Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Spain: Calahorra
Saint Dominic
Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321)
 
(From Paradise, Canto XII)
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

WITHIN that region where the sweet west-wind
    Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith
    Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh,
Not far off from the beating of the waves,
    Behind which in his long career the sun        5
    Sometimes conceals himself from every man,
Is situate the fortunate Calahorra,
    Under protection of the mighty shield
    In which the Lion subject is and sovereign.
Therein was born the amorous paramour        10
    Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate,
    Kind to his own and cruel to his foes;
And when it was created was his mind
    Replete with such a living energy,
    That in his mother her it made prophetic.        15
As soon as the espousals were complete
    Between him and the Faith at holy font,
    Where they with mutual safety dowered each other,
The woman, who for him had given assent,
    Saw in a dream the admirable fruit        20
    That issue would from him and from his heirs;
And that he might be construed as he was,
    A spirit from this place went forth to name him
    With His possessive whose he wholly was.
Dominic was he called; and him I speak of        25
    Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
    Elected to his garden to assist him.
Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ,
    For the first love made manifest in him
    Was the first counsel that was given by Christ.        30
Silent and wakeful many a time was he
    Discovered by his nurse upon the ground,
    As if he would have said, “For this I came.”
O thou his father, Felix verily!
    O thou his mother, verily Joanna,        35
    If this, interpreted, means as is said!
Not for the world which people toil for now
    In following Ostiense and Taddeo,
    But through his longing after the true manna,
He in short time became so great a teacher,        40
    That he began to go about the vineyard,
    Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser;
And of the See, (that once was more benignant
    Unto the righteous poor, not through itself,
    But him who sits there and degenerates,)        45
Not to dispense or two or three for six,
    Not any fortune of first vacancy,
    Non decimas quæ sunt pauperum Dei,
He asked for, but against the errant world
    Permission to do battle for the seed,        50
    Of which these four-and-twenty plants surround thee.
Then with the doctrine and the will together,
    With office apostolical he moved,
    Like torrent which some lofty vein out-presses;
And in among the shoots heretical        55
    His impetus with greater fury smote,
    Wherever the resistance was the greatest.
Of him were made thereafter divers runnels,
    Whereby the garden catholic is watered,
    So that more living its plantations stand.        60
 
 
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