The Shadow of Earth

The heaven of Venus is known for its rhetorical complexity (the long geographical periphrases, for instance) and Paradiso 9 opens with an interesting rhetorical move: the opening verses are an apostrophe to “beautiful Clemence” (Par. 9.1). Dante addresses “bella Clemenza”, the wife of his friend Carlo Martello. In the essay “Only Historicize,” I suggested the implications that the apostrophe has for Dante’s view of married love (see too the Introduction to Purgatorio 26 for the theme of married love):

With genial concision Dante includes marital love in the heaven of Venus, apostrophizing the wife of Charles Martel with respect to what Dante had learned from “your Charles” and loading the possessive adjective in “Carlo tuo” with marital affection. (“Only Historicize”, p. 52)

After his conversation with Carlo Martello, Dante meets other souls associated with the heaven of Venus. The first is Cunizza da Romano (1198-1279), sister of the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano (Inferno 12). Cunizza confirms Dante’s condemnation of her brother by calling Ezzelino “una facella / che fece a la contrada un grande assalto” (a firebrand that brought much injury to all the land about [Par. 9.29-30]). Cunizza was also, fascinatingly, the lover of the troubadour Sordello (for whom see Purgatorio 6), with whom as a young woman she eloped. She died old and poor in Florence, where Dante could conceivably have met her.

Not embarrassed or ashamed of her scandalous sexual exploits (Cunizza entered the legendary domain before the Commedia, through troubadour vidas and chronicles of the da Romano family), Cunizza speaks of her former lasciviousness with great openness and acceptance:

Cunizza fui chiamata, e qui refulgo               
perché mi vinse il lume d’esta stella;                  
ma lietamente a me medesma indulgo               
la cagion di mia sorte, e non mi noia;               
che parria forse forte al vostro vulgo.   (Par. 9.32-36)                
Cunizza was my name, and I shine here               
because this planet's radiance conquered me.                  
But in myself I pardon happily               
the reason for my fate; I do not grieve               
and vulgar minds may find this hard to see. 

It is important to note here that Dante does not fulfill the stereotypical attitude of medieval moral writings on female sexuality, and that one indication of his divergence from the norm is his placement of Cunizza in heaven, along with the prostitute Rahab. See my essay “Dante and Cavalcanti: Inferno 5 in its Lyric and Autobiographical Context” for some discussion of vision authors on sins of the flesh and the sharp disparity between their treatments and Dante’s psychologizing treatment of lust in Inferno 5. Although I find Dante particularly hard on female sexuality in Purgatorio 26, what he does there does not cancel out the other more progressive treatments we have noted.

Following the pattern of sublimating eros through politics that is typical of the heaven of Venus, Cunizza also speaks of the disastrous conditions of the northern part of Italy from which she hailed. In the geographical periphrasis with which she locates her natal part of Italy, she refers to “la terra prava / italica” (depraved Italy [Par. 9.25-26]).

The next to speak is the troubadour Folquet of Marseilles, whose poetry was well-known in Italy (the Sicilian poet Giacomo da Lentini translated a canso of Folquet’s). In a trajectory that exemplifies this heaven’s checking of eros, its sublimation into politics, Folquet de Marselha became Bishop of Toulouse and prosecuted the Albigensian crusade in Southern France.

The final soul, identified by Folchetto, is the biblical prostitute Rahab; she is the brightest star in this heaven. After speaking of Rahab’s triumph, Folchetto concludes by returning to contemporary corruption, focusing on Florence and the Vatican.

Interleaved through the politics and outrage of this heaven is the rhetoric of eros. Here language expresses a kind of divine copulation, a co-penetration of selves forged with verbs coined from the pronouns lui, mi, and tu:

«Dio vede tutto, e tuo veder s’inluia»,
diss’io, «beato spirto, sì che nulla
voglia di sé a te puot’ esser fuia.
Dunque la voce tua, che ’l ciel trastulla               
sempre col canto di quei fuochi pii
che di sei ali facen la coculla,
perché non satisface a’ miei disii?
Già non attendere’ io tua dimanda,
s’io m’intuassi, come tu t’inmii».        (Par. 9.73-81)
“God can see all,” I said, “and, blessed spirit,
your vision is contained in Him, so that
no wish can ever hide itself from you.
Your voice has always made the heavens glad                
as has the singing of the pious fires                
that make themselves a cowl of their six wings:                  
why then do you not satisfy my longings?               
I would not have to wait for your request                
if I could enter you as you do me.”

