SATURN (Peter Damien and Benedict)




CANTO 21 Peter Damian;   CANTO 22 Benedict CANTO 23 Rose & Garden





(St. Peter Damian and The Ladder)






Beatrice and Dante have risen to Saturn, now in the constellation of Leo, and there Beatrice smiles not (lest her beauty should shatter Dante's mortal senses as Jove's undisguised presence burned Semele to ashes) but bids him gaze upon that which shall be revealed to him. The joy it gives him to obey her behests is compensations even for the withdrawal of his eyes from her countenance, whereon they feasted; and he sees the golden Jacob's ladder stretch up from Saturn; while a throng of splendours descends, as though all heaven had been emptied, and splashes in light upon a certain step of the ladder. Dante addresses the light that arrests itself nearest to him, first with silent thought, then, when Beatrice gives him leave, with open speech; and asks why he more than others has approached him, and why the harmony of heaven is no longer heard. The spirit answers that Dante's senses are not yet sufficiently inured to bear the divine music in this higher sphere; and that he has approached to welcome him not because he has greater love than others, but because the divine love, to which all eagerly respond, has assigned that office to him. Dante though satisfied by the answer within its limits, yet pushes his demand further and asks why God assigned this office just to his interlocutor and no other. Hereon the spirit whirls and glows, rapt into such immediate and intense communion with God as to see his very essence, and yet declares that neither be nor the highest of the Seraphim sees the answer to this question, which lies unfathomably deep in the being of God. Let Dante warn the world, with its smoke-dimmed faculties, not to presume henceforth to attempt a problem which even in heaven is insoluble. Appalled by this reply, Dante now bashfully requests to know who it is that has thus checked his presumptuous enquiry, and be learns chat it is Peter Damiani, who called himself Peter the Sinner, and ,who had dwelt in the now degenerate convent of Fonte Aveliana, and in that of S. Maria in Pomposa. In connection with his reception, shortly before his death, of the Cardinal's hat he denounces ,the pomp and obesity of the Church dignitaries, 'whereupon there comes whirling down a throng of flames that group themselves round him and raise a cry which so stuns Dante that he understands not what it says.



BY now my eyes were set again upon my
lady’s face, and with my eyes, my mind:
from every other thought, it was withdrawn.

Già eran li occhi miei rifissi al volto
de la mia donna, e l’animo con essi,
e da ogne altro intento s’era tolto.

She did not smile. Instead her speech to me
began: “Were I to smile, then you would be
like Semele when she was turned to ashes,

E quella non ridea; ma «S’io ridessi»,
mi cominciò, «tu ti faresti quale
fu Semelè quando di cener fessi;

because, as you have seen, my loveliness-
which, even as we climb the steps of this
eternal palace, blazes with more brightness-

ché la bellezza mia, che per le scale
de l’etterno palazzo più s’accende,
com’hai veduto, quanto più si sale,

were it not tempered here, would be so brilliant
that, as it flashed, your mortal faculty
would seem a branch a lightning bolt has cracked.

se non si temperasse, tanto splende,
che ‘l tuo mortal podere, al suo fulgore,
sarebbe fronda che trono scoscende.

We now are in the seventh splendor; this,
beneath the burning Lion’s breast, transmits
to earth its rays, with which his force is mixed.

Noi sem levati al settimo splendore,
che sotto ‘l petto del Leone ardente
raggia mo misto giù del suo valore.

Let your mind follow where your eyes have led,
and let your eyes be mirrors for the figure
that will appear to you within this mirror

Ficca di retro a li occhi tuoi la mente,
e fa di quelli specchi a la figura
che ‘n questo specchio ti sarà parvente».

That man who knows just how my vision pastured
upon her blessed face, might recognize
the joy I found when my celestial guide

Qual savesse qual era la pastura
del viso mio ne l’aspetto beato
quand’io mi trasmutai ad altra cura,

had asked of me to turn my mind aside,
were he to weigh my joy when I obeyed
against my joy in contemplating her.

conoscerebbe quanto m’era a grato
ubidire a la mia celeste scorta,
contrapesando l’un con l’altro lato.




