Paradiso -- Canto XIX

The Eagle on Divine Justice

 

Notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

46 Lucifer was the first proud angel to fall from heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

106 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord.' shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

115 Albert I of Hapsburg, king of Austria and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, invaded Bohemia in 1304 (see note to Purgatorio V, l. 97).

118 Philip IV of France debased the coinage to finance his Flemish campaigns (1297-1304). He died accidently while boar hunting in 1314 (see note to Purgatorio VII, l. 109).

122 A reference to the Scottish-English border wars.

125  Wenceslaus II, king of Bohemia (1278-1305), and Ferdinand IV, king of Castile (1295-1312), are examples of intemperate rulers.

127 Charles II of Anjou, king of Naples (1285-1309), called the Lame, took the title of King of Jerusalem without any claims to it (see Purgatorio VII, l 126).

131 Frederick II of Aragon, king of Sicily (1286-1337), abandoned the Ghibelline cause after the death of Henry VII (see Purgatorio VII, l. 119). Sicily, where Anchises, Aeneas’ father, died, is an island with many volcanoes, most famous of which is Mount Etna.

136 James, king of Majorca and the Balearic Islands (1276-125), and James II, king of Aragon (1291-1327) engaged in numerous wars.

139 Diniz, king of Portugal (1279-1325), and Haakon V, king of Norway (1299-1319), extend the list of contemporary kings preoccupied with conflicts.

140 Stephen Urosh II, king of Rascia (old Serbia) from 1275 to 1321, counterfeited Venetian coins.

142 The kingdom of Hungary, once held by Charles Martel, was ruled by Andrew III in 1300, but within the year his death issued in a period of struggle. Navarre could not maintain her isolation either and became part of France in 1305.

146 Nicosia and Famagosta, towns in Cyprus, labor under the heavy rule of Henry II of Lusignan (d. 1324).

          Before me now with outspread wings appeared
          The gorgeous image which those weaving souls,
          Delighting in their sweet enjoyment, made.
 
          Each one of them seemed like a little ruby
5         In which the sun’s rays burst with such bright flame
          That it reflected light straight to my eyes.
 
          And what I now am called on to recount
          Never has voice spoken nor ink written,
          Nor has imagination ever grasped it.
 
10       For I saw and I heard the beak speak up
          And sound out with its voice both I and Mine
          When really it intended We and Our.
 
          "For being just and dutiful," it began,
          "I am exalted to that height of glory
15       Which no desire is able to outreach,
 
          "While, there on earth, I left a memory
          Which even evildoers wish to praise,
          Although they do not follow its example."
 
          As many embers make one single heat,
20       So many loves sound out one single voice
          Which issues from one image of them all.
 
          Then I addressed them, "O perennial flowers
          Of everlasting happiness! you cause
          All your perfumes to seem to me one scent!
 
25       "Breathe out and free me from the mighty fast
          That for too long has kept me hungering,
          Finding no food on earth to ease the pain.
 
          "I know well that if there are other kingdoms
          Which here in heaven mirror God’s high justice,
30       Yours does not reflect it through a veil.
 
          "You know how eagerly I ready myself
          To listen, and you know the question which
          From days of old has made me fast with doubt."
 
          Just as a falcon, slipping from its hood,
35       Rears and shakes its head and flaps its wings,
          Showing its spirit, making itself handsome,
 
          So I saw move that banner which was woven
          With praises for the grace of God, with songs
          Such as they know who there rejoice on high.
 
40       The voice began then, "He who turned his compass
          Around the limits of the world, and in it
          Marked out much that is hidden and revealed,
 
          "Could not so stamp his power on the whole
          Universe, but that his Word must still
45       Remain in infinite superiority.
 
          "The proof of this is in that first proud angel
          Who was the pinnacle of every creature
          And who fell unripe, not waiting for the light:
 
          "So we can see that every lesser nature
50       Is too slight a container for that Good
          Which is self-measuring and limitless.
 
          "Your vision, then, which of necessity
          Is only one of the rays of the Mind
          Which permeates all things with plenitude,
 
55       "Can never, by its nature, lack the power
          But that it should perceive its origin
          Is far beyond all that occurs to it.
 
