Green Pastures

This canto on hope begins with a hope.

Paradiso 25 begins with the forlorn hope that Dante might one day return home to Florence, to the sheepfold where he was once a lamb. This hope is tinged with doubt (“Se mai continga”) and expressed with great longing:

Se mai continga che ’l poema sacro
al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra,
sì che m'ha fatto per molti anni macro, 
vinca la crudeltà che fuor mi serra
del bello ovile ov’io dormi’ agnello,
nimico ai lupi che li danno guerra; 
con altra voce omai, con altro vello
ritornerò poeta, e in sul fonte 
del mio battesmo prenderò ’l cappello . . .		 (Par. 25.1-9)
If it should happen . . . If this sacred poem—
this work so shared by heaven and by earth
that it has made me lean through these long years—
can ever overcome the cruelty 
that bars me from the fair fold where I slept,
a lamb opposed to wolves that war on it, 
by then with other voice, with other fleece,
I shall return as poet and put on,
at my baptismal font, the laurel crown . . .

Of course, Dante never did return to Florence, let alone return to Florence in triumph, to be crowned in laurel by his fellow citizens. That return and that reinstatement never happened, and we can feel in the opening passage of Paradiso 25, written quite late in Dante’s life, the sorrow that he never ceased to experience. He never got over his desire for his native place, for the ovile of his youth.

Adding to the pathos of this moment is the fact that, by the time Dante wrote this passage, the first poetic coronation since antiquity had occurred, and Dante was not the recipient of the honor. The poet Albertino Mussato was crowned with laurel in 1315 before the Senate and the University of Padua. Mussato was lauded for his Latin tragedy Ecerinis, on the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano, and for his Historia augusta, which chronicled Emperor Henry VII’s expedition to Italy from 1310 to 1313. It is interesting to consider the confluence of interests between Dante and Albertino, despite the apparently very divergent profiles of the two poets. Dante shared a passionate enthusiasm for the cause of Henry VII, and he deplored the tirannia of Ezzelino da Romano, whom he placed among the tyrants in Inferno 12 and further condemns through the tirade of his sister, Cunizza da Romano, in Paradiso 9.

I mention Mussato’s coronation because the opening of Paradiso 25 (which cannot have been written too long after 1315, given Dante’s death in 1321) testifies to the renewed vogue for the laurel crown bred by early humanism. Although Dante’s humanism takes different form from that of Albertino Mussato, it is humanism, as I have long argued. In 1341, thankfully long after Dante’s death, a full-fledged humanist, Petrarch, was crowned with laurel on the Campidoglio in Rome.

At the same time that the pathos of the forlorn hope is palpable, there is also a triumphal quality to this passage, a throwing down of the poetic gauntlet.

The triumphant note can be heard in the future tense of “ritornerò” (not conditional, and not dependent on the good will of the Florentines) and in the ringing confirmation that Dante will return as poeta: “ritornerò poeta” (8). Dante here self-anoints as poeta, a title that he gives to no one else in Paradiso. As I wrote in Dante’s Poets, the use of the word poeta is highly controlled in the Commedia, and strategically placed:

Although that hope was never fulfilled, the impact of the phrase “ritornerò poeta” remains undiminished at a textual level, since it reveals the arc Dante has inscribed into his poem through the restricted use of the word poeta: the poetic mantle passes from the classical poets, essentially Vergil, to a transitional poet [Statius], whose Christianity is disjunct from his poetic practice (and hence the verse with its neat caesura: “Per te poeta fui, per te cristiano”), to the poet whose Christian faith is a sine qua non of his poetics. This is Dante himself, the [only] poeta of Paradiso.
(Dante’s Poets, p. 269)

The examination on hope, administered by Saint James, begins with three questions: What is hope? To what degree do you possess it? Whence does it come to you?

di’ quel ch’ell’è, di’ come se ne ’nfiora 
la mente tua, e dì onde a te venne.		 (Par. 25.46-47)
do tell what hope is, tell how it has blossomed
within your mind, and from what source it came to you.

Beatrice answers the second question first, explaining that it might be boastful for Dante to speak about the degree to which he possesses hope, given that there is no other Christian who possesses it more:

La Chiesa militante alcun figliuolo
non ha con più speranza, com’è scritto
nel Sol che raggia tutto nostro stuolo . . . 		(Par. 25.52-54)
There is no child of the Church Militant 
who has more hope than he has, as is written
within the Sun whose rays reach all our ranks . . .

