A Warrior With A Ph.D.

Paradiso 12 begins with a great example of the “anti-narrative”/“lyrical” language that Dante deploys in Paradiso in opposition to his discursive/logical/“narrative” language. I describe the narrative texture of Paradiso as the poet’s sapient oscillation between these two modes in The Undivine Comedy (pp. 207-08):

The openings of both cantos 12 and 13 are lyrical explosions dedicated to impressing upon us the unity of the two circles, a unity that has just been shattered by the preceding biographies, with their relentless privileging—and denial—of difference. When Dante tells us that difference does not exist, as in the introductory sections of the vite, he creates it; when he wholeheartedly wishes to create the illusion of lack of difference, he resorts not to statements about its presence or absence but to another kind of writing, one that does not (insofar as is humanly possible) make distinctions. In these passages, the text becomes an incandescent swirl of language, as the poet layers simile within simile, intending thus to disconnect the logical connectors of discourse à la St. Thomas:

Come si volgon per tenera nube
due archi paralelli e concolori,
quando Iunone a sua ancella iube,
nascendo di quel d’entro quel di fori,
a guisa del parlar di quella vaga
ch’amor consunse come sol vapori
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
così di quelle sempiterne rose
volgiensi circa noi le due ghirlande,
e sì l'estrema all'intima rispuose. (Par. 12.10-15, 19-21)
Just as, concentric, like in color, two
rainbows will curve their way through a thin cloud
when Juno has commanded her handmaid,
the outer rainbow echoing the inner,                      
much like the voice of one—the wandering nymph—                      
whom love consumed as sun consumes the mist                        
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          
so the two garlands of those everlasting                      
roses circled around us, and so did                      
the outer circle mime the inner ring.

The above verses “describe” the joyous dance of the second circle of wise men, which now appears.

The lead soul of the second circle begins to speak in verse 31 and explains that the previous eulogy of St. Francis calls for a corresponding celebration of St. Dominic. He therefore eulogizes the life of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican order. The speaker will turn out to be Saint Bonaventure, a great Franciscan mystic known as the Dottore Serafico. So, following the chiasmic structure already seen in the preceding canto, where the great Dominican Saint Thomas praises Saint Francis and denounces Dominican corruption, here a great Franciscan praises Saint Dominic and then concludes by denouncing Franciscan corruption.

The vita of St. Dominic in Paradiso 12 is a precise rhetorical counterpart to the vita of St. Francis in Paradiso 11. As the chart found at the end of this Introduction shows, the two eulogies are constructed according to a rigorous system of compensatory rhetoric.

The life of St. Dominic, although recounted in less linear and more metaphoric fashion than the life of St. Francis, nonetheless captures his historical importance as a warrior for the church and as a great scholar: he is a “gran dottore” (Par. 12.85). Picking up the theme of the “insensata cura de’ mortali”—the senseless pursuit of careers like law and medicine and politics—from the beginning of Paradiso 11, Dominic is said to have turned from “the world”, “lo mondo” (82), and from law and medicine (professions exemplified by “Ostiense” and “Taddeo” in verse 83), to become a scholar. So armed, he began to oversee God’s vineyard:

Non per lo mondo, per cui mo s’affanna               
di retro ad Ostiense e a Taddeo,               
ma per amor de la verace manna                   
in picciol tempo gran dottor si feo;               
tal che si mise a circuir la vigna               
che tosto imbianca, se ’l vignaio è reo. (Par. 12.82-87)                                
Not for the world, for which men now travail               
behind Taddeo or Hostiensis,               
but through his love of the true manna, he                  
became, in a brief time, so great a teacher               
that he began to oversee the vineyard                
that withers when neglected by its keeper.

Overseeing God’s vineyard required St. Dominic to use “his learning and his zeal” to prosecute the Albigensian crusade. The Albigensians were heretics in the south of France, the same heretics combated by Folquet de Marselha when he was Bishop of Toulouse (see Paradiso 9):

Poi, con dottrina e con volere insieme,                
con l’officio appostolico si mosse                
quasi torrente ch’alta vena preme;                   
e ne li sterpi eretici percosse               
l’impeto suo, più vivamente quivi               
dove le resistenze eran più grosse. (Par. 12.97-102)               
 
Then he, with both his learning and his zeal,               
and with his apostolic office, like               
a torrent hurtled from a mountain source,                  
coursed, and his impetus, with greatest force,               
struck where the thickets of the heretics               
offered the most resistance.

