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But as it comes to pass, if one food sates,

And for another still remains the longing,
We ask for this, and that decline with thanks,
E'en thus did I, with gesture and with word,

To learn from her what was the web wherein
She did not ply the shuttle to the end.
"A perfect life and merit high in-heaven

A lady o'er us," said she, "by whose rule

Down in your world they vest and veil themselves, That until death they may both watch and sleep

Beside that Spouse who every vow accepts
Which charity conformeth to his pleasure.

To follow her, in girlhood from the world

I fled, and in her habit shut myself,

And pledged me to the pathway of her sect.

Then men accustomed unto evil more

Than unto good, from the sweet cloister tore me;
God knows what afterward my life became.

This other splendor, which to thee reveals

Itself on my right side, and is enkindled
With all the illumination of our sphere,

What of myself I say applies to her;

A nun was she, and likewise from her head
Was ta'en the shadow of the sacred wimple.




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But when she too was to the world returned

Against her wishes and against good usage, Of the heart's veil she never was divested. Of great Costanza this is the effulgence,

Who from the second wind of Suabia

Brought forth the third and latest puissance."

Thus unto me she spake, and then began. "Ave Maria" singing, and in singing

Vanished, as through deep water something heavy.

My sight, that followed her as long a time

As it was possible, when it had lost her
Turned round unto the mark of more desire,

And wholly unto Beatrice reverted;

But she such lightnings flashed into mine eyes,
That at the first my sight endured it not;

And this in questioning more backward made me.


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'BETWEEN two viands, equally removed

And tempting, a free man would die of hunger
Ere either he could bring unto his teeth.,

So would a lamb between the ravenings

Of two fierce wolves stand fearing both alike; And so would stand a dog between two does. Hence, if I held my peace, myself I blame not,

Impelled in equal measure by my doubts,

Since it must be so, nor do I commend.

I held my peace; but my desire was painted

Upon my face, and questioning with that More fervent far than by articulate speech. Beatrice did as Daniel had done

Relieving Nebuchadnezzar from the wrath Which rendered him unjustly merciless, And said: "Well see I how attracteth thee

One and the other wish, so that thy care

Binds itself so that forth it does not breathe.

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Thou arguest, if good will be permanent,
The violence of others, for what reason
Doth it decrease the measure of my
Again for doubting furnish thee occasion
Souls seeming to return unto the stars,
According to the sentiment of Plato.
These are the questions which upon thy wish

Are thrusting equally; and therefore first
Will I treat that which hath the most of gall.
He of the Seraphim most absorbed in God,

Moses, and Samuel, and whichever John
Thou mayst select, I say, and even Mary,

Have not in any other heaven their seats,

Than have those spirits that just appeared to thee,
Nor of existence more or fewer years;

But all make beautiful the primal circle,

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And have sweet life in different degrees,
By feeling more or less the eternal breath.
They showed themselves here, not because allotted
This sphere has been to them, but to give sign
Of the celestial which is least exalted.

To speak thus is adapted to your mind,

Since only through the sense it apprehendeth
What then it worthy makes of intellect.






On this account the Scripture condescends


your faculties, and feet and hands

To God attributes, and means something else; And Holy Church under an aspect human

Gabriel and Michael represents to you,

And him who made Tobias whole again. That which Timæus argues of the soul


Doth not resemble that which here is seen,

Because it seems that as he speaks he thinks. says the soul unto its star returns,

Believing it to have been severed thence

Whenever nature gave it as a form.

Perhaps his doctrine is of other guise

Than the words sound, and possibly may be
With meaning that is not to be derided.
If he doth mean that to these wheels return

The honor of their influence and the blame,
Perhaps his bow doth hit upon some truth.

This principle ill understood once warped

The whole world nearly, till it went astray
Invoking Jove and Mercury and Mars.
The other doubt which doth disquiet thee

Less venom has, for its malevolence

Could never lead thee otherwhere from me.






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