The pilgrim then provides Saint James the scholastic definition of hope from Peter Lombard’s Sentences, “Now hope is a certain expectation of future beatitude, proceeding from God’s grace and antecedent merits”:

«Spene», diss’io, «è uno attender certo
de la gloria futura, il qual produce 
grazia divina e precedente merto».  		(Par. 25.67-69)
I said: “Hope is the certain expectation
of future glory; it is the result
of God's grace and of merit we have earned.”

This message, Dante says, was further distilled for him by the Psalms, which he refers to as “teodìa” (“divine song”):

«Sperino in te», ne la sua teodìa 
dice, «color che sanno il nome tuo»:
e chi nol sa, s’elli ha la fede mia? 		(Par. 25.73-35)
“May those”—he says within his theody—
“who know Your name, put hope in You”; and if
one has my faith, can he not know God's name?

The word “teodìa” in verse 73 is a Dantean neologism, correctly formed from the Greek words for God (theos) and song (ode). Dante’s coinage is based not on knowledge of Greek, which he did not possess, but on lexical familiarity, through dictionaries, of words derived from Greek.

Although technically the term “teodìa” in verse 73 refers to the Psalms, it functions as Dante’s final and most capacious word for the genre of his own poem. It appears after a build-up of metapoetic language to denote the Commedia, called “sacrato poema” in Paradiso 23, and “poema sacro” in the first verse of Paradiso 25.

In this canto that begins with the triumphal description of his poem, in the vernacular, as the “sacred poem, to which heaven and earth have given a hand” (Par. 25.1-2), it is fitting that Dante should provide a new label to replace the genre words “comedìa” (Inf. 16 and 21) and “tragedìa” (Inf. 20). A new genre, poema sacro, deserves a new word: teodìa.

In the latter part of Paradiso 25 a light appears that is brighter than any other: this is Saint John, who explains to Dante that his body is buried on earth, thus refuting the legend that Saint John was—like the Virgin Mary—assumed to heaven with his body.

Referring to the mystical vision of Christ and Mary from Paradiso 23, which includes their Assumption into heaven, John says that the only souls who ever went to heaven with their bodies are the two whom Dante witnessed rising up:

Con le due stole nel beato chiostro 
son le due luci sole che saliro
e questo apporterai nel mondo vostro. 	(Par. 25.127-29)
Only those two lights that ascended wear 
their double garment in this blessed cloister.
And carry this report back to your world.

Paradiso 25 thus concludes with a gloss of the vision of Paradiso 23 and a continuation of the theme of the resurrected body.

Coordinated Reading

Coordinated Reading: The Undivine Comedy, Chapter 10, “The Sacred Poem is Forced to Jump: Closure and the Poetics of Enjambment,” p. 231; Dante’s Poets, pp. 269-79; on Dante’s humanism and our historiography: Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture, pp. 18-19.

Recommended Citation

Barolini, Teodolinda. “Paradiso 25: Green Pastures.” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2017. https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/paradiso/paradiso-25/

About the Commento

1Se mai continga che ’l poema sacro
2al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra,
3sì che m’ha fatto per molti anni macro,

4vinca la crudeltà che fuor mi serra
5del bello ovile ov’ io dormi’ agnello,
6nimico ai lupi che li danno guerra;

7con altra voce omai, con altro vello
8ritornerò poeta, e in sul fonte
9del mio battesmo prenderò ’l cappello;

10però che ne la fede, che fa conte
11l’anime a Dio, quivi intra’ io, e poi
12Pietro per lei sì mi girò la fronte.

13Indi si mosse un lume verso noi
14di quella spera ond’ uscì la primizia
15che lasciò Cristo d’i vicari suoi;

16e la mia donna, piena di letizia,
17mi disse: «Mira, mira: ecco il barone
18per cui là giù si vicita Galizia».

19Sì come quando il colombo si pone
20presso al compagno, l’uno a l’altro pande,
21girando e mormorando, l’affezione;

22così vid’ ïo l’un da l’altro grande
23principe glorïoso essere accolto,
24laudando il cibo che là sù li prande.

25Ma poi che ’l gratular si fu assolto,
26tacito coram me ciascun s’affisse,
27ignito sì che vincëa ’l mio volto.

