Canto XXXII

 

So steadfast and attentive were mine eyes

  In satisfying their decennial thirst,

  That all my other senses were extinct,

 

And upon this side and on that they had

5  Walls of indifference, so the holy smile

  Drew them unto itself with the old net

 

When forcibly my sight was turned away

  Towards my left hand by those goddesses,

  Because I heard from them a "Too intently!"

 

10And that condition of the sight which is

  In eyes but lately smitten by the sun

  Bereft me of my vision some short while;

 

But to the less when sight re-shaped itself,

  I say the less in reference to the greater

15  Splendour from which perforce I had withdrawn,

 

I saw upon its right wing wheeled about

  The glorious host returning with the sun

  And with the sevenfold flames upon their faces.

 

As underneath its shields, to save itself,

20  A squadron turns, and with its banner wheels,

  Before the whole thereof can change its front,

 

That soldiery of the celestial kingdom

  Which marched in the advance had wholly passed us

  Before the chariot had turned its pole.

 

25Then to the wheels the maidens turned themselves,

  And the Griffin moved his burden benedight,

  But so that not a feather of him fluttered.

 

The lady fair who drew me through the ford

  Followed with Statius and myself the wheel

30  Which made its orbit with the lesser arc.

 

So passing through the lofty forest, vacant

  By fault of her who in the serpent trusted,

  Angelic music made our steps keep time.

 

Perchance as great a space had in three flights

35  An arrow loosened from the string o'erpassed,

  As we had moved when Beatrice descended.

 

I heard them murmur altogether, "Adam!"

  Then circled they about a tree despoiled

  Of blooms and other leafage on each bough.

 

40Its tresses, which so much the more dilate

  As higher they ascend, had been by Indians

  Among their forests marvelled at for height.

 

"Blessed art thou, O Griffin, who dost not

  Pluck with thy beak these branches sweet to taste,

45  Since appetite by this was turned to evil."

 

After this fashion round the tree robust

  The others shouted; and the twofold creature:

  "Thus is preserved the seed of all the just."

 

And turning to the pole which he had dragged,

50  He drew it close beneath the widowed bough,

  And what was of it unto it left bound.

 

In the same manner as our trees (when downward

  Falls the great light, with that together mingled

  Which after the celestial Lasca shines)

 

55Begin to swell, and then renew themselves,

  Each one with its own colour, ere the Sun

  Harness his steeds beneath another star:

 

Less than of rose and more than violet

  A hue disclosing, was renewed the tree

60  That had erewhile its boughs so desolate.

 

I never heard, nor here below is sung,

  The hymn which afterward that people sang,

  Nor did I bear the melody throughout.

 

Had I the power to paint how fell asleep

65  Those eyes compassionless, of Syrinx hearing,

  Those eyes to which more watching cost so dear,

 

Even as a painter who from model paints

  I would portray how I was lulled asleep;

  He may, who well can picture drowsihood.

 

70Therefore I pass to what time I awoke,

  And say a splendour rent from me the veil

  Of slumber, and a calling: "Rise, what dost thou?"

 

As to behold the apple-tree in blossom

  Which makes the Angels greedy for its fruit,

75  And keeps perpetual bridals in the Heaven,

 

Peter and John and James conducted were,

  And, overcome, recovered at the word

  By which still greater slumbers have been broken,

 

And saw their school diminished by the loss

80  Not only of Elias, but of Moses,

  And the apparel of their Master changed;

 

So I revived, and saw that piteous one

  Above me standing, who had been conductress

  Aforetime of my steps beside the river,

 

85And all in doubt I said, "Where's Beatrice?"

  And she: "Behold her seated underneath

  The leafage new, upon the root of it.

 

Behold the company that circles her;

  The rest behind the Griffin are ascending

90  With more melodious song, and more profound."

 

And if her speech were more diffuse I know not,

  Because already in my sight was she

  Who from the hearing of aught else had shut me.

 

Alone she sat upon the very earth,

95  Left there as guardian of the chariot

  Which I had seen the biform monster fasten.

 

Encircling her, a cloister made themselves

  The seven Nymphs, with those lights in their hands

  Which are secure from Aquilon and Auster.

 

100"Short while shalt thou be here a forester,

  And thou shalt be with me for evermore

  A citizen of that Rome where Christ is Roman.

 

Therefore, for that world's good which liveth ill,

  Fix on the car thine eyes, and what thou seest,

105  Having returned to earth, take heed thou write."

 

Thus Beatrice; and I, who at the feet

  Of her commandments all devoted was,

  My mind and eyes directed where she willed.

 

Never descended with so swift a motion

110  Fire from a heavy cloud, when it is raining

  From out the region which is most remote,

 

As I beheld the bird of Jove descend

  Down through the tree, rending away the bark,

  As well as blossoms and the foliage new,

 

115And he with all his might the chariot smote,

  Whereat it reeled, like vessel in a tempest

  Tossed by the waves, now starboard and now larboard.

 

Thereafter saw I leap into the body

  Of the triumphal vehicle a Fox,

120  That seemed unfed with any wholesome food.

 

But for his hideous sins upbraiding him,

  My Lady put him to as swift a flight

  As such a fleshless skeleton could bear.

 

Then by the way that it before had come,

125  Into the chariot's chest I saw the Eagle

  Descend, and leave it feathered with his plumes.

 

And such as issues from a heart that mourns,

  A voice from Heaven there issued, and it said:

  "My little bark, how badly art thou freighted!"

 

130Methought, then, that the earth did yawn between

  Both wheels, and I saw rise from it a Dragon,

  Who through the chariot upward fixed his tail,

 

And as a wasp that draweth back its sting,

  Drawing unto himself his tail malign,

135  Drew out the floor, and went his way rejoicing.

 

That which remained behind, even as with grass

  A fertile region, with the feathers, offered

  Perhaps with pure intention and benign,

 

Reclothed itself, and with them were reclothed

140  The pole and both the wheels so speedily,

  A sigh doth longer keep the lips apart.

 

Transfigured thus the holy edifice

  Thrust forward heads upon the parts of it,

  Three on the pole and one at either corner.

 

145The first were horned like oxen; but the four

  Had but a single horn upon the forehead;

  A monster such had never yet been seen!

 

Firm as a rock upon a mountain high,

  Seated upon it, there appeared to me

150  A shameless whore, with eyes swift glancing round,

 

And, as if not to have her taken from him,

  Upright beside her I beheld a giant;

  And ever and anon they kissed each other.

 

But because she her wanton, roving eye

155  Turned upon me, her angry paramour

  Did scourge her from her head unto her feet.

 

Then full of jealousy, and fierce with wrath,

  He loosed the monster, and across the forest

  Dragged it so far, he made of that alone

 

160A shield unto the whore and the strange beast.