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Of solemn groves in one deep, distant vale,
Where trees were whispering, and forever flowed
The river Lethe, through its land of calm.
Nations unnumbered roved and haunted there:
As when, upon a windless summer morn,
The bees afield among the rainbow flowers
Alight and sip, or round the lilies pure
Pour forth in busy swarm, while far diffused
Their murmured songs from all the meadows rise.
Aeneas in amaze the wonder views,
And fearfully inquires of whence and why;
What yonder rivers be; what people press,
Line after line, on those dim shores along.
Said Sire Anchises: “Yonder thronging souls
To reincarnate shape predestined move.
Here, at the river Lethe's wave, they quaff
Care-quelling floods, and long oblivion.
Of these I shall discourse, and to thy soul
Make visible the number and array
Of my posterity; so shall thy heart
In Italy, thy new-found home, rejoice.”
“0 father,” said Aeneas, “must I deem
That from this region souls exalted rise
To upper air, and shall once more return
To cumbering flesh? 0, wherefore do they feel,
Unhappy ones, such fatal lust to live?”
“I speak, my son, nor make thee longer doubt,”
Anchises said, and thus the truth set forth,
In ordered words from point to point unfolding:
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