Virgil’s Discourse To Dante On The Difference Between Worldly And Heavenly Possessions

37 As we ascended, moving on from there,
38 we heard 'Beati misericordes' sung behind us
39 and 'Rejoice, you who conquer.'
40 My master and I, alone again,
41 were climbing, and as we went along,
42 hoping to take some profit from his words,
43 I turned to him and asked:
44 'What did the spirit from Romagna mean
45 when he spoke of things that can't be shared?'
46 He replied: 'Of his worst fault he knows the cost.
47 Thus it is no wonder he condemns it, in the hope
48 that fewer souls will have a reason to lament.
49 'Because your appetites are fixed on things
50 that, divided, lessen each one's share,
51 envy's bellows pushes breath into your sighs.
52 'But if love for the highest sphere
53 could turn your longings toward heavenly things,
54 then fear of sharing would pass from your hearts.
55 'For there above, when more souls speak of ours,
56 the more of goodness each one owns,
57 the more of love burning in that cloister.'
58 'I am more starved for answers,' I said,
59 'than if before I had kept silent,
60 since now my mind is filled with greater doubt.
61 'How can it be that a good, distributed,
62 can enrich a greater number of possessors
63 than if it were possessed by few?'
64 And he to me: 'Because you still
65 have your mind fixed on earthly things,
66 you harvest darkness from the light itself.
67 'That infinite and ineffable Good,
68 which dwells on high, speeds toward love
69 as a ray of sunlight to a shining body.
70 'It returns the love it finds in equal measure,
71 so that, if more of ardor is extended,
72 eternal Goodness will augment Its own.
73 'And the more souls there are who love on high,
74 the more there is to love, the more of loving,
75 for like a mirror each returns it to the other.
76 'And if my words do not requite your hunger,
77 you shall see Beatrice. She will deliver you
78 entirely from this and every other craving.
79 'Seek only that the five wounds healed
80 by being painful soon may be closed up,
81 as the other two already are.'
Purgatorio XV


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