Paradiso
Canto XVII
 

As came to Clymene, to be made certain
    Of that which he had heard against himself,
    He who makes fathers chary still to children,

Even such was I, and such was I perceived
    By Beatrice and by the holy light
    That first on my account had changed its place.

Therefore my Lady said to me: "Send forth
    The flame of thy desire, so that it issue
    Imprinted well with the internal stamp;

Not that our knowledge may be greater made
    By speech of thine, but to accustom thee
    To tell thy thirst, that we may give thee drink."

"O my beloved tree, (that so dost lift thee,
    That even as minds terrestrial perceive
    No triangle containeth two obtuse,

So thou beholdest the contingent things
    Ere in themselves they are, fixing thine eyes
    Upon the point in which all times are present,)

While I was with Virgilius conjoined
    Upon the mountain that the souls doth heal,
    And when descending into the dead world,

Were spoken to me of my future life
    Some grievous words; although I feel myself
    In sooth foursquare against the blows of chance.

On this account my wish would be content
    To hear what fortune is approaching me,
    Because foreseen an arrow comes more slowly."

Thus did I say unto that selfsame light
    That unto me had spoken before; and even
    As Beatrice willed was my own will confessed.

Not in vague phrase, in which the foolish folk
    Ensnared themselves of old, ere yet was slain
    The Lamb of God who taketh sins away,

But with clear words and unambiguous
    Language responded that paternal love,
    Hid and revealed by its own proper smile:

"Contingency, that outside of the volume
    Of your materiality extends not,
    Is all depicted in the eternal aspect.

Necessity however thence it takes not,
    Except as from the eye, in which 'tis mirrored,
    A ship that with the current down descends.

From thence, e'en as there cometh to the ear
    Sweet harmony from an organ, comes in sight
    To me the time that is preparing for thee.

As forth from Athens went Hippolytus,
    By reason of his step-dame false and cruel,
    So thou from Florence must perforce depart.

Already this is willed, and this is sought for;
    And soon it shall be done by him who thinks it,
    Where every day the Christ is bought and sold.

The blame shall follow the offended party
    In outcry as is usual; but the vengeance
    Shall witness to the truth that doth dispense it.

Thou shalt abandon everything beloved
    Most tenderly, and this the arrow is
    Which first the bow of banishment shoots forth.

Thou shalt have proof how savoureth of salt
    The bread of others, and how hard a road
    The going down and up another's stairs.

And that which most shall weigh upon thy shoulders
    Will be the bad and foolish company
    With which into this valley thou shalt fall;

For all ingrate, all mad and impious
    Will they become against thee; but soon after
    They, and not thou, shall have the forehead scarlet.

Of their bestiality their own proceedings
    Shall furnish proof; so 'twill be well for thee
    A party to have made thee by thyself.

Thine earliest refuge and thine earliest inn
    Shall be the mighty Lombard's courtesy,
    Who on the Ladder bears the holy bird,

Who such benign regard shall have for thee
    That 'twixt you twain, in doing and in asking,
    That shall be first which is with others last.

With him shalt thou see one who at his birth
    Has by this star of strength been so impressed,
    That notable shall his achievements be.

Not yet the people are aware of him
    Through his young age, since only nine years yet
    Around about him have these wheels revolved.

But ere the Gascon cheat the noble Henry,
    Some sparkles of his virtue shall appear
    In caring not for silver nor for toil.

So recognized shall his magnificence
    Become hereafter, that his enemies
    Will not have power to keep mute tongues about it.

On him rely, and on his benefits;
    By him shall many people be transformed,
    Changing condition rich and mendicant;

And written in thy mind thou hence shalt bear
    Of him, but shalt not say it"--and things said he
    Incredible to those who shall be present.

Then added: "Son, these are the commentaries
    On what was said to thee; behold the snares
    That are concealed behind few revolutions;

Yet would I not thy neighbours thou shouldst envy,
    Because thy life into the future reaches
    Beyond the punishment of their perfidies."

When by its silence showed that sainted soul
    That it had finished putting in the woof
    Into that web which I had given it warped,

Began I, even as he who yearneth after,
    Being in doubt, some counsel from a person
    Who seeth, and uprightly wills, and loves:

"Well see I, father mine, how spurreth on
    The time towards me such a blow to deal me
    As heaviest is to him who most gives way.

Therefore with foresight it is well I arm me,
    That, if the dearest place be taken from me,
    I may not lose the others by my songs.

Down through the world of infinite bitterness,
    And o'er the mountain, from whose beauteous summit
    The eyes of my own Lady lifted me,

And afterward through heaven from light to light,
    I have learned that which, if I tell again,
    Will be a savour of strong herbs to many.

And if I am a timid friend to truth,
    I fear lest I may lose my life with those
    Who will hereafter call this time the olden."

The light in which was smiling my own treasure
    Which there I had discovered, flashed at first
    As in the sunshine doth a golden mirror;

Then made reply: "A conscience overcast
    Or with its own or with another's shame,
    Will taste forsooth the tartness of thy word;

But ne'ertheless, all falsehood laid aside,
    Make manifest thy vision utterly,
    And let them scratch wherever is the itch;

For if thine utterance shall offensive be
    At the first taste, a vital nutriment
    'Twill leave thereafter, when it is digested.

This cry of thine shall do as doth the wind,
    Which smiteth most the most exalted summits,
    And that is no slight argument of honour.

Therefore are shown to thee within these wheels,
    Upon the mount and in the dolorous valley,
    Only the souls that unto fame are known;

Because the spirit of the hearer rests not,
    Nor doth confirm its faith by an example
    Which has the root of it unknown and hidden,

Or other reason that is not apparent."