In Dante’s Lyric Poetry: Poetry of Youth and of the ‘Vita Nuova’, I consider what I call Dante’s “semantics of friendship”, a rhetoric that Dante begins to develop at a very early age to conjure true intimacy and friendship. Prominent in this rhetoric of friendship is the simple pronoun, which Dante is capable of using to miraculously poignant effect. One example is the youthful sonnet Guido, i’ vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io where the apparently simple string of names and pronouns gives a sense of the unity of the friends, as they sail enchanted and together in Merlin’s boat. In the Commedia we have already encountered the expression of friendship through pronouns, in the way for instance that Dante-pilgrim speaks to Forese Donati: “qual fosti meco, e qual io teco fui” (Purg. 23.116).

The coinages of Paradiso 9 take this “semantics of friendship” to its highest level.

From the paratactic linking of names and pronouns in “Guido, i’ vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io”, and from the chiastic mirroring of verbs and pronouns in “qual fosti meco, e qual io teco fui”, we have arrived at pronouns that have become verbs, agents not just of intimacy but of super-intimacy, nested inside each other in “rhetorical copulation”: “s’io m’intuassi, come tu t’inmii” (“if I could in-you myself, as you in-me yourself” [Par. 9.81]).[1]

These pronouns have become agents of a transfigured and copulated ontology.

Paradiso 9 ends with despair about the Vatican whose popes and cardinals no longer think of the Gospel and Fathers of the Church, but pay attention only to the sophistic niceties of canon law (the “Decretals” of Par. 9.134). The heaven of Venus, which contains physical adulterers like Cunizza who are now saved, ends with condemning what for Dante is the far more grievous metaphorical adultery of the priests.

Toward the end of Paradiso 9, when Folchetto introduces Rahab as the brightest soul in this sphere, he refers to the third heaven as the one in which the cone of shadow cast by earth reaches its zenith:

Da questo cielo, in cui l’ombra s’appunta               
che ’l vostro mondo face, pria ch’altr’alma                
del triunfo di Cristo fu assunta.(Par. 9.118-20)
This heaven, where the shadow cast by earth               
comes to a point, had Rahab as the first              
soul to be taken up when Christ triumphed.

The doctrine here is that of Alfraganus, a ninth-century Muslim astronomer well known in the West, who held that the shadow of earth, in the form of a cone, reaches its point in the heaven of Venus. The third heaven is thus the last to be shadowed by earth.

All the souls are together in the Empyrean, and there is no difference in paradise. Nonetheless, the next heaven, the heaven of the sun, is distinguished from its predecessors by being the first not to fall under the shadow of earth.

 

[1] The phrase “rhetorical copulation” is from Dante’s Poets, p. 116: “The first and last lines in this passage are hallmarks of a rhetorical copulation that now takes the place of any more direct affectivity: the union between God and Folquet, ‘Dio vede tutto, e tuo veder s’inluia’ (‘God sees all, and your sight in-Hims itself’ [Par. IX, 73]), leads to the union of Folquet and Dante, “s’io m’intuassi, come tu t’inmii” (“if I were to in-you myself, as you in-me yourself” [81]).” I would now revise this passage slightly to say that the “rhetorical copulation” achieved here is itself no less than “direct affectivity.”

Coordinated Reading

Coordinated Reading: Dante’s Poets, pp. 57-84; “Only Historicize”; “Dante and Cavalcanti: Inferno 5 in its Lyric and Autobiographical Context”; Dante’s Lyric Poetry: Poems of Youth and of the ‘Vita Nuova’.

Recommended Citation

Barolini, Teodolinda. “Paradiso 9: The Shadow of Earth.” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2017. https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/paradiso/paradiso-9/

About the Commento

1Da poi che Carlo tuo, bella Clemenza,
2m’ebbe chiarito, mi narrò li ’nganni
3che ricever dovea la sua semenza;

4ma disse: «Taci e lascia muover li anni»;
5sì ch’io non posso dir se non che pianto
6giusto verrà di retro ai vostri danni.

7E già la vita di quel lume santo
8rivolta s’era al Sol che la rïempie
9come quel ben ch’a ogne cosa è tanto.

10Ahi anime ingannate e fatture empie,
11che da sì fatto ben torcete i cuori,
12drizzando in vanità le vostre tempie!

13Ed ecco un altro di quelli splendori
14ver’ me si fece, e ’l suo voler piacermi
15significava nel chiarir di fori.

16Li occhi di Bëatrice, ch’eran fermi
17sovra me, come pria, di caro assenso
18al mio disio certificato fermi.