The large narratological chiasmus that bridges Paradiso 11 and Paradiso 12 requires that St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan, not only praise St. Dominic, but also that he critique the Franciscans.

The coda on the corruption of the current Franciscan order begins in Paradiso 12.106. It is of particular importance because in it Dante engages the controversial history of the Franciscan order, riven since Francis’ death by contending currents, referred to here as those who would “flee” the rule of St. Francis, and those who would “rigidify” it (“ch’uno la fugge, e altro la coarta” [Par. 12.126]).

Finally, the speaker announces that he is St. Bonaventure:

Io son la vita di Bonaventura                
da Bagnoregio, che ne’ grandi office               
sempre pospuosi la sinistra cura. (Par. 12.127-29)   
I am the living light of Bonaventure                
of Bagnorea; in high offices                
I always put the left-hand interests last.  

Bonaventure then introduces the other eleven souls in his circle (the names of the souls who make up the two circles are on the document below). As he goes around the circumference, he comes eventually to the soul next to him, who is the Calabrian prophet Joachim of Flora:

il calavrese abate Giovacchino,                
di spirito profetico dotato. (Par. 12.140-41)
at my side shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,               
who had the gift of the prophetic spirit.

Joachim is to Bonaventure much as Sigier of Brabant is to St. Thomas: a more radical and extreme version of himself, with whose positions while alive he emphatically disagreed. Joachim’s mystical and apocalyptic vision of history was championed by some extreme elements of the Franciscan order. Here, in the heaven of wisdom, the two very different men are equidistant from the truth.

Like the previous two canti, Paradiso 12 has been of great interest to historians. There are many names in these canti, and each of these names belongs to a man who played a significant role in intellectual history, political history, and/or religious history. The only exceptions are the two early followers of St. Francis, Illuminato and Augustino, whose lights adorn the second circle and of whom we know next to nothing.

Besides the twenty-four souls who make up the two “crowns” of wise men, there are also the names of Francis and Dominic themselves, as well as many others who participate in the various histories related in these canti: for instance, the pope who approved Francis’ order in Par. 11.92, the Sultan before whom Francis, an early missionary, preached Christ in Par. 11.101-02, and the Franciscans Ubertino da Casale and Matteo d’Acquasparta in Par. 12.124. Many of these individuals have sparked scholarly interest on their own; for instance, Davide Bolognesi, a recent Columbia Ph.D., wrote his dissertation on Ubertino da Casale, a prolific Franciscan zealot.

In sum, Dante packs a terrific amount of intellectual history into his heaven of wisdom.

souls in heavenrhetoricalbreakdown

Coordinated Reading

Coordinated Reading: The Undivine Comedy, Chapter 9, “Dante’s Heaven of the Sun as a Meditation on Narrative,” entire.

Recommended Citation

Barolini, Teodolinda. “Paradiso 12: A Warrior With A Ph.D..” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2017. https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/paradiso/paradiso-12/

About the Commento

1Sì tosto come l’ultima parola
2la benedetta fiamma per dir tolse,
3a rotar cominciò la santa mola;

4e nel suo giro tutta non si volse
5prima ch’un’altra di cerchio la chiuse,
6e moto a moto e canto a canto colse;

7canto che tanto vince nostre muse,
8nostre serene in quelle dolci tube,
9quanto primo splendor quel ch’e’ refuse.

10Come si volgon per tenera nube
11due archi paralelli e concolori,
12quando Iunone a sua ancella iube,

13nascendo di quel d’entro quel di fori,
14a guisa del parlar di quella vaga
15ch’amor consunse come sol vapori,

16e fanno qui la gente esser presaga,
17per lo patto che Dio con Noè puose,
18del mondo che già mai più non s’allaga:

19così di quelle sempiterne rose
20volgiensi circa noi le due ghirlande,
21e sì l’estrema a l’intima rispuose.

22Poi che ’l tripudio e l’altra festa grande,
23sì del cantare e sì del fiammeggiarsi
24luce con luce gaudïose e blande,

25insieme a punto e a voler quetarsi,
26pur come li occhi ch’al piacer che i move
27conviene insieme chiudere e levarsi;

28del cor de l’una de le luci nove
29si mosse voce, che l’ago a la stella
30parer mi fece in volgermi al suo dove;

31e cominciò: «L’amor che mi fa bella
32mi tragge a ragionar de l’altro duca
33per cui del mio sì ben ci si favella.

