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[68] that change into something rich and strange in the sea1 of his mind which so completely supernaturalized her at last. It is not impossible, we think, to follow the process of transformation. During the period of the Convito Canzoni, when he had so given himself to study that to his weakened eyes ‘the stars were shadowed with a white blur,’2 this star of his imagination was eclipsed for a time with the rest. As his love had never been of the senses (which is bestial3), so his sorrow was all the more ready to be irradiated with celestial light, and to assume her to be the transmitter of it who had first awakened in him the nobler impulses of his nature,—

(Such had this man become in his New Life

and given him the first hints of a higher, nay, of the highest good. With that turn for double meaning and abstraction which was so strong in him, her very name helped him to allegorize her into one who makes blessed (beat), and thence the step was a short one to personify in her that Theosophy which enables man to see God and to be mystically united with him even in the flesh. Already, in the Vita Nuova,4 she appears to him as afterwards in the Terrestrial Paradise, clad in that color of flame which belongs to the seraphim who contemplate God in himself, simply, and not in his relation to the Son or the Holy Spirit.5 When misfortune came upon him, when his schemes of worldly activity failed, and science was helpless to console, as it had

1 Mar di tutto il senno, he calls Virgil (Inferno, VIII. 7). Those familiar with his own works will think the phrase singularly applicable to himself.

2 Convito, Tr. III. c. 9.

3 Convito, Tr. III. c. 3.

4 Vita Nuova, XI.

5 Vita Nuova, Tr. II. c. 6.

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Vita Nuova (3)
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