We were still alongside the sea, like people
thinking about their path, who go with the heart
and with the body remain.
And behold, as when near the morning Mars
shines red through the heavy vapors, low in the
West, over the surface of the sea:
such appeared to me—so may I see it again!—a
light coming across the sea so rapidly that no flight
equals its motion.
After I had a little withdrawn my eye from it to
question my leader, I saw it again, grown brighter
Then on each side of it appeared I knew not
what whiteness, and below it, little by little,
another whiteness came forth.
My master still did not say a word, while the
first white things showed themselves to be wings;
then, when he had recognized the oarsman,
he cried, “See, see that you bend your knees.
Behold the angel of God: fold your hands;
henceforth you will see such ministers.
See how he disdains all human means, so that he
needs no oars nor any sail but his wings, between
shores so distant.
See how he has them stretched toward the sky,
beating the air with his eternal feathers, that do not
change like mortal hairs.”
Then, as the divine bird came closer and closer
to us, it grew brighter, so that my eyes could not
sustain it up close,
but I lowered them; and he came to shore with a
vessel so swift and light that the waters engulfed
none of it.
At the stern stood the angelic pilot, who seemed
to have blessedness inscribed on him; and more
than a hundred spirits were sitting within.
“In exitu Israel de Aegypto,” they were singing all
together with one voice, with as much of that
psalm as is written thereafter.
Then he made the sign of the holy
cross; at which they all threw themselves on the
beach; and he went away as quickly as he had
I’m using the Robert M. Durling translation, Oxford University Press, 2003.
I hope you enjoyed it. Reading Dante is such a pleasure. I’m looking forward to my upcoming posts.