Soaring the Celestial Spheres: Dante's Paradise in Modern Words!

Imagine embarking on a sublime journey through the heavens, a celestial exploration filled with wonder. Sounds enthralling, right? Yet, comprehending such an epic can be daunting with its archaic language. Don't worry, many have felt just as you do!

Dante's magnificent voyage takes him through the spheres of Paradise, each one more resplendent than the last, guided by the illuminating presence of Beatrice, representing theology. These spheres, from the shimmering Moon to the radiant Empyrean, symbolize various heavenly bodies, drawing Dante and readers into a cosmic dance of understanding the divine order.

At its core, this journey is not just about admiring the beauty of the cosmos, but about understanding the divine truths, the nature of bliss, and the soul's eternal union with the divine.

For those who have found themselves lost in Dante's original intricacies, BookCaps is here to guide you! Dive into our modern translation that captures the grandeur and profundity of Dante's vision while being relatable to today's readers. Let the timeless beauty of this classic resonate with you, enhanced by a side-by-side presentation with the original, offering a deeper connection to this heavenly masterpiece!



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Excerpt From Paradise In Plain and Simple English

Canto I  

The glory of Him who moveth everything

  Doth penetrate the universe, and shine

  In one part more and in another less.


The glory of the one who rules everything

Runs through the universe, shining more in

Some parts than in others.


Within that heaven which most his light receives

  Was I, and things beheld which to repeat

  Nor knows, nor can, who from above descends;


I was in heaven which receives

More of his light then elsewhere, and saw things

That one who comes down from there either forgets or cannot describe;


Because in drawing near to its desire

  Our intellect ingulphs itself so far,

  That after it the memory cannot go.


Because when it comes near to its desire,

Our intellect sinks down so low

That the memory cannot follow it.


Truly whatever of the holy realm

  I had the power to treasure in my mind

  Shall now become the subject of my song.


But whatever memories of heaven

I have managed to keep in my mind

Will now become the basis of my song.


O good Apollo, for this last emprise

  Make of me such a vessel of thy power

  As giving the beloved laurel asks!


Oh good Apollo, for this final task

Give me the power of poetry

Which you are able to bestow!


One summit of Parnassus hitherto

  Has been enough for me, but now with both

  I needs must enter the arena left.


One peak of Parnassus has up till now

Been enough for me, but now I must

Use both, as I face this challenge.


Enter into my bosom, thou, and breathe

  As at the time when Marsyas thou didst draw

  Out of the scabbard of those limbs of his.


Come in to my heart, and breathe

As you did when you drew

Marsyas out of his body.


O power divine, lend'st thou thyself to me

  So that the shadow of the blessed realm

  Stamped in my brain I can make manifest,


O divine power, send me your skills

So that I can describe what little

Of that sacred place I can remember,


Thou'lt see me come unto thy darling tree,

  And crown myself thereafter with those leaves

  Of which the theme and thou shall make me worthy.


And you will see me coming to that tree you love,

Crowning myself with those leaves

Which you and my subject will make me deserve.


So seldom, Father, do we gather them

  For triumph or of Caesar or of Poet,

  (The fault and shame of human inclinations,)


So seldom, father, do we make the wreathes

To celebrate a ruler or a poet,

Which shows the weakness of humans,


That the Peneian foliage should bring forth

  Joy to the joyous Delphic deity,

  When any one it makes to thirst for it.


That when someone actively desires

To win them for themselves

It must make the god of Delphi happy.


A little spark is followed by great flame;

  Perchance with better voices after me

  Shall prayer be made that Cyrrha may respond!


Little sparks create great flames;

Maybe better poets than me

Will make prayers to the god of Cyrrah!


To mortal men by passages diverse

  Uprises the world's lamp; but by that one

  Which circles four uniteth with three crosses,


The lamp of the world comes to mortal men

Through different ways, but on the path which joins

Four circles with three crosses,


With better course and with a better star

  Conjoined it issues, and the mundane wax

  Tempers and stamps more after its own fashion.


It joins a better path and a better

Constellation, and it can shape the dull wax

Of the world to look more like itself.


Almost that passage had made morning there

  And evening here, and there was wholly white

  That hemisphere, and black the other part,


In its journey it had almost made

Morning there and evening here, and the whole

Hemisphere was white, with the other half black,


When Beatrice towards the left-hand side

  I saw turned round, and gazing at the sun;

  Never did eagle fasten so upon it!


When I saw Beatrice turning

To her left hand side, and staring at the sun;

No eagle ever stared so steadily!


And even as a second ray is wont

  To issue from the first and reascend,

  Like to a pilgrim who would fain return,


Just as a second ray will come from

The first and rebound,

Like a pilgrim coming home,


Thus of her action, through the eyes infused

  In my imagination, mine I made,

  And sunward fixed mine eyes beyond our wont.


So I copied what she

Was doing, and set my eyes

On the sun more than one usually would.


There much is lawful which is here unlawful

  Unto our powers, by virtue of the place

  Made for the human species as its own.


We can do more things there which we

Do not have the power to do on Earth, because the place

Was made to be the natural habitat of mankind.


Not long I bore it, nor so little while

  But I beheld it sparkle round about

  Like iron that comes molten from the fire;


I could not stand  it for long, but not so briefly

That I didn't see it sparkling

Like iron coming up from the fire;


And suddenly it seemed that day to day

  Was added, as if He who has the power

  Had with another sun the heaven adorned.


And suddenly the day seemed doubly bright,

As if the one who has the power

Had added another sun to the heavens.


With eyes upon the everlasting wheels

  Stood Beatrice all intent, and I, on her

  Fixing my vision from above removed,


Beatrice stood with her eyes fixed

On the eternal motions of the planets, and I

Looked down from the heavens and looked at her,


Such at her aspect inwardly became

  As Glaucus, tasting of the herb that made him

  Peer of the other gods beneath the sea.


In such a way that I was changed in

The same way as Glaucus was, when he tasted that herb that

Made him an equal of the other gods beneath the sea.


To represent transhumanise in words

  Impossible were; the example, then, suffice

  Him for whom Grace the experience reserves.


To describe becoming more than human

Is impossible; let the example be enough

Until Grace gives you the experience for yourself.


If I was merely what of me thou newly

  Createdst, Love who governest the heaven,

  Thou knowest, who didst lift me with thy light!


If I was only what you newly

Made of me, love which rules over heaven,

Only you know, who lifted me with your light!


When now the wheel, which thou dost make eternal

  Desiring thee, made me attentive to it

  By harmony thou dost modulate and measure,


When that wheel, which you make eternal

Through its desire for you, drew my attention,

Through the harmony which you control,


Then seemed to me so much of heaven enkindled

  By the sun's flame, that neither rain nor river

  E'er made a lake so widely spread abroad.


Then it seemed to me so much of heaven was lit up

By the light of the sun, that neither rain nor rivers

Had ever made such a spreading  lake.


The newness of the sound and the great light

  Kindled in me a longing for their cause,

  Never before with such acuteness felt;


That new sound and shining light

Made me long to know what had caused them

With a longing I had never felt so sharply before;


Whence she, who saw me as I saw myself,

  To quiet in me my perturbed mind,

  Opened her mouth, ere I did mine to ask,


And she, who knew me as well as I know myself,

Opened her mouth to speak, to calm my

Disturbed mind, before I asked any questions,


And she began: "Thou makest thyself so dull

  With false imagining, that thou seest not

  What thou wouldst see if thou hadst shaken it off.


And she began, “Your false imagination

Has clouded your wits so much that you cannot see

What you could see if you looked properly.


Thou art not upon earth, as thou believest;

  But lightning, fleeing its appropriate site,

  Ne'er ran as thou, who thitherward returnest."


You are not on earth, as you believe;

But lightning, flying from its home,

Is slower than the way you are rushing back."