19«Deh, metti al mio voler tosto compenso,
20beato spirto», dissi, «e fammi prova
21ch’i’ possa in te refletter quel ch’io penso!».

22Onde la luce che m’era ancor nova,
23del suo profondo, ond’ ella pria cantava,
24seguette come a cui di ben far giova:

25«In quella parte de la terra prava
26italica che siede tra Rïalto
27e le fontane di Brenta e di Piava,

28si leva un colle, e non surge molt’ alto,
29là onde scese già una facella
30che fece a la contrada un grande assalto.

31D’una radice nacqui e io ed ella:
32Cunizza fui chiamata, e qui refulgo
33perché mi vinse il lume d’esta stella;

34ma lietamente a me medesma indulgo
35la cagion di mia sorte, e non mi noia;
36che parria forse forte al vostro vulgo.

37Di questa luculenta e cara gioia
38del nostro cielo che più m’è propinqua,
39grande fama rimase; e pria che moia,

40questo centesimo anno ancor s’incinqua:
41vedi se far si dee l’omo eccellente,
42sì ch’altra vita la prima relinqua.

43E ciò non pensa la turba presente
44che Tagliamento e Adice richiude,
45né per esser battuta ancor si pente;

46ma tosto fia che Padova al palude
47cangerà l’acqua che Vincenza bagna,
48per essere al dover le genti crude;

49e dove Sile e Cagnan s’accompagna,
50tal signoreggia e va con la testa alta,
51che già per lui carpir si fa la ragna.

52Piangerà Feltro ancora la difalta
53de l’empio suo pastor, che sarà sconcia
54sì, che per simil non s’entrò in malta.

55Troppo sarebbe larga la bigoncia
56che ricevesse il sangue ferrarese,
57e stanco chi ’l pesasse a oncia a oncia,

58che donerà questo prete cortese
59per mostrarsi di parte; e cotai doni
60conformi fieno al viver del paese.

61Sù sono specchi, voi dicete Troni,
62onde refulge a noi Dio giudicante;
63sì che questi parlar ne paion buoni».

64Qui si tacette; e fecemi sembiante
65che fosse ad altro volta, per la rota
66in che si mise com’ era davante.

67L’altra letizia, che m’era già nota
68per cara cosa, mi si fece in vista
69qual fin balasso in che lo sol percuota.

70Per letiziar là sù fulgor s’acquista,
71sì come riso qui; ma giù s’abbuia
72l’ombra di fuor, come la mente è trista.

73«Dio vede tutto, e tuo veder s’inluia»,
74diss’ io, «beato spirto, sì che nulla
75voglia di sé a te puot’ esser fuia.

76Dunque la voce tua, che ’l ciel trastulla
77sempre col canto di quei fuochi pii
78che di sei ali facen la coculla,

79perché non satisface a’ miei disii?
80Già non attendere’ io tua dimanda,
81s’io m’intuassi, come tu t’inmii».

82«La maggior valle in che l’acqua si spanda»,
83incominciaro allor le sue parole,
84«fuor di quel mar che la terra inghirlanda,

85tra ’ discordanti liti contra ’l sole
86tanto sen va, che fa meridïano
87là dove l’orizzonte pria far suole.

88Di quella valle fu’ io litorano
89tra Ebro e Macra, che per cammin corto
90parte lo Genovese dal Toscano.

91Ad un occaso quasi e ad un orto
92Buggea siede e la terra ond’ io fui,
93che fé del sangue suo già caldo il porto.

94Folco mi disse quella gente a cui
95fu noto il nome mio; e questo cielo
96di me s’imprenta, com’ io fe’ di lui;

97ché più non arse la figlia di Belo,
98noiando e a Sicheo e a Creusa,
99di me, infin che si convenne al pelo;

100né quella Rodopëa che delusa
101fu da Demofoonte, né Alcide
102quando Iole nel core ebbe rinchiusa.

103Non però qui si pente, ma si ride,
104non de la colpa, ch’a mente non torna,
105ma del valor ch’ordinò e provide.

106Qui si rimira ne l’arte ch’addorna
107cotanto affetto, e discernesi ’l bene
108per che ’l mondo di sù quel di giù torna.

109Ma perché tutte le tue voglie piene
110ten porti che son nate in questa spera,
111proceder ancor oltre mi convene.

112Tu vuo’ saper chi è in questa lumera
113che qui appresso me così scintilla
114come raggio di sole in acqua mera.

