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That as unjust our justice should appear
In eyes of mortals, is an argument
Of faith, and not of sin heretical.
But still, that your perception may be able
To thoroughly penetrate this verity,
As thou desirest, I will satisfy thee.
If it be violence when he who suffers
Co-operates not with him who uses force,
These souls were not on that account excused;
For will is never quenched unless it will,
But operates as nature doth in fire,
If violence a thousand times distort it.
Hence, if it yieldeth more or less, it seconds
The force; and these have done so, having power 80
Of turning back unto the holy place.
If their will had been perfect, like to that
Which Lawrence fast upon his gridiron held,
And Mutius made severe to his own hand,
It would have urged them back along the road
Whence they were dragged, as soon as they were free;
But such a solid will is all too rare.
And by these words, if thou hast gathered them
But now another passage runs across
Before thine eyes, and such that by thyself
Thou couldst not thread it ere thou wouldst be
I have for certain put into thy mind
That soul beatified could never lie,
For it is ever near the primal Truth,
And then thou from Piccarda might'st have heard
Costanza kept affection for the veil,
So that she seemeth here to contradict me.
Many times, brother, has it come to pass,
That, to escape from peril, with reluctance
Thereto entreated, his own mother slew)
At this point I desire thee to remember
That force with will commingles, and they cause
That the offences cannot be excused.
Will absolute consenteth not to evil;
But in so far consenteth as it fears,
If it refrain, to fall into more harm.
Hence when Piccarda uses this expression,
She meaneth the will absolute, and I
The other, so that both of us speak truth."
Such was the flowing of the holy river
That issued from the fount whence springs all truth;
This put to rest my wishes one and all.
"O love of the first lover, O divine,"
Said I forthwith, "whose speech inundates me
And warms me so, it more and more revives me,
My own affection is not so profound
As to suffice in rendering grace for grace;
Let Him, who sees and can, thereto respond.
Our intellect unless the Truth illume it,
It rests therein, as wild beast in his lair,
When it attains it; and it can attain it;
If not, then each desire would frustrate be. Therefore springs up, in fashion of a shoot,
Doubt at the foot of truth; and this is nature,
Which to the top from height to height impels us. This doth invite me, this assurance give me
With reverence, Lady, to inquire of you
I wish to know if man can satisfy you
For broken vows with other good deeds, so
Beatrice gazed upon me with her eyes
Full of the sparks of love, and so divine,
That, overcome my power, I turned my back And almost lost myself with eyes downcast.
“IF in the heat of love I flame
upon thee Beyond the measure that on earth is seen, So that the valor of thine eyes I vanquish, Marvel thou not thereat; for this proceeds
From perfect sight, which as it apprehends
To the good apprehended moves its feet.
Well I perceive how is already shining
Into thine intellect the eternal light,
That only seen enkindles always love;
And if some other thing your love seduce,
'Tis nothing but a vestige of the same,
Ill understood, which there is shining through. Thou fain wouldst know if with another service For broken vow can such return be made
As to secure the soul from further claim.”
This Canto thus did Beatrice begin;
And, as a man who breaks not off his speech,