If of my former doubt I was divested

  By these brief little words more smiled than spoken,

  I in a new one was the more ensnared;


If I lost my previous doubts

From those brief words she smiled at me,

I then became wrapped up in a new one;


And said: "Already did I rest content

  From great amazement; but am now amazed

  In what way I transcend these bodies light."


I said, “I was already satisfied after seeing

And those wonders; but now I am baffled

As to how I can rise above these light bodies."


Whereupon she, after a pitying sigh,

  Her eyes directed tow'rds me with that look

  A mother casts on a delirious child;


At that she, after giving a sigh of pity,

Looked towards me as a

Mother looks at a raving child;


And she began: "All things whate'er they be

  Have order among themselves, and this is form,

  That makes the universe resemble God.


And she began, “All things, whatever they are,

Have an order of their own, and this order

Is what makes the universe looks like God.


Here do the higher creatures see the footprints

  Of the Eternal Power, which is the end

  Whereto is made the law already mentioned.


Here the higher beings see the footprints

Of the Eternal Power, which is what that order

Is designed to assist.


In the order that I speak of are inclined

  All natures, by their destinies diverse,

  More or less near unto their origin;


In the order of which I speak each

Thing has a destiny it must follow

Closer or further away from its origins;


Hence they move onward unto ports diverse

  O'er the great sea of being; and each one

  With instinct given it which bears it on.


And from there they move to different places

Around the great ocean of life; and each one

Has been given the impulse to keep moving on.


This bears away the fire towards the moon;

  This is in mortal hearts the motive power

  This binds together and unites the earth.


This is what takes fire up to the moon;

This is what motivates mortal creatures,

And what holds the whole earth together.


Nor only the created things that are

  Without intelligence this bow shoots forth,

  But those that have both intellect and love.


Not only does this creation make creatures

That do not have intelligence, but also those

Who have an intellect and the capability of love.


The Providence that regulates all this

  Makes with its light the heaven forever quiet,

  Wherein that turns which has the greatest haste.


The Ruler who ordains all this

Uses its light to make the heavens eternally quiet,

Where the planets spin at their fastest.


And thither now, as to a site decreed,

  Bears us away the virtue of that cord

  Which aims its arrows at a joyous mark.


And that is where, as is our destiny,

We are now going, through the power of heaven

Which always sends us happiness.


True is it, that as oftentimes the form

  Accords not with the intention of the art,

  Because in answering is matter deaf,


It is true that, just as sometimes

A shape may not reflect the intention of the artist,

Because the material is unresponsive to his touch,


So likewise from this course doth deviate

  Sometimes the creature, who the power possesses,

  Though thus impelled, to swerve some other way,


So sometimes the creature who has the power

Will move away from this pathway

To go in  some other direction,


(In the same wise as one may see the fire

  Fall from a cloud,) if the first impetus

  Earthward is wrested by some false delight.


(In the same way in which one can see fire

Falling from a cloud) if he is distracted

And enticed to earth by some false pleasure.


Thou shouldst not wonder more, if well I judge,

  At thine ascent, than at a rivulet

  From some high mount descending to the lowland.


If I'm correct you should be no more astonished

By your going upwards than you would be that a

Little stream ran down from a high mountain to the plains.


Marvel it would be in thee, if deprived

  Of hindrance, thou wert seated down below,

  As if on earth the living fire were quiet."


Thereat she heavenward turned again her face.


It would be as astonishing if, unencumbered,

You remained seated down below as if

A living flame on earth did not move."


With that she turned her face back to the heaven.


Canto II  

O Ye, who in some pretty little boat,

  Eager to listen, have been following

  Behind my ship, that singing sails along,


Oh you, who in some pretty little boat,

Keen to listen, have been following

Behind my ship, that sings as it sails along,


Turn back to look again upon your shores;

  Do not put out to sea, lest peradventure,

  In losing me, you might yourselves be lost.


Turn back and look at your native shore;

Do not follow me, in case you lose sight

Of me, and become lost yourselves.


The sea I sail has never yet been passed;

  Minerva breathes, and pilots me Apollo,

  And Muses nine point out to me the Bears.


The sea I'm sailing on has never been crossed before;

Minerva blows me, Apollo is my helmsman,

And the nine Muses show me the guiding stars.


Ye other few who have the neck uplifted

  Betimes to th' bread of Angels upon which

  One liveth here and grows not sated by it,


You are the few who have sometimes looked

Up to see the bread of angels on which

People live here, though it makes them hungry for more,


Well may you launch upon the deep salt-sea

  Your vessel, keeping still my wake before you

  Upon the water that grows smooth again.


You can certainly launch your ship

Out on this deep sea, tracking my wake

On the water that grows smooth behind me.


Those glorious ones who unto Colchos passed

  Were not so wonder-struck as you shall be,

  When Jason they beheld a ploughman made!


Those glorious men who crossed to Colchos

Were amazed when they saw Jason turned into a ploughman,

But that's nothing to how amazed you will be!


The con-created and perpetual thirst

  For the realm deiform did bear us on,

  As swift almost as ye the heavens behold.


The first created and eternal thirst

For the kingdom of heaven drove us on,

As quickly as the heavens you see orbiting.


Upward gazed Beatrice, and I at her;

  And in such space perchance as strikes a bolt

  And flies, and from the notch unlocks itself,


Beatrice gazed upwards, and I gazed at her;

And in the time it takes for

An arrow to fly from the bow,


Arrived I saw me where a wondrous thing

  Drew to itself my sight; and therefore she

  From whom no care of mine could be concealed,


I arrived where I saw an astonishing thing

In front of me; and seeing it she,

From whom I could hide none of my thoughts,


Towards me turning, blithe as beautiful,

  Said unto me: "Fix gratefully thy mind

  On God, who unto the first star has brought us."


Turned towards me, as joyful as she was beautiful,

And said, “Think with gratitude

Of God, who has brought us to the first star."


It seemed to me a cloud encompassed us,

  Luminous, dense, consolidate and bright

  As adamant on which the sun is striking.


It seemed to me that a cloud wrapped round us,

Luminous, dense, solid and as bright

As a diamond shining in the sun.


Into itself did the eternal pearl

  Receive us, even as water doth receive

  A ray of light, remaining still unbroken.


The eternal pearl welcomed us inside itself,

Just as water can welcome

A ray of light, without being broken.


If I was body, (and we here conceive not

  How one dimension tolerates another,

  Which needs must be if body enter body,)


If I had a body (and here on earth we cannot

Understand how different things can share

The same space, with bodies entering bodies)


More the desire should be enkindled in us

  That essence to behold, wherein is seen

  How God and our own nature were united.


Then we would have an even greater longing

To look at the essential matter, where we can see

God and our own nature united as one.


There will be seen what we receive by faith,

  Not demonstrated, but self-evident

  In guise of the first truth that man believes.


There we will see what we believe in,

Not demonstrated but open and obvious,

Just like the first truth a man accepts.


I made reply: "Madonna, as devoutly

  As most I can do I give thanks to Him

  Who has removed me from the mortal world.


I answered, “Lady, I give thanks to Him

Who has taken me out of the mortal world

With all the  devotion I can muster.


But tell me what the dusky spots may be

  Upon this body, which below on earth

  Make people tell that fabulous tale of Cain?"


But tell me what these dark spots might be

On this planet, which make men down on Earth

Tell that extraordinary story about Cain?"


Somewhat she smiled; and then, "If the opinion

  Of mortals be erroneous," she said,

  "Where'er the key of sense doth not unlock,


She smiled a little, and replied, “If men's

Ideas are wrong, whenever they cannot

See the truth through their senses,


Certes, the shafts of wonder should not pierce thee

  Now, forasmuch as, following the senses,

  Thou seest that the reason has short wings.


You should certainly not be amazed now,

When you see that even when the senses

Support reason, it does not always answer.


But tell me what thou think'st of it thyself."

  And I: "What seems to us up here diverse,

  Is caused, I think, by bodies rare and dense."


But tell me what you think of it."

I replied, “What seems light up here to us,

I think is actually made of very heavy material."


And she: "Right truly shalt thou see immersed

  In error thy belief, if well thou hearest

  The argument that I shall make against it.


She replied, “You shall see just

How wrong you are, if you listen carefully

To my correction.


Lights many the eighth sphere displays to you

  Which in their quality and quantity

  May noted be of aspects different.


The eighth sphere shows you many lights

Which you can see differ from each other

In quality and in size.


If this were caused by rare and dense alone,

  One only virtue would there be in all

  Or more or less diffused, or equally.


If this were caused just by a single

Dense material, they would all

Look just the same.


Virtues diverse must be perforce the fruits

  Of formal principles; and these, save one,

  Of course would by thy reasoning be destroyed.


Their different powers must necessarily

Spring from different scientific bases;

By your logic there would be only one.


Besides, if rarity were of this dimness

  The cause thou askest, either through and through

  This planet thus attenuate were of matter,


Besides, if that rare material caused

Those dark spots you ask about,

Then this planet would be transparent,


Or else, as in a body is apportioned

  The fat and lean, so in like manner this

  Would in its volume interchange the leaves.


Or otherwise, just as in our bodies

We have fat and thin, so this

Would alternate its matter like pages in a book.


Were it the former, in the sun's eclipse

  It would be manifest by the shining through

  Of light, as through aught tenuous interfused.


If the first were correct, in an eclipse

Of the sun the light would shine through,

As it does when it encounters thin matter.


This is not so; hence we must scan the other,

  And if it chance the other I demolish,

  Then falsified will thy opinion be.


This does not happen; so we must examine the other

Theory, and if I can refute that as well,

Then your opinion will be shown to be false.


But if this rarity go not through and through,

  There needs must be a limit, beyond which

  Its contrary prevents the further passing,


If the moon is not transparent all the way through,

There must be a place where its thickness

Does not allow the light to pass any further,


And thence the foreign radiance is reflected,

  Even as a colour cometh back from glass,

  The which behind itself concealeth lead.


And the light of the sun would be reflected,

Just as a ray of coloured light comes back

From glass when it has a lead coating on its back.


Now thou wilt say the sunbeam shows itself

  More dimly there than in the other parts,

  By being there reflected farther back.


Now you will say that the sunbeam

Shows itself more dimly there than in other spots,

Because it is reflected from farther back.


From this reply experiment will free thee

  If e'er thou try it, which is wont to be

  The fountain to the rivers of your arts.


You can disprove this by

Making an experiment, which is the way

Your science usually works.


Three mirrors shalt thou take, and two remove

  Alike from thee, the other more remote

  Between the former two shall meet thine eyes.


Take three mirrors, and place two at an

Equal distance from you, and the other

Between the two of them but farther away.


Turned towards these, cause that behind thy back

  Be placed a light, illuming the three mirrors

  And coming back to thee by all reflected.


Face them, and have a light

Placed behind you, shining in each mirror

And being reflected back to you by all of them.


Though in its quantity be not so ample

  The image most remote, there shalt thou see

  How it perforce is equally resplendent.


Then you will see that the farthest mirror,

Although it will not seem as large, will

Shine just as brightly.


Now, as beneath the touches of warm rays

  Naked the subject of the snow remains

  Both of its former colour and its cold,


Now, just as the lower layers

Of snow are stripped of their colour and cold

By the warm rays of the sun,


Thee thus remaining in thy intellect,

  Will I inform with such a living light,

  That it shall tremble in its aspect to thee.


So your mind has been stripped of its error,

And I will show you a light which is so alive

That you will perceive it trembling in your sight.


Within the heaven of the divine repose

  Revolves a body, in whose virtue lies

  The being of whatever it contains.


Within the heaven of divine peace

There spins a star, whose power

Encompasses all things.


The following heaven, that has so many eyes,

  Divides this being by essences diverse,

  Distinguished from it, and by it contained.


The following star, that sees so much,

Divides this power into different types,

Separate stars, but all within it.


The other spheres, by various differences,

  All the distinctions which they have within them

  Dispose unto their ends and their effects.


The other stars, in different ways,

Use the powers they have within them

To create different things and cause different effects.


Thus do these organs of the world proceed,

  As thou perceivest now, from grade to grade;

  Since from above they take, and act beneath.


This is how these elements of the universe

Move, as you can now see, from place to place;

They take power from above, and act on things below.


Observe me well, how through this place I come

  Unto the truth thou wishest, that hereafter

  Thou mayst alone know how to keep the ford


Now observe carefully how I reveal

The truth you ask for, so that from now on

You can know how to reach it yourself.


The power and motion of the holy spheres,

  As from the artisan the hammer's craft,

  Forth from the blessed motors must proceed.


The power and motion of the holy stars

Must be moved by heavenly work,

Just as the blacksmith moves his hammer.


The heaven, which lights so manifold make fair,

  From the Intelligence profound, which turns it,

  The image takes, and makes of it a seal.


Heaven receives its multitudinous beautiful light

From the eternal intelligence, which makes it turn,

And creates its own impression from the image.


And even as the soul within your dust

  Through members different and accommodated

  To faculties diverse expands itself,


Just as your soul is

Spread throughout different organs

Of your body, doing different things,


So likewise this Intelligence diffuses

  Its virtue multiplied among the stars.

  Itself revolving on its unity.


So this intelligence spreads

Its powers throughout the stars,

Although it remains a single entity.


Virtue diverse doth a diverse alloyage

  Make with the precious body that it quickens,

  In which, as life in you, it is combined.


Different powers make different things,

Just as it makes life in you

Which can do different things.


From the glad nature whence it is derived,

  The mingled virtue through the body shines,

  Even as gladness through the living pupil.


Due to the happy nature from which it comes,

The Power mixed with light shines in the body,

Like happiness shining through a living eye.


From this proceeds whate'er from light to light

  Appeareth different, not from dense and rare:

  This is the formal principle that produces,


According to its goodness, dark and bright."


It is from this, not from differences in materials

For their thicknesses, that the differences in light

Appear; this is the scientific principle which produces


Darkness and brightness, according to its goodness."


Canto III    

That Sun, which erst with love my bosom warmed,

  Of beauteous truth had unto me discovered,

  By proving and reproving, the sweet aspect.


The sun, which had first filled my heart with love,

Had revealed a beautiful truth to me,

Showing its loveliness in its sweet face.


And, that I might confess myself convinced

  And confident, so far as was befitting,

  I lifted more erect my head to speak.


And, so that I could show that I was

Convinced of its truth, I lifted my head

Up as far as was suitable for me to speak.


But there appeared a vision, which withdrew me

  So close to it, in order to be seen,

  That my confession I remembered not.


But a vision appeared, which caught my

Attention in such a tight grip

That I forgot what I was about to admit.


Such as through polished and transparent glass,

  Or waters crystalline and undisturbed,

  But not so deep as that their bed be lost,


Just as through polished clear glass,

Or crystal calm waters,

Not so deep that the bottom vanishes,


Come back again the outlines of our faces

  So feeble, that a pearl on forehead white

  Comes not less speedily unto our eyes;


Our faces are reflected

So faintly we can only see them as clearly

As we see a pearl on a white forehead;


Such saw I many faces prompt to speak,

  So that I ran in error opposite

  To that which kindled love 'twixt man and fountain.


I saw many faces like this, keen to speak,

So I made the opposite sort of error

To the man who loved the image in the pool.


As soon as I became aware of them,

  Esteeming them as mirrored semblances,

  To see of whom they were, mine eyes I turned,


As soon as I became aware of them,

I thought that they were reflections,

So I turned round to see them,


And nothing saw, and once more turned them forward

  Direct into the light of my sweet Guide,

  Who smiling kindled in her holy eyes.


