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The Divine Comedy; The Purgatorio Canto VIII (excerpt)

In Text on February 1, 2009 at 8:20 pm
It was the hour that turns the memories
    of sailing men their first day out,
    the bell that seems to mourn the dying day―
 
I watched a spirit. Raising his hands,
    he joined his palms in prayer and turned his rapt eyes east,
    as if to say: “I have no thought except that Thou art there.”
 
“Te lucis ante” swelled from him so sweetly,
    with such devotion and so pure a tone,
    my senses lost the sense of self completely.
 
Then all the others with a golden peal
    joined in the hymn and sang it to the end,
    their eyes devoutly raised to Heaven’s wheel.
 
I saw that host of kings,
    stand still and pale and humble,
    eyes raised to Heaven as if in expectation.
 
I saw two angels
    issue and descend from Heaven’s height,
    bearing two flaming swords.
 
Green as a leaf is at its first unfurling,
    their robes; and green the wings that beat and blew
    the flowing folds back, fluttering and whirling.
 
One landed just above me,
    and one flew to the other bank. Thus,
    the people were contained between the two.
 
I could see clearly that their hair was gold,
    but my eyes drew back bedazzled from their faces,
    defeated by more light than they could hold.
 
≪They are from Mary’s bosom≫ 
                                                                                         — English translation of the text
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