Paradiso: Canto IV
Between two viands,
tempting, a free man would die of hunger
Ere either he could bring unto his teeth.
So would a lamb
between the ravenings
two fierce wolves stand fearing both alike;
And so would stand a dog between two does.
Hence, if I held my
peace, myself I blame not,
in equal measure by my doubts,
Since it must be so, nor do I commend.
I held my peace;
but my desire was painted
my face, and questioning with that
More fervent far than by articulate speech.
Beatrice did as
Daniel had done
Nebuchadnezzar from the wrath
Which rendered him unjustly merciless,
And said: "Well see
I how attracteth thee
and the other wish, so that thy care
Binds itself so that forth it does not breathe.
Thou arguest, if
good will be permanent,
violence of others, for what reason
Doth it decrease the measure of my merit?
Again for doubting
furnish thee occasion
seeming to return unto the stars,
According to the sentiment of Plato.
These are the
questions which upon thy wish
thrusting equally; and therefore first
Will I treat that which hath the most of gall.
He of the Seraphim
most absorbed in God,
and Samuel, and whichever John
Thou mayst select, I say, and even Mary,
Have not in any
other heaven their seats,
have those spirits that just appeared to thee,
Nor of existence more or fewer years;
But all make
beautiful the primal circle,
have sweet life in different degrees,
By feeling more or less the eternal breath.
themselves here, not because allotted
sphere has been to them, but to give sign
Of the celestial which is least exalted.
To speak thus is
adapted to your mind,
only through the sense it apprehendeth
What then it worthy makes of intellect.
On this account the
your faculties, and feet and hands
To God attributes, and means something else;
And Holy Church
under an aspect human
and Michael represent to you,
And him who made Tobias whole again.
That which Timaeus
argues of the soul
not resemble that which here is seen,
Because it seems that as he speaks he thinks.
He says the soul
unto its star returns,
it to have been severed thence
Whenever nature gave it as a form.
doctrine is of other guise
the words sound, and possibly may be
With meaning that is not to be derided.
If he doth mean
that to these wheels return
honour of their influence and the blame,
Perhaps his bow doth hit upon some truth.
This principle ill
understood once warped
whole world nearly, till it went astray
Invoking Jove and Mercury and Mars.
The other doubt
which doth disquiet thee
venom has, for its malevolence
Could never lead thee otherwhere from me.
That as unjust our
justice should appear
eyes of mortals, is an argument
Of faith, and not of sin heretical.
But still, that
your perception may be able
thoroughly penetrate this verity,
As thou desirest, I will satisfy thee.
If it be violence
when he who suffers
not with him who uses force,
These souls were not on that account excused;
For will is never
quenched unless it will,
operates as nature doth in fire
If violence a thousand times distort it.
Hence, if it
yieldeth more or less, it seconds
force; and these have done so, having power
Of turning back unto the holy place.
If their will had
been perfect, like to that
Lawrence fast upon his gridiron held,
And Mutius made severe to his own hand,
It would have urged
them back along the road
they were dragged, as soon as they were free;
But such a solid will is all too rare.
And by these words,
if thou hast gathered them
thou shouldst do, the argument is refuted
That would have still annoyed thee many times.
But now another
passage runs across
thine eyes, and such that by thyself
Thou couldst not thread it ere thou wouldst be weary.
I have for certain
put into thy mind
soul beatified could never lie,
For it is near the primal Truth,
And then thou from
Piccarda might'st have heard
kept affection for the veil,
So that she seemeth here to contradict me.
brother, has it come to pass,
to escape from peril, with reluctance
That has been done it was not right to do,
E'en as Alcmaeon
(who, being by his father
entreated, his own mother slew)
Not to lose pity pitiless became.
At this point I
desire thee to remember
force with will commingles, and they cause
That the offences cannot be excused.
consenteth not to evil;
in so far consenteth as it fears,
If it refrain, to fall into more harm.
Hence when Piccarda
uses this expression,
meaneth the will absolute, and I
The other, so that both of us speak truth."
Such was the
flowing of the holy river
issued from the fount whence springs all truth;
This put to rest my wishes one and all.
"O love of the
first lover, O divine,"
I forthwith, "whose speech inundates me
And warms me so, it more and more revives me,
My own affection is
not so profound
to suffice in rendering grace for grace;
Let Him, who sees and can, thereto respond.
Well I perceive
that never sated is
intellect unless the Truth illume it,
Beyond which nothing true expands itself.
It rests therein,
as wild beast in his lair,
it attains it; and it can attain it;
If not, then each desire would frustrate be.
up, in fashion of a shoot,
at the foot of truth; and this is nature,
Which to the top from height to height impels us.
This doth invite
me, this assurance give me
reverence, Lady, to inquire of you
Another truth, which is obscure to me.
I wish to know if
man can satisfy you
broken vows with other good deeds, so
That in your balance they will not be light."
Beatrice gazed upon
me with her eyes
of the sparks of love, and so divine,
That, overcome my power, I turned my back
And almost lost
myself with eyes downcast.
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
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