28Ridendo allora Bëatrice disse:
29«Inclita vita per cui la larghezza
30de la nostra basilica si scrisse,

31fa risonar la spene in questa altezza:
32tu sai, che tante fiate la figuri,
33quante Iesù ai tre fé più carezza».

34«Leva la testa e fa che t’assicuri:
35che ciò che vien qua sù del mortal mondo,
36convien ch’ai nostri raggi si maturi».

37Questo conforto del foco secondo
38mi venne; ond’ io leväi li occhi a’ monti
39che li ’ncurvaron pria col troppo pondo.

40«Poi che per grazia vuol che tu t’affronti
41lo nostro Imperadore, anzi la morte,
42ne l’aula più secreta co’ suoi conti,

43sì che, veduto il ver di questa corte,
44la spene, che là giù bene innamora,
45in te e in altrui di ciò conforte,

46di’ quel ch’ell’ è, di’ come se ne ’nfiora
47la mente tua, e dì onde a te venne».
48Così seguì ’l secondo lume ancora.

49E quella pïa che guidò le penne
50de le mie ali a così alto volo,
51a la risposta così mi prevenne:

52«La Chiesa militante alcun figliuolo
53non ha con più speranza, com’ è scritto
54nel Sol che raggia tutto nostro stuolo:

55però li è conceduto che d’Egitto
56vegna in Ierusalemme per vedere,
57anzi che ’l militar li sia prescritto.

58Li altri due punti, che non per sapere
59son dimandati, ma perch’ ei rapporti
60quanto questa virtù t’è in piacere,

61a lui lasc’ io, ché non li saran forti
62né di iattanza; ed elli a ciò risponda,
63e la grazia di Dio ciò li comporti».

64Come discente ch’a dottor seconda
65pronto e libente in quel ch’elli è esperto,
66perché la sua bontà si disasconda,

67«Spene», diss’ io, «è uno attender certo
68de la gloria futura, il qual produce
69grazia divina e precedente merto.

70Da molte stelle mi vien questa luce;
71ma quei la distillò nel mio cor pria
72che fu sommo cantor del sommo duce.

73‘Sperino in te’, ne la sua tëodia
74dice, ‘color che sanno il nome tuo’:
75e chi nol sa, s’elli ha la fede mia?

76Tu mi stillasti, con lo stillar suo,
77ne la pistola poi; sì ch’io son pieno,
78e in altrui vostra pioggia repluo».

79Mentr’ io diceva, dentro al vivo seno
80di quello incendio tremolava un lampo
81sùbito e spesso a guisa di baleno.

82Indi spirò: «L’amore ond’ ïo avvampo
83ancor ver’ la virtù che mi seguette
84infin la palma e a l’uscir del campo,

85vuol ch’io respiri a te che ti dilette
86di lei; ed emmi a grato che tu diche
87quello che la speranza ti ’mpromette».

88E io: «Le nove e le scritture antiche
89pongon lo segno, ed esso lo mi addita,
90de l’anime che Dio s’ha fatte amiche.

91Dice Isaia che ciascuna vestita
92ne la sua terra fia di doppia vesta:
93e la sua terra è questa dolce vita;

94e ’l tuo fratello assai vie più digesta,
95là dove tratta de le bianche stole,
96questa revelazion ci manifesta».

97E prima, appresso al fin d’este parole,
98‘Sperent in te’ di sopr’ a noi s’udì;
99a che rispuoser tutte le carole.

100Poscia tra esse un lume si schiarì
101sì che, se ’l Cancro avesse un tal cristallo,
102l’inverno avrebbe un mese d’un sol dì.

103E come surge e va ed entra in ballo
104vergine lieta, sol per fare onore
105a la novizia, non per alcun fallo,

106così vid’ io lo schiarato splendore
107venire a’ due che si volgieno a nota
108qual conveniesi al loro ardente amore.

109Misesi lì nel canto e ne la rota;
110e la mia donna in lor tenea l’aspetto,
111pur come sposa tacita e immota.

112«Questi è colui che giacque sopra ’l petto
113del nostro pellicano, e questi fue
114di su la croce al grande officio eletto».

115La donna mia così; né però piùe
116mosser la vista sua di stare attenta
117poscia che prima le parole sue.

