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Paradiso

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This translation, first published in 1909, is by American professor and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).


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Dante Alighieri/ Paridiso, Canto II

Paradiso Canto 2 Paradiso: Canto II O Ye, who in some pretty little boat, Eager to listen, have been following Behind my ship, that singing sails along, Turn back to look again upon your shores; Do not put out to sea, lest peradventure, In losing me, you might yourselves be lost. The sea I sail has never yet been passed; Minerva breathes, and pilots me Apollo, And Muses nine point out to me the Bears. Ye other few who have the neck uplifted Betimes to th' bread of Angels upon which One liveth here and grows not sated by it, Well may you launch upon the deep salt-sea Your vessel, keeping still my wake before you Upon the water that grows smooth again. Those glorious ones who unto Colchos passed Were not so wonder-struck as you shall be, When Jason they beheld a ploughman made! The con-created and perpetual thirst For the realm deiform did bear us on, As swift almost as ye the heavens behold. Upward gazed Beatrice, and I at her; And in such space perchance as strikes a bolt And flies, and from the notch unlocks itself, Arrived I saw me where a wondrous thing Drew to itself my sight; and therefore she From whom no care of mine could be concealed, Towards me turning, blithe as beautiful, Said unto me: "Fix gratefully thy mind On God, who unto the first star has brought us." It seemed to me a cloud encompassed us, Luminous, dense, consolidate and bright As adamant on which the sun is striking. Into itself did the eternal pearl Receive us, even as water doth receive A ray of light, remaining still unbroken. If I was body, (and we here conceive not How one dimension tolerates another, Which needs must be if body enter body,) More the desire should be enkindled in us That essence to behold, wherein is seen How God and our own nature were united. There will be seen what we receive by faith, Not demonstrated, but self-evident In guise of the first truth that man believes. I made reply: "Madonna, as devoutly As most I can do I give thanks to Him Who has removed me from the mortal world. But tell me what the dusky spots may be Upon this body, which below on earth Make people tell that fabulous tale of Cain?" Somewhat she smiled; and then, "If the opinion Of mortals be erroneous," she said, "Where'er the key of sense doth not unlock, Certes, the shafts of wonder should not pierce thee Now, forasmuch as, following the senses, Thou seest that the reason has short wings. But tell me what thou think'st of it thyself." And I: "What seems to us up here diverse, Is caused, I think, by bodies rare and dense." And she: "Right truly shalt thou see immersed In error thy belief, if well thou hearest The argument that I shall make against it. Lights many the eighth sphere displays to you Which in their quality and quantity May noted be of aspects different. If this were caused by rare and dense alone, One only virtue would there be in all Or more or less diffused, or equally. Virtues diverse must be perforce the fruits Of formal principles; and these, save one, Of course would by thy reasoning be destroyed. Besides, if rarity were of this dimness The cause thou askest, either through and through This planet thus attenuate were of matter, Or else, as in a body is apportioned The fat and lean, so in like manner this Would in its volume interchange the leaves. Were it the former, in the sun's eclipse It would be manifest by the shining through Of light, as through aught tenuous interfused. This is not so; hence we must scan the other, And if it chance the other I demolish, Then falsified will thy opinion be. But if this rarity go not through and through, There needs must be a limit, beyond which Its contrary prevents the further passing, And thence the foreign radiance is reflected, Even as a colour cometh back from glass, The which behind itself concealeth lead. Now thou wilt say the sunbeam shows itself More dimly there than in the other parts, By being there reflected farther back. From this reply experiment will free thee If e'er thou try it, which is wont to be The fountain to the rivers of your arts. Three mirrors shalt thou take, and two remove Alike from thee, the other more remote Between the former two shall meet thine eyes. Turned towards these, cause that behind thy back Be placed a light, illuming the three mirrors And coming back to thee by all reflected. Though in its quantity be not so ample The image most remote, there shalt thou see How it perforce is equally resplendent. Now, as beneath the touches of warm rays Naked the subject of the snow remains Both of its former colour and its cold, Thee thus remaining in thy intellect, Will I inform with such a living light, That it shall tremble in its aspect to thee. Within the heaven of the divine repose Revolves a body, in whose virtue lies The being of whatever it contains. The following heaven, that has so many eyes, Divides this being by essences diverse, Distinguished from it, and by it contained. The other spheres, by various differences, All the distinctions which they have within them Dispose unto their ends and their effects. Thus do these organs of the world proceed, As thou perceivest now, from grade to grade; Since from above they take, and act beneath. Observe me well, how through this place I come Unto the truth thou wishest, that hereafter Thou mayst alone know how to keep the ford The power and motion of the holy spheres, As from the artisan the hammer's craft, Forth from the blessed motors must proceed. The heaven, which lights so manifold make fair, From the Intelligence profound, which turns it, The image takes, and makes of it a seal. And even as the soul within your dust Through members different and accommodated To faculties diverse expands itself, So likewise this Intelligence diffuses Its virtue multiplied among the stars. Itself revolving on its unity. Virtue diverse doth a diverse alloyage Make with the precious body that it quickens, In which, as life in you, it is combined. From the glad nature whence it is derived, The mingled virtue through the body shines, Even as gladness through the living pupil. From this proceeds whate'er from light to light Appeareth different, not from dense and rare: This is the formal principle that produces, According to its goodness, dark and bright."

Dante's Paradiso and My Poetry: Juxtaposed

KNEADED The whole of Dante’s Paradiso is an opening and a clearing of Dante's eyes. I could very well see my own poetic opus with this aphoristic note. To return to God, a man must open his eyes, open them to and into a just self-love. Bahá'u'lláh says in one of His many aphorisms on introspection and the love of self and God: “man must open one eye to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved and close the other to the world and all that is therein.” And again: “One speck of chastity is greater than a hundred thousand years of worship and a sea of knowledge.” The mystic vision and narcissism are perilously similar in their function and structure. Dante, profound theologian as well as poet, acknowledges that this peril is a crucial element in life’s pilgrimage. This theme is also mentioned again and again in my poetry. I discuss again and again the poet’s, the pilgrim's, slow and painful emergence from narcissism to a just, a necessary, self-love and to the acquisition of chastity. Scribe that he is (Paradiso, 10.27), Dante transcribes his memory and his vision in his canto. I transcribe my view, my reflection, in booklet after booklet of my poetry. The whole movement of vision in Paradiso is from sight to reflection. In my poetry the movement is back and forth, up and down, around and around in an interdependence of diverse points of view rather than the totality of a single vision. -Ron Price with thanks to R. A. Shoaf, Dante, Chaucer, and the Currency of the Word: Money, Images, and Reference in Late Medieval Poetry, Pilgrim Books, 1983. I’d like to think I had the power of precise statement found in all great poets and again and again in every new phrase but, sadly, I describe things hazily with an intense personal way of feeling because I feel but do not see with the necessary particularity. But out of what seems a slimy mud of words, a lotus-flower grows and with it imprecisions which approximate my thoughts and feelings to some order of speech which springs like an incantation with its beauty and truth to all that I feel, to complex states, recreated for readers by the letter and the symbolic spirit rooted in and nourished by my emotions. I put so much down as if by mystic vision and narcissism so firmly intertwined, kneaded into the very clay of everyman. Ron Price May 28th 2006

Most underrated of the Comedy

Come on, this one basically describes heaven. And the fact that heaven is split up according to the plantery barriers makes this one the MOST interesting of the bunch in my opinion. What do you think of this lovely piece of literature?

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Open up your mind, open up your soul, and you`ll enter a place nobody has ver been before. This is Dante.

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