34Degno è che, dov’ è l’un, l’altro s’induca:
35sì che, com’ elli ad una militaro,
36così la gloria loro insieme luca.

37L’essercito di Cristo, che sì caro
38costò a rïarmar, dietro a la ’nsegna
39si movea tardo, sospeccioso e raro,

40quando lo ’mperador che sempre regna
41provide a la milizia, ch’era in forse,
42per sola grazia, non per esser degna;

43e, come è detto, a sua sposa soccorse
44con due campioni, al cui fare, al cui dire
45lo popol disvïato si raccorse.

46In quella parte ove surge ad aprire
47Zefiro dolce le novelle fronde
48di che si vede Europa rivestire,

49non molto lungi al percuoter de l’onde
50dietro a le quali, per la lunga foga,
51lo sol talvolta ad ogne uom si nasconde,

52siede la fortunata Calaroga
53sotto la protezion del grande scudo
54in che soggiace il leone e soggioga:

55dentro vi nacque l’amoroso drudo
56de la fede cristiana, il santo atleta
57benigno a’ suoi e a’ nemici crudo;

58e come fu creata, fu repleta
59sì la sua mente di viva vertute
60che, ne la madre, lei fece profeta.

61Poi che le sponsalizie fuor compiute
62al sacro fonte intra lui e la Fede,
63u’ si dotar di mutüa salute,

64la donna che per lui l’assenso diede,
65vide nel sonno il mirabile frutto
66ch’uscir dovea di lui e de le rede;

67e perché fosse qual era in costrutto,
68quinci si mosse spirito a nomarlo
69del possessivo di cui era tutto.

70Domenico fu detto; e io ne parlo
71sì come de l’agricola che Cristo
72elesse a l’orto suo per aiutarlo.

73Ben parve messo e famigliar di Cristo:
74che ’l primo amor che ’n lui fu manifesto,
75fu al primo consiglio che diè Cristo.

76Spesse fïate fu tacito e desto
77trovato in terra da la sua nutrice,
78come dicesse: ‘Io son venuto a questo’.

79Oh padre suo veramente Felice!
80oh madre sua veramente Giovanna,
81se, interpretata, val come si dice!

82Non per lo mondo, per cui mo s’affanna
83di retro ad Ostïense e a Taddeo,
84ma per amor de la verace manna

85in picciol tempo gran dottor si feo;
86tal che si mise a circüir la vigna
87che tosto imbianca, se ’l vignaio è reo.

88E a la sedia che fu già benigna
89più a’ poveri giusti, non per lei,
90ma per colui che siede, che traligna,

91non dispensare o due o tre per sei,
92non la fortuna di prima vacante,
93non decimas, quae sunt pauperum Dei,

94addimandò, ma contro al mondo errante
95licenza di combatter per lo seme
96del qual ti fascian ventiquattro piante.

97Poi, con dottrina e con volere insieme,
98con l’officio appostolico si mosse
99quasi torrente ch’alta vena preme;

100e ne li sterpi eretici percosse
101l’impeto suo, più vivamente quivi
102dove le resistenze eran più grosse.

103Di lui si fecer poi diversi rivi
104onde l’orto catolico si riga,
105sì che i suoi arbuscelli stan più vivi.

106Se tal fu l’una rota de la biga
107in che la Santa Chiesa si difese
108e vinse in campo la sua civil briga,

109ben ti dovrebbe assai esser palese
110l’eccellenza de l’altra, di cui Tomma
111dinanzi al mio venir fu sì cortese.

112Ma l’orbita che fé la parte somma
113di sua circunferenza, è derelitta,
114sì ch’è la muffa dov’ era la gromma.

115La sua famiglia, che si mosse dritta
116coi piedi a le sue orme, è tanto volta,
117che quel dinanzi a quel di retro gitta;

118e tosto si vedrà de la ricolta
119de la mala coltura, quando il loglio
120si lagnerà che l’arca li sia tolta.

121Ben dico, chi cercasse a foglio a foglio
122nostro volume, ancor troveria carta
123u’ leggerebbe “I’ mi son quel ch’i’ soglio”;

124ma non fia da Casal né d’Acquasparta,
125là onde vegnon tali a la scrittura,
126ch’uno la fugge e altro la coarta.

