So in the shape of a pristine rose
before me was the holy army present
whom Christ, with his blood, married;
but the other who, while flying, sees and sings
the glory of the One who takes his heart
and the kindness that made her so ardent,
like a swarm of bees that swell
here and there to suddenly return
in the place where all his labor is enslaved,
descended in the large ornate flower
of so many leaves and, from there, went up
to the place where his love remains forever.
Translated from Italian, prefaced and annotated by Danièle Robert © Actes Sud, 2021
The translator’s eye
New vision: the two armies which populate an immense rose, that of the Fathers of the Church of Christ forming the petals of the flower and that of the angels rising and falling in a movement of irresistible joy. The poetic power reaches its summits there, as much by the richness of the metaphors as by that of the neologisms which are deployed throughout the song: we are in a space-time that Dante makes apprehend by the comparison of the bees in the process of foraging.