115Or sappi che là entro si tranquilla
116Raab; e a nostr’ ordine congiunta,
117di lei nel sommo grado si sigilla.

118Da questo cielo, in cui l’ombra s’appunta
119che ’l vostro mondo face, pria ch’altr’ alma
120del trïunfo di Cristo fu assunta.

121Ben si convenne lei lasciar per palma
122in alcun cielo de l’alta vittoria
123che s’acquistò con l’una e l’altra palma,

124perch’ ella favorò la prima gloria
125di Iosüè in su la Terra Santa,
126che poco tocca al papa la memoria.

127La tua città, che di colui è pianta
128che pria volse le spalle al suo fattore
129e di cui è la ’nvidia tanto pianta,

130produce e spande il maladetto fiore
131c’ha disvïate le pecore e li agni,
132però che fatto ha lupo del pastore.

133Per questo l’Evangelio e i dottor magni
134son derelitti, e solo ai Decretali
135si studia, sì che pare a’ lor vivagni.

136A questo intende il papa e ’ cardinali;
137non vanno i lor pensieri a Nazarette,
138là dove Gabrïello aperse l’ali.

139Ma Vaticano e l’altre parti elette
140di Roma che son state cimitero
141a la milizia che Pietro seguette,

142tosto libere fien de l’avoltero».

Fair Clemence, after I had been enlightened
by your dear Charles, he told me how his seed
would be defrauded, but he said: Be silent

and let the years revolve. All I can say
is this: lament for vengeance well—deserved
will follow on the wrongs you are to suffer.

And now the life—soul of that holy light
turned to the Sun that fills it even as
the Goodness that suffices for all things.

Ah, souls seduced and creatures without reverence,
who twist your hearts away from such a Good,
who let your brows be bent on emptiness!

And here another of those splendors moved
toward me; and by its brightening without,
it showed its wish to please me. Beatrice,

whose eyes were fixed on me, as they had been
before, gave me the precious certainty
that she consented to my need to speak.

Pray, blessed spirit, may you remedy
quickly my wish to know, I said. Give me
proof that you can reflect the thoughts I think.

At which that light, one still unknown to me,
out of the depth from which it sang before,
continued as if it rejoiced in kindness:

In that part of indecent Italy
that lies between Rialto and the springs
from which the Brenta and the Piave stream,

rises a hill of no great height from which
a firebrand descended, and it brought
much injury to all the land about.

Both he and I were born of one same root:
Cunizza was my name, and I shine here
because this planet’s radiance conquered me.

But in myself I pardon happily
the reason for my fate; I do not grieve
and vulgar minds may find this hard to see.

Of the resplendent, precious jewel that stands
most close to me within—our heaven, much
fame still remains and will not die away

before this hundredth year returns five times:
see then if man should not seek excellence
that his first life bequeath another life.

And this, the rabble that is now enclosed
between the Adige and Tagliamento
does not consider, nor does it repent

despite its scourgings; and since it would shun
its duty, at the marsh the Paduans
will stain the river—course that bathes Vicenza;

and where the Sile and Cagnano flow
in company, one lords it, arrogant;
the net to catch him is already set.

Feltre shall yet lament the treachery
of her indecent shepherd act so filthy
that for the like none ever entered prison.

The vat to hold the blood of the Ferrarese
would be too large indeed, and weary he
who weighs it ounce by ounce the vat that he,

generous priest, will offer up to show
fidelity to his Guelph party; and
such gifts will suit the customs of that land.

Above are mirrors Thrones is what you call them
and from them God in judgment shines on us;
and thus we think it right to say such things.

Here she was silent and appeared to me
to turn toward other things, reentering
the wheeling dance where she had been before.

The other joy, already known to me
as precious, then appeared before my eyes
like a pure ruby struck by the sun’s rays.

On high, joy is made manifest by brightness,
as, here on earth, by smiles; but down below,
the shade grows darker when the mind feels sorrow.

God can see all, I said, and, blessed spirit,
your vision is contained in Him, so that
no wish can ever hide itself from you.

Your voice has always made the heavens glad
as has the singing of the pious fires
that make themselves a cowl of their six wings:

why then do you not satisfy my longings?
I would not have to wait for your request
if I could enter you as you do me.

The widest valley into which the waters
spread from the sea that girds the world, his words
began, between discrepant shores, extends

eastward so far against the sun, that when
those waters end at the meridian,
that point when they began was the horizon.

I lived along the shoreline of that valley
between the Ebro and the Magra, whose
brief course divides the Genoese and Tuscans.

