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 Canto XXXII
      Dante is warned not to gaze too fixedly on Beatrice. The procession moves
 on, accompanied by Matilda, Statius, and Dante, till they reach an exceeding
 lofty tree, where divers strange chances befall.
 Mine eyes with such an eager coveting
 Were bent to rid them of their ten years' thirst,[1]
 Not other sense was waking: and e'en they
 Were fenced on either side from heed of aught;
 So tangled, in its custom'd toils, that smile
 Of saintly brightness drew me to itself:
 When forcibly, toward the left, my sight
 The sacred virgins turn'd; for from their lips
 I heard the warning sounds: "Too fix'd a gaze!"
 [1: "Their ten years' thirst." Beatrice had been dead ten years.]
 A while my vision labour'd; as when late
 Upon the o'erstrained eyes the sun hath smote:
 But soon, to lesser object, as the view
 Was now recover'd, (lesser in respect
 To that excess of sensible, whence late
 I had perforce been sunder'd), on their right
 I mark'd that glorious army wheel, and turn,
 Against the sun and sevenfold lights, their front.
 As when, their bucklers for protection raised,
 A well - ranged troop, with portly banners curl'd,
 Wheel circling, ere the whole can change their ground;
 E'en thus the goodly regiment of Heaven
 Proceeding, all did pass us, ere the car
 Had sloped his beam. Attendant at the wheels
 The damsels turn'd; and on the Gryphon moved
 The sacred burden, with a pace so smooth,
 No feather on him trembled. The fair dame,
 Who through the wave had drawn me, companied
 By Statius and myself, pursued the wheel,
 Whose orbit, rolling, mark'd a lesser arch.
 Through the high wood, now void, (the more her blame,
 Who by the serpent was beguiled), I pass'd,
 With step in cadence to the harmony
 Angelic. Onward had we moved, as far,
 Perchance, as arrow at three several flights
 Full wing'd had sped, when from her station down
 Descended Beatrice. With one voice
 All murmur'd "Adam"; circling next a plant
 Despoil'd of flowers and leaf, on every bough,
 Its tresses, spreading more as more they rose,
 Were such, as 'midst their forest wilds, for height,
 The Indians might have gazed at. "Blessed thou,
 Gryphon![2] whose beak hath never pluck'd that tree
 Pleasant to taste: for hence the appetite
 Was warp'd to evil." Round the stately trunk
 Thus shouted forth the rest, to whom return'd
 The animal twice - gender'd: "Yea! for so
 The generation of the just are saved."
 And turning to the chariot - pole, to foot
 He drew it of the widow'd branch, and bound
 There, left unto the stock whereon it grew.
 [2: "Gryphon." Our Saviour's submission to the Roman Empire appears
 to be intended, and particularly his injunction to "render unto Caesar the
 things that are Caesar's."]
 As when large floods of radiance from above
 Stream, with that radiance mingled, which ascends
 Next after setting of the scaly sign,
 Our plants then burgeon, and each wears anew
 His wonted colours, ere the sun have yoked
 Beneath another star his flamy steeds;
 Thus putting forth a hue more faint than rose,
 And deeper than the violet, was renew'd
 The plant, erewhile in all its branches bare.
 Unearthly was the hymn, which then arose.
 I understood it not, nor to the end
 Endured the harmony. Had I the skill
 To pencil forth how closed the unpitying eyes
 Slumbering, when Syrinx warbled, (eyes that paid
 So dearly for their watching), then, like painter,
 That with a model paints, I might design
 The manner of my falling into sleep.
 But feign who will the slumber cunningly,
 I pass it by to when I waked; and tell,
 How suddenly a flash of splendour rent
 The curtain of my sleep, and one cries out,
 "Arise; what dost thou?" As the chosen three,
 On Tabor's mount, admitted to behold
 The blossoming of that fair tree,[3] whose fruit
 Is coveted of Angels, and doth make
 Perpetual feast in Heaven; to themselves
 Returning, at the word whence deeper sleeps[4]
 Were broken, they their tribe diminish'd saw;
 Both Moses and Elias gone, and changed
 The stole their Master wore; thus to myself
 Returning, over me beheld I stand
 The piteous one,[5] who, cross the stream, had brought
 My steps. "And where," all doubting, I exclaim'd,
 "Is Beatrice?" - "See her," she replied,
 "Beneath the fresh leaf, seated on its root.
 Behold the associate choir that circles her.
 The others, with a melody more sweet
 And more profound, journeying to higher realms,
 Upon the Gryphon tend." If there her words
 Were closed, I know not; but mine eyes had now
 Ta'en view of her, by whom all other thoughts
 Were barr'd admittance. On the very ground
 Alone she sat, as she had there been left
 A guard upon the wain, which I beheld
 Bound to the twoform beast. The seven nymphs
 Did make themselves a cloister round about her;
 And, in their hands, upheld those lights[6] secure
 From blast septentrion and the gusty south.