127Io son la vita di Bonaventura
128da Bagnoregio, che ne’ grandi offici
129sempre pospuosi la sinistra cura.

130Illuminato e Augustin son quici,
131che fuor de’ primi scalzi poverelli
132che nel capestro a Dio si fero amici.

133Ugo da San Vittore è qui con elli,
134e Pietro Mangiadore e Pietro Spano,
135lo qual giù luce in dodici libelli;

136Natàn profeta e ’l metropolitano
137Crisostomo e Anselmo e quel Donato
138ch’a la prim’ arte degnò porre mano.

139Rabano è qui, e lucemi dallato
140il calavrese abate Giovacchino
141di spirito profetico dotato.

142Ad inveggiar cotanto paladino
143mi mosse l’infiammata cortesia
144di fra Tommaso e ’l discreto latino;

145e mosse meco questa compagnia».

No sooner had the blessed flame begun
to speak its final word than the millstone
of holy lights began to turn, but it

was not yet done with one full revolution
before another ring surrounded it,
and motion matched with motion, song with song—

a song that, sung by those sweet instruments,
surpasses so our Muses and our Sirens
as firstlight does the light that is reflected.

Just as, concentric, like in color, two
rainbows will curve their way through a thin cloud
when Juno has commanded her handmaid,

the outer rainbow echoing the inner,
much like the voice of one—the wandering nymph—
whom love consumed as sun consumes the mist

(and those two bows let people here foretell,
by reason of the pact God made with Noah,
that flood will never strike the world again):

so the two garlands of those everlasting
roses circled around us, and so did
the outer circle mime the inner ring.

When dance and jubilation, festival
of song and flame that answered flame, of light
with light, of gladness and benevolence,

in one same instant, with one will, fell still
(just as the eyes, when moved by their desire,
can only close and open in accord),

then from the heart of one of the new lights
there came a voice, and as I turned toward it,
I seemed a needle turning to the polestar;

and it began: “The love that makes me fair
draws me to speak about the other leader
because of whom my own was so praised here.

Where one is, it is right to introduce
the other: side by side, they fought, so may
they share in glory and together gleam.

Christ’s army, whose rearming cost so dearly,
was slow, uncertain of itself, and scanty
behind its ensign, when the Emperor

who rules forever helped his ranks in danger—
only out of His grace and not their merits.
And, as was said, He then sustained His bride,

providing her with two who could revive
a straggling people: champions who would
by doing and by preaching bring new life.

In that part of the West where gentle zephyr
rises to open those new leaves in which
Europe appears reclothed, not far from where,

behind the waves that beat upon the coast,
the sun, grown weary from its lengthy course,
at times conceals itself from all men’s eyes—

there, Calaroga, blessed by fortune, sits
under the aegis of the mighty shield
on which the lion loses and prevails.

Within its walls was born the loving vassal
of Christian faith, the holy athlete, one
kind to his own and harsh to enemies;

no sooner was his mind created than
it was so full of living force that it,
still in his mother’s womb, made her prophetic.

Then, at the sacred font, where Faith and he
brought mutual salvation as their dowry,
the rites of their espousal were complete.

The lady who had given the assent
for him saw, in a dream, astonishing
fruit that would spring from him and from his heirs.

And that his name might echo what he was,
a spirit moved from here to have him called
by the possessive of the One by whom

he was possessed completely. Dominic
became his name; I speak of him as one
whom Christ chose as the worker in His garden.

He seemed the fitting messenger and servant
of Christ: the very first love that he showed
was for the first injunction Christ had given.

His nurse would often find him on the ground,
alert and silent, in a way that said:
‘It is for this that I have come.’ Truly,

his father was Felice and his mother
Giovanna if her name, interpreted,
is in accord with what has been asserted.

Not for the world, for which men now travail
along Taddeo’s way or Ostian’s,
but through his love of the true manna, he

became, in a brief time, so great a teacher
that he began to oversee the vineyard
that withers when neglected by its keeper.

And from the seat that once was kinder to
the righteous poor (and now has gone astray,
not in itself, but in its occupant),

he did not ask to offer two or three
for six, nor for a vacant benefice,
nor decimas, quae sunt pauperum Dei—

but pleaded for the right to fight against
the erring world, to serve the seed from which
there grew the four—and—twenty plants that ring you.

