The lofty teacher came to the conclusion
         Of his discourse and looked intently into
         My eyes to see if I appeared content,
         And I, who was by now parched with fresh thirst,
5         Kept outward silence, but within I said,
         "Perhaps I irk him with too many questions."
         But that true father, who intuited
         The timid wish that would not be let out,
         By speaking gave me confidence to speak.
10       With that I said, "Master, my sight is so
         Enlivened by your light that I grasp clearly
         All that your words explain or analyze.
         "Therefore I beg you, gentle father dear,
         Teach me this love to which you have reduced
15       Every good action and its opposite."
         "Direct toward me," he answered, "the sharp beams
         Of your mind’s eye, and you shall plainly see
         The error of the blind passed off as guides.
         "The intellect, created quick to love,
20       Responds to everything that pleases it
         As soon as pleasure wakens it to act.
         "Your apprehension draws an image from
         A real object and displays it in you
         So that it makes the mind attend to it;
25       "And if, attentive, the mind tends toward it,
         That tendency is love: it is its nature
         Which is by pleasure bound anew in you.
         "Then, just as fire by its innate form
         Flies ever higher to reach that element
30       Where in its matter it may longest last,
         "So the enamored mind falls into longing,
         Which is a spiritual motion and never rests
         Until the thing it loves has made it happy.
         "Now you may plainly see how far the truth
35       Is hidden from those people who maintain
         That every love is in itself praiseworthy,
         "Because perhaps its subject-matter seems
         Always to be good, but every imprint
         Is not flawless although the wax is fine."
40       "Your discourse and my thoughts that followed it,"
         I answered him, "have opened love to me,
         But that has made me still more full of doubt;
         "For if love is offered to us from without
         And if the soul treads on no other foot,
45       It gains no merit, walking straight or crooked."
         And he told me, "As much as reason sees here
         I can inform you; beyond that, just wait
         For Beatrice, since it is a point of faith.
         "Every substantial form that is distinct
50       From matter and is yet united with it
         Holds a specific power in itself
         "Which is not seen except in operation
         And only in its effects is it shown,
         As the life of a plant in its green leaves.
55       "And so man does not know where understanding
         Of his first ideas derives, nor where
         Affection for first objects of desire,
         "Which both are in you as instinct in the bee
         For making honey; and this primal will
60       Has no merit for either praise or blame.
         "Now that all other wills conform to this one,
         You have the innate power which gives counsel
         And which should guard the threshold of consent.
         "This is the principle from which derives
65       The reason for your merits, so far as it
         Garners and winnows good and evil loves.
         "Those whose reasoning went to the root of things
         Perceived this innate freedom; as a result,
         They left the gift of ethics to the world.
70       "So, even supposing every love enkindled
         Within you rises from necessity,
         The power to restrain it still lies in you.
         "This noble power Beatrice calls free will;
         And for this reason, keep it in your mind
75       In case she wants to speak of it to you."
         The moon arising late, almost at midnight,
         Made the stars look scantier to us,
         For it was glowing like a burnished bucket,
         And it ran counter to the sky on paths
80       The sun inflames when men in Rome observe it
         Setting between Sardinia and Corsica.
         That noble shade, for whom Pietola
         Shines with more fame than any Mantuan town,
         Released me from the load I placed on him,
85       So that I, who had harvested his clear
         And open-handed answers to my questions,
         Remained like someone rambling drowsily.
         But I was snapped out of this drowsiness
         Suddenly by people who had come
90       Already round to us behind our backs.
         And as, of old, Ismenus and Asopus
         Saw on their banks at night fanatic crowds
         So often as the Thebans called for Bacchus,
         Such was the crowd, from what I saw, curving
95       Its way around that circle, of those who came
         With good will and just love holding the reins.
         How soon they were upon us — since that whole
         Huge company was moving at a run,
         And two of them up front cried out in tears:
100      "Mary ran with haste to the hill country!
         And Caesar to subdue Lerida thrust
         First at Marseilles and then sped on to Spain!"
         "Faster! faster! let no time be lost
         Through little love," the rest who followed cried,
105      "So zeal for good may make grace green again."
         "O people whose sharp fervor now perhaps
         Redeems the negligence and dallying
         You showed in lukewarmness for doing good,
         "This man, alive — and surely I’d not lie —
110      Would climb as soon as daylight shines on us:
         So tell us where an opening is at hand."
         These were the words spoken by my guide,
         And one of those swift spirits called, "Come,
         Follow us and you will find the gap.
115      "We are so full of passion to keep moving,
         We cannot stop, we beg your pardon, then,
         If you should take our penance for bad manners.
         "I was abbot of San Zeno in Verona
         Under the rule of worthy Barbarossa
120     Of whom Milan still talks with bitter tears.
         "And I know one with one foot in the grave
         Who soon will sorrow for that monastery
         And will regret he once had power there,
         "Because he’s put, in place of its true shepherd,
125      His son, who is deformed in his whole body
         And even more in mind, and born a bastard."
         I do not know if he said more or ceased,
         Since he by now had raced so far beyond us,
         But I heard this much and was glad to note it.
130     And he who was my help in every need
         Spoke up, "Turn round this way: observe those two
         Coming who sink their teeth deep into sloth."
         Behind them all these two declaimed, "The people
         For whom the sea had parted were all dead
135      Before the Jordan saw its promised heirs;
         "And those who to the end did not endure
         Ordeals in company with Anchises’ son
         Gave themselves up to an inglorious life."
         Then when those shades had sped so far from us
140      That they could not be sighted any more,
         A new thought worked itself up from within me,
         And from it many different thoughts were born,
         And I so drifted from one to the other
         That in my wandering off I closed my eyes,
145     And I transmuted thinking into dreaming.

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