 [3: "The blossoming of that fair tree." Our Saviour's
 transfiguration. "As the apple - tree among the trees of the wood, so is my
 beloved among the sons." - Solomon's Song, ii. 3.]
 [4: "Deeper sleeps." The sleep of death, in the instance of the ruler
 of the synagogue's daughter and of Lazarus."]
 [5: "The piteous one." Matilda.]
 [6: "Those lights." The tapers of gold.]
 "A little while thou shalt be forester here;
 And citizen shalt be, forever with me,
 Of that true Rome,[7] wherein Christ dwells a Roman,
 [7: "Of that true Rome." Of Heaven.]
 To profit the misguided world, keep now
 Thine eyes upon the car; and what thou seest,
 Take heed thou write, returning to that place."[8]
 [8: "To that place." To the earth.]
 Thus Beatrice: at whose feet inclined
 Devout, at her behest, my thought and eyes
 I, as she bade, directed. Never fire,
 With so swift motion, forth a stormy cloud
 Leap'd downward from the welkin's farthest bound,
 As I beheld the bird of Jove,[9] descen
 Down through the tree; and, as he rush'd, the rind
 Disparting crush beneath him; buds much more,
 And leaflets. On the car, with all his might
 He struck; whence, staggering, like a ship it reel'd,
 At random driven, to starboard now, o'ercome,
 And now to larboard, by the vaulting waves.
 [9: "The bird of Jove." This, which is imitated from Ezekiel, xvii.
 3, 4, is typical of the persecutions which the Church sustained from the Roman
 Next, springing up into the chariot's womb,
 A fox[10] I saw, with hunger seeming pined
 Of all good food. But, for his ugly sins
 The saintly maid rebuking him, away
 Scampering he turn'd, fast as his hide - bound corpse
 Would bear him. Next, from whence before he came,
 I saw the eagle dart into the hull
 O' the car, and leave it with his feathers lined:[11]
 And then a voice, like that which issues forth
 From heart with sorrow rived, did issue forth
 From Heaven, and "O poor bark of mine!" it cried,
 "How badly art thou freighted." Then it seem'd
 That the earth open'd, between either wheel;
 And I beheld a dragon[12] issue thence,
 That through the chariot fix'd his forked train;
 And like a wasp, that draggeth back the sting,
 So drawing forth his baleful train, he dragg'd
 Part of the bottom forth; and went his way,
 Exulting. What remain'd, as lively turf
 [10: "A fox." By the fox probably is represented the treachery of the
 [11: "With his feathers lined." In allusion to the donations made by
 Constantine to the Church.]
 [12: "A dragon." Probably Mohammed; for what Lombardi offers to the
 contrary is far from satisfactory.]
 With green herb, so did clothe itself with plumes,[13]
 Which haply had, with purpose chaste and kind,
 Been offer'd; and therewith were clothed the wheels,
 Both one and other, and the beam, so quickly,
 A sigh were not breathed sooner. Thus transform'd,
 The holy structure, through its several parts,
 Did put forth heads;[14] three on the beam, and one
 On every side: the first like oxen horn'd;
 But with a single horn upon their front,
 The four. Like monster, sight hath never seen.
 O'er it[15] methought there sat, secure as rock
 On mountain's lofty top, a shameless whore,
 Whose ken roved loosely round her. At her side,
 As 't were that none might bear her off, I saw
 A giant stand; and ever and anon
 They mingled kisses. But, her lustful eyes
 Chancing on me to wander, that fell minion
 Scourged her from head to foot all o'er; then full
 Of jealousy, and fierce with rage, unloosed
 The monster, and dragg'd on,[16] so far across
 The forest, that from me its shades alone
 Shielded the harlot and the new - form'd brute.
 [13: "With plumes." The increase of wealth and temporal dominion,
 which followed the supposed gift of Constantine.]
 [14: "Heads." By the seven heads, it is supposed with sufficient
 probability, are meant the seven capital sins: by the three with two horns,
 pride, anger, and avarice, injurious both to man himself and to his neighbor:
 by the four with one horn, gluttony, gloominess, concupiscence, and envy,
 hurtful, at least in their primary effects, chiefly to him who is guilty of
 [15: "O'er it." The harlot is thought to represent the state of the
 Church under Boniface VIII, and the giant to figure Philip IV of France.]
 [16: "Dragg'd on." The removal of the Pope's residence from Rome to
 Avignon is pointed at.]