by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Spirituality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
Peter Damian]: "Your hearing is as mortal as your sight;
thus, here there is no singing," he replied,
"and Beatrice, in like wise, did not smile." (Par. XXI, 61-63)
Just as Dante's mortal sight could not endure the brilliance of Beatrice's smile here in the Seventh Heaven, his equally mortal hearing could not endure any of the blessed souls' singing, were they to hymn. It seems that the blessed souls make allowances for Dante, reining in their various superhuman qualities to ensure Dante's well-being.
But time between one and other when
was brief – I mean the whens of waiting and
of seeing heaven grow more radiant.
And Beatrice said: "There you see the troops
of the triumphant Christ – and all the fruits
ingathered from the turning of these spheres!"
It seemed to me her face was all aflame,
and there was so much gladness in her eyes –
I am compelled to leave it undescribed.
Like Trivia – at the full moon in clear skies –
smiling among the everlasting nymphs
who decorate all reaches of the sky,
I saw a sun above a thousand lamps;
it kindled all of them as does our sun
kindle the sights above us here on earth;
and through its living light the glowing Substance
appeared to me with such intensity –
my vision lacked the power to sustain it. (Par. XXIII, 16-33)
The reference to "heaven grow[ing] more radiant" and Beatrice's later allusion to "the triumphant Christ" implies that Jesus is like a sun to this heaven. Indeed, his followers are described as "fruits / ingathered," which probably come from the work of the Holy Spirit. And the congregation of so many shining souls is compared to "a thousand lamps," whose collective light is so bright that Dante goes temporarily blind.
Even as he who squints and strains to see
the sun somewhat eclipsed and, as he tries
to see, becomes sightless, just so did I
in my attempt to watch the latest flame, (Par. XXV, 118-121)
St. John's appearance in his clothing of light is so brilliant that Dante "becomes sightless." The comparison of St. John to a "sun somewhat eclipsed" may refer to his wisdom, extending far beyond that of the souls located in the sun.