Jacob's Ladder
Raphael, 1516.

Within the crystal that-as it revolves
around the earth-bears as its name the name
of that dear king whose rule undid all evil,

Dentro al cristallo che ‘l vocabol porta,
cerchiando il mondo, del suo caro duce
sotto cui giacque ogne malizia morta,

Saturn (Kronos) Ruled during th so-called Golden Age of Greek Mythology


I saw a ladder rising up so high
that it could not be followed by my sight:
its color, gold when gold is struck by sunlight.

di color d’oro in che raggio traluce
vid’io uno scaleo eretto in suso
tanto, che nol seguiva la mia luce.

I also saw so many flames descend
those steps that I thought every light displayed
in heaven had been poured out from that place.

Vidi anche per li gradi scender giuso
tanti splendor, ch’io pensai ch’ogne lume
che par nel ciel, quindi fosse diffuso.

And just as jackdaws, at the break of day,
together rise-such is their nature’s way-
to warm their feathers chilled by night; then some

E come, per lo natural costume,
le pole insieme, al cominciar del giorno,
si movono a scaldar le fredde piume;

fly off and never do return, and some
wheel back to that point where they started from,
while others, though they wheel, remain at home;

poi altre vanno via sanza ritorno,
altre rivolgon sé onde son mosse,
e altre roteando fan soggiorno;

such were the ways I saw those splendors take
as soon as they had struck a certain step,
where they had thronged as one in radiance.

tal modo parve me che quivi fosse
in quello sfavillar che ‘nsieme venne,
sì come in certo grado si percosse.

Peter Damian


The flame that halted nearest us became
so bright that in my mind I said: “I see
you clearly signaling to me your love.

E quel che presso più ci si ritenne,
si fé sì chiaro, ch’io dicea pensando:
‘Io veggio ben l’amor che tu m’accenne.

But she from whom I wait for word on how
and when to speak and to be silent, pauses;
thus, though I would, I do well not to ask.”

Ma quella ond’io aspetto il come e ‘l quando
del dire e del tacer, si sta; ond’io,
contra ‘l disio, fo ben ch’io non dimando’.

And she who, seeing Him who sees all things,
had seen the reason for my silence, said
to me: “Do satisfy your burning longing.”

Per ch’ella, che vedea il tacer mio
nel veder di colui che tutto vede,
mi disse: «Solvi il tuo caldo disio».

and the
    in the

And I began: “My merit does not make
me worthy of reply, but for the sake
of her who gives me leave to question you-

E io incominciai: «La mia mercede
non mi fa degno de la tua risposta;
ma per colei che ‘l chieder mi concede,

a blessed living soul-who hide within
your joy, do let me know the reason why
you drew so near to me. And tell me, too,

vita beata che ti stai nascosta
dentro a la tua letizia, fammi nota
la cagion che sì presso mi t’ha posta;

why the sweet symphony of Paradise
is silent in this heaven
, while, below,
it sounds devoutly through the other spheres.”

e di’ perché si tace in questa rota
la dolce sinfonia di paradiso,
che giù per l’altre suona sì divota».

“Your hearing is as mortal as your sight;
thus, here there is no singing,” he replied,
“and Beatrice, in like wise, did not smile

«Tu hai l’udir mortal sì come il viso»,
rispuose a me; «onde qui non si canta
per quel che Beatrice non ha riso.

When, down the sacred staircase, I descended,
I only came to welcome you with gladness-
with words and with the light that mantles me.

Giù per li gradi de la scala santa
discesi tanto sol per farti festa
col dire e con la luce che mi ammanta;

The love that prompted me is not supreme;
above, is love that equals or exceeds
my own
, as spirit-flames will let you see.

né più amor mi fece esser più presta;
ché più e tanto amor quinci sù ferve,
sì come il fiammeggiar ti manifesta.

But the deep charity, which makes us keen
to serve the Providence that rules the world,
allots our actions here, as you perceive.”

Ma l’alta carità, che ci fa serve
pronte al consiglio che ‘l mondo governa,
sorteggia qui sì come tu osserve».



