The Triumph of Christ

Translated by Henry Francis Cary Selections from “The Divine Comedy” Paradise: Canto XIV. AND lo! forthwith there rose up round about A lustre, over that already there; Of equal clearness, like the brightening up Of the horizon. As at evening hour Of twilight, new appearances through heaven Peer with faint glimmer, doubtfully descried; So, there, new substances methought, began To rise in view beyond the other twain, And wheeling, sweep their ampler circuit wide. O genuine glitter of eternal Beam! With what a sudden whiteness did it flow, O’erpowering vision in me. But so fair, So passing lovely, Beatrice showed, Mind cannot follow it, nor words express Her infinite sweetness. Thence mine eyes regained Power to look up; and I beheld myself, Sole with my lady, to more lofty bliss Translated: for the star, with warmer smile Impurpled, well denoted our ascent. With all the heart, and with that tongue which speaks The same in all, an holocaust I made To God befitting the new grace vouchsafed. And from my bosom had not yet upsteamed The fuming of that incense, when I knew The rite accepted. With such mighty sheen And mantling crimson, in two listed rays The splendors shot before me, that I cried, “God of Sabaoth! that dost prank them thus!” As leads the galaxy from pole to pole, Distinguished into greater lights and less, Its pathway, which the wisest fail to spell; So thickly studded, in the depth of Mars, Those rays described the venerable sign, That quadrants in the round conjoining frame. Here memory mocks the toil of genius. Christ Beamed on that cross; and pattern fails me now. But whoso takes his cross, and follows Christ, Will pardon me for that I leave untold, When in the fleckered dawning he shall spy The glitterance of Christ. From horn to horn, And ’tween the summit and the base, did move Lights, scintillating, as they met and passed. Thus oft are seen with ever-changeful glance, Straight or athwart, now rapid and now slow, The atomies of bodies, long or short, To move along the sunbeam, whose slant line Checkers the shadow interposed by art Against the noontide heat. And as the chime Of minstrel music, dulcimer, and harp With many strings, a pleasant dinning makes To him, who heareth not distinct the note; So from the lights, which there appeared to me, Gathered along the cross a melody, That, indistinctly heard, with ravishment Possessed me. Yet I marked it was a hymn Of lofty praises; for there came to me “Arise,” and “Conquer,” as to one who hears And comprehends not. Me such ecstasy O’ercame, that never, till that hour, was thing That held me in so sweet imprisonment.

1285
Sub Title: 
VIII. Selections from “The Divine Comedy”

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