Then he, with both his learning and his zeal,
and with his apostolic office, like
a torrent hurtled from a mountain source,

coursed, and his impetus, with greatest force,
struck where the thickets of the heretics
offered the most resistance. And from him

there sprang the streams with which the catholic
garden has found abundant watering,
so that its saplings have more life, more green.

If such was one wheel of the chariot
in which the Holy Church, in her defense,
taking the field, defeated enemies

within, then you must see the excellence
of him—the other wheel—whom Thomas praised
so graciously before I made my entry.

And yet the track traced by the outer rim
of that wheel is abandoned now—as in
a cask of wine when crust gives way to mold.

His family, which once advanced with steps
that followed his footprints, has now turned back:
its forward foot now seeks the foot that lags.

And soon we are to see, at harvest time,
the poor grain gathered, when the tares will be
denied a place within the bin—and weep.

I do admit that, if one were to search
our volume leaf by leaf, he might still read
one page with, ‘I am as I always was’;

but those of Acquasparta or Casale
who read our Rule are either given to
escaping it or making it too strict.

I am the living light of Bonaventure
of Bagnorea; in high offices
I always put the left—hand interests last.

Illuminato and Augustine are here;
they were among the first unshod poor brothers
to wear the cord, becoming friends of God.

Hugh of St. Victor, too, is here with them;
Peter of Spain, who, with his twelve books, glows
on earth below; and Peter Book—Devourer,

Nathan the prophet, Anselm, and Chrysostom
the Metropolitan, and that Donatus
who deigned to deal with that art which comes first.

Rabanus, too, is here; and at my side
shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
who had the gift of the prophetic spirit.

To this—my praise of such a paladin—
the glowing courtesy and the discerning
language of Thomas urged me on and stirred,

with me, the souls that form this company.”

SOON as the blessed flame had taken up
The final word to give it utterance,
Began the holy millstone to revolve,

And in its gyre had not turned wholly round,
Before another in a ring enclosed it,
And motion joined to motion, song to song;

Song that as greatly doth transcend our Muses,
Our Sirens, in those dulcet clarions,
As primal splendour that which is reflected.

And as are spanned athwart a tender cloud
Two rainbows parallel and like in colour,
When Juno to her handmaid gives command,

(The one without born of the one within,
Like to the speaking of that vagrant one
Whom love consumed as doth the sun the vapours,)

And make the people here, through covenant
God set with Noah, presageful of the world
That shall no more be covered with a flood,

In such wise of those sempiternal roses
The garlands twain encompassed us about,
And thus the outer to the inner answered.

After the dance, and other grand rejoicings,
Both of the singing, and the flaming forth
Effulgence with effulgence blithe and tender,

Together, at once, with one accord had stopped,
(Even as the eyes, that, as volition moves them,
Must needs together shut and lift themselves,)

Out of the heart of one of the new lights
There came a voice, that needle to the star
Made me appear in turning thitherward.

And it began: “The love that makes me fair
Draws me to speak about the other leader,
By whom so well is spoken here of mine.

‘Tis right, where one is, to bring in the other,
That, as they were united in their warfare,
Together likewise may their glory shine.

The soldiery of Christ, which it had cost
So dear to arm again, behind the standard
Moved slow and doubtful and in numbers few,

When the Emperor who reigneth evermore
Provided for the host that was in peril,
Through grace alone and not that it was worthy;

And, as was said, he to his Bride brought succour
With champions twain, at whose deed, at whose word
The straggling people were together drawn.

Within that region where the sweet west wind
Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith
Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh,

Not far off from the beating of the waves,
Behind which in his long career the sun
Sometimes conceals himself from every man,

Is situate the fortunate Calahorra,
Under protection of the mighty shield
In which the Lion subject is and sovereign.

Therein was born the amorous paramour
Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate,
Kind to his own and cruel to his foes;

And when it was created was his mind
Replete with such a living energy,
‘That in his mother her it made prophetic.

As soon as the espousals were complete
Between him and the Faith at holy font,
Where they with mutual safety dowered each

The woman, who for him had given assent,
Saw in a dream the admirable fruit
That issue would from him and from his heirs;

And that he might be construed as he was,
A spirit from this place went forth to name him
With His possessive whose he wholly was.

