it made prophetic.
  • As soon as the espousals were complete
  • Between him and the Faith at holy font,
  • Where they with mutual safety dowered each other,
  • The woman, who for him had given assent,
  • Saw in a dream the admirable fruit
  • That issue would from him and from his heirs;
  • And that he might be construed as he was,
  • A spirit from this place went forth to name him
  • With His possessive whose he wholly was.
  • Dominic was he called; and him I speak of
  • Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
  • Elected to his garden to assist him.
  • Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ,
  • For the first love made manifest in him
  • Was the first counsel that was given by Christ.
  • Silent and wakeful many a time was he
  • Discovered by his nurse upon the ground,
  • As if he would have said, 'For this I came.'
  • O thou his father, Felix verily!
  • O thou his mother, verily Joanna,
  • If this, interpreted, means as is said!
  • Not for the world which people toil for now
  • In following Ostiense and Taddeo,
  • But through his longing after the true manna,
  • He in short time became so great a teacher,
  • That he began to go about the vineyard,
  • Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser;
  • And of the See, (that once was more benignant
  • Unto the righteous poor, not through itself,
  • But him who sits there and degenerates,)
  • Not to dispense or two or three for six,
  • Not any fortune of first vacancy,
  • 'Non decimas quae sunt pauperum Dei,'
  • He asked for, but against the errant world
  • Permission to do battle for the seed,
  • Of which these four and twenty plants surround thee.
  • Then with the doctrine and the will together,
  • With office apostolical he moved,
  • Like torrent which some lofty vein out-presses;
  • And in among the shoots heretical
  • His impetus with greater fury smote,
  • Wherever the resistance was the greatest.
  • Of him were made thereafter divers runnels,
  • Whereby the garden catholic is watered,
  • So that more living its plantations stand.
  • If such the one wheel of the Biga was,
  • In which the Holy Church itself defended
  • And in the field its civic battle won,
  • Truly full manifest should be to thee
  • The excellence of the other, unto whom
  • Thomas so courteous was before my coming.
  • But still the orbit, which the highest part
  • Of its circumference made, is derelict,
  • So that the mould is where was once the crust.
  • His family, that had straight forward moved
  • With feet upon his footprints, are turned round
  • So that they set the point upon the heel.
  • And soon aware they will be of the harvest
  • Of this bad husbandry, when shall the tares
  • Complain the granary is taken from them.
  • Yet say I, he who searcheth leaf by leaf
  • Our volume through, would still some page discover
  • Where he could read, 'I am as I am wont.'
  • 'Twill not be from Casal nor Acquasparta,
  • From whence come such unto the written word
  • That one avoids it, and the other narrows.
  • Bonaventura of Bagnoregio's life
  • Am I, who always in great offices
  • Postponed considerations sinister.
  • Here are Illuminato and Agostino,
  • Who of the first barefooted beggars were
  • That with the cord the friends of God became.
  • Hugh of Saint Victor is among them here,
  • And Peter Mangiador, and Peter of Spain,
  • Who down below in volumes twelve is shining;
  • Nathan the seer, and metropolitan
  • Chrysostom, and Anselmus, and Donatus
  • Who deigned to lay his hand to the first art;
  • Here is Rabanus, and beside me here
  • Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
  • He with the spirit of prophecy endowed.
  • To celebrate so great a paladin
  • Have moved me the impassioned courtesy
  • And the discreet discourses of Friar Thomas,
  • And with me they have moved this company."