Beneath the same sunset, the same sunrise,
lie both Bougie and my own city, which
once warmed its harbor with its very blood.

Those men to whom my name was known, called me
Folco; and even as this sphere receives
my imprint, so was I impressed with its;

for even Belus’ daughter, wronging both
Sychaeus and Creusa, did not burn
more than I did, as long as I was young;

nor did the Rhodopean woman whom
Demophoon deceived, nor did Alcides
when he enclosed Iole in his heart.

Yet one does not repent here; here one smiles
not for the fault, which we do not recall,
but for the Power that fashioned and foresaw.

For here we contemplate the art adorned
by such great love, and we discern the good
through which the world above forms that below.

But so that all your longings born within
this sphere may be completely satisfied
when you bear them away, I must continue.

You wish to know what spirit is within
the light that here beside me sparkles ,so,
as would a ray of sun in limpid water.

Know then that Rahab lives serenely in
that light, and since her presence joins our order,
she seals that order in the highest rank.

This heaven, where the shadow cast by earth
comes to a point, had Rahab as the first
soul to be taken up when Christ triumphed.

And it was right to leave her in this heaven
as trophy of the lofty victory
that Christ won, palm on palm, upon the cross,

for she had favored the initial glory
of Joshua within the Holy Land
which seldom touches the Pope’s memory.

Your city, which was planted by that one
who was the first to turn against his Maker,
the one whose envy cost us many tears

produces and distributes the damned flower
that turns both sheep and lambs from the true course,
for of the shepherd it has made a wolf.

For this the Gospel and the great Church Fathers
are set aside and only the Decretals
are studied as their margins clearly show.

On these the pope and cardinals are intent.
Their thoughts are never bent on Nazareth,
where Gabriel’s open wings were reverent.

And yet the hill of Vatican as well
as other noble parts of Rome that were
the cemetery for Peter’s soldiery

will soon be freed from priests’ adultery.

BEAUTIFUL Clemence, after that thy Charles
Had me enlightened, he narrated to me
The treacheries his seed should undergo;

But said: “Be still and let the years roll round;”
So I can only say, that lamentation
Legitimate shall follow on your wrongs.

And of that holy light the life already
Had to the Sun which fills it turned again,
As to that good which for each thing sufficeth.

Ah, souls deceived, and creatures impious,
Who from such good do turn away your hearts,
Directing upon vanity your foreheads!

And now, behold, another of those splendours
Approached me, and its will to pleasure me
It signified by brightening outwardly.

The eyes of Beatrice, that fastened were
Upon me, as before, of dear assent
To my desire assurance gave to me.

“Ah, bring swift compensation to my wish,
Thou blessed spirit,” I said, “and give me proof
That what I think in thee I can reflect!”

Whereat the light, that still was new to me,
Out of its depths, whence it before was singing,
As one delighted to do good, continued:

“Within that region of the land depraved
Of Italy, that lies between Rialto
And fountain heads of Brenta and of Piava,

Rises a hill, and mounts not very high,
Wherefrom descended formerly a torch
That made upon that region great assault.

Out of one root were born both I and it;
Cunizza was I called, and here I shine
Because the splendour of this star o’ercame me.

But gladly to myself the cause I pardon
Of my allotment, and it does not grieve me,
Which would perhaps seem strong unto your vulgar.

Of this so luculent and precious jewel,
Which of our heaven is nearest unto me,
Great fame remained; and ere it die away

This hundredth year shall yet quintupled be.
See if man ought to make him excellent,
So that another life the first may leave!

And thus thinks not the present multitude
Shut in by Adige and Tagliamento,
Nor yet for being scourged is penitent.

But soon ’twill be that Padua in the marsh
Will change the water that Vicenza bathes,
Because the folk are stubborn against duty;

And where the Sile and Cagnano join
One lordeth it, and goes with lofty head,
For catching whom e’en now the net is making.

Feltro moreover of her impious pastor
Shall weep the crime, which shall so monstrous be
That for the like none ever entered Malta.

Ample exceedingly would be the vat
That of the Ferrarese could hold the blood,
And weary who should weigh it ounce by ounce,

Of which this courteous priest shall make a gift
To show himself a partisan; and such gifts
Will to the living of the land conform.

Above us there are mirrors, Thrones you call them,
From which shines out on us God Judicant,
So that this utterance seems good to us.”

Here it was silent, and it had the semblance
Of being turned elsewhither, by the wheel
On which it entered as it was before.

The other joy, already known to me,
Became a thing transplendent in my sight,
As a fine ruby smitten by the sun.