Dominic was he called; and him I speak of
Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
Elected to his garden to assist him.

Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ,
For the first love made manifest in him
Was the first counsel that was given by Christ.

Silent and wakeful many a time was he
Discovered by his nurse upon the ground,
As if he would have said, ‘ For this I came.’

O thou his father, Felix verily!
O thou his mother, verily Joanna,
If this, interpreted, means as is said!

Not for the world which people toil for now
In following Ostiense and Taddeo,
But through his longing after the true manna,

He in short time became so great a teacher,
That he began to go about the vineyard,
Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser;

And of the See, (that once was more benignant
Unto the righteous poor, not through itself,
But him who sits there and degenerates,)

Not to dispense or two or three for six,
Not any fortune of first vacancy,
_Non decimas quae sunt pauperum Dei,_

He asked for, but against the errant world
Permission to do battle for the seed,
Of which these four and twenty plants surround

hen with the doctrine and the will together,
With office apostolical he moved,
Like torrent which some lofty vein out—presses;

And in among the shoots heretical
His impetus with greater fury smote,
Wherever the resistance was the greatest.

Of him were made thereafter divers runnels,
Whereby the garden catholic is watered,
So that more living its plantations stand.

If such the one wheel of the Biga was,
In which the Holy Church itself defended
And in the field its civic battle won,

Truly full manifest should be to thee
The excellence of the other, unto whom
Thomas so courteous was before my coming.

But still the orbit, which the highest part
Of its circumference made, is derelict,
So that the mould is where was once the crust.

His family, that had straight forward moved
With feet upon his footprints, are turned round
So that they set the point upon the heel.

And soon aware they will be of the harvest
Of this bad husbandry, when shall the tares
Complain the granary is taken from them.

Yet say I, he who searcheth leaf by leaf
Our volume through, would still some page discover
Where he could read, ‘ I am as I am wont.’

‘Twill not be from Casal nor Acquasparta,
From whence come such unto the written word
That one avoids it, and the other narrows.

Bonaventura of Bagnoregio’s life
Am I, who always in great offices
Postponed considerations sinister.

Here are Illuminato and Agostino,
Who of the first barefooted beggars were
That with the cord the friends of God became.

Hugh of Saint Victor is among them here,
And Peter Mangiador, and Peter of Spain,
Who down below in volumes twelve is shining;

Nathan the seer, and metropolitan
Chrysostom, and Anselmus, and Donatus
Who deigned to lay his hand to the first art;

Here is Rabanus, and beside me here
Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
He with the spirit of prophecy endowed.

To celebrate so great a paladin
Have moved me the impassioned courtesy
And the discreet discourses of Friar Thomas,

And with me they have moved this company.”

No sooner had the blessed flame begun
to speak its final word than the millstone
of holy lights began to turn, but it

was not yet done with one full revolution
before another ring surrounded it,
and motion matched with motion, song with song—

a song that, sung by those sweet instruments,
surpasses so our Muses and our Sirens
as firstlight does the light that is reflected.

Just as, concentric, like in color, two
rainbows will curve their way through a thin cloud
when Juno has commanded her handmaid,

the outer rainbow echoing the inner,
much like the voice of one—the wandering nymph—
whom love consumed as sun consumes the mist

(and those two bows let people here foretell,
by reason of the pact God made with Noah,
that flood will never strike the world again):

so the two garlands of those everlasting
roses circled around us, and so did
the outer circle mime the inner ring.

When dance and jubilation, festival
of song and flame that answered flame, of light
with light, of gladness and benevolence,

in one same instant, with one will, fell still
(just as the eyes, when moved by their desire,
can only close and open in accord),

then from the heart of one of the new lights
there came a voice, and as I turned toward it,
I seemed a needle turning to the polestar;

and it began: “The love that makes me fair
draws me to speak about the other leader
because of whom my own was so praised here.

Where one is, it is right to introduce
the other: side by side, they fought, so may
they share in glory and together gleam.

Christ’s army, whose rearming cost so dearly,
was slow, uncertain of itself, and scanty
behind its ensign, when the Emperor

who rules forever helped his ranks in danger—
only out of His grace and not their merits.
And, as was said, He then sustained His bride,

providing her with two who could revive
a straggling people: champions who would
by doing and by preaching bring new life.

