Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
VIII. Selections from “The Divine Comedy”
The Triumph of Christ
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)
Translated by Henry Francis Cary

Selections from “The Divine Comedy”
Paradise: Canto XIV.

  AND lo! forthwith there rose up round about
A lustre, over that already there;
Of equal clearness, like the brightening up
Of the horizon. As at evening hour
Of twilight, new appearances through heaven        5
Peer with faint glimmer, doubtfully descried;
So, there, new substances methought, began
To rise in view beyond the other twain,
And wheeling, sweep their ampler circuit wide.
  O genuine glitter of eternal Beam!        10
With what a sudden whiteness did it flow,
O’erpowering vision in me. But so fair,
So passing lovely, Beatrice showed,
Mind cannot follow it, nor words express
Her infinite sweetness. Thence mine eyes regained        15
Power to look up; and I beheld myself,
Sole with my lady, to more lofty bliss
Translated: for the star, with warmer smile
Impurpled, well denoted our ascent.
  With all the heart, and with that tongue which speaks        20
The same in all, an holocaust I made
To God befitting the new grace vouchsafed.
And from my bosom had not yet upsteamed
The fuming of that incense, when I knew
The rite accepted. With such mighty sheen        25
And mantling crimson, in two listed rays
The splendors shot before me, that I cried,
“God of Sabaoth! that dost prank them thus!”
  As leads the galaxy from pole to pole,
Distinguished into greater lights and less,        30
Its pathway, which the wisest fail to spell;
So thickly studded, in the depth of Mars,
Those rays described the venerable sign,
That quadrants in the round conjoining frame.
  Here memory mocks the toil of genius. Christ        35
Beamed on that cross; and pattern fails me now.
But whoso takes his cross, and follows Christ,
Will pardon me for that I leave untold,
When in the fleckered dawning he shall spy
The glitterance of Christ. From horn to horn,        40
And ’tween the summit and the base, did move
Lights, scintillating, as they met and passed.
Thus oft are seen with ever-changeful glance,
Straight or athwart, now rapid and now slow,
The atomies of bodies, long or short,        45
To move along the sunbeam, whose slant line
Checkers the shadow interposed by art
Against the noontide heat. And as the chime
Of minstrel music, dulcimer, and harp
With many strings, a pleasant dinning makes        50
To him, who heareth not distinct the note;
So from the lights, which there appeared to me,
Gathered along the cross a melody,
That, indistinctly heard, with ravishment
Possessed me. Yet I marked it was a hymn        55
Of lofty praises; for there came to me
“Arise,” and “Conquer,” as to one who hears
And comprehends not. Me such ecstasy
O’ercame, that never, till that hour, was thing
That held me in so sweet imprisonment.        60

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