DANTE'S SUBLIME COMEDY: PARADISE: Chapter 32
CHAPTER 32: The Rose’s Plan
Gazing upon the source of his delight
my co-adorer kindly lectured me
beginning with these holy words: “The wounds 3
of nails and spear that Mary ointmented
and closed, derived from Eve the beautiful
who sits below her feet. You will recall 6
Eve opened them by eating of a fruit.
In the third row below sits one you know –
Beatrice; then Jewish mothers: Rachel, 9
Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, also Ruth
grandmamma of King David, sinner,
singer of the penitential psalm. 12
After the Hebrew women’s seventh tier
a separation starts. On the left side
sit those who looked for Christ before his birth, 15
for they had faith in God’s Old Testament.
On the right side are seats for those who know
that Christ did come, some of them empty still. 18
Now look behind. On the side opposite
equal divisions reign. Facing our Heaven’s Queen
sits John the Baptist who prepared Christ’s way, 21
suffered the wilderness and martyrdom,
then went to Hell before Christ set him free.
Below him see Augustine, Benedict, 24
Francis and others down to where we stand,
but split between, as on the women’s side,
good Jews and Christian men, who shall remain 27
until both sides are filled up equally.
Also see that halfway down this flower
a tier encircling us has those beneath 30
whose merits did not win this place for them.
Look and listen well. Their faces, voices
tell they are souls of children who have died 33
before their innocence was tested by
fighting to conquer sin, resist Hell’s snare.
I see a doubt in you, striking you dumb. 36
Let me untie the knot that binds your tongue.
Chance accidents in Paradise, like thirst,
hunger and suffering cannot exist. 39
All that befalls souls here is fitting them
surely as rings fit fingers, so accept
God’s foresight and His Grace will give to all 42
their rightful place. Do not try to know more.
Look on her face whose face is most like Christ’s.
Only her brightness can enlarge your mind.” 45
From the first angels soaring in these heights
I now saw gladness raining down on her.
All that appeared before was not so full 48
of such wonder and love. I seemed to see
The Holy Dove descend, and hear the hymn
Hail Mary, full of Grace, saw the wings spread, 51
heard on each side the divine court respond
tunefully to the divine voice. Each face
melodiously grew more glorious. 54
“O holy father whose great courtesy
in guiding me removes you from your throne,
which angel gazes so enchantedly 57
upon the Virgin, he appears on fire?”
I asked the saint. He answered, “He contains
all gallantry an angel can, so brought 60
Mary word she would bear the son of God.
Attend again, for I will point out more
nobilities in this most merciful 63
empire of the just. Upon either side
of our Queen sit the twin roots of this rose.
On her left is Adam, the first dad who 66
tasted the bitter fruit, causing The Fall.
All are engendered from his seed. Look right
where sits the Kirk’s father and foundation, 69
who was given keys to this bonny bloom;
beside him John, the prophet who foresaw
the tribulations Christ’s Kirk had to face. 72
Beside the other rests the great guide who
led ungrateful tribes through the desert where
he nourished them with manna from the skies. 75
But now time flies and soon your dream must end.
Good tailors cut a coat according to
the cloth available, so point your eyes 78
toward the Primal Love. Look into His
radiance deep as you can. In striving
to advance you may, for lack of God’s Grace, 81
fall back. Pray hard for it. Salvation lies
in prayer. Follow my words with love. Let
nothing come between them and your heart.”
He began his holy supplication. 84