Dante asks Peter Damian about  




“O holy lamp,” I said, “I do indeed
see how, within this court, it is your free
love that fulfills eternal Providence;

«Io veggio ben», diss’io, «sacra lucerna,
come libero amore in questa corte
basta a seguir la provedenza etterna;

but this seems difficult for me to grasp:
why you alone, of those who form these ranks,
were he who was predestined to this task

ma questo è quel ch’a cerner mi par forte,
perché predestinata fosti sola
a questo officio tra le tue consorte».

And I had yet to reach the final word
when that light made a pivot of its midpoint
and spun around as would a swift millstone.

Né venni prima a l’ultima parola,
che del suo mezzo fece il lume centro,
girando sé come veloce mola;

Then, from within its light, that love replied:
“Light from the Deity descends on me;
it penetrates the light that enwombs me;

poi rispuose l’amor che v’era dentro:
«Luce divina sopra me s’appunta,
penetrando per questa in ch’io m’inventro,

its power, as it joins my power of sight,
lifts me so far beyond myself that I
see the High Source from which that light derives.

la cui virtù, col mio veder congiunta,
mi leva sopra me tanto, ch’i’ veggio
la somma essenza de la quale è munta.

From this there comes the joy with which I am
aflame; I match the clearness of my light
with equal measure of my clear insight.

Quinci vien l’allegrezza ond’io fiammeggio;
per ch’a la vista mia, quant’ella è chiara,
la chiarità de la fiamma pareggio.

But even Heaven’s most enlightened soul,
that Seraph with his eye most set on God,
could not provide the why, not satisfy

Ma quell’alma nel ciel che più si schiara,
quel serafin che ‘n Dio più l’occhio ha fisso,
a la dimanda tua non satisfara,

what you have asked; for deep in the abyss
of the Eternal Ordinance, it is
cut off from all created beings’ vision.

però che sì s’innoltra ne lo abisso
de l’etterno statuto quel che chiedi,
che da ogne creata vista è scisso.

And to the mortal world, when you return,
tell this, lest men continue to trespass
and set their steps toward such a reachless goal.

E al mondo mortal, quando tu riedi,
questo rapporta, sì che non presumma
a tanto segno più mover li piedi.

The mind, bright here, on earth is dulled and smoky.
Think: how, below, can mind see that which hides
even when mind is raised to Heaven’s height?”

La mente, che qui luce, in terra fumma;
onde riguarda come può là giùe
quel che non pote perché ‘l ciel l’assumma».





His words so curbed my query that I left
behind my questioning; and I drew back
and humbly asked that spirit who he was.

Sì mi prescrisser le parole sue,
ch’io lasciai la quistione e mi ritrassi
a dimandarla umilmente chi fue.


 di Paolo

“Not far from your homeland, between two shores
of Italy, the stony ridges rise
so high that, far below them, thunder roars.

«Tra ‘ due liti d’Italia surgon sassi,
e non molto distanti a la tua patria,
tanto che ‘ troni assai suonan più bassi,

These ridges form a hump called Catria;
a consecrated hermitage beneath
that peak was once devoted just to worship.”

e fanno un gibbo che si chiama Catria,
di sotto al quale è consecrato un ermo,
che suole esser disposto a sola latria».

So his third speech to me began; then he
continued: “There, within that monastery,
in serving God, I gained tenacity:

Così ricominciommi il terzo sermo;
e poi, continuando, disse: «Quivi
al servigio di Dio mi fe’ sì fermo,

with food that only olive juice had seasoned,
I could sustain with ease both heat and frost,
content within my contemplative thoughts.

che pur con cibi di liquor d’ulivi
lievemente passava caldi e geli,
contento ne’ pensier contemplativi.

That cloister used to offer souls to Heaven,
a fertile harvest, but it now is barren-
as Heaven’s punishment will soon make plain.

Render solea quel chiostro a questi cieli
fertilemente; e ora è fatto vano,
sì che tosto convien che si riveli.

There I was known as Peter Damian
and, on the Adriatic shore, was Peter
the Sinner when I served Our Lady’s House.