And I saw nothing, and turned back

To look in the face of my sweet Guide,

Who smiled warmly with her holy eyes.


"Marvel thou not," she said to me, "because

  I smile at this thy puerile conceit,

  Since on the truth it trusts not yet its foot,


“Don't be astonished," she said to me, “if

I smile at your childish understanding,

Since you do not yet comprehend the truth,


But turns thee, as 'tis wont, on emptiness.

  True substances are these which thou beholdest,

  Here relegate for breaking of some vow.


As usual you turn to empty things.

The things you can see are real,

Sent here for breaking  some vow.


Therefore speak with them, listen and believe;

  For the true light, which giveth peace to them,

  Permits them not to turn from it their feet."


So speak to them, listen and believe what they say;

For the true light, which brings them peace,

Will not allow them to be untruthful."


And I unto the shade that seemed most wishful

  To speak directed me, and I began,

  As one whom too great eagerness bewilders:


So I turned to the spirit that seemed keenest

To speak to me, and I began,

Like a man bewildered by his overwhelming desire:


"O well-created spirit, who in the rays

  Of life eternal dost the sweetness taste

  Which being untasted ne'er is comprehended,


“Well made spirit, who in the light

Of eternal life tastes the sweetness

Which cannot be understood until it is tasted,


Grateful 'twill be to me, if thou content me

  Both with thy name and with your destiny."

  Whereat she promptly and with laughing eyes:


I would be grateful if you could satisfy me

By telling me your name and why you are here."

She immediately answered, with laughing eyes,


"Our charity doth never shut the doors

  Against a just desire, except as one

  Who wills that all her court be like herself.


“Our kindness means we will never reject

A proper request, for our love

Demands that we all follow it.


I was a virgin sister in the world;

  And if thy mind doth contemplate me well,

  The being more fair will not conceal me from thee,


I was a virgin nun on earth;

And if you think carefully,

My enhanced beauty will not disguise me,


But thou shalt recognise I am Piccarda,

  Who, stationed here among these other blessed,

  Myself am blessed in the slowest sphere.


But you will recognise that I am Piccarda,

Who, placed here with these other blessed women,

Am myself blessed in being on this slowest star.


All our affections, that alone inflamed

  Are in the pleasure of the Holy Ghost,

  Rejoice at being of his order formed;


Our affections, which are dedicated

To delighting in the Holy Ghost,

Rejoice at following his orders;


And this allotment, which appears so low,

  Therefore is given us, because our vows

  Have been neglected and in some part void."


And we have been given this lowly station

Because we have neglected our vows

And failed completely to fulfil them."


Whence I to her: "In your miraculous aspects

  There shines I know not what of the divine,

  Which doth transform you from our first conceptions.


I said to her, “In your miraculous appearance

I can see some incomprehensible divinity,

Which makes you look very different.


Therefore I was not swift in my remembrance;

  But what thou tellest me now aids me so,

  That the refiguring is easier to me.


That's why I was slow to remember you;

But what you're now telling me helps me,

So that I can now see you more clearly.


But tell me, ye who in this place are happy,

  Are you desirous of a higher place,

  To see more or to make yourselves more friends?"


But tell me, you who are happy in this place,

Do you wish to rise up higher,

To see more or to gain more friends?"


First with those other shades she smiled a little;

  Thereafter answered me so full of gladness,

  She seemed to burn in the first fire of love:


At first she and her fellow spirits smiled a little;

Then she answered me with such gladness

It was as if she was burning with original love.


"Brother, our will is quieted by virtue

  Of charity, that makes us wish alone

  For what we have, nor gives us thirst for more.


“Brother, the power of love calms our desires

And makes us wish only for

What we have, and not thirst for more.