Through joy effulgence is acquired above,
As here a smile; but down below, the shade
Outwardly darkens, as the mind is sad.

God seeth all things, and in Him, blest spirit,
Thy sight is,” said I, “so that never will
Of his can possibly from thee be hidden;

Thy voice, then, that for ever makes the heavens
Glad, with the singing of those holy fires
Which of their six wings make themselves a cowl,

Wherefore does it not satisfy my longings ?
Indeed, I would not wait thy questioning
If I in thee were as thou art in me.”

“The greatest of the valleys where the water
Expands itself,” forthwith its words began,
“That sea excepted which the earth engarlands,

Between discordant shores against the sun
Extends so far, that it meridian makes
Where it was wont before to make the horizon.

I was a dweller on that valley’s shore
‘Twixt Ebro and Magra that with journey short
Doth from the Tuscan part the Genoese.

With the same sunset and same sunrise nearly
Sit Buggia and the city whence I was,
That with its blood once made the harbour hot.

Folco that people called me unto whom
My name was known; and now with me this heaven
Imprints itself, as I did once with it;

For more the daughter of Belus never burned,
Offending both Sichaeus and Creusa,
Than I, so long as it became my locks,

Nor yet that Rodophean, who deluded
was by Demophoon, nor yet Alcides,
When Iole he in his heart had locked.

Yet here is no repenting, but we smile,
Not at the fault, which comes not back to mind,
But at the power which ordered and foresaw.

Here we behold the art that doth adorn
With such affection, and the good discover
Whereby the world above turns that below.

But that thou wholly satisfied mayst bear
Thy wishes hence which in this sphere are born,
Still farther to proceed behoveth me.

Thou fain wouldst know who is within this light
That here beside me thus is scintillating,
Even as a sunbeam in the limpid water.

Then know thou, that within there is at rest
Rahab, and being to our order joined,
With her in its supremest grade ’tis sealed.

Into this heaven, where ends the shadowy cone
Cast by your world, before all other souls
First of Christ’s triumph was she taken up.

Full meet it was to leave her in some heaven,
Even as a palm of the high victory
Which he acquired with one palm and the other,

Because she favoured the first glorious deed
Of Joshua upon the Holy Land,
That little stirs the memory of the Pope.

Thy city, which an offshoot is of him
Who first upon his Maker turned his back,
And whose ambition is so sorely wept,

Brings forth and scatters the accursed flower
Which both the sheep and lambs hath led astray
Since it has turned the shepherd to a wolf

For this the Evangel and the mighty Doctors
Are derelict, and only the Decretals
So studied that it shows upon their margins.

On this are Pope and Cardinals intent;
Their meditations reach not Nazareth,
There where his pinions Gabriel unfolded

But Vatican and the other parts elect
Of Rome, which have a cemetery been
Unto the soldiery that followed Peter

Shall soon be free from this adultery.”

Fair Clemence, after I had been enlightened
by your dear Charles, he told me how his seed
would be defrauded, but he said: Be silent

and let the years revolve. All I can say
is this: lament for vengeance well—deserved
will follow on the wrongs you are to suffer.

And now the life—soul of that holy light
turned to the Sun that fills it even as
the Goodness that suffices for all things.

Ah, souls seduced and creatures without reverence,
who twist your hearts away from such a Good,
who let your brows be bent on emptiness!

And here another of those splendors moved
toward me; and by its brightening without,
it showed its wish to please me. Beatrice,

whose eyes were fixed on me, as they had been
before, gave me the precious certainty
that she consented to my need to speak.

Pray, blessed spirit, may you remedy
quickly my wish to know, I said. Give me
proof that you can reflect the thoughts I think.

At which that light, one still unknown to me,
out of the depth from which it sang before,
continued as if it rejoiced in kindness:

In that part of indecent Italy
that lies between Rialto and the springs
from which the Brenta and the Piave stream,

rises a hill of no great height from which
a firebrand descended, and it brought
much injury to all the land about.

Both he and I were born of one same root:
Cunizza was my name, and I shine here
because this planet’s radiance conquered me.

But in myself I pardon happily
the reason for my fate; I do not grieve
and vulgar minds may find this hard to see.

Of the resplendent, precious jewel that stands
most close to me within—our heaven, much
fame still remains and will not die away

before this hundredth year returns five times:
see then if man should not seek excellence
that his first life bequeath another life.

