Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (1320), one of the greatest epic poems of all time, offers an inspiring analogy re scattered leaves and the human quest for meaning, redemption, and salvation.  Text provided by Dr. Bruce N. Lundberg, Chair and Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics & Physics, Colorado State University-Pueblo

Paradisio (Canto XXXIII)

1. So is the snow unsealed beneath the sunlight; 65 So were the sayings of the Sibyl upon The light leaves left to drift off in the wind. ******* O highest Light, lifted up so far Above all mortal thinking, lend my mind, Once more, a little of what you were like, 70 And grant my tongue such powerful expression That it may leave behind a single spark Of glory for a people still to come. For by returning some spark to my mind 75 And sounding out a little in these lines, Your triumph shall be thought of more profoundly. I think I would have been lost in a daze With the dazzling I endured from that live beam If my eyes once had turned away from it. I remember I grew bolder for this reason 80 In bearing up with it, until I merged My gazing with the infinite Goodness. O grace abounding, by which I have dared To fix my eyes through the eternal Light So deeply that my sight was spent in it! 85 Within its depths I saw gathered together, Bound by love into a single volume, Leaves that lie scattered through the universe. ******** Substance and accidents and their relations I saw as though they fused in such a way 90 That what I say is but a gleam of light. The universal pattern of this knot I believe I saw, because in telling this, I feel my gladness growing ever larger.

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