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[86]
The pilgrim spirit1 sees her as in fire;
It sees her such, that, telling me again
I understand it not, it speaks so low
Unto the mourning heart that bids it tell;
Its speech is of that noble One I know,
For “Beatrice” I often hear full plain,
So that, dear ladies, I conceive it well.
No one can read this in its connection with what goes before and what follows without feeling that a new conception of Beatrice had dawned upon the mind of Dante, dim as yet, or purposely made to seem so, and yet the authentic forerunner of the fulness of her rising as the light of his day and the guide of his feet, the divine wisdom whose glory pales all meaner stars. The conception of a poem in which Dante's creed in politics and morals should be picturesquely and attractively embodied, and of the high place which Beatrice should take in it, had begun vaguely to shape itself in his thought. As he brooded over it, of a sudden it defined itself clearly. ‘Soon after this sonnet there appeared to me a marvellous vision2 wherein I saw things which made me propose not to say more of that blessed one until I could treat of her more worthily. And to arrive at that I study all I can, as she verily knows. So that, if it be the pleasure of Him through whom all things live, that my life hold out yet a few years, I hope to say that of her which was never yet said of any (woman). And then may it please Him who is the Lord of Courtesy that my soul may go to see the glory of her Lady, that is, of that blessed Beatrice who gloriously beholds the face of Him qui est per omnia soecula benedictus.’ It was the method of presentation that became clear to Dante

1 Spirito means in Italian both breath (spirto ed acquafessi, Purgatorio, XXX. 98) and spirit.

2 By visione Dante means something seen waking by the inner eye. He believed also that dreams were sometimes divinely inspired, and argues from such the immortality of the soul. (Convito, Tr. II. c. 9.)

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