118Qual è colui ch’adocchia e s’argomenta
119di vedere eclissar lo sole un poco,
120che, per veder, non vedente diventa;

121tal mi fec’ ïo a quell’ ultimo foco
122mentre che detto fu: «Perché t’abbagli
123per veder cosa che qui non ha loco?

124In terra è terra il mio corpo, e saragli
125tanto con li altri, che ’l numero nostro
126con l’etterno proposito s’agguagli.

127Con le due stole nel beato chiostro
128son le due luci sole che saliro;
129e questo apporterai nel mondo vostro».

130A questa voce l’infiammato giro
131si quïetò con esso il dolce mischio
132che si facea nel suon del trino spiro,

133sì come, per cessar fatica o rischio,
134li remi, pria ne l’acqua ripercossi,
135tutti si posano al sonar d’un fischio.

136Ahi quanto ne la mente mi commossi,
137quando mi volsi per veder Beatrice,
138per non poter veder, benché io fossi

139presso di lei, e nel mondo felice!

If it should happen . . . If this sacred poem—
this work so shared by heaven and by earth
that it has made me lean through these long years—

can ever overcome the cruelty
that bars me from the fair fold where I slept,
a lamb opposed to wolves that war on it,

by then with other voice, with other fleece,
I shall return as poet and put on,
at my baptismal font, the laurel crown;

for there I first found entry to that faith
which makes souls welcome unto God, and then,
for that faith, Peter garlanded my brow.

Then did a light move toward us from that sphere
from which emerged the first—the dear, the rare—
of those whom Christ had left to be His vicars;

and full of happiness, my lady said
to me: “Look, look—and see the baron whom,
below on earth, they visit in Galicia.”

As when a dove alights near its companion,
and each unto the other, murmuring
and circling, offers its affection, so

did I see both those great and glorious
princes give greeting to each other, praising
the banquet that is offered them on high.

But when their salutations were complete,
each stopped in silence coram me, and each
was so aflame, my vision felt defeat.

Then Beatrice said, smiling: “Famous life
by whom the generosity of our
basilica has been described, do let

matters of hope reecho at this height;
you can—for every time that Jesus favored
you three above the rest, you were the figure

of hope.” “Lift up your head, and be assured:
whatever comes here from the mortal world
has to be ripened in our radiance.”

The second fire offered me this comfort;
at which my eyes were lifted to the mountains
whose weight of light before had kept me bent.

“Because our Emperor, out of His grace,
has willed that you, before your death, may face
His nobles in the inmost of His halls,

so that, when you have seen this court in truth,
hope—which, below, spurs love of the true good—
in you and others may be comforted,

do tell what hope is, tell how it has blossomed
within your mind, and from what source it came
to you”—so did the second flame continue.

And she, compassionate, who was the guide
who led my feathered wings to such high flight,
did thus anticipate my own reply:

“There is no child of the Church Militant
who has more hope than he has, as is written
within the Sun whose rays reach all our ranks:

thus it is granted him to come from Egypt
into Jerusalem that he have vision
of it, before his term of warring ends.

The other two points of your question, which
were not asked so that you may know, but that
he may report how much you prize this virtue,

I leave to him; he will not find them hard
or cause for arrogance; as you have asked,
let him reply, and God’s grace help his task.”

As a disciple answering his master,
prepared and willing in what he knows well,
that his proficiency may be revealed,

I said: “Hope is the certain expectation
of future glory; it is the result
of God’s grace and of merit we have earned.

This light has come to me from many stars;
but he who first instilled it in my heart
was the chief singer of the Sovereign Guide.

‘May those’—he says within his theody—
‘who know Your name, put hope in You’; and if
one has my faith, can he not know God’s name?

And just as he instilled, you then instilled
with your Epistle, so that I am full
and rain again your rain on other souls.”

While I was speaking, in the living heart
of that soul—flame there came a trembling flash,
sudden, repeated, just as lightning cracks.

Then it breathed forth: “The love with which I still
burn for the virtue that was mine until
the palm and my departure from the field,

would have me breathe again to you who take
such joy in hope; and I should welcome words
that tell what hope has promised unto you.”

And I: “The new and ancient Scriptures set
the mark for souls whom God befriends; for me,
that mark means what is promised us by hope.

Isaiah says that all of the elect
shall wear a double garment in their land:
and their land is this sweet life of the blessed.

