The Divine Comedy: Week 38, Let Pleasure Be Your Guide

Having arrived at the Garden of Eden, with hell and purgatory behind them, Virgil's final words to the Pilgrim before his departure are moving and profound:
"I led you here with skill and intellect;
from here on, let your pleasure be your guide:
the narrow ways, the steep, are far below.

Behold the sun shining upon your brow,
behold the tender grass, the flowers, the trees,
which, here, the earth produces of itself.

Until those lovely eyes rejoicing come,
which, tearful, once urged me to come to you,
you may, sit here, or wander, as you please.

Expect no longer words or signs from me.
Now is your will upright, wholesome and free,
and not to heed its pleasure would be wrong:

I crown and miter you lord of yourself!"
Here is Dante's vision of a sanctified and purified humanity. Here our loves are finally healed, our bent desires finally straightened. Here the heart is finally tamed as we can "rule" and "govern" our passions ("I crown and miter you lord of yourself!")

At long last, the Pilgrim is able to obey Augustine's famous admonition: "Love, and do what you will."

Or, as Virgil puts it: "Let your pleasure be your guide."

Before this moment, following our passions, desires, and pleasures would have led us away from God, our loves being bent and disordered. But now, pleasure leads us rightly and truly, because our "will is upright, wholesome and free." Delight has always been the goal, God's deepest dream for our lives. In fact, when our loves are healed to resist pleasure would be to fall back into sin and away from God. As Virgil says, once our love is healed to "not heed its pleasure would be wrong."

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply