And thus the senior, holy and rever’d:
“That thou at length mayst happily conclude
Thy voyage (to which end I was dispatch’d,
By supplication mov’d and holy love)
Let thy upsoaring vision range, at large,
This garden through: for so, by ray divine
Kindled, thy ken a higher flight shall mount;
And from heav’n’s queen, whom fervent I adore,
All gracious aid befriend us; for that I
Am her own faithful Bernard.” Like a wight,
Who haply from Croatia wends to see
Our Veronica, and the while ’t is shown,
Hangs over it with never-sated gaze,
And, all that he hath heard revolving, saith
Unto himself in thought: “And didst thou look
E’en thus, O Jesus, my true Lord and God?
And was this semblance thine?” So gaz’d I then
Adoring; for the charity of him,
Who musing, in the world that peace enjoy’d,
Stood lively before me. “Child of grace!”
Thus he began: “thou shalt not knowledge gain
Of this glad being, if thine eyes are held
Still in this depth below. But search around
The circles, to the furthest, till thou spy
Seated in state, the queen, that of this realm
Is sovran.” Straight mine eyes I rais’d; and bright,
As, at the birth of morn, the eastern clime
Above th’ horizon, where the sun declines;
To mine eyes, that upward, as from vale
To mountain sped, at th’ extreme bound, a part
Excell’d in lustre all the front oppos’d.
And as the glow burns ruddiest o’er the wave,
That waits the sloping beam, which Phaeton
Ill knew to guide, and on each part the light
Diminish’d fades, intensest in the midst;
So burn’d the peaceful oriflame, and slack’d
On every side the living flame decay’d.
And in that midst their sportive pennons wav’d
Thousands of angels; in resplendence each
Distinct, and quaint adornment. At their glee
And carol, smil’d the Lovely One of heav’n,
That joy was in the eyes of all the blest.
Had I a tongue in eloquence as rich,
As is the colouring in fancy’s loom,
’T were all too poor to utter the least part
Of that enchantment. When he saw mine eyes
Intent on her, that charm’d him, Bernard gaz’d
With so exceeding fondness, as infus’d
Ardour into my breast, unfelt before.
Freely the sage, though wrapt in musings high,
Assum’d the teacher’s part, and mild began:
“The wound, that Mary clos’d, she open’d first,
Who sits so beautiful at Mary’s feet.
The third in order, underneath her, lo!
Rachel with Beatrice. Sarah next,
Judith, Rebecca, and the gleaner maid,
Meek ancestress of him, who sang the songs
Of sore repentance in his sorrowful mood.
All, as I name them, down from deaf to leaf,
Are in gradation throned on the rose.
And from the seventh step, successively,
Adown the breathing tresses of the flow’r