Free College Essays - Displays of Light in Paradiso
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Paradiso – Displays of Light
Dante's ascension throughout the entire Divine Comedy, namely that of his last book, Paradiso, is notedly marked by the variant displays of light and how it effects the poets. Quintessential to the purpose of this entire poem is the depiction of Paradise as a realm of light that exists in nine spheres, whose proximity to God varies directly with their merit, shown by the first three lines, "The glory of Him who moveth everything /Doth penetrate the universe, and shine/ In one part more and in another less." (Dante, 293) In the closer spheres with the lesser radii, Dante notes the soft glowing lights, but as he approaches the centermost sphere, he attempts to describe the inexpressible gleaming of the vision of divinity, thus the recurrence of the theme of light running throughout the poem.
The first appearance in the sequence of lighting occurs in Canto I where he refers to Paradise as "all that hemisphere was bathed in light/ The other dark." (Dante, 294) As he first enters heaven, he notes that its luminescence irradiates everything else around it, leaving it in total darkness. As he continues "Already did I rest content/ From great amazement; but am now amazed/ In what way I transcend these bodies light." (Dante, 297) But this would only be the beginning of the amazement.
This central theme of light again appears in Canto XXIII, where Dante contemplates the symbolism of Christ as light. "Outshining myriad lamps beheld I then/ one Sun who kindled each and all, as ours/ kindles the stars that throng his high domain;/ and through the rays, poured down in living showers,/ the radiant substance, blazing on me, tried/ my mortal vision beyond my mortal powers." (Bergin, 111) Thus, Dante realizes that has been enlightened far beyond the length of what reason can describe.
The final instance in the recurring sequence of lights occurs at the very end of the poem where he, "by a lightning flash my mind was struck/ And thus came the fulfillment of my wish.