Sunday, February 14, 2010

True Beauty II

Life as a bookseller, or at least this bookseller, gives me little time to read any books, at least to the extent I'd like to read.

One of my favorite poems ended with these particular lines, thought-provoking, yet peaceful, calming, a fresh breeze of air.

Here my exalted vision lost its power.
But now my will and my desire, like wheels revolving
with an even motion, were turning with
the Love that moves the sun and all the other stars.
--Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII, 143-145

For those of you who don't know my favorite epic poem, Dante's Comedy stands out among all others. I have searched for beauty, for love, for happiness. Now I, like Dante, have found it. Found it I have, but like many others on the journey, we only know we've came a bit later than what we have liked.

So late have I found it. Augustine of Hippo says it better than me. Let me remind you of my first love. Here's what he said:

Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved Thee!

For behold Thou wert within me, and I outside; and I sought Thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those lovely things that Thou hast made. Thou wert with me and I was not with Thee. I was kept from Thee by those things, yet had they not been in Thee, they would not been at all.

Thou didst call and cry to me and break open my deafness: 

and Thou didst send forth Thy beams and shine upon me and chase away my blindness: 

Thou didst breathe fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath and do now pant for Thee: 

I tasted Thee, and now hunger and thirst for Thee: 

Thou didst touched me, and I have burned for Thy peace.

--St. Augustine, Confessions, Book Ten, XXVIII

Editor's note: For the relationship between fire, rest and peace, see XIII.9.10. It is appropriate that what is arguably the most beatiful passage of the Confessions is a summary of the effects of Divine Beauty on Augustine's soul. The earlier tension between spirit and flesh is dissolved in the higher eros of love for God, while the five bodily senses now act as lenses into the supernatural object of our longing.


  1. I do not think anyone in such an amazing relationship would ever think they found it too early. It's always a feeling of: at last, the end to a thousand searches! But I suppose that this is a natural testament to the profound joy one experiences in knowing God, in being with Eternal Love

    From the moment I first heard it, this song has been a big hit in my heart. I recognized Augustine's verse in a song (easier to keep at heart):

  2. Matt, thanks for the link. I'm rocking to it! :)