Canto XII

 

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,

5  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.

 

10And 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

15  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

20  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,

 

25Together, 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

30  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,

35  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,

 

40When 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

45  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,

50  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.

 

55Therein 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,

60  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,

65  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.

 

70Dominic 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

75  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!

80  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,

 

85He 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,

90  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

95  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;

 

100And 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,

105  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

110  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.

 

115His 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

120  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,

125  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.

 

130Here 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,

135  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

140  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,

 

145And with me they have moved this company."