In quel loco fu’ io Pietro Damiano,
e Pietro Peccator fu’ ne la casa
di Nostra Donna in sul lito adriano.

Not much of mortal life was left to me
when I was sought for, dragged to take that hat
which always passes down from bad to worse.

Poca vita mortal m’era rimasa,
quando fui chiesto e tratto a quel cappello,
che pur di male in peggio si travasa.

Once there were Cephas and the Holy Ghost’s
great vessel: they were barefoot, they were lean,
they took their food at any inn they found.

Venne Cefàs e venne il gran vasello
de lo Spirito Santo, magri e scalzi,
prendendo il cibo da qualunque ostello.

But now the modern pastors are so plump
that they have need of one to prop them up
on this side, one on that, and one in front,

Or voglion quinci e quindi chi rincalzi
li moderni pastori e chi li meni,
tanto son gravi, e chi di rietro li alzi.

and one to hoist them saddleward. Their cloaks
cover their steeds, two beasts beneath one skin:
o patience, you who must endure so much!”

Cuopron d’i manti loro i palafreni,
sì che due bestie van sott’una pelle:
oh pazienza che tanto sostieni!».



More Souls Join in the Denunciation of Corrupt




These words, I saw, had summoned many flames,
descending step by step; I saw them wheel
and, at each turn, become more beautiful.

A questa voce vid’io più fiammelle
di grado in grado scendere e girarsi,
e ogne giro le facea più belle.

They joined around him, and they stopped, and raised
a cry so deep that nothing here can be
its likeness; but the words they cried I could

Dintorno a questa vennero e fermarsi,
e fero un grido di sì alto suono,
che non potrebbe qui assomigliarsi;

not understand-their thunder overcame me.

né io lo ‘ntesi, sì mi vinse il tuono. 142






(Benedict and the Planets Below)






Beatrice soothes and reassures Dante in his terror, and tells him of the divine vengeance, invoked in the cry he has heard. She bids him look again upon the lights of Saturn; and the brightest amongst them then advances to him, encourages him to trust in the affection of the spirits that surround him, and answers his question without awaiting its utterance. He is Benedict, of Monte Cassino fame, and he is surrounded by other contemplative saints. Encouraged by his words to fling all restraint aside, Dante asks if he may see him in his undisguised form of glory; and he replies that this lofty desire shall be fulfilled in the Empyrean where all desires have their perfect fulfilment, because there is no temporal succession there but eternal fulness. Contemplation alone can lead to this timeless and spaceless life, whence the Jacob's ladder, that Dante's human eye cannot follow to its summit, is planted upon the star of abstinence and contemplation, and reaches to the heaven which Jacob saw it touch. But now none mounts this ladder, for all the monastic orders are degenerate. Yet God has ere now wrought greater wonders than the renewal of their spirit would be. There fore there is yet hope. Hereon Benedict returns to his company, and they all are swept whirling back to the highest heaven, while Beatrice by her glance raises Dante instantaneously into his natal sign of Gemini, to the influences of which the Poet now appeals for aid in his recording task. Beatrice bids him, as he draws near to the final glory, and ere he meets the triumphant hosts in this eighth sphere, to strengthen and rejoice his heart by gathering together his heavenly experiences up to this point and realizing how far he has left earth behind. He looks down through all the seven spheres, sees the clear side of the moon and all the related movements and positions of the heavenly bodies, sees the little earth for which we fight so fiercely stretched out before 'im so that he can trace the rivers right down from the watersheds to the seashore. Then he turns again to Beatrice's eyes.