In that part of the West where gentle zephyr
rises to open those new leaves in which
Europe appears reclothed, not far from where,

behind the waves that beat upon the coast,
the sun, grown weary from its lengthy course,
at times conceals itself from all men’s eyes—

there, Calaroga, blessed by fortune, sits
under the aegis of the mighty shield
on which the lion loses and prevails.

Within its walls was born the loving vassal
of Christian faith, the holy athlete, one
kind to his own and harsh to enemies;

no sooner was his mind created than
it was so full of living force that it,
still in his mother’s womb, made her prophetic.

Then, at the sacred font, where Faith and he
brought mutual salvation as their dowry,
the rites of their espousal were complete.

The lady who had given the assent
for him saw, in a dream, astonishing
fruit that would spring from him and from his heirs.

And that his name might echo what he was,
a spirit moved from here to have him called
by the possessive of the One by whom

he was possessed completely. Dominic
became his name; I speak of him as one
whom Christ chose as the worker in His garden.

He seemed the fitting messenger and servant
of Christ: the very first love that he showed
was for the first injunction Christ had given.

His nurse would often find him on the ground,
alert and silent, in a way that said:
‘It is for this that I have come.’ Truly,

his father was Felice and his mother
Giovanna if her name, interpreted,
is in accord with what has been asserted.

Not for the world, for which men now travail
along Taddeo’s way or Ostian’s,
but through his love of the true manna, he

became, in a brief time, so great a teacher
that he began to oversee the vineyard
that withers when neglected by its keeper.

And from the seat that once was kinder to
the righteous poor (and now has gone astray,
not in itself, but in its occupant),

he did not ask to offer two or three
for six, nor for a vacant benefice,
nor decimas, quae sunt pauperum Dei—

but pleaded for the right to fight against
the erring world, to serve the seed from which
there grew the four—and—twenty plants that ring you.

Then he, with both his learning and his zeal,
and with his apostolic office, like
a torrent hurtled from a mountain source,

coursed, and his impetus, with greatest force,
struck where the thickets of the heretics
offered the most resistance. And from him

there sprang the streams with which the catholic
garden has found abundant watering,
so that its saplings have more life, more green.

If such was one wheel of the chariot
in which the Holy Church, in her defense,
taking the field, defeated enemies

within, then you must see the excellence
of him—the other wheel—whom Thomas praised
so graciously before I made my entry.

And yet the track traced by the outer rim
of that wheel is abandoned now—as in
a cask of wine when crust gives way to mold.

His family, which once advanced with steps
that followed his footprints, has now turned back:
its forward foot now seeks the foot that lags.

And soon we are to see, at harvest time,
the poor grain gathered, when the tares will be
denied a place within the bin—and weep.

I do admit that, if one were to search
our volume leaf by leaf, he might still read
one page with, ‘I am as I always was’;

but those of Acquasparta or Casale
who read our Rule are either given to
escaping it or making it too strict.

I am the living light of Bonaventure
of Bagnorea; in high offices
I always put the left—hand interests last.

Illuminato and Augustine are here;
they were among the first unshod poor brothers
to wear the cord, becoming friends of God.

Hugh of St. Victor, too, is here with them;
Peter of Spain, who, with his twelve books, glows
on earth below; and Peter Book—Devourer,

Nathan the prophet, Anselm, and Chrysostom
the Metropolitan, and that Donatus
who deigned to deal with that art which comes first.

Rabanus, too, is here; and at my side
shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
who had the gift of the prophetic spirit.

To this—my praise of such a paladin—
the glowing courtesy and the discerning
language of Thomas urged me on and stirred,

with me, the souls that form this company.”

SOON as the blessed flame had taken up
The final word to give it utterance,
Began the holy millstone to revolve,

And in its gyre had not turned wholly round,
Before another in a ring enclosed it,
And motion joined to motion, song to song;

Song that as greatly doth transcend our Muses,
Our Sirens, in those dulcet clarions,
As primal splendour that which is reflected.

And as are spanned athwart a tender cloud
Two rainbows parallel and like in colour,
When Juno to her handmaid gives command,

(The one without born of the one within,
Like to the speaking of that vagrant one
Whom love consumed as doth the sun the vapours,)

And make the people here, through covenant
God set with Noah, presageful of the world
That shall no more be covered with a flood,

In such wise of those sempiternal roses
The garlands twain encompassed us about,
And thus the outer to the inner answered.