If to be more exalted we aspired,

  Discordant would our aspirations be

  Unto the will of Him who here secludes us;


If we wished to rise up higher,

Our desires would clash with

The orders of the One who has placed us here;


Which thou shalt see finds no place in these circles,

  If being in charity is needful here,

  And if thou lookest well into its nature;


You will see no such discord here,

We who live here have to live in love,

And if you think carefully about the nature of love;


Nay, 'tis essential to this blest existence

  To keep itself within the will divine,

  Whereby our very wishes are made one;


It is essential for our blessed existence

To keep obeying the will of God,

And our desires are the same as the rest;


So that, as we are station above station

  Throughout this realm, to all the realm 'tis pleasing,

  As to the King, who makes his will our will.


So that, wherever we are placed

Throughout this kingdom, everyone is happy,

For it pleases the King, who rules over everything.


And his will is our peace; this is the sea

  To which is moving onward whatsoever

  It doth create, and all that nature makes."


His desire gives us peace; He rules over

The sea which moves onwards with all of nature

Within it, and everything that is created."


Then it was clear to me how everywhere

  In heaven is Paradise, although the grace

  Of good supreme there rain not in one measure.


Then it became clear to me how everywhere

In heaven is Paradise, even though

Not every place is equally blessed.


But as it comes to pass, if one food sates,

  And for another still remains the longing,

  We ask for this, and that decline with thanks,


But just as one can have enough of one food,

But still be hungry for another,

Asking for one thing, rejecting another with thanks,


E'en thus did I; with gesture and with word,

  To learn from her what was the web wherein

  She did not ply the shuttle to the end.


That was how I was; through gestures and words

I asked her  what it was

Which she had not managed to attain.


"A perfect life and merit high in-heaven

  A lady o'er us," said she, "by whose rule

  Down in your world they vest and veil themselves,


“I did not live a perfect life and copy

The lady up in heaven, whose rule is followed

In your world by those who cover themselves and wear veils,


That until death they may both watch and sleep

  Beside that Spouse who every vow accepts

  Which charity conformeth to his pleasure.


So that until they die they live and sleep

Next to that husband who accepts every vow

Which is made to Him with love.


To follow her, in girlhood from the world

  I fled, and in her habit shut myself,

  And pledged me to the pathway of her sect.


In order to follow her, I left the world

When I was a girl, and dressed myself in her clothes,

And pledged to follow the rules of her order.


Then men accustomed unto evil more

  Than unto good, from the sweet cloister tore me;

  God knows what afterward my life became.


Then men who are more used to being evil

Than to being good pulled me from the sweet cloister;

God knows what my life became after that.


This other splendour, which to thee reveals

  Itself on my right side, and is enkindled

  With all the illumination of our sphere,


This other radiance, which you can see

On my right hand side, and is full

Of all the light which fills our heaven,


What of myself I say applies to her;

  A nun was she, and likewise from her head

  Was ta'en the shadow of the sacred wimple.


What I say about myself also applies to her;

She was a nun, and in the same way the sacred wimple

Was torn away from her head.


But when she too was to the world returned

  Against her wishes and against good usage,

  Of the heart's veil she never was divested.


But when she was thrown back into the world

Against her wishes and with force,

She never lost the veil over her heart.


Of great Costanza this is the effulgence,

  Who from the second wind of Suabia

  Brought forth the third and latest puissance."


This is the light of great Costanza,

Who became married to Barbarossa

And gave birth to its most recent ruler."


Thus unto me she spake, and then began

  "Ave Maria" singing, and in singing

  Vanished, as through deep water something heavy.


So she spoke to me, and then began

To sing “Ave Maria," and as she sang

She vanished, like something heavy falling into deep water.


My sight, that followed her as long a time

  As it was possible, when it had lost her

  Turned round unto the mark of more desire,


I looked after her for as long

As was possible, and when I could no longer see her

I turned back to my greater desire,


And wholly unto Beatrice reverted;

  But she such lightnings flashed into mine eyes,

  That at the first my sight endured it not;


And this in questioning more backward made me.


And focused completely upon Beatrice;

But her brightness dazzled my eyes so much

That at first my sight could not endure it;


And that stopped me from questioning for the moment.
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