At Argo’s shadow darkening on his flood.
With fixed heed, suspense and motionless,
Wond’ring I gaz’d; and admiration still
Was kindled, as I gaz’d. It may not be,
That one, who looks upon that light, can turn
To other object, willingly, his view.
For all the good, that will may covet, there
Is summ’d; and all, elsewhere defective found,
Complete. My tongue shall utter now, no more
E’en what remembrance keeps, than could the babe’s
That yet is moisten’d at his mother’s breast.
Not that the semblance of the living light
Was chang’d (that ever as at first remain’d)
But that my vision quickening, in that sole
Appearance, still new miracles descry’d,
And toil’d me with the change. In that abyss
Of radiance, clear and lofty, seem’d methought,
Three orbs of triple hue clipt in one bound:
And, from another, one reflected seem’d,
As rainbow is from rainbow: and the third
Seem’d fire, breath’d equally from both. Oh speech
How feeble and how faint art thou, to give
Conception birth! Yet this to what I saw
Is less than little. Oh eternal light!
Sole in thyself that dwellst; and of thyself
Sole understood, past, present, or to come!
Thou smiledst; on that circling, which in thee
Seem’d as reflected splendour, while I mus’d;
For I therein, methought, in its own hue
Beheld our image painted: steadfastly
I therefore por’d upon the view. As one
Who vers’d in geometric lore, would fain
Measure the circle; and, though pondering long
And deeply, that beginning, which he needs,
Finds not; e’en such was I, intent to scan
The novel wonder, and trace out the form,
How to the circle fitted, and therein
How plac’d: but the flight was not for my wing;
Had not a flash darted athwart my mind,
And in the spleen unfolded what it sought.
Here vigour fail’d the tow’ring fantasy:
But yet the will roll’d onward, like a wheel
In even motion, by the Love impell’d,
That moves the sun in heav’n and all the stars.
NOTES TO PARADISE
Verse 12. Benign Apollo.] Chaucer has imitated this invention very closely at the beginning of the Third Booke of Fame.
If, divine vertue, thou
Wilt helpe me to shewe now
That in my head ymarked is,
* * * * *
Thou shalt see me go as blive
Unto the next laurer I see,
And kisse it for it is thy tree
Now entre thou my breast anone.
v. 15. Thus for.] He appears to mean nothing more than that this part of his poem will require a greater exertion of his powers than the former.
v. 19. Marsyas.] Ovid, Met. 1. vi. fab. 7. Compare Boccaccio, ii Filocopo, 1. 5. p. 25. v. ii. Ediz. Fir. 1723. “Egli nel mio petto entri,” &c. — “May he enter my bosom, and let my voice sound like his own, when he made that daring mortal deserve to come forth unsheathed from his limbs. " v. 29. Caesar, or bard.] So Petrarch, Son. Par. Prima.