And this, the rabble that is now enclosed
between the Adige and Tagliamento
does not consider, nor does it repent

despite its scourgings; and since it would shun
its duty, at the marsh the Paduans
will stain the river—course that bathes Vicenza;

and where the Sile and Cagnano flow
in company, one lords it, arrogant;
the net to catch him is already set.

Feltre shall yet lament the treachery
of her indecent shepherd act so filthy
that for the like none ever entered prison.

The vat to hold the blood of the Ferrarese
would be too large indeed, and weary he
who weighs it ounce by ounce the vat that he,

generous priest, will offer up to show
fidelity to his Guelph party; and
such gifts will suit the customs of that land.

Above are mirrors Thrones is what you call them
and from them God in judgment shines on us;
and thus we think it right to say such things.

Here she was silent and appeared to me
to turn toward other things, reentering
the wheeling dance where she had been before.

The other joy, already known to me
as precious, then appeared before my eyes
like a pure ruby struck by the sun’s rays.

On high, joy is made manifest by brightness,
as, here on earth, by smiles; but down below,
the shade grows darker when the mind feels sorrow.

God can see all, I said, and, blessed spirit,
your vision is contained in Him, so that
no wish can ever hide itself from you.

Your voice has always made the heavens glad
as has the singing of the pious fires
that make themselves a cowl of their six wings:

why then do you not satisfy my longings?
I would not have to wait for your request
if I could enter you as you do me.

The widest valley into which the waters
spread from the sea that girds the world, his words
began, between discrepant shores, extends

eastward so far against the sun, that when
those waters end at the meridian,
that point when they began was the horizon.

I lived along the shoreline of that valley
between the Ebro and the Magra, whose
brief course divides the Genoese and Tuscans.

Beneath the same sunset, the same sunrise,
lie both Bougie and my own city, which
once warmed its harbor with its very blood.

Those men to whom my name was known, called me
Folco; and even as this sphere receives
my imprint, so was I impressed with its;

for even Belus’ daughter, wronging both
Sychaeus and Creusa, did not burn
more than I did, as long as I was young;

nor did the Rhodopean woman whom
Demophoon deceived, nor did Alcides
when he enclosed Iole in his heart.

Yet one does not repent here; here one smiles
not for the fault, which we do not recall,
but for the Power that fashioned and foresaw.

For here we contemplate the art adorned
by such great love, and we discern the good
through which the world above forms that below.

But so that all your longings born within
this sphere may be completely satisfied
when you bear them away, I must continue.

You wish to know what spirit is within
the light that here beside me sparkles ,so,
as would a ray of sun in limpid water.

Know then that Rahab lives serenely in
that light, and since her presence joins our order,
she seals that order in the highest rank.

This heaven, where the shadow cast by earth
comes to a point, had Rahab as the first
soul to be taken up when Christ triumphed.

And it was right to leave her in this heaven
as trophy of the lofty victory
that Christ won, palm on palm, upon the cross,

for she had favored the initial glory
of Joshua within the Holy Land
which seldom touches the Pope’s memory.

Your city, which was planted by that one
who was the first to turn against his Maker,
the one whose envy cost us many tears

produces and distributes the damned flower
that turns both sheep and lambs from the true course,
for of the shepherd it has made a wolf.

For this the Gospel and the great Church Fathers
are set aside and only the Decretals
are studied as their margins clearly show.

On these the pope and cardinals are intent.
Their thoughts are never bent on Nazareth,
where Gabriel’s open wings were reverent.

And yet the hill of Vatican as well
as other noble parts of Rome that were
the cemetery for Peter’s soldiery

will soon be freed from priests’ adultery.

BEAUTIFUL Clemence, after that thy Charles
Had me enlightened, he narrated to me
The treacheries his seed should undergo;

But said: “Be still and let the years roll round;”
So I can only say, that lamentation
Legitimate shall follow on your wrongs.

And of that holy light the life already
Had to the Sun which fills it turned again,
As to that good which for each thing sufficeth.

Ah, souls deceived, and creatures impious,
Who from such good do turn away your hearts,
Directing upon vanity your foreheads!

And now, behold, another of those splendours
Approached me, and its will to pleasure me
It signified by brightening outwardly.

The eyes of Beatrice, that fastened were
Upon me, as before, of dear assent
To my desire assurance gave to me.

“Ah, bring swift compensation to my wish,
Thou blessed spirit,” I said, “and give me proof
That what I think in thee I can reflect!”

Whereat the light, that still was new to me,
Out of its depths, whence it before was singing,
As one delighted to do good, continued:

“Within that region of the land depraved
Of Italy, that lies between Rialto
And fountain heads of Brenta and of Piava,

Rises a hill, and mounts not very high,
Wherefrom descended formerly a torch
That made upon that region great assault.

