Last Updated on August 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 215
Context: Dante, having been met in Purgatory by Beatrice, his celestial guide, has now ascended into the heavens. The first Heaven is the moon, "translucent, solid, firm, and polish'd bright,/Like adamant, which the sun's beam had smit." She explains the reasons for the shadows as "From its original nature full of joy,/ The virtue mingled through the body shines,/ As joy through pupil of the living eye./ From hence proceeds that which from light to light/ Seems different, and not from dense or rare./ This is the formal cause, that generates/ Proportion'd to its power, the dusk or clear." From ancient times the moon has been the symbol of chastity, and when Dante speaks with Piccarda, she tells him that here await those who vowed a life of chastity to their religion, only to be compelled to violate these heavenly vows. When he asks if they are not unhappy to be in only the first Heaven, she replies:
Rather it is inherent in this state
Of blessedness, to keep ourselves within
The Divine Will, by which our wills, with His
Are one. So that as we, from step to step,
Are placed throughout this kingdom, pleases all;
. . .
And in His will is our tranquility:
It is the mighty ocean, whither tends,
Whatever it creates and nature makes.
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