Just as I write this, thus did Beatrice speak;
Then, desire-brimmed, she turned
To that part of the sky that brightest shines.
Her sudden muteness and mutable semblance
Imposed a silence on my mind already
Eager with new questions formed just in advance;
And as the swift-shaft sinks into its mark
Before the bowstring has time to calm,
So did we speed into the Second Heaven.
I saw my woman there, so joyous
As she rose into that realm’s radiance,
Making the planet still more radiant.
And if the star itself then changed and smiled,
What then did I, who by my nature alters
With each and every changing form, become?
As when fish, in a still and clear fishpond, draw
Near anything that falls to them from the surface
In a way that makes them think what falls their food,
So did I see more than a thousand splendors
Draw near us, and in each of them was heard:
“Lo and behold, one who will augment our loves!”
And as these splendors approached us
Each shade beamed contentedly
From the bright beams it cast out.
Think, reader, of what is here just beginning
Not proceeding any farther, how keen
Then your need to know more, anguished, would be;
And you shall see for yourself, as they
Appeared before my very eyes, how I desired
To hear from them, there and then, about their state.
“O blessed soul, onto whom Grace concedes,
Prior to your exiting the battlefield,
Sight of the throne of the Eternal Triumph,
We are alight with the fire that fills
The entire span of Heaven; and so, if
You would like us to enlighten you, just say,”
Said one of those holy spirits to me.
And then Beatrice: “Speak, speak
Sure of yourself, believe in them as though gods.”
“I see clearly how you nest in your own light.
And, from the way they glimmer when you smile,
That you draw this light from your eyes.
“But what I don’t know is who you are, nor why,
Worthy soul, you are stationed in the sphere
That veils itself from mortals in another
Sphere’s rays.” I said this as I stood facing the light
That first had talked to me; which then became
Even more luminous than it had been before.
And, as the sun conceals itself in an excess
Of its own light, when its heat has worn away
All thick and tempering mists,
So, with growing gladness, did that sainted figure
Hide himself from me within his rays;
And, thus enclosed, enclosed his response
In the style that the next song sings.