Amazement overwhelming me, I-like
a child who always hurries back to find
that place he trusts the most-turned to my guide;

Oppresso di stupore, a la mia guida
mi volsi, come parvol che ricorre
sempre colà dove più si confida;

and like a mother quick to reassure
her pale and panting son with the same voice
that she has often used to comfort him,

e quella, come madre che soccorre
sùbito al figlio palido e anelo
con la sua voce, che ‘l suol ben disporre,

she said: “Do you not know you are in Heaven,
not know how holy all of Heaven is,
righteous [=good] zeal moves every action here?

mi disse: «Non sai tu che tu se’ in cielo?
e non sai tu che ‘l cielo è tutto santo,
e ciò che ci si fa vien da
buon zelo? 9

(buon zelo= zelus bonus RB 72)


Now, since this cry has agitated you
so much, you can conceive how-had you seen
me smile and heard song here-you would have been

Come t’avrebbe trasmutato il canto,
e io ridendo, mo pensar lo puoi,
poscia che ‘l grido t’ha mosso cotanto;

confounded; and if you had understood
the prayer within that cry, by now you would
know the revenge you’ll see before your death.

nel qual, se ‘nteso avessi i prieghi suoi,
già ti sarebbe nota la vendetta
che tu vedrai innanzi che tu muoi.

The sword that strikes from Heaven’s height is neither
hasty nor slow, except as it appears
to him who waits for it-who longs or fears.

La spada di qua sù non taglia in fretta
né tardo, ma’ ch’al parer di colui
che disiando o temendo l’aspetta.

But turn now toward the other spirits here;
for if you set your sight as I suggest,
you will see many who are notable.”

Ma rivolgiti omai inverso altrui;
ch’assai illustri spiriti vedrai,
se com’io dico l’aspetto redui».

As pleased my guide, I turned my eyes and saw
a hundred little suns; as these together
cast light, each made the other lovelier.

Come a lei piacque, li occhi ritornai,
e vidi cento sperule che ‘nsieme
più s’abbellivan con mutui rai.

cf. RB 72: Ut honore se invicem praeveniant


I stood as one who curbs within himself
the goad of longing and, in fear of being
too forward, does not dare to ask a question.

Io stava come quei che ‘n sé repreme
la punta del disio, e non s’attenta
di domandar, sì del troppo si teme;


    in the

 Di Paolo

At this, the largest and most radiant
among those pearls moved forward that he might
appease my need to hear who he might be.

e la maggiore e la più luculenta
di quelle margherite innanzi fessi,
per far di sé la mia voglia contenta.

Then, in that light, I heard: “Were you to see,
even as I do see, the charity
that burns in us, your thoughts would have
been uttered.

Poi dentro a lei udi’ : «Se tu vedessi
com’io la carità che tra noi arde,
li tuoi concetti sarebbero espressi.

But lest, by waiting, you be slow to reach
the high goal of your seeking, I shall answer
what you were thinking when you curbed
your speech.

Ma perché tu, aspettando, non tarde
a l’alto fine, io ti farò risposta
pur al pensier, da che sì ti riguarde.

That mountain on whose flank Cassino lies
was once frequented on its summit by
those who were still deluded, still awry;

Quel monte a cui Cassino è ne la costa
fu frequentato già in su la cima
da la gente ingannata e mal disposta;

and I am he who was the first to carry
up to that peak the name of Him who brought
to earth the truth that lifts us to the heights.

e quel son io che sù vi portai prima
lo nome di colui che ‘n terra addusse
la verità che tanto ci soblima;

And such abundant grace had brought me light
that, from corrupted worship that seduced
the world, I won away the nearby sites.

e tanta grazia sopra me relusse,
ch’io ritrassi le ville circunstanti
da l’empio cólto che ‘l mondo sedusse.

These other flames were all contemplatives,
men who were kindled by that heat which brings
to birth the blessed flowers and blessed fruits.

Questi altri fuochi tutti contemplanti
uomini fuoro, accesi di quel caldo
che fa nascere i fiori e ‘ frutti santi.

Here is Macarius, here is Romualdus,
here are my brothers, those who stayed their steps
in cloistered walls, who kept their hearts steadfast.”

Qui è Maccario, qui è Romoaldo,
qui son li frati miei che dentro ai chiostri
fermar li piedi e tennero il cor saldo».

Dante asks to see Benedict's

Unveiled Face

I answered: “The affection that you show
in speech to me, and kindness that I see
and note within the flaming of your lights,

E io a lui: «L’affetto che dimostri
meco parlando, e la buona sembianza
ch’io veggio e noto in tutti li ardor vostri,

have given me so much more confidence,
just like the sun that makes the rose expand
and reach the fullest flowering it can.

così m’ha dilatata mia fidanza,
come ‘l sol fa la rosa quando aperta
tanto divien quant’ell’ha di possanza.