And where your brother treats of those white robes,
he has—with words direct and evident—
made clear to us Isaiah’s revelation.”

At first, as soon as I had finished speaking,
“Sperent in te” was heard above us, all
the circling garlands answering this call.

And then, among those souls, one light became
so bright that, if the Crab had one such crystal,
winter would have a month of one long day.

And as a happy maiden rises and
enters the dance to honor the new bride—
and not through vanity or other failing—

so did I see that splendor, brightening,
approach those two flames dancing in a ring
to music suited to their burning love.

And there it joined the singing and the circling,
on which my lady kept her eyes intent,
just like a bride, silent and motionless.

“This soul is he who lay upon the breast
of Christ our Pelican, and he was asked
from on the Cross to serve in the great task.”

So spoke my lady; but her gaze was not
to be diverted from its steadfastness,
not after or before her words were said.

Even as he who squints and strains to see
the sun somewhat eclipsed and, as he tries
to see, becomes sightless, just so did I

in my attempt to watch the latest flame,
until these words were said: “Why do you daze
yourself to see what here can have no place?

On earth my body now is earth and shall
be there together with the rest until
our number equals the eternal purpose.

Only those two lights that ascended wear
their double garment in this blessed cloister.
And carry this report back to your world.”

When he began to speak, the flaming circle
had stopped its dance; so, too, its song had ceased—
that gentle mingling of their threefold breath—

even as when, avoiding danger or
simply to rest, the oars that strike the water,
together halt when rowers hear a whistle.

Ah, how disturbed I was within my mind,
when I turned round to look at Beatrice,
on finding that I could not see, though I

was close to her, and in the world of gladness!

IF e’er it happen that the Poem Sacred,
To which both heaven and earth have set their hand,
So that it many a year hath made me lean,

O’ercome the cruelty that bars me out
From the fair sheepfold, where a lamb I slumbered
An enemy to the wolves that war upon it,

With other voice forthwith, with other fleece
Poet will I return, and at my font
Baptismal will I take the laurel crown;

Because into the Faith that maketh known
All souls to God there entered I, and then
Peter for her sake thus my brow encircled.

Thereafterward towards us moved a light
Out of that band whence issued the first—fruits
Which of his vicars Christ behind him left,

And then my Lady, full of ecstasy,
Said unto me: “Look, look! behold the Baron
For whom below Galicia is frequented.”

In the same way as, when a dove alights
Near his companion, both of them pour forth,
Circling about and murmuring, their affection,

So one beheld I by the other grand
Prince glorified to be with welcome greeted,
Lauding the food that there above is eaten.

But when their gratulations were complete,
Silently _coram ne_ each one stood still,
So incandescent it o’ercame my sight.

Smiling thereafterwards, said Beatrice:
“Illustrious life, by whom the benefactions
Of our Basilica have been described,

Make Hope resound within this altitude;
Thou knowest as oft thou dost personify it
As Jesus to the three gave greater clearness.”—

“Lift up thy head, and make thyself assured;
For what comes hither from the mortal world
Must needs be ripened in our radiance.”

This comfort came to me from the second fire;
Wherefore mine eyes I lifted to the hills,
Which bent them down before with too great weight.

“Since, through his grace, our Emperor wills that thou
Shouldst find thee face to face, before thy death,
In the most secret chamber, with his Counts,

So that, the truth beholden of this court,
Hope, which below there rightfully enamours,
Thereby thou strengthen in thyself and others,

Say what it is, and how is flowering with it
Thy mind, and say from whence it came to thee.”
Thus did the second light again continue.

And the Compassionate, who piloted
The plumage of my wings in such high flight,
Did in reply anticipate me thus:

“No child whatever the Church Militant
Of greater hope possesses, as is written
In that Sun which irradiates all our band;

Therefore it is conceded him from Egypt
To come into Jerusalem to see,
Or ever yet his warfare be completed.

The two remaining points, that not for knowledge
Have been demanded, but that he report
How much this virtue unto thee is pleasing,

To him I leave; for hard he will not find them,
Nor of self—praise; and let him answer them;
And may the grace of God in this assist him!”

As a disciple, who his teacher follows,
Ready and willing, where he is expert,
That his proficiency may be displayed,

“Hope,” said I, “is the certain expectation
Of future glory, which is the effect
Of grace divine and merit precedent.