Out of one root were born both I and it;
Cunizza was I called, and here I shine
Because the splendour of this star o’ercame me.

But gladly to myself the cause I pardon
Of my allotment, and it does not grieve me,
Which would perhaps seem strong unto your vulgar.

Of this so luculent and precious jewel,
Which of our heaven is nearest unto me,
Great fame remained; and ere it die away

This hundredth year shall yet quintupled be.
See if man ought to make him excellent,
So that another life the first may leave!

And thus thinks not the present multitude
Shut in by Adige and Tagliamento,
Nor yet for being scourged is penitent.

But soon ’twill be that Padua in the marsh
Will change the water that Vicenza bathes,
Because the folk are stubborn against duty;

And where the Sile and Cagnano join
One lordeth it, and goes with lofty head,
For catching whom e’en now the net is making.

Feltro moreover of her impious pastor
Shall weep the crime, which shall so monstrous be
That for the like none ever entered Malta.

Ample exceedingly would be the vat
That of the Ferrarese could hold the blood,
And weary who should weigh it ounce by ounce,

Of which this courteous priest shall make a gift
To show himself a partisan; and such gifts
Will to the living of the land conform.

Above us there are mirrors, Thrones you call them,
From which shines out on us God Judicant,
So that this utterance seems good to us.”

Here it was silent, and it had the semblance
Of being turned elsewhither, by the wheel
On which it entered as it was before.

The other joy, already known to me,
Became a thing transplendent in my sight,
As a fine ruby smitten by the sun.

Through joy effulgence is acquired above,
As here a smile; but down below, the shade
Outwardly darkens, as the mind is sad.

God seeth all things, and in Him, blest spirit,
Thy sight is,” said I, “so that never will
Of his can possibly from thee be hidden;

Thy voice, then, that for ever makes the heavens
Glad, with the singing of those holy fires
Which of their six wings make themselves a cowl,

Wherefore does it not satisfy my longings ?
Indeed, I would not wait thy questioning
If I in thee were as thou art in me.”

“The greatest of the valleys where the water
Expands itself,” forthwith its words began,
“That sea excepted which the earth engarlands,

Between discordant shores against the sun
Extends so far, that it meridian makes
Where it was wont before to make the horizon.

I was a dweller on that valley’s shore
‘Twixt Ebro and Magra that with journey short
Doth from the Tuscan part the Genoese.

With the same sunset and same sunrise nearly
Sit Buggia and the city whence I was,
That with its blood once made the harbour hot.

Folco that people called me unto whom
My name was known; and now with me this heaven
Imprints itself, as I did once with it;

For more the daughter of Belus never burned,
Offending both Sichaeus and Creusa,
Than I, so long as it became my locks,

Nor yet that Rodophean, who deluded
was by Demophoon, nor yet Alcides,
When Iole he in his heart had locked.

Yet here is no repenting, but we smile,
Not at the fault, which comes not back to mind,
But at the power which ordered and foresaw.

Here we behold the art that doth adorn
With such affection, and the good discover
Whereby the world above turns that below.

But that thou wholly satisfied mayst bear
Thy wishes hence which in this sphere are born,
Still farther to proceed behoveth me.

Thou fain wouldst know who is within this light
That here beside me thus is scintillating,
Even as a sunbeam in the limpid water.

Then know thou, that within there is at rest
Rahab, and being to our order joined,
With her in its supremest grade ’tis sealed.

Into this heaven, where ends the shadowy cone
Cast by your world, before all other souls
First of Christ’s triumph was she taken up.

Full meet it was to leave her in some heaven,
Even as a palm of the high victory
Which he acquired with one palm and the other,

Because she favoured the first glorious deed
Of Joshua upon the Holy Land,
That little stirs the memory of the Pope.

Thy city, which an offshoot is of him
Who first upon his Maker turned his back,
And whose ambition is so sorely wept,

Brings forth and scatters the accursed flower
Which both the sheep and lambs hath led astray
Since it has turned the shepherd to a wolf

For this the Evangel and the mighty Doctors
Are derelict, and only the Decretals
So studied that it shows upon their margins.

On this are Pope and Cardinals intent;
Their meditations reach not Nazareth,
There where his pinions Gabriel unfolded

But Vatican and the other parts elect
Of Rome, which have a cemetery been
Unto the soldiery that followed Peter

Shall soon be free from this adultery.”