Therefore I pray you, father-and may you
assure me that I can receive such grace-
to let me see, unveiled, your human face.”

Però ti priego, e tu, padre, m’accerta
s’io posso prender tanta grazia, ch’io
ti veggia con imagine scoverta».

And he: “Brother, your high desire will be
fulfilled within the final sphere
, as all
the other souls’ and my own longing will.

Ond’elli: «Frate, il tuo alto disio
s’adempierà in su l’ultima spera,
ove s’adempion tutti li altri e ‘l mio.

There, each desire is perfect, ripe, intact;
and only there, within that final sphere,
is every part where it has always been.

Ivi è perfetta, matura e intera
ciascuna disianza; in quella sola
è ogne parte là ove sempr’era,

That sphere is not in space and has no poles;
our ladder reaches up to it
, and that
is why it now is hidden from your sight.

perché non è in loco e non s’impola;
e nostra scala infino ad essa varca,
onde così dal viso ti s’invola.

Up to that sphere, Jacob the patriarch
could see that ladder’s topmost portion reach,
when it appeared to him so thronged with angels.

Infin là sù la vide il patriarca
Iacobbe porger la superna parte,
quando li apparve d’angeli sì carca.

Benedict Laments at Lax Monastic


But no one now would lift his feet from earth
to climb that ladder, and my Rule is left
to waste the paper it was written on.

Ma, per salirla, mo nessun diparte
da terra i piedi, e la regola mia
rimasa è per danno de le carte.

What once were abbey walls are robbers’ dens;
what once were cowls are sacks of rotten meal.
But even heavy usury does not

Le mura che solieno esser badia
fatte sono spelonche, e le cocolle
sacca son piene di farina ria.

offend the will of God as grievously
as the appropriation of that fruit
which makes the hearts of monks go mad with greed;

Ma grave usura tanto non si tolle
contra ‘l piacer di Dio, quanto quel frutto
che fa il cor de’ monaci sì folle; 81

for all within the keeping of the Church
belongs to those who ask it in God’s name,
and not to relatives or concubines.

ché quantunque la Chiesa guarda, tutto
è de la gente che per Dio dimanda;
non di parenti né d’altro più brutto.

The flesh of mortals yields so easily-
on earth a good beginning does not run
from when the oak is born until the acorn.

La carne d’i mortali è tanto blanda,
che giù non basta buon cominciamento
dal nascer de la quercia al far la ghianda. 87

Peter began with neither gold nor silver,
and I with prayer and fasting, and when Francis
began his fellowship, he did it humbly;

Pier cominciò sanz’oro e sanz’argento,
e io con orazione e con digiuno,
e Francesco umilmente il suo convento;

if you observe the starting point of each,
and look again to see where it has strayed,
then you will see how white has gone to gray.

e se guardi ‘l principio di ciascuno,
poscia riguardi là dov’è trascorso,
tu vederai del bianco fatto bruno.

And yet, the Jordan in retreat, the sea
in flight when God had willed it so, were sights
more wonderful than His help here will be.”

Veramente Iordan vòlto retrorso
più fu, e ‘l mar fuggir, quando Dio volse,
mirabile a veder che qui ‘l soccorso».

So did he speak to me, and he drew back
to join his company, which closed, compact;
then, like a whirlwind, upward, all were swept.

Così mi disse, e indi si raccolse
al suo collegio, e ‘l collegio si strinse;
poi, come turbo, in sù tutto s’avvolse.

Beatrice impels Dante

up the Ladder

The gentle lady-simply with a sign-
impelled me after them and up that ladder,
so did her power overcome my nature;

La dolce donna dietro a lor mi pinse
con un sol cenno su per quella scala,
sì sua virtù la mia natura vinse;

and never here below, where our ascent
and descent follow nature’s law, was there
motion as swift as mine when I took wing.

né mai qua giù dove si monta e cala
naturalmente, fu sì ratto moto
ch’agguagliar si potesse a la mia ala.

