Poetry: From Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri


The Love of the Good

   And he to me: "The love of the good, falling
short of what is right, is here restored; here they
ply and ply again the oar they did ill to slow.
   But that you may yet more clearly understand,
turn your mind to me, and you will take some
good fruit from our delay.
   Neither Creator nor creature ever," he began,
"son, has been without love, whether natural or of
the mind, and this you know.
   Natural love is always unerring, but the other
can err with an evil object or with too much or too
little vigor.
   As long as it is directed to the first Good and
moderates its love of lesser goods, it cannot be a
cause of evil pleasure,
   but when it turns aside to evil, or when with
more eagerness or less than is right it runs after
some good, it employs his creature against the
Creator.
   Hence you can comprehend that love must be
the seed in you of every virtue and of every action
that deserves punishment.
   Now because love can never turn its face away
from the well-being of its subject, all things are
safe from self-hatered;
   and because nothing can be conceived as self-
existent or divided from the First, every creature is
cut off from hating him. (17. 85-111)

-Dante Alighieri
From Purgatorio, translated by Robert M. Durling

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