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 Canto XXXI
      The Poet expatiates further on the glorious vision described in the last
 Canto. On looking round for Beatrice, he finds that she has left him, and that
 an old man is at his side. This proves to be St. Bernard, who shows him that
 Beatrice has returned to her throne, and then points out to him the
 blessedness of the Virgin Mother.
 In fashion, as a snow white rose, lay then
 Before my view the saintly multitude,[1]
 Which in His own blood Christ espoused. Meanwhile,
 That other host,[2] that soar aloft to gaze
 And celebrate His glory, whom they love,
 Hover'd around; and, like a troop of bees,
 Amid the vernal sweets alighting now,
 Now, clustering, where their fragrant labour glows,
 Flew downward to the mighty flower, or rose
 From the redundant petals, streaming back
 Unto the steadfast dwelling of their joy,
 Faces had they of flame, and wings of gold:
 [1: Human souls, advanced to this state of glory through the
 mediation of Christ.]
 [2: "That other host." The Angels.]
 The rest was whiter than the driven snow;
 And, as they flitted down into the flower,
 From range to range, fanning their plumy loins,
 Whisper'd the peace and ardour, which they won
 From that soft winnowing. Shadow none, the vast
 Interposition of such numerous flight
 Cast, from above, upon the flower, or view
 Obstructed aught. For, through the universe,
 Wherever merited, celestial light
 Glides freely, and no obstacle prevents.
 All there, who reign in safety and in bliss,
 Ages long past or new, on one sole mark
 Their love and vision fix'd. O trinal beam
 Of individual star, that charm'st them thus!
 Vouchsafe one glance to gild our storm below.[3]
 [3: To guide us through the dangers of this tempestuous life.]
 If the grim brood,[4] from Arctic shores that roam'd,
 (Where Helice[5] for ever, as she wheels,
 Sparkles a mother's fondness on her son),
 Stood in mute wonder' mid the works of Rome,
 When to their view the Lateran arose
 In greatness more than earthly; I, who then
 From human to divine had past, from time
 Unto eternity, and out of Florence
 To justice and to truth, how might I chuse
 But marvel too? 'Twixt gladness and amaze,
 In sooth no will had I to utter aught,
 Or hear. And, as a pilgrim, when he rests
 Within the temple of his vow, looks round
 In breathless awe, and hopes some time to tell
 Of all its goodly state; e'en so mine eyes
 Coursed up and down along the living light,
 Now low, and now aloft, and now around,
 Visiting every step. Looks I beheld,
 Where charity in soft persuasion sat;
 Smiles from within, and radiance from above;
 And, in each gesture, grace and honour high.
 [4: "If the grim brood." The northern hordes who invaded Rome.]
 [5: "Helice." Callistro, and her son Arcas, changed into the
 constellation of the Greater Bear and Arctophylax, or Bootes.]
 So roved my ken, and in its general form
 All Paradise survey'd: when round I turn'd
 With purpose of my lady to inquire
 Once more of things, that held my thought suspense.
 But answer found from other than I ween'd;
 For, Beatrice, when I thought to see,
 I saw instead a senior, at my side,
 Robed, as the rest, in glory. Joy benign
 Glow'd in his eye, and o'er his cheek diffused,
 With gestures such as spake a father's love.
 And, "Whither is she vanish'd?" straight I ask'd.
 "By Beatrice summon'd," he replied,
 "I come to aid thy wish. Looking aloft
 To the third circle from the highest, there
 Behold her on the throne, wherein her merit
 Hath placed her." Answering not, mine eyes I raised,
 And saw her, where aloof she sat, her brow
 A wreath reflecting of eternal beams.
 Not from the centre of the sea so far
 Unto the region of the highest thunder,
 As was my ken from hers; and yet the form
 Came through that medium down, unmix'd and pure.
 "O Lady! thou in whom my hopes have rest;
 Who, for my safety, hast not scorn'd, in Hell
 To leave the traces of thy footsteps mark'd;
 for all mine eyes have seen, I to thy power
 And goodness, virtue owe and grace. Of slave
 Thou hast to freedom brought me: and no means,
 For my deliverance apt, hast left untried.
 Thy liberal bounty still toward me keep:
 That, when my spirit, which thou madest whole,
 Is loosen'd from this body, it may find
 Favour with thee." So I my suit preferr'd:
 And she, so distant, as appear'd, look'd down,
 And smiled; then toward the eternal fountain turn'd.
 And thus the senior, holy and revered:
 "That thou at length mayst happily conclude
 Thy voyage, (to which end I was despatch'd,
 By supplication moved and holy love),
 Let thy upsoaring vision range, at large,
 This garden through: for so, by ray divine
 Kindled, thy ken a higher flight shall mount;
 And from Heaven's Queen, whom fervent I adore,
 All gracious aid befriend us; for that I
 Am her own faithful Bernard."[6] Like a wight,
 Who haply from Croatia wends to see
 Our Veronica,[7] and, the while 'tis shown,
 Hangs over it with never - sated gaze,
 And, all that he hath heard revolving, saith
 Unto himself in thought: "And didst Thou look
 E'en thus, O Jesus, my true Lord and God?
 And was this semblance Thine?" So gazed I then
 Adoring; for the charity of him,[8]
 Who musing, in this world that peace enjoy'd,
 Stood livelily before me. "Child of grace!"
 Thus he began: "Thou shalt not knowledge gain
 Of this glad being, if thine eyes are held
 Still in this depth below. But search around
 The circles, to the furthest, till thou spy
 Seated in state, the Queen[9] that of this realm
 Is sovran." Straight mine eyes I raised; and bright,
 As, at the birth of morn, the eastern clime
 Above the horizon, where the sun declines;
 So to mine eyes, that upward, as from vale
 To mountain sped, at the extreme bound, a part
 Excell'd in lustre all the front opposed.
 And as the glow burns ruddiest o'er the wave,
 That waits the ascending team, which Phaeton
 Ill knew to guide, and on each part the light
 Diminish'd fades, intensest in the midst;
 So burn'd the peaceful oriflame, and slack'd
 On every side the living flame decay'd.
 [6: "Bernard." St. Bernard, the venerable Abbot of Clairvaux, and the
 great promoter of the Second Crusade, who died A. D. 1153, in his sixty -
 third year. He has been termed the last of the fathers of the Church. That the
 part he acts in the present poem should be assigned to him, appears somewhat
 remarkable, when we consider that he severely censured the new festival
 established in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, and "opposed
 the doctrine itself with the greatest vigor, as it supposed her being honored
 with a privilege which belonged to Christ alone."]
 [7: A copy in miniature of the picture of Christ, which is supposed
 to have been miraculously imprinted upon a handkerchief preserved in the
 church of St. Peter at Rome.]
 [8: "Him." St. Bernard.]
 [9: "The queen." The Virgin Mary.]
 And in that midst their sportive pennons waved
 Thousands of Angels; in resplendence each
 Distinct, and quaint adornment. At their glee
 And carol, smiled the Lovely One of Heaven,
 That joy was in the eyes of all the blest.
 Had I a tongue in eloquence as rich,
 As is the colouring in fancy's loom,
 'Twere all too poor to utter the least part
 Of that enchantment. When he saw mine eyes
 Intent on her, that charm'd him; Bernard gazed
 With so exceeding fondness, as infused
 Ardour into my breast, unfelt before.