Canto XXII


Oppressed with stupor, I unto my guide

  Turned like a little child who always runs

  For refuge there where he confideth most;


And she, even as a mother who straightway

5  Gives comfort to her pale and breathless boy

  With voice whose wont it is to reassure him,


Said to me: "Knowest thou not thou art in heaven,

  And knowest thou not that heaven is holy all

  And what is done here cometh from good zeal?


10After what wise the singing would have changed thee

  And I by smiling, thou canst now imagine,

  Since that the cry has startled thee so much,


In which if thou hadst understood its prayers

  Already would be known to thee the vengeance

15  Which thou shalt look upon before thou diest.


The sword above here smiteth not in haste

  Nor tardily, howe'er it seem to him

  Who fearing or desiring waits for it.


But turn thee round towards the others now,

20  For very illustrious spirits shalt thou see,

  If thou thy sight directest as I say."


As it seemed good to her mine eyes I turned,

  And saw a hundred spherules that together

  With mutual rays each other more embellished.


25I stood as one who in himself represses

  The point of his desire, and ventures not

  To question, he so feareth the too much.


And now the largest and most luculent

  Among those pearls came forward, that it might

30  Make my desire concerning it content.


Within it then I heard: "If thou couldst see

  Even as myself the charity that burns

  Among us, thy conceits would be expressed;


But, that by waiting thou mayst not come late

35  To the high end, I will make answer even

  Unto the thought of which thou art so chary.


That mountain on whose slope Cassino stands

  Was frequented of old upon its summit

  By a deluded folk and ill-disposed;


40And I am he who first up thither bore

  The name of Him who brought upon the earth

  The truth that so much sublimateth us.


And such abundant grace upon me shone

  That all the neighbouring towns I drew away

45  From the impious worship that seduced the world.


These other fires, each one of them, were men

  Contemplative, enkindled by that heat

  Which maketh holy flowers and fruits spring up.


Here is Macarius, here is Romualdus,

50  Here are my brethren, who within the cloisters

  Their footsteps stayed and kept a steadfast heart."


And I to him: "The affection which thou showest

  Speaking with me, and the good countenance

  Which I behold and note in all your ardours,


55In me have so my confidence dilated

  As the sun doth the rose, when it becomes

  As far unfolded as it hath the power.


Therefore I pray, and thou assure me, father,

  If I may so much grace receive, that I

60  May thee behold with countenance unveiled."


He thereupon: "Brother, thy high desire

  In the remotest sphere shall be fulfilled,

  Where are fulfilled all others and my own.


There perfect is, and ripened, and complete,

65  Every desire; within that one alone

  Is every part where it has always been;


For it is not in space, nor turns on poles,

  And unto it our stairway reaches up,

  Whence thus from out thy sight it steals away.


70Up to that height the Patriarch Jacob saw it

  Extending its supernal part, what time

  So thronged with angels it appeared to him.


But to ascend it now no one uplifts

  His feet from off the earth, and now my Rule

75  Below remaineth for mere waste of paper.


The walls that used of old to be an Abbey

  Are changed to dens of robbers, and the cowls

  Are sacks filled full of miserable flour.


But heavy usury is not taken up

80  So much against God's pleasure as that fruit

  Which maketh so insane the heart of monks;


For whatsoever hath the Church in keeping

  Is for the folk that ask it in God's name,

  Not for one's kindred or for something worse.


85The flesh of mortals is so very soft,

  That good beginnings down below suffice not

  From springing of the oak to bearing acorns.


Peter began with neither gold nor silver,

  And I with orison and abstinence,

90  And Francis with humility his convent.


And if thou lookest at each one's beginning,

  And then regardest whither he has run,

  Thou shalt behold the white changed into brown.


In verity the Jordan backward turned,

95  And the sea's fleeing, when God willed were more

  A wonder to behold, than succour here."


Thus unto me he said; and then withdrew

  To his own band, and the band closed together;

  Then like a whirlwind all was upward rapt.


100The gentle Lady urged me on behind them

  Up o'er that stairway by a single sign,

  So did her virtue overcome my nature;


Nor here below, where one goes up and down

  By natural law, was motion e'er so swift

105  That it could be compared unto my wing.


Reader, as I may unto that devout

  Triumph return, on whose account I often

  For my transgressions weep and beat my breast, -


Thou hadst not thrust thy finger in the fire

110  And drawn it out again, before I saw

  The sign that follows Taurus, and was in it.


O glorious stars, O light impregnated

  With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge

  All of my genius, whatsoe'er it be,


115With you was born, and hid himself with you,

  He who is father of all mortal life,

  When first I tasted of the Tuscan air;


And then when grace was freely given to me

  To enter the high wheel which turns you round,

120  Your region was allotted unto me.


To you devoutly at this hour my soul

  Is sighing, that it virtue may acquire

  For the stern pass that draws it to itself.


"Thou art so near unto the last salvation,"

125  Thus Beatrice began, "thou oughtest now

  To have thine eves unclouded and acute;


And therefore, ere thou enter farther in,

  Look down once more, and see how vast a world

  Thou hast already put beneath thy feet;


130So that thy heart, as jocund as it may,

  Present itself to the triumphant throng

  That comes rejoicing through this rounded ether."


I with my sight returned through one and all

  The sevenfold spheres, and I beheld this globe

135  Such that I smiled at its ignoble semblance;


And that opinion I approve as best

  Which doth account it least; and he who thinks

  Of something else may truly be called just.


I saw the daughter of Latona shining

140  Without that shadow, which to me was cause

  That once I had believed her rare and dense.


The aspect of thy son, Hyperion,

  Here I sustained, and saw how move themselves

  Around and near him Maia and Dione.


145Thence there appeared the temperateness of Jove

  'Twixt son and father, and to me was clear

  The change that of their whereabout they make;


And all the seven made manifest to me

  How great they are, and eke how swift they are,

150  And how they are in distant habitations.


The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud,

  To me revolving with the eternal Twins,

  Was all apparent made from hill to harbour!


Then to the beauteous eyes mine eyes I turned.