From many stars this light comes unto me;
But he instilled it first into my heart
Who was chief singer unto the chief captain.

_’ Sperent in te,’ _in the high Theody
He sayeth, ‘ those who know thy name; ‘ and who
Knoweth it not, if he my faith possess ?

Thou didst instil me, then, with his instilling
In the Epistle, so that I am full,
And upon others rain again your rain.”

While I was speaking, in the living bosom
Of that combustion quivered an efflugence,
Sudden and frequent, in the guise of lightning;

Then breathed: “The love wherewith I am inflamed
Towards the virtue still which followed me
Unto the palm and issue of the field.

Wills that I breathe to thee that thou delight
In her; and grateful to me is thy telling
Whatever things Hope promises to thee.”

And I: “The ancient Scriptures and the new
The mark establish, and this shows it me,
Of all the souls whom God hath made his friends.

Isaiah saith, that each one garmented
In his own land shall be with twofold garments
And his own land is this delightful life.

Thy brother, too, far more explicitly,
There where he treateth of the robes of white,
This revelation manifests to us.”

And first, and near the ending of these words,
_”Sperent in te”_ from over us was heard,
To which responsive answered all the carols.

Thereafterward a light among them brightened,
So that, if Cancer one such crystal had,
Winter would have a month of one sole day.

And as uprises, goes, and enters the dance
A winsome maiden, only to do honour
To the new bride, and not from any failing,

Even thus did I behold the brightened splendour
Approach the two, who in a wheel revolved
As was beseeming to their ardent love.

Into the song and music there it entered;
And fixed on them my Lady kept her look,
Even as a bride silent and motionless.

“This is the one who lay upon the breast
Of him our Pelican; and this is he
To the great office from the cross elected.”

My Lady thus; but therefore none the more
Did move her sight from its attentive gaze
Before or afterward these words of hers.

Even as a man who gazes, and endeavours
To see the eclipsing of the sun a little,
And who, by seeing, sightless doth become,

So I became before that latest fire,
While it was said, “Why dost thou daze thyself
To see a thing which here hath no existence ?

Earth in the earth my body is, and shall be
With all the others there, until our number
With the eternal proposition tallies.

With the two garments in the blessed cloister
Are the two lights alone that have ascended:
And this shalt thou take back into your world.”

And at this utterance the flaming circle
Grew quiet, with the dulcet intermingling
Of sound that by the trinal breath was made,

As to escape from danger or fatigue
The oars that erst were in the water beaten
Are all suspended at a whistle’s sound.

Ah, how much in my mind was I disturbed,
When I turned round to look on Beatrice,
That her I could not see, although I was

Close at her side and in the Happy World!

If it should happen . . . If this sacred poem—
this work so shared by heaven and by earth
that it has made me lean through these long years—

can ever overcome the cruelty
that bars me from the fair fold where I slept,
a lamb opposed to wolves that war on it,

by then with other voice, with other fleece,
I shall return as poet and put on,
at my baptismal font, the laurel crown;

for there I first found entry to that faith
which makes souls welcome unto God, and then,
for that faith, Peter garlanded my brow.

Then did a light move toward us from that sphere
from which emerged the first—the dear, the rare—
of those whom Christ had left to be His vicars;

and full of happiness, my lady said
to me: “Look, look—and see the baron whom,
below on earth, they visit in Galicia.”

As when a dove alights near its companion,
and each unto the other, murmuring
and circling, offers its affection, so

did I see both those great and glorious
princes give greeting to each other, praising
the banquet that is offered them on high.

But when their salutations were complete,
each stopped in silence coram me, and each
was so aflame, my vision felt defeat.

Then Beatrice said, smiling: “Famous life
by whom the generosity of our
basilica has been described, do let

matters of hope reecho at this height;
you can—for every time that Jesus favored
you three above the rest, you were the figure

of hope.” “Lift up your head, and be assured:
whatever comes here from the mortal world
has to be ripened in our radiance.”

The second fire offered me this comfort;
at which my eyes were lifted to the mountains
whose weight of light before had kept me bent.

“Because our Emperor, out of His grace,
has willed that you, before your death, may face
His nobles in the inmost of His halls,

so that, when you have seen this court in truth,
hope—which, below, spurs love of the true good—
in you and others may be comforted,

do tell what hope is, tell how it has blossomed
within your mind, and from what source it came
to you”—so did the second flame continue.

