“This Globe So Base”: Dante, from Paradiso, Canto XXII

The Earth and Moon 6 million miles away. Photo from NASA’s Juno spacecraft on August 26, 2011.

from Paradiso

Canto XXII, lines 133-38; 148-154

by Dante Alighieri

Col viso ritornai per tutte quante
le sette spere, e vidi questo globo
tal, ch’io sorrisi del suo vil sembiante;

e quel consiglio per migliore approbo
che l’ha per meno; e chi ad altro pensa
chiamar si puote veramente probo.

. . .

e tutti e sette mi si dimostraro
quanto son grandi e quanto son veloci
e come sono in distante riparo.

L’aiuola che ci fa tanto feroci,
volgendom’io con li etterni Gemelli,
tutta m’apparve da’ colli a le foci;

poscia rivolsi li occhi a li occhi belli.

from Paradise

[translated by DK Fennell]

I looked back through each one
of the Seven Spheres, and I saw this globe
so base that I smiled at its appearance.

I regard best the judgment
that holds it least. He whose thoughts transcend it
can truly regard himself upright.

. . .

And all Seven showed to me
Their grandeur, their velocity
And how distant are their abodes.

The little patch with all our ferocity,
while I revolved with the eternal Gemini,
was shown me from the hills to the mouths of the rivers.

I then returned my gaze to the beautiful eyes.

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