grace abounding that had made me fit
to fix my eyes on the eternal light
until my vision was consumed in it!
I saw within its depth how it conceives
all things in a single volume bound by Love,
of which the universe is the scattered leaves;
substance, accident, and their relation
so fused that all I say could do no more
than yield a glimpse of that bright revelation.
I think I saw the universal form
that binds these things, for as I speak these words
I feel my joy swell and my spirits warm.
Twenty-five centuries since Neptune saw
the Argo's keel have not moved all mankind,
recalling that adventure, to such awe
as I felt in an instant. My tranced being
stared fixed and motionless upon that vision,
ever more fervent to see in the act of seeing.
Experiencing that Radiance, the spirit
is so indrawn it is impossible
even to think of ever turning from it.
For the good which is the will's ultimate object
is all subsumed in it; and, being removed,
all is defective which in it is perfect.
Now in my recollection of the rest
I have less power to speak than any infant
wetting its tongue yet at its mother's breast;
and not because that Living Radiance bore
more than one semblance, for it is unchanging
and is forever as it was before;
rather, as I grew worthier to see, the more I looked,
the more unchanging semblance
appeared to change with every change in me.
Within the depthless deep and clear existence
of that abyss of light three circles shown
three in color, one in circumference:
the second from the first, rainbow from rainbow;
the third, an exhalation of pure fire
equally breathed forth by the other two.
But 0 how much my words miss my conception,
which is itself so far from what I saw
that to call it feeble would be rank deception!
0 Light Eternal fixed in itself alone,
by itself alone understood, which from itself
loves and glows, self-knowing and self-known;
that second aureole which shone forth in Thee,
conceived as a reflection of the first
or which appeared so to my scrutiny
seemed in itself of its own coloration
to be painted with man’s image. I fixed my eyes
on that alone in rapturous contemplation.
Like a geometer wholly dedicated
to squaring the circle, but who cannot find,
think as he may, the principle indicated
so did I study the supernal face.
I yearned to know just how our image merges
into that circle, and how it here finds place;
but mine were not the wings for such a flight.
Yet, as I wished, the truth I wished for came
cleaving my mind in a great flash of light.
Here my powers rest from their high fantasy,
but already I could feel my being turned
instinct and intellect balanced equally
as in a wheel whose motion nothing jars
by the Love that moves the Sun and the other stars.