| Quote #16
If that which has been said of her so far
Beatrice's beauty is so great here that Dante surrenders completely and admits that he cannot hope to express it linguistically. This passage is remarkable for the totality of Dante's defeat; he has conceded before, but never so totally and at such length. It also suggests that when something is beyond Dante's ability to describe in words, silence is the most appropriate response. It is somewhat degrading to dumb down something which is beyond human conception just to put it in one's own words.
| Quote #17
because my sight, becoming pure, was able
Interestingly, here Dante's vision has become so perfected that he can see all the divinity of Paradise in its true beauty, but cannot commit it to memory. This lack of memory, not an imperfect vision, results in his inability to describe in his poetry what he has witnessed.
| Quote #18
O Highest Light, You, raised so far above
Instead of invoking the Classical Muses, Dante ends his poem with an invocation to the Christian God. Because Dante understands the link between language and memory, he asks God for "one gleam of [His] glory…to my memory," so that he can better fulfill his poetic mission when back on Earth. Of course, under normal circumstances, mortals could not possibly remember the face of God, but Dante hopes that God will make an exception in his case because his goal is well-intentioned. Since Dante describes to us his vision of the Holy Trinity (the three circles) in his last canto, we are to understand that God does indeed allow him to remember.