And she, compassionate, who was the guide
who led my feathered wings to such high flight,
did thus anticipate my own reply:

“There is no child of the Church Militant
who has more hope than he has, as is written
within the Sun whose rays reach all our ranks:

thus it is granted him to come from Egypt
into Jerusalem that he have vision
of it, before his term of warring ends.

The other two points of your question, which
were not asked so that you may know, but that
he may report how much you prize this virtue,

I leave to him; he will not find them hard
or cause for arrogance; as you have asked,
let him reply, and God’s grace help his task.”

As a disciple answering his master,
prepared and willing in what he knows well,
that his proficiency may be revealed,

I said: “Hope is the certain expectation
of future glory; it is the result
of God’s grace and of merit we have earned.

This light has come to me from many stars;
but he who first instilled it in my heart
was the chief singer of the Sovereign Guide.

‘May those’—he says within his theody—
‘who know Your name, put hope in You’; and if
one has my faith, can he not know God’s name?

And just as he instilled, you then instilled
with your Epistle, so that I am full
and rain again your rain on other souls.”

While I was speaking, in the living heart
of that soul—flame there came a trembling flash,
sudden, repeated, just as lightning cracks.

Then it breathed forth: “The love with which I still
burn for the virtue that was mine until
the palm and my departure from the field,

would have me breathe again to you who take
such joy in hope; and I should welcome words
that tell what hope has promised unto you.”

And I: “The new and ancient Scriptures set
the mark for souls whom God befriends; for me,
that mark means what is promised us by hope.

Isaiah says that all of the elect
shall wear a double garment in their land:
and their land is this sweet life of the blessed.

And where your brother treats of those white robes,
he has—with words direct and evident—
made clear to us Isaiah’s revelation.”

At first, as soon as I had finished speaking,
“Sperent in te” was heard above us, all
the circling garlands answering this call.

And then, among those souls, one light became
so bright that, if the Crab had one such crystal,
winter would have a month of one long day.

And as a happy maiden rises and
enters the dance to honor the new bride—
and not through vanity or other failing—

so did I see that splendor, brightening,
approach those two flames dancing in a ring
to music suited to their burning love.

And there it joined the singing and the circling,
on which my lady kept her eyes intent,
just like a bride, silent and motionless.

“This soul is he who lay upon the breast
of Christ our Pelican, and he was asked
from on the Cross to serve in the great task.”

So spoke my lady; but her gaze was not
to be diverted from its steadfastness,
not after or before her words were said.

Even as he who squints and strains to see
the sun somewhat eclipsed and, as he tries
to see, becomes sightless, just so did I

in my attempt to watch the latest flame,
until these words were said: “Why do you daze
yourself to see what here can have no place?

On earth my body now is earth and shall
be there together with the rest until
our number equals the eternal purpose.

Only those two lights that ascended wear
their double garment in this blessed cloister.
And carry this report back to your world.”

When he began to speak, the flaming circle
had stopped its dance; so, too, its song had ceased—
that gentle mingling of their threefold breath—

even as when, avoiding danger or
simply to rest, the oars that strike the water,
together halt when rowers hear a whistle.

Ah, how disturbed I was within my mind,
when I turned round to look at Beatrice,
on finding that I could not see, though I

was close to her, and in the world of gladness!

IF e’er it happen that the Poem Sacred,
To which both heaven and earth have set their hand,
So that it many a year hath made me lean,

O’ercome the cruelty that bars me out
From the fair sheepfold, where a lamb I slumbered
An enemy to the wolves that war upon it,

With other voice forthwith, with other fleece
Poet will I return, and at my font
Baptismal will I take the laurel crown;

Because into the Faith that maketh known
All souls to God there entered I, and then
Peter for her sake thus my brow encircled.

Thereafterward towards us moved a light
Out of that band whence issued the first—fruits
Which of his vicars Christ behind him left,

And then my Lady, full of ecstasy,
Said unto me: “Look, look! behold the Baron
For whom below Galicia is frequented.”

In the same way as, when a dove alights
Near his companion, both of them pour forth,
Circling about and murmuring, their affection,

So one beheld I by the other grand
Prince glorified to be with welcome greeted,
Lauding the food that there above is eaten.

But when their gratulations were complete,
Silently _coram ne_ each one stood still,
So incandescent it o’ercame my sight.

