Canto XIX


Appeared before me with its wings outspread

  The beautiful image that in sweet fruition

  Made jubilant the interwoven souls;


Appeared a little ruby each, wherein

5  Ray of the sun was burning so enkindled

  That each into mine eyes refracted it.


And what it now behoves me to retrace

  Nor voice has e'er reported, nor ink written,

  Nor was by fantasy e'er comprehended;


10For speak I saw, and likewise heard, the beak,

  And utter with its voice both I and My,

  When in conception it was We and Our.


And it began: "Being just and merciful

  Am I exalted here unto that glory

15  Which cannot be exceeded by desire;


And upon earth I left my memory

  Such, that the evil-minded people there

  Commend it, but continue not the story."


So doth a single heat from many embers

20  Make itself felt, even as from many loves

  Issued a single sound from out that image.


Whence I thereafter: "O perpetual flowers

  Of the eternal joy, that only one

  Make me perceive your odours manifold,


25Exhaling, break within me the great fast

  Which a long season has in hunger held me,

  Not finding for it any food on earth.


Well do I know, that if in heaven its mirror

  Justice Divine another realm doth make,

30  Yours apprehends it not through any veil.


You know how I attentively address me

  To listen; and you know what is the doubt

  That is in me so very old a fast."


Even as a falcon, issuing from his hood,

35  Doth move his head, and with his wings applaud him,

  Showing desire, and making himself fine,


Saw I become that standard, which of lauds

  Was interwoven of the grace divine,

  With such songs as he knows who there rejoices.


40Then it began: "He who a compass turned

  On the world's outer verge, and who within it

  Devised so much occult and manifest,


Could not the impress of his power so make

  On all the universe, as that his Word

45  Should not remain in infinite excess.


And this makes certain that the first proud being,

  Who was the paragon of every creature,

  By not awaiting light fell immature.


And hence appears it, that each minor nature

50  Is scant receptacle unto that good

  Which has no end, and by itself is measured.


In consequence our vision, which perforce

  Must be some ray of that intelligence

  With which all things whatever are replete,


55Cannot in its own nature be so potent,

  That it shall not its origin discern

  Far beyond that which is apparent to it.


Therefore into the justice sempiternal

  The power of vision that your world receives,

60  As eye into the ocean, penetrates;


Which, though it see the bottom near the shore,

  Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet

  'Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth.


There is no light but comes from the serene

65  That never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness

  Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison.


Amply to thee is opened now the cavern

  Which has concealed from thee the living justice

  Of which thou mad'st such frequent questioning.


70For saidst thou: 'Born a man is on the shore

  Of Indus, and is none who there can speak

  Of Christ, nor who can read, nor who can write;


And all his inclinations and his actions

  Are good, so far as human reason sees,

75  Without a sin in life or in discourse:


He dieth unbaptised and without faith;

  Where is this justice that condemneth him?

  Where is his fault, if he do not believe?'


Now who art thou, that on the bench wouldst sit

80  In judgment at a thousand miles away,

  With the short vision of a single span?


Truly to him who with me subtilizes,

  If so the Scripture were not over you,

  For doubting there were marvellous occasion.


85O animals terrene, O stolid minds,

  The primal will, that in itself is good,

  Ne'er from itself, the Good Supreme, has moved.


So much is just as is accordant with it;

  No good created draws it to itself,

90  But it, by raying forth, occasions that."


Even as above her nest goes circling round

  The stork when she has fed her little ones,

  And he who has been fed looks up at her,


So lifted I my brows, and even such

95  Became the blessed image, which its wings

  Was moving, by so many counsels urged.


Circling around it sang, and said: "As are

  My notes to thee, who dost not comprehend them,

  Such is the eternal judgment to you mortals."


100Those lucent splendours of the Holy Spirit

  Grew quiet then, but still within the standard

  That made the Romans reverend to the world.


It recommenced: "Unto this kingdom never

  Ascended one who had not faith in Christ,

105  Before or since he to the tree was nailed.


But look thou, many crying are, 'Christ, Christ!'

  Who at the judgment shall be far less near

  To him than some shall be who knew not Christ.


Such Christians shall the Ethiop condemn,

110  When the two companies shall be divided,

  The one for ever rich, the other poor.


What to your kings may not the Persians say,

  When they that volume opened shall behold

  In which are written down all their dispraises?


115There shall be seen, among the deeds of Albert,

  That which ere long shall set the pen in motion,

  For which the realm of Prague shall be deserted.


There shall be seen the woe that on the Seine

  He brings by falsifying of the coin,

120  Who by the blow of a wild boar shall die.


There shall be seen the pride that causes thirst,

  Which makes the Scot and Englishman so mad

  That they within their boundaries cannot rest;


Be seen the luxury and effeminate life

125  Of him of Spain, and the Bohemian,

  Who valour never knew and never wished;


Be seen the Cripple of Jerusalem,

  His goodness represented by an I,

  While the reverse an M shall represent;


130Be seen the avarice and poltroonery

  Of him who guards the Island of the Fire,

  Wherein Anchises finished his long life;


And to declare how pitiful he is

  Shall be his record in contracted letters

135  Which shall make note of much in little space.


And shall appear to each one the foul deeds

  Of uncle and of brother who a nation

  So famous have dishonoured, and two crowns.


And he of Portugal and he of Norway

140  Shall there be known, and he of Rascia too,

  Who saw in evil hour the coin of Venice.


O happy Hungary, if she let herself

  Be wronged no farther! and Navarre the happy,

  If with the hills that gird her she be armed!


145And each one may believe that now, as hansel

  Thereof, do Nicosia and Famagosta

  Lament and rage because of their own beast,


Who from the others' flank departeth not."