Canto XXXI


In fashion then as of a snow-white rose

  Displayed itself to me the saintly host,

  Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride,


But the other host, that flying sees and sings

5  The glory of Him who doth enamour it,

  And the goodness that created it so noble,


Even as a swarm of bees, that sinks in flowers

  One moment, and the next returns again

  To where its labour is to sweetness turned,


10Sank into the great flower, that is adorned

  With leaves so many, and thence reascended

  To where its love abideth evermore.


Their faces had they all of living flame,

  And wings of gold, and all the rest so white

15  No snow unto that limit doth attain.


From bench to bench, into the flower descending,

  They carried something of the peace and ardour

  Which by the fanning of their flanks they won.


Nor did the interposing 'twixt the flower

20  And what was o'er it of such plenitude

  Of flying shapes impede the sight and splendour;


Because the light divine so penetrates

  The universe, according to its merit,

  That naught can be an obstacle against it.


25This realm secure and full of gladsomeness,

  Crowded with ancient people and with modern,

  Unto one mark had all its look and love.


O Trinal Light, that in a single star

  Sparkling upon their sight so satisfies them,

30  Look down upon our tempest here below!


If the barbarians, coming from some region

  That every day by Helice is covered,

  Revolving with her son whom she delights in,


Beholding Rome and all her noble works,

35  Were wonder-struck, what time the Lateran

  Above all mortal things was eminent, -


I who to the divine had from the human,

  From time unto eternity, had come,

  From Florence to a people just and sane,


40With what amazement must I have been filled!

  Truly between this and the joy, it was

  My pleasure not to hear, and to be mute.


And as a pilgrim who delighteth him

  In gazing round the temple of his vow,

45  And hopes some day to retell how it was,


So through the living light my way pursuing

  Directed I mine eyes o'er all the ranks,

  Now up, now down, and now all round about.


Faces I saw of charity persuasive,

50  Embellished by His light and their own smile,

  And attitudes adorned with every grace.


The general form of Paradise already

  My glance had comprehended as a whole,

  In no part hitherto remaining fixed,


55And round I turned me with rekindled wish

  My Lady to interrogate of things

  Concerning which my mind was in suspense.


One thing I meant, another answered me;

  I thought I should see Beatrice, and saw

60  An Old Man habited like the glorious people.


O'erflowing was he in his eyes and cheeks

  With joy benign, in attitude of pity

  As to a tender father is becoming.


And "She, where is she?" instantly I said;

65  Whence he: "To put an end to thy desire,

  Me Beatrice hath sent from mine own place.


And if thou lookest up to the third round

  Of the first rank, again shalt thou behold her

  Upon the throne her merits have assigned her."


70Without reply I lifted up mine eyes,

  And saw her, as she made herself a crown

  Reflecting from herself the eternal rays.


Not from that region which the highest thunders

  Is any mortal eye so far removed,

75  In whatsoever sea it deepest sinks,


As there from Beatrice my sight; but this

  Was nothing unto me; because her image

  Descended not to me by medium blurred.


"O Lady, thou in whom my hope is strong,

80  And who for my salvation didst endure

  In Hell to leave the imprint of thy feet,


Of whatsoever things I have beheld,

  As coming from thy power and from thy goodness

  I recognise the virtue and the grace.


85Thou from a slave hast brought me unto freedom,

  By all those ways, by all the expedients,

  Whereby thou hadst the power of doing it.


Preserve towards me thy magnificence,

  So that this soul of mine, which thou hast healed,

90  Pleasing to thee be loosened from the body."


Thus I implored; and she, so far away,

  Smiled, as it seemed, and looked once more at me;

  Then unto the eternal fountain turned.


And said the Old Man holy: "That thou mayst

95  Accomplish perfectly thy journeying,

  Whereunto prayer and holy love have sent me,


Fly with thine eyes all round about this garden;

  For seeing it will discipline thy sight

  Farther to mount along the ray divine.


100And she, the Queen of Heaven, for whom I burn

  Wholly with love, will grant us every grace,

  Because that I her faithful Bernard am."


As he who peradventure from Croatia

  Cometh to gaze at our Veronica,

105  Who through its ancient fame is never sated,


But says in thought, the while it is displayed,

  "My Lord, Christ Jesus, God of very God,

  Now was your semblance made like unto this?"


Even such was I while gazing at the living

110  Charity of the man, who in this world

  By contemplation tasted of that peace.


"Thou son of grace, this jocund life," began he,

  "Will not be known to thee by keeping ever

  Thine eyes below here on the lowest place;


115But mark the circles to the most remote,

  Until thou shalt behold enthroned the Queen

  To whom this realm is subject and devoted."


I lifted up mine eyes, and as at morn

  The oriental part of the horizon

120  Surpasses that wherein the sun goes down,


Thus, as if going with mine eyes from vale

  To mount, I saw a part in the remoteness

  Surpass in splendour all the other front.


And even as there where we await the pole

125  That Phaeton drove badly, blazes more

  The light, and is on either side diminished,


So likewise that pacific oriflamme

  Gleamed brightest in the centre, and each side

  In equal measure did the flame abate.


130And at that centre, with their wings expanded,

  More than a thousand jubilant Angels saw I,

  Each differing in effulgence and in kind.


I saw there at their sports and at their songs

  A beauty smiling, which the gladness was

135  Within the eyes of all the other saints;


And if I had in speaking as much wealth

  As in imagining, I should not dare

  To attempt the smallest part of its delight.


Bernard, as soon as he beheld mine eyes

140  Fixed and intent upon its fervid fervour,

  His own with such affection turned to her


That it made mine more ardent to behold.