So, reader, may I once again return
to those triumphant ranks-an end for which
I often beat my breast, weep for my sins-

S’io torni mai, lettore, a quel divoto
triunfo per lo quale io piango spesso
le mie peccata e ‘l petto mi percuoto,

more quickly than your finger can withdraw
from flame and be thrust into it, I saw,
and was within, the sign that follows Taurus.

tu non avresti in tanto tratto e messo
nel foco il dito, in quant’io vidi ‘l segno
che segue il Tauro e fui dentro da esso.


O stars of glory, constellation steeped
in mighty force, all of my genius-
whatever be its worth-has you as source:

O gloriose stelle, o lume pregno
di gran virtù, dal quale io riconosco
tutto, qual che si sia, il mio ingegno, 114

with you was born and under you was hidden
he who is father of all mortal lives,
when I first felt the air of Tuscany;

con voi nasceva e s’ascondeva vosco
quelli ch’è padre d’ogne mortal vita,
quand’io senti’ di prima l’aere tosco;

and then, when grace was granted me to enter
the high wheel that impels your revolutions,
your region was my fated point of entry.

e poi, quando mi fu grazia largita
d’entrar ne l’alta rota che vi gira,
la vostra region mi fu sortita.

To you my soul now sighs devotedly,
that it may gain the force for this attempt,
hard trial that now demands its every strength.

A voi divotamente ora sospira
l’anima mia, per acquistar virtute
al passo forte che a sé la tira.

Dante looks down at the planets and earth  

below him

“You are so near the final blessedness,”
so Beatrice began, “that you have need
of vision clear and keen; and thus, before

«Tu se’ sì presso a l’ultima salute»,
cominciò Beatrice, «che tu dei
aver le luci tue chiare e acute;

you enter farther, do look downward, see
what I have set beneath your feet already:
much of the world is there. If you see that,

e però, prima che tu più t’inlei,
rimira in giù, e vedi quanto mondo
sotto li piedi già esser ti fei;

your heart may then present itself with all
the joy it can to the triumphant throng
that comes in gladness through this ether’s rounds.”

sì che ‘l tuo cor, quantunque può, giocondo
s’appresenti a la turba triunfante
che lieta vien per questo etera tondo».



My eyes returned through all the seven spheres
and saw this globe in such a way that I
smiled at its scrawny image: I approve

Col viso ritornai per tutte quante
le sette spere, e vidi questo globo
tal, ch’io sorrisi del suo vil sembiante;

that judgment as the best, which holds this earth
to be the least; and he whose thoughts are set
elsewhere, can truly be called virtuous.

e quel consiglio per migliore approbo
che l’ha per meno; e chi ad altro pensa
chiamar si puote veramente probo.



I saw Latona’s daughter radiant,
without the shadow that had made me once
believe that she contained both rare and dense.

Vidi la figlia di Latona incensa
sanza quell’ombra che mi fu cagione
per che già la credetti rara e densa.

And there, Hyperion, I could sustain
the vision of your son, and saw Dione
and Maia as they circled nearby him.

L’aspetto del tuo nato, Iperione,
quivi sostenni, e vidi com’si move
circa e vicino a lui Maia e Dione.

The temperate Jupiter appeared to me
between his father and his son; and I
saw clearly how they vary their positions.

Quindi m’apparve il temperar di Giove
tra ‘l padre e ‘l figlio: e quindi mi fu chiaro
il variar che fanno di lor dove;

And all the seven heavens showed to me
their magnitudes, their speeds, the distances
of each from each. The little threshing floor

e tutti e sette mi si dimostraro
quanto son grandi e quanto son veloci
e come sono in distante riparo.

that so incites our savagery was all-
from hills to river mouths-revealed to me
while I wheeled with eternal Gemini.

L’aiuola che ci fa tanto feroci,
volgendom’io con li etterni Gemelli,
tutta m’apparve da’ colli a le foci;

My eyes then turned again to the fair eyes.

poscia rivolsi li occhi a li occhi belli. 154

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