If the grim brood, from Arctic shores that roam’d,
(Where helice, forever, as she wheels,
Sparkles a mother’s fondness on her son)
Stood in mute wonder ’mid the works of Rome,
When to their view the Lateran arose
In greatness more than earthly; I, who then
From human to divine had past, from time
Unto eternity, and out of Florence
To justice and to truth, how might I choose
But marvel too? ’Twixt gladness and amaze,
In sooth no will had I to utter aught,
Or hear. And, as a pilgrim, when he rests
Within the temple of his vow, looks round
In breathless awe, and hopes some time to tell
Of all its goodly state: e’en so mine eyes
Cours’d up and down along the living light,
Now low, and now aloft, and now around,
Visiting every step. Looks I beheld,
Where charity in soft persuasion sat,
Smiles from within and radiance from above,
And in each gesture grace and honour high.
So rov’d my ken, and its general form
All Paradise survey’d: when round I turn’d
With purpose of my lady to inquire
Once more of things, that held my thought suspense,
But answer found from other than I ween’d;
For, Beatrice, when I thought to see,
I saw instead a senior, at my side,
Rob’d, as the rest, in glory. Joy benign
Glow’d in his eye, and o’er his cheek diffus’d,
With gestures such as spake a father’s love.
And, “Whither is she vanish’d?” straight I ask’d.
“By Beatrice summon’d,” he replied,
“I come to aid thy wish. Looking aloft
To the third circle from the highest, there
Behold her on the throne, wherein her merit
Hath plac’d her.” Answering not, mine eyes I rais’d,
And saw her, where aloof she sat, her brow
A wreath reflecting of eternal beams.
Not from the centre of the sea so far
Unto the region of the highest thunder,
As was my ken from hers; and yet the form
Came through that medium down, unmix’d and pure,
“O Lady! thou in whom my hopes have rest!
Who, for my safety, hast not scorn’d, in hell
To leave the traces of thy footsteps mark’d!
For all mine eyes have seen, I, to thy power
And goodness, virtue owe and grace. Of slave,
Thou hast to freedom brought me; and no means,
For my deliverance apt, hast left untried.
Thy liberal bounty still toward me keep.
That, when my spirit, which thou madest whole,
Is loosen’d from this body, it may find
Favour with thee.” So I my suit preferr’d:
And she, so distant, as appear’d, look’d down,
And smil’d; then tow’rds th’ eternal fountain turn’d.