Paradiso: Canto V
"If in the heat of
love I flame upon thee
the measure that on earth is seen,
So that the valour of thine eyes I vanquish,
Marvel thou not
thereat; for this proceeds
perfect sight, which as it apprehends
To the good apprehended moves its feet.
Well I perceive how
is already shining
thine intellect the eternal light,
That only seen enkindles always love;
And if some other
thing your love seduce,
nothing but a vestige of the same,
Ill understood, which there is shining through.
Thou fain wouldst
know if with another service
broken vow can such return be made
As to secure the soul from further claim."
This Canto thus did
as a man who breaks not off his speech,
Continued thus her holy argument:
"The greatest gift
that in his largess God
made, and unto his own goodness
Nearest conformed, and that which he doth prize
Most highly, is the
freedom of the will,
the creatures of intelligence
Both all and only were and are endowed.
Now wilt thou see,
if thence thou reasonest,
high worth of a vow, if it he made
So that when thou consentest God consents:
between God and man the compact,
sacrifice is of this treasure made,
Such as I say, and made by its own act.
What can be
rendered then as compensation?
thou to make good use of what thou'st offered,
With gains ill gotten thou wouldst do good deed.
Now art thou
certain of the greater point;
because Holy Church in this dispenses,
Which seems against the truth which I have shown thee,
Behoves thee still
to sit awhile at table,
the solid food which thou hast taken
Requireth further aid for thy digestion.
Open thy mind to
that which I reveal,
fix it there within; for 'tis not knowledge,
The having heard without retaining it.
In the essence of
this sacrifice two things
together; and the one is that
Of which 'tis made, the other is the agreement.
This last for
evermore is cancelled not
complied with, and concerning this
With such precision has above been spoken.
Therefore it was
enjoined upon the Hebrews
offer still, though sometimes what was offered
Might be commuted, as thou ought'st to know.
The other, which is
known to thee as matter,
well indeed be such that one errs not
If it for other matter be exchanged.
But let none shift
the burden on his shoulder
his arbitrament, without the turning
Both of the white and of the yellow key;
permutation deem as foolish,
in the substitute the thing relinquished,
As the four is in six, be not contained.
thing has so great weight
value that it drags down every balance,
Cannot be satisfied with other spending.
Let mortals never
take a vow in jest;
faithful and not blind in doing that,
As Jephthah was in his first offering,
Whom more beseemed
to say, 'I have done wrong,
to do worse by keeping; and as foolish
Thou the great leader of the Greeks wilt find,
Iphigenia her fair face,
made for her both wise and simple weep,
Who heard such kind of worship spoken of.'
Christians, be ye
more serious in your movements;
ye not like a feather at each wind,
And think not every water washes you.
Ye have the Old and
the New Testament,
the Pastor of the Church who guideth you
Let this suffice you unto your salvation.
If evil appetite
cry aught else to you,
ye as men, and not as silly sheep,
So that the Jew among you may not mock you.
Be ye not as the
lamb that doth abandon
mother's milk, and frolicsome and simple
Combats at its own pleasure with itself."
Thus Beatrice to me
even as I write it;
all desireful turned herself again
To that part where the world is most alive.
Her silence and her
change of countenance
imposed upon my eager mind,
That had already in advance new questions;
And as an arrow
that upon the mark
ere the bowstring quiet hath become,
So did we speed into the second realm.
My Lady there so
joyful I beheld,
into the brightness of that heaven she entered,
More luminous thereat the planet grew;
And if the star
itself was changed and smiled,
became I, who by my nature am
Exceeding mutable in every guise!
As, in a fish-pond
which is pure and tranquil,
fishes draw to that which from without
Comes in such fashion that their food they deem it;
So I beheld more
than a thousand splendours
towards us, and in each was heard:
"Lo, this is she who shall increase our love."
And as each one was
coming unto us,
of beatitude the shade was seen,
By the effulgence clear that issued from it.
Think, Reader, if
what here is just beginning
farther should proceed, how thou wouldst have
An agonizing need of knowing more;
And of thyself
thou'lt see how I from these
in desire of hearing their conditions,
As they unto mine eyes were manifest.
"O thou well-born,
unto whom Grace concedes
see the thrones of the eternal triumph,
Or ever yet the warfare be abandoned
With light that
through the whole of heaven is spread
are we, and hence if thou desirest
To know of us, at thine own pleasure sate thee."
Thus by some one
among those holy spirits
spoken, and by Beatrice: "Speak, speak
Securely, and believe them even as Gods."
"Well I perceive
how thou dost nest thyself
thine own light, and drawest it from thine eyes,
Because they coruscate when thou dost smile,
But know not who
thou art, nor why thou hast,
august, thy station in the sphere
That veils itself to men in alien rays."
This said I in
direction of the light
first had spoken to me; whence it became
By far more lucent than it was before.
Even as the sun,
that doth conceal himself
too much light, when heat has worn away
The tempering influence of the vapours dense,
By greater rapture
thus concealed itself
its own radiance the figure saintly,
And thus close, close enfolded answered me
In fashion as the
following Canto sings.
This document (last modifiedJanuary 08, 1998) from Believerscafe.com
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