          "The sight, then, that is granted to your world
          May penetrate within eternal justice
60       No further than the eye into the sea.
 
          "Though from the shore the eye can see the bottom,
          It does not see it on the open sea;
          Yet it is there, but hidden in the depths.
 
          "Light is not light unless it come from that
65       Serene and cloudless Source: else it is darkness,
          The shadow and the poison of our flesh.
 
          "Now then, the hiding-place, which has concealed
          From you the living justice you so often
          Called into question, lies well open to you.
 
70       "For you would say, ‘A man’s born on the bank
          Along the Indus, and no one is there
          Who ever speaks or reads or writes of Christ.
 
          " ‘Yet everything he wills or does is good,
          So far as human reason can perceive,
75       Without a sin in living or in speaking.
 
          " ‘Unbaptized he dies, and without faith.
          Where is the justice that condemns this man?
          What is his fault if he does not believe?’
 
          "Now who are you to sit upon the seat
80       Of judgment at a thousand miles away
          When your short sight sees just a foot ahead?
 
          "Surely, were Scriptures not set over you
          As guide, for him who would split hairs with me
          There would be wondrous chance for questioning.
 
85       "O animals of earth, O gross of mind!
          Good in itself, the primal Will has never
          Moved from itself which is the highest Good.
 
          "All in accord with it is just, and no
          Created good draws this Will to itself
90       Unless, by raying down, the Will directs it."
 
          Just as the stork wheels round above her nest
          After she has fed her young their food,
          And as each bird she fed looks up at her,
 
          So did the blessed emblem turn, and so
95       I lifted up my eyes, while it, impelled
          By many inspirations, moved its wings.
 
          Wheeling it sang, and said, "As are my notes
          To you who do not comprehend them, such
          Is the eternal judgment to you mortals."
 
100      After the Holy Spirit’s glowing flames
          Had quieted, the voice still in the ensign
          Which made the Romans awesome to the world
 
          Began again, "None ever mounted to
          This kingdom who did not believe in Christ,
105     Before or since he was nailed to the tree.
 
          "But mark this: many who cry out ‘Christ, Christ,’
          Will be less close to him on Judgment Day
          Than someone who may not have known of Christ.
 
          "The Ethiopian shall damn such Christians
110      When the two companies shall be divided,
          One rich forever and the other poor.
 
          "What will the Persian then say to your kings
          When they shall see the volume opened wide
          In which their infamies are all recorded?
 
115      "There shall be seen among the deeds of Albert
          One act which soon will set the pen in motion,
          By which the realm of Prague will turn a desert.
 
          "There shall be seen the grief brought on the Seine
          By that man who will counterfeit the coinage
120     And whom the blow of a wild boar will kill.
 
          "There shall be seen the pride that sharpens thirst
          And makes the Scot and Englishman so mad
          That neither one can stay within his borders.
 
          "Seen too shall be the lusting and soft living
125      Of both kings of Bohemia and Spain,
          Who never knew courageousness or wished to.
 
          "Seen too the Cripple of Jerusalem
          Whose goodness is enough to dot an i,
          While his misdeeds would fill an alphabet.
 
130      "Seen too shall be the greed and cowardice
          Of him who was the ward of Fire Island
          On which Anchises ended his long life.
 
          "And to help you discern his paltriness,
          His record shall be written with few letters
135     Which will note down a great deal in small space.
 
          "And the foul acts of his uncle and his brother,
          Which heaped shame on so famed a lineage
          And on two crowns, shall be made plain to all.
 
          "And both kings of Norway and of Portugal
140      Shall be known there, and seen the lord of Rascia
          Who conned the coins of Venice to his loss.
 
          "O happy Hungary, if she can preserve
          Herself from more mishandling! O happy Navarre,
          If she can make herself a mountain stronghold!
 
145     "And all should credit that, in pledge of this,
          Already Nicosia and Famagosta
          Complain and wail because their beast of burden
 
          "Will not break off from the rest of the herd."
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