After the dance, and other grand rejoicings,
Both of the singing, and the flaming forth
Effulgence with effulgence blithe and tender,

Together, at once, with one accord had stopped,
(Even as the eyes, that, as volition moves them,
Must needs together shut and lift themselves,)

Out of the heart of one of the new lights
There came a voice, that needle to the star
Made me appear in turning thitherward.

And it began: “The love that makes me fair
Draws me to speak about the other leader,
By whom so well is spoken here of mine.

‘Tis right, where one is, to bring in the other,
That, as they were united in their warfare,
Together likewise may their glory shine.

The soldiery of Christ, which it had cost
So dear to arm again, behind the standard
Moved slow and doubtful and in numbers few,

When the Emperor who reigneth evermore
Provided for the host that was in peril,
Through grace alone and not that it was worthy;

And, as was said, he to his Bride brought succour
With champions twain, at whose deed, at whose word
The straggling people were together drawn.

Within that region where the sweet west wind
Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith
Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh,

Not far off from the beating of the waves,
Behind which in his long career the sun
Sometimes conceals himself from every man,

Is situate the fortunate Calahorra,
Under protection of the mighty shield
In which the Lion subject is and sovereign.

Therein was born the amorous paramour
Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate,
Kind to his own and cruel to his foes;

And when it was created was his mind
Replete with such a living energy,
‘That in his mother her it made prophetic.

As soon as the espousals were complete
Between him and the Faith at holy font,
Where they with mutual safety dowered each

The woman, who for him had given assent,
Saw in a dream the admirable fruit
That issue would from him and from his heirs;

And that he might be construed as he was,
A spirit from this place went forth to name him
With His possessive whose he wholly was.

Dominic was he called; and him I speak of
Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
Elected to his garden to assist him.

Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ,
For the first love made manifest in him
Was the first counsel that was given by Christ.

Silent and wakeful many a time was he
Discovered by his nurse upon the ground,
As if he would have said, ‘ For this I came.’

O thou his father, Felix verily!
O thou his mother, verily Joanna,
If this, interpreted, means as is said!

Not for the world which people toil for now
In following Ostiense and Taddeo,
But through his longing after the true manna,

He in short time became so great a teacher,
That he began to go about the vineyard,
Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser;

And of the See, (that once was more benignant
Unto the righteous poor, not through itself,
But him who sits there and degenerates,)

Not to dispense or two or three for six,
Not any fortune of first vacancy,
_Non decimas quae sunt pauperum Dei,_

He asked for, but against the errant world
Permission to do battle for the seed,
Of which these four and twenty plants surround

hen with the doctrine and the will together,
With office apostolical he moved,
Like torrent which some lofty vein out—presses;

And in among the shoots heretical
His impetus with greater fury smote,
Wherever the resistance was the greatest.

Of him were made thereafter divers runnels,
Whereby the garden catholic is watered,
So that more living its plantations stand.

If such the one wheel of the Biga was,
In which the Holy Church itself defended
And in the field its civic battle won,

Truly full manifest should be to thee
The excellence of the other, unto whom
Thomas so courteous was before my coming.

But still the orbit, which the highest part
Of its circumference made, is derelict,
So that the mould is where was once the crust.

His family, that had straight forward moved
With feet upon his footprints, are turned round
So that they set the point upon the heel.

And soon aware they will be of the harvest
Of this bad husbandry, when shall the tares
Complain the granary is taken from them.

Yet say I, he who searcheth leaf by leaf
Our volume through, would still some page discover
Where he could read, ‘ I am as I am wont.’

‘Twill not be from Casal nor Acquasparta,
From whence come such unto the written word
That one avoids it, and the other narrows.

Bonaventura of Bagnoregio’s life
Am I, who always in great offices
Postponed considerations sinister.

Here are Illuminato and Agostino,
Who of the first barefooted beggars were
That with the cord the friends of God became.

Hugh of Saint Victor is among them here,
And Peter Mangiador, and Peter of Spain,
Who down below in volumes twelve is shining;

Nathan the seer, and metropolitan
Chrysostom, and Anselmus, and Donatus
Who deigned to lay his hand to the first art;

Here is Rabanus, and beside me here
Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim,
He with the spirit of prophecy endowed.

To celebrate so great a paladin
Have moved me the impassioned courtesy
And the discreet discourses of Friar Thomas,

And with me they have moved this company.”