Dante Alighieri (1315-1318) - 887 

Canto XII

In Canto XII Dante offers an exact counterpart of the preceding one. As soon as Thomas Aquinas concludes his speech, another ring of blessed spirits suddenly joins the first; from this group Bonaventure steps forward, and returns the compliment paid to his own founder by Thomas Aquinas by singing the praises of Saint Dominic. Continuing the nearly line-by-line parallels between the two cantos, when Bonaventure finishes Dominic's story, he comments on the present fallen state of his own order, immersed in temporal cares.

No sooner had the blessed flame a begun
to speak its final word than the millstone
of holy lights began to turn, but it

was not yet done with one full revolution
before another ring surrounded it,
and motion matched with motion, song with song—

a song that, sung by those sweet instruments,
surpasses so our Muses and our Sirens
as first light does the light that is reflected.

Just as, concentric, like in color, two
rainbows will curve their way through a thin cloud
when Juno has commanded her handmaid,b

the outer rainbow echoing the inner,
much like the voice of one—the wandering nymph c
whom love consumed as sun consumes the mist

(and those two bows let people here foretell,
by reason of the pact God made with Noah,
that flood will never strike the world again):

so the two garlands of those everlasting
roses circled around us, and so did
the outer circle mime the inner ring.

When the dance and jubilation, festival
of song and flame that answered flame, of light
with light, of gladness and benevolence,

in one same instant, with one will, fell still
(just as the eyes, when moved by their desire,
can only close and open in accord),




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 887