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Chapter 30 The Tenth Heaven, or Empyrean. The River of Light. The Tw_ourts of Heaven. The White Rose of Paradise. The great Throne.

  • Perchance six thousand miles remote from us
  • Is glowing the sixth hour, and now this world
  • Inclines its shadow almost to a level,
  • When the mid-heaven begins to make itself
  • So deep to us, that here and there a star
  • Ceases to shine so far down as this depth,
  • And as advances bright exceedingly
  • The handmaid of the sun, the heaven is closed
  • Light after light to the most beautiful;
  • Not otherwise the Triumph, which for ever
  • Plays round about the point that vanquished me,
  • Seeming enclosed by what itself encloses,
  • Little by little from my vision faded;
  • Whereat to turn mine eyes on Beatrice
  • My seeing nothing and my love constrained me.
  • If what has hitherto been said of her
  • Were all concluded in a single praise,
  • Scant would it be to serve the present turn.
  • Not only does the beauty I beheld
  • Transcend ourselves, but truly I believe
  • Its Maker only may enjoy it all.
  • Vanquished do I confess me by this passage
  • More than by problem of his theme was ever
  • O'ercome the comic or the tragic poet;
  • For as the sun the sight that trembles most,
  • Even so the memory of that sweet smile
  • My mind depriveth of its very self.
  • From the first day that I beheld her face
  • In this life, to the moment of this look,
  • The sequence of my song has ne'er been severed;
  • But now perforce this sequence must desist
  • From following her beauty with my verse,
  • As every artist at his uttermost.
  • Such as I leave her to a greater fame
  • Than any of my trumpet, which is bringing
  • Its arduous matter to a final close,
  • With voice and gesture of a perfect leader
  • She recommenced: "We from the greatest body
  • Have issued to the heaven that is pure light;
  • Light intellectual replete with love,
  • Love of true good replete with ecstasy,
  • Ecstasy that transcendeth every sweetness.
  • Here shalt thou see the one host and the other
  • Of Paradise, and one in the same aspects
  • Which at the final judgment thou shalt see."
  • Even as a sudden lightning that disperses
  • The visual spirits, so that it deprives
  • The eye of impress from the strongest objects,
  • Thus round about me flashed a living light,
  • And left me swathed around with such a veil
  • Of its effulgence, that I nothing saw.
  • "Ever the Love which quieteth this heaven
  • Welcomes into itself with such salute,
  • To make the candle ready for its flame."
  • No sooner had within me these brief words
  • An entrance found, than I perceived myself
  • To be uplifted over my own power,
  • And I with vision new rekindled me,
  • Such that no light whatever is so pure
  • But that mine eyes were fortified against it.
  • And light I saw in fashion of a river
  • Fulvid with its effulgence, 'twixt two banks
  • Depicted with an admirable Spring.
  • Out of this river issued living sparks,
  • And on all sides sank down into the flowers,
  • Like unto rubies that are set in gold;
  • And then, as if inebriate with the odours,
  • They plunged again into the wondrous torrent,
  • And as one entered issued forth another.
  • "The high desire, that now inflames and moves thee
  • To have intelligence of what thou seest,
  • Pleaseth me all the more, the more it swells.
  • But of this water it behoves thee drink
  • Before so great a thirst in thee be slaked."
  • Thus said to me the sunshine of mine eyes;
  • And added: "The river and the topazes
  • Going in and out, and the laughing of the herbage,
  • Are of their truth foreshadowing prefaces;
  • Not that these things are difficult in themselves,
  • But the deficiency is on thy side,
  • For yet thou hast not vision so exalted."
  • There is no babe that leaps so suddenly
  • With face towards the milk, if he awake
  • Much later than his usual custom is,
  • As I did, that I might make better mirrors
  • Still of mine eyes, down stooping to the wave
  • Which flows that we therein be better made.
  • And even as the penthouse of mine eyelids
  • Drank of it, it forthwith appeared to me
  • Out of its length to be transformed to round.
  • Then as a folk who have been under masks
  • Seem other than before, if they divest
  • The semblance not their own they disappeared in,
  • Thus into greater pomp were changed for me
  • The flowerets and the sparks, so that I saw
  • Both of the Courts of Heaven made manifest.
  • O splendour of God! by means of which I saw
  • The lofty triumph of the realm veracious,
  • Give me the power to say how it I saw!
  • There is a light above, which visible
  • Makes the Creator unto every creature,
  • Who only in beholding Him has peace,
  • And it expands itself in circular form
  • To such extent, that its circumference
  • Would be too large a girdle for the sun.
  • The semblance of it is all made of rays
  • Reflected from the top of Primal Motion,
  • Which takes therefrom vitality and power.
  • And as a hill in water at its base
  • Mirrors itself, as if to see its beauty
  • When affluent most in verdure and in flowers,
  • So, ranged aloft all round about the light,
  • Mirrored I saw in more ranks than a thousand
  • All who above there have from us returned.
  • And if the lowest row collect within it
  • So great a light, how vast the amplitude
  • Is of this Rose in its extremest leaves!
  • My vision in the vastness and the height
  • Lost not itself, but comprehended all
  • The quantity and quality of that gladness.
  • There near and far nor add nor take away;
  • For there where God immediately doth govern,
  • The natural law in naught is relevant.
  • Into the yellow of the Rose Eternal
  • That spreads, and multiplies, and breathes an odour
  • Of praise unto the ever-vernal Sun,
  • As one who silent is and fain would speak,
  • Me Beatrice drew on, and said: "Behold
  • Of the white stoles how vast the convent is!
  • Behold how vast the circuit of our city!
  • Behold our seats so filled to overflowing,
  • That here henceforward are few people wanting!
  • On that great throne whereon thine eyes are fixed
  • For the crown's sake already placed upon it,
  • Before thou suppest at this wedding feast
  • Shall sit the soul (that is to be Augustus
  • On earth) of noble Henry, who shall come
  • To redress Italy ere she be ready.
  • Blind covetousness, that casts its spell upon you,
  • Has made you like unto the little child,
  • Who dies of hunger and drives off the nurse.
  • And in the sacred forum then shall be
  • A Prefect such, that openly or covert
  • On the same road he will not walk with him.
  • But long of God he will not be endured
  • In holy office; he shall be thrust down
  • Where Simon Magus is for his deserts,
  • And make him of Alagna lower go!"