Dante momentarily loses his sight

And I saw the lightning, in the form of a river,
fluid and dazzling, between two shores
colored with admirable primroses.

From such a torrent bright sparks
sprang up, landing everywhere on the flowers,
like rubies brightened by a golden circle,

then, just as intoxicated by these smells,
one entering it, the other leaving unceasingly,
plunged back into this enchanting river.

Translated from Italian, prefaced and annotated by Danièle Robert © Actes Sud, 2021


The translator’s eye

Nine angelic choirs revolve around the Luminous Point and shine with such intensity that Dante loses his sight and has no other resource than to turn to Beatrice, who leads him towards another vision that she describes as “Light of intellect, love filled, / love of true good, filled with gaiety, / gaiety which all sweetness bids”. A second time, his sight blurs, and he then gains access to a vision where water and light are merged into each other as one element.


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