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Text - "The Divine Comedy" Dante Alighieri


"Brother! no eye of man not perfected, Nor fully ripen'd in the flame of love, May fathom this decree. It is a mark, In sooth, much aim'd at, and but little kenn'd: And I will therefore show thee why such way Was worthiest. The celestial love, that spume All envying in its bounty, in itself With such effulgence blazeth, as sends forth All beauteous things eternal. What distils Immediate thence, no end of being knows, Bearing its seal immutably impress'd. Whatever thence immediate falls, is free, Free wholly, uncontrollable by power Of each thing new: by such conformity More grateful to its author, whose bright beams, Though all partake their shining, yet in those Are liveliest, which resemble him the most. These tokens of pre-eminence on man Largely bestow'd, if any of them fail, He needs must forfeit his nobility, No longer stainless. Sin alone is that, Which doth disfranchise him, and make unlike To the chief good; for that its light in him Is darken'd. And to dignity thus lost Is no return; unless, where guilt makes void, He for ill pleasure pay with equal pain. Your nature, which entirely in its seed Trangress'd, from these distinctions fell, no less Than from its state in Paradise; nor means Found of recovery (search all methods out As strickly as thou may) save one of these, The only fords were left through which to wade, Either that God had of his courtesy Releas'd him merely, or else man himself For his own folly by himself aton'd. "Fix now thine eye, intently as thou canst, On th' everlasting counsel, and explore, Instructed by my words, the dread abyss. "Man in himself had ever lack'd the means Of satisfaction, for he could not stoop Obeying, in humility so low, As high he, disobeying, thought to soar: And for this reason he had vainly tried Out of his own sufficiency to pay The rigid satisfaction. Then behooved That God should by his own ways lead him back Unto the life, from whence he fell, restor'd: By both his ways, I mean, or one alone. But since the deed is ever priz'd the more, The more the doer's good intent appears, Goodness celestial, whose broad signature Is on the universe, of all its ways To raise ye up, was fain to leave out none, Nor aught so vast or so magnificent, Either for him who gave or who receiv'd Between the last night and the primal day, Was or can be. For God more bounty show'd. Giving himself to make man capable Of his return to life, than had the terms Been mere and unconditional release. And for his justice, every method else Were all too scant, had not the Son of God Humbled himself to put on mortal flesh. "Now, to fulfil each wish of thine, remains I somewhat further to thy view unfold. That thou mayst see as clearly as myself. "I see, thou sayst, the air, the fire I see, The earth and water, and all things of them Compounded, to corruption turn, and soon Dissolve. Yet these were also things create, Because, if what were told me, had been true They from corruption had been therefore free. "The angels, O my brother! and this clime Wherein thou art, impassible and pure, I call created, as indeed they are In their whole being. But the elements, Which thou hast nam'd, and what of them is made, Are by created virtue' inform'd: create Their substance, and create the' informing virtue In these bright stars, that round them circling move The soul of every brute and of each plant, The ray and motion of the sacred lights, With complex potency attract and turn. But this our life the' eternal good inspires Immediate, and enamours of itself; So that our wishes rest for ever here. "And hence thou mayst by inference conclude Our resurrection certain, if thy mind Consider how the human flesh was fram'd, When both our parents at the first were made."

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