Smiling thereafterwards, said Beatrice:
“Illustrious life, by whom the benefactions
Of our Basilica have been described,

Make Hope resound within this altitude;
Thou knowest as oft thou dost personify it
As Jesus to the three gave greater clearness.”—

“Lift up thy head, and make thyself assured;
For what comes hither from the mortal world
Must needs be ripened in our radiance.”

This comfort came to me from the second fire;
Wherefore mine eyes I lifted to the hills,
Which bent them down before with too great weight.

“Since, through his grace, our Emperor wills that thou
Shouldst find thee face to face, before thy death,
In the most secret chamber, with his Counts,

So that, the truth beholden of this court,
Hope, which below there rightfully enamours,
Thereby thou strengthen in thyself and others,

Say what it is, and how is flowering with it
Thy mind, and say from whence it came to thee.”
Thus did the second light again continue.

And the Compassionate, who piloted
The plumage of my wings in such high flight,
Did in reply anticipate me thus:

“No child whatever the Church Militant
Of greater hope possesses, as is written
In that Sun which irradiates all our band;

Therefore it is conceded him from Egypt
To come into Jerusalem to see,
Or ever yet his warfare be completed.

The two remaining points, that not for knowledge
Have been demanded, but that he report
How much this virtue unto thee is pleasing,

To him I leave; for hard he will not find them,
Nor of self—praise; and let him answer them;
And may the grace of God in this assist him!”

As a disciple, who his teacher follows,
Ready and willing, where he is expert,
That his proficiency may be displayed,

“Hope,” said I, “is the certain expectation
Of future glory, which is the effect
Of grace divine and merit precedent.

From many stars this light comes unto me;
But he instilled it first into my heart
Who was chief singer unto the chief captain.

_’ Sperent in te,’ _in the high Theody
He sayeth, ‘ those who know thy name; ‘ and who
Knoweth it not, if he my faith possess ?

Thou didst instil me, then, with his instilling
In the Epistle, so that I am full,
And upon others rain again your rain.”

While I was speaking, in the living bosom
Of that combustion quivered an efflugence,
Sudden and frequent, in the guise of lightning;

Then breathed: “The love wherewith I am inflamed
Towards the virtue still which followed me
Unto the palm and issue of the field.

Wills that I breathe to thee that thou delight
In her; and grateful to me is thy telling
Whatever things Hope promises to thee.”

And I: “The ancient Scriptures and the new
The mark establish, and this shows it me,
Of all the souls whom God hath made his friends.

Isaiah saith, that each one garmented
In his own land shall be with twofold garments
And his own land is this delightful life.

Thy brother, too, far more explicitly,
There where he treateth of the robes of white,
This revelation manifests to us.”

And first, and near the ending of these words,
_”Sperent in te”_ from over us was heard,
To which responsive answered all the carols.

Thereafterward a light among them brightened,
So that, if Cancer one such crystal had,
Winter would have a month of one sole day.

And as uprises, goes, and enters the dance
A winsome maiden, only to do honour
To the new bride, and not from any failing,

Even thus did I behold the brightened splendour
Approach the two, who in a wheel revolved
As was beseeming to their ardent love.

Into the song and music there it entered;
And fixed on them my Lady kept her look,
Even as a bride silent and motionless.

“This is the one who lay upon the breast
Of him our Pelican; and this is he
To the great office from the cross elected.”

My Lady thus; but therefore none the more
Did move her sight from its attentive gaze
Before or afterward these words of hers.

Even as a man who gazes, and endeavours
To see the eclipsing of the sun a little,
And who, by seeing, sightless doth become,

So I became before that latest fire,
While it was said, “Why dost thou daze thyself
To see a thing which here hath no existence ?

Earth in the earth my body is, and shall be
With all the others there, until our number
With the eternal proposition tallies.

With the two garments in the blessed cloister
Are the two lights alone that have ascended:
And this shalt thou take back into your world.”

And at this utterance the flaming circle
Grew quiet, with the dulcet intermingling
Of sound that by the trinal breath was made,

As to escape from danger or fatigue
The oars that erst were in the water beaten
Are all suspended at a whistle’s sound.

Ah, how much in my mind was I disturbed,
When I turned round to look on Beatrice,
That her I could not see, although I was

Close at her side and in the Happy World!