The Vision: Dante and Beatrice

The Vision: Dante and Beatrice

Scheffer, Ary

The prophecy of Beatrice (Lady Wisdom):

"I'd have you disentangle
yourself, from this point on, from fear and shame,
that you no longer speak like one who dreams.
Know that the vessel which the serpent broke
was and is not; but he whose fault it is
may rest assured-God's vengeance fears no hindrance.
The eagle that had left its plumes within
the chariot, which then became a monster
and then a prey, will not forever be
without an heir; for I can plainly see,
and thus I tell it: stars already close
at hand, which can't be blocked or checked, will bring
a time in which, dispatched by God, a Five
Hundred and Ten and Five will slay the whore
together with that giant who sins with her.
And what I tell, as dark as Sphinx and Themis,
may leave you less convinced because-like these-
it tires the intellect with quandaries;
but soon events themselves will be the Naiads
that clarify this obstinate enigma-
but without injury to grain or herds.
Take note; and even as I speak these words,
do you transmit them in your turn to those
who live the life that is a race to death.
And when you write them, keep in mind that you
must not conceal what you've seen of the tree
that now has been despoiled twice over here.
Whoever robs or rends that tree offends,
with his blaspheming action, God; for He
created it for His sole use-holy.
For tasting of that tree, the first soul waited
five thousand years and more in grief and longing
for Him who on Himself avenged that taste.
Your intellect's asleep if it can't see
how singular's the cause that makes that tree
so tall and makes it grow invertedly.
And if, like waters of the Elsa, your
vain thoughts did not encrust your mind; if your
delight in them were not like Pyramus
staining the mulberry, you'd recognize
in that tree's form and height the moral sense
God's justice had when He forbade trespass.
But since I see your intellect is made
of stone and, petrified, grown so opaque-
the light of what I say has left you dazed-
I'd also have you bear my words within you-
if not inscribed, at least outlined-just as
the pilgrim's staff is brought back wreathed with palm."
Purgatorio xxxiii


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