Paradiso Canto XXVI

Paradiso 26

And I said: ‘As soon or as late as she wishes,
may the cure come to eyes that were the portals
she entered with the fire in which I always burn.

vv. 13-15

St. John examines Dante concerning Love.—Dante’s sight restored.—Adam appears, and answers questions put to him by Dante.

Struck blind by the radiance of Saint John, Dante hears the saint beginning to question him about the virtue of love. “Say,” John commands, “what point the soul of you / is aiming at.” God, Dante replies, is the “Alpha and Omega” of all his desires, the supreme “Good” he seeks to attain. John presses him to be more specific: How did Dante arrive at this love of God? Human intellect, Dante answers, is naturally inclined to seek out good things, and its “aim” is sharpened by the guidance of the scriptures. Refining his questions further, John likens love to a system of gears and pulleys that gradually draw the soul upward. He asks Dante about the other “gears” and “ropes” that have drawn his soul toward God. Dante cites his own life experiences, Christ’s death and resurrection, and the Christian faith he shares with others as inducements to love God. In approval of his answer, the blessed souls burst into song—”Holy, Holy, Holy,” they proclaim. Dante is shocked to find his eyesight suddenly restored by Beatrice, better than it was before, as he rises higher each canto. He now sees a new, fourth figure among the souls of the three saints. This, Beatrice says, is Adam, the “first of souls.” Addressing his ancient forefather, Dante asks Adam to speak with him. Adam begins answering Dante’s questions before he has even heard them. He tells of his time in the Garden of Eden, of his earthly life after that, and then of the four millennia he spent in Limbo awaiting the resurrection of Christ. He explains the language spoken in Edenic times was extinct in the time of Nimrod, a mighty hunter mentioned in the book of Genesis.

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Canto adopted by Gioielleria Lugaresi

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