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Chapter 33 Prayer to the Virgin. The Threefold Circle of the Trinity. Mystery of the Divine and Human Nature.

  • "Thou Virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son,
  • Humble and high beyond all other creature,
  • The limit fixed of the eternal counsel,
  • Thou art the one who such nobility
  • To human nature gave, that its Creator
  • Did not disdain to make himself its creature.
  • Within thy womb rekindled was the love,
  • By heat of which in the eternal peace
  • After such wise this flower has germinated.
  • Here unto us thou art a noonday torch
  • Of charity, and below there among mortals
  • Thou art the living fountain-head of hope.
  • Lady, thou art so great, and so prevailing,
  • That he who wishes grace, nor runs to thee,
  • His aspirations without wings would fly.
  • Not only thy benignity gives succour
  • To him who asketh it, but oftentimes
  • Forerunneth of its own accord the asking.
  • In thee compassion is, in thee is pity,
  • In thee magnificence; in thee unites
  • Whate'er of goodness is in any creature.
  • Now doth this man, who from the lowest depth
  • Of the universe as far as here has seen
  • One after one the spiritual lives,
  • Supplicate thee through grace for so much power
  • That with his eyes he may uplift himself
  • Higher towards the uttermost salvation.
  • And I, who never burned for my own seeing
  • More than I do for his, all of my prayers
  • Proffer to thee, and pray they come not short,
  • That thou wouldst scatter from him every cloud
  • Of his mortality so with thy prayers,
  • That the Chief Pleasure be to him displayed.
  • Still farther do I pray thee, Queen, who canst
  • Whate'er thou wilt, that sound thou mayst preserve
  • After so great a vision his affections.
  • Let thy protection conquer human movements;
  • See Beatrice and all the blessed ones
  • My prayers to second clasp their hands to thee!"
  • The eyes beloved and revered of God,
  • Fastened upon the speaker, showed to us
  • How grateful unto her are prayers devout;
  • Then unto the Eternal Light they turned,
  • On which it is not credible could be
  • By any creature bent an eye so clear.
  • And I, who to the end of all desires
  • Was now approaching, even as I ought
  • The ardour of desire within me ended.
  • Bernard was beckoning unto me, and smiling,
  • That I should upward look; but I already
  • Was of my own accord such as he wished;
  • Because my sight, becoming purified,
  • Was entering more and more into the ray
  • Of the High Light which of itself is true.
  • From that time forward what I saw was greater
  • Than our discourse, that to such vision yields,
  • And yields the memory unto such excess.
  • Even as he is who seeth in a dream,
  • And after dreaming the imprinted passion
  • Remains, and to his mind the rest returns not,
  • Even such am I, for almost utterly
  • Ceases my vision, and distilleth yet
  • Within my heart the sweetness born of it;
  • Even thus the snow is in the sun unsealed,
  • Even thus upon the wind in the light leaves
  • Were the soothsayings of the Sibyl lost.
  • O Light Supreme, that dost so far uplift thee
  • From the conceits of mortals, to my mind
  • Of what thou didst appear re-lend a little,
  • And make my tongue of so great puissance,
  • That but a single sparkle of thy glory
  • It may bequeath unto the future people;
  • For by returning to my memory somewhat,
  • And by a little sounding in these verses,
  • More of thy victory shall be conceived!
  • I think the keenness of the living ray
  • Which I endured would have bewildered me,
  • If but mine eyes had been averted from it;
  • And I remember that I was more bold
  • On this account to bear, so that I joined
  • My aspect with the Glory Infinite.
  • O grace abundant, by which I presumed
  • To fix my sight upon the Light Eternal,
  • So that the seeing I consumed therein!
  • I saw that in its depth far down is lying
  • Bound up with love together in one volume,
  • What through the universe in leaves is scattered;
  • Substance, and accident, and their operations,
  • All interfused together in such wise
  • That what I speak of is one simple light.
  • The universal fashion of this knot
  • Methinks I saw, since more abundantly
  • In saying this I feel that I rejoice.
  • One moment is more lethargy to me,
  • Than five and twenty centuries to the emprise
  • That startled Neptune with the shade of Argo!
  • My mind in this wise wholly in suspense,
  • Steadfast, immovable, attentive gazed,
  • And evermore with gazing grew enkindled.
  • In presence of that light one such becomes,
  • That to withdraw therefrom for other prospect
  • It is impossible he e'er consent;
  • Because the good, which object is of will,
  • Is gathered all in this, and out of it
  • That is defective which is perfect there.
  • Shorter henceforward will my language fall
  • Of what I yet remember, than an infant's
  • Who still his tongue doth moisten at the breast.
  • Not because more than one unmingled semblance
  • Was in the living light on which I looked,
  • For it is always what it was before;
  • But through the sight, that fortified itself
  • In me by looking, one appearance only
  • To me was ever changing as I changed.
  • Within the deep and luminous subsistence
  • Of the High Light appeared to me three circles,
  • Of threefold colour and of one dimension,
  • And by the second seemed the first reflected
  • As Iris is by Iris, and the third
  • Seemed fire that equally from both is breathed.
  • O how all speech is feeble and falls short
  • Of my conceit, and this to what I saw
  • Is such, 'tis not enough to call it little!
  • O Light Eterne, sole in thyself that dwellest,
  • Sole knowest thyself, and, known unto thyself
  • And knowing, lovest and smilest on thyself!
  • That circulation, which being thus conceived
  • Appeared in thee as a reflected light,
  • When somewhat contemplated by mine eyes,
  • Within itself, of its own very colour
  • Seemed to me painted with our effigy,
  • Wherefore my sight was all absorbed therein.
  • As the geometrician, who endeavours
  • To square the circle, and discovers not,
  • By taking thought, the principle he wants,
  • Even such was I at that new apparition;
  • I wished to see how the image to the circle
  • Conformed itself, and how it there finds place;
  • But my own wings were not enough for this,
  • Had it not been that then my mind there smote
  • A flash of lightning, wherein came its wish.
  • Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy:
  • But now was turning my desire and will,
  • Even as a wheel that equally is moved,
  • The Love which moves the sun and the other stars.