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 Canto XVIII
      Virgil discourses further concerning the nature of love. Then a multitude
 of spirits rush by; two of whom, in van of the rest, record instances of zeal
 and fervent affection, and another, who was Abbot of San Zeno in Verona,
 declares himself to Virgil and Dante; and lastly follow other spirits,
 shouting forth memorable examples of the sin for which they suffer. The Poet,
 pursuing his meditations, falls into a dreamy slumber.
 The teacher ended, and his high discourse
 Concluding, earnest in my looks inquired
 If I appear'd content; and I, whom still
 Unsated thirst to hear him urged, was mute,
 Mute outwardly, yet inwardly I said:
 "Perchance my too much questioning offends."
 But he, true father, mark'd the secret wish
 By diffidence restrain'd; and, speaking, gave
 Me boldness thus to speak: "Master! my sight
 Gathers so lively virtue from thy beams,
 That all, thy words convey, distinct is seen.
 Wherefore I pray thee, father, whom this heart
 Holds dearest, thou wouldst deign by proof t' unfold
 That love, from which, as from their source, thou bring'st
 All good deeds and their opposite." He then:
 "To what I now disclose be thy clear ken
 Directed; and thou plainly shalt behold
 How much those blind have err'd, who make themselves
 The guides of men. The soul, created apt
 To love, moves versatile which way soe'er
 Aught pleasing prompts her, soon as she is waked
 By pleasure into act. Of substance true
 Your apprehension forms its counterfeit;
 And, in you the ideal shape presenting,
 Attracts the soul's regard. If she, thus drawn,
 Incline toward it; love is that inclining,
 And a new nature knit by pleasure in ye.
 Then, as the fire points up, and mounting seeks
 His birth - place and his lasting seat, e'en thus
 Enters the captive soul into desire,
 Which is a spiritual motion, that ne'er rests
 Before enjoyment of the thing it loves.
 Enough to show thee, how the truth from those
 Is hidden, who aver all love a thing
 Praiseworthy in itself; although perhaps
 Its matter seem still good. Yet if the wax
 Be good, it follows not the impression must."
 "What love is," I return'd, "thy words, O guide!
 And my own docile mind, reveal. Yet thence
 New doubts have sprung. For, from without, if love
 Be offered to us, and the spirit knows
 No other footing; tend she right or wrong,
 Is no desert of hers." He answering thus:
 "What reason here discovers, I have power
 To show thee: that which lies beyond, expect
 From Beatrice, faith not reason's task.
 Spirit, substantial form, with matter join'd,
 Not in confusion mix'd, hath in itself
 Specific virtue of that union born,
 Which is not felt except it work, nor proved
 But through effect, as vegetable life
 By the green leaf. From whence his intellect
 Deduced its primal notices of things,
 Man therefore knows not, or his appetites
 Their first affections; such in you, as zeal
 In bees to gather honey; at the first,
 Volition, meriting nor blame nor praise.
 But o'er each lower faculty supreme,
 That, as she list, are summon'd to her bar,
 Ye have that virtue[1] in you, whose just voice
 Uttereth counsel, and whose word should keep
 The threshold of assent. Here is the source,
 Whence cause of merit in you is derived;
 E'en as the affections, good or ill, she takes,
 Or severs, winnow'd as the chaff. Those men,[2]
 Who, reasoning, went to depth profoundest, mark'd
 That innate freedom; and were thence induced
 To leave their moral teaching to the world.
 Grant then, that from necessity arise
 All love that glows within you; to dismiss
 Or harbour it, the power is in yourselves.
 Remember, Beatrice, in her style,
 Denominates free choice by eminence
 The noble virtue; if in talk with thee
 She touch upon that theme." The moon, well nigh
 To midnight hour belated, made the stars
 Appear to wink and fade; and her broad disk
 Seem'd like a crag on fire, as up the vault[3]
 That course she journey'd, which the sun then warms
 When they of Rome behold him at his set
 Betwixt Sardinia and the Corsic isle.
 And now the weight, that hung upon my thought,
 Was lighten'd by the aid of that clear spirit,
 Who raiseth Andes[4] above Mantua's name.
 I therefore, when my questions had obtain'd
 Solution plain and ample, stood as one
 Musing in dreamy slumber; but not long
 Slumber'd; for suddenly a multitude,
 The steep already turning from behind,
 [1: "That virtue." Reason.]
 [2: "Those men." The great moral philosophers among the heathen.]
 [3: "Up the vault." The moon passed with a motion opposite to that of
 the heavens, through the constellation of the Scorpion, in which the sun is,
 when to those who are in Rome he appears to set between the isles of Corsica
 and Sardinia.]
 [4: "Andes." Andes, now Pietola, made more famous than Mantua, near
 which it is situated, by having been the birthplace of Virgil.]
 Rush'd on. With fury and like random rout,
 As echoing on their shores at midnight heard
 Ismenus and Asopus,[5] for his Thebes
 If Bacchus' help were needed; so came these
 Tumultuous, curving each his rapid step,
 By eagerness impell'd of holy love.
 [5: "Ismenus and Asopus." Rivers near Thebes.]
 Soon they o'ertook us; with such swiftness moved
 The mighty crowd. Two spirits at their head
 Cried, weeping, "Blessed Mary[6] sought with haste
 The hilly region. Caesar,[7] to subdue
 Ilerda, darted in Marseilles his sting,
 And flew to Spain." - "Oh, tarry not: away!"
 The others shouted; "let not time be lost
 Through slackness of affection. Hearty zeal
 To serve reanimates celestial grace."
 [6: And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with
 haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias and
 saluted Elisabeth." - Luke i. 39.]
 [7: Caesar left Brutus to complete the siege of Marseilles, and
 hastened on to the attack of Afranius and Petreius, the generals of Pompey, at
 Ilerda (Lerida) in Spain.]
 "O ye! in whom intenser fervency
 Haply supplies, where lukewarm erst ye fail'd,
 Slow or neglectful, to absolve your part
 Of good and virtuous; this man, who yet lives,
 (Credit my tale, though strange,) desires to ascend,
 So morning rise to light us. Therefore say
 Which hand leads nearest to the rifted rock."
 So spake my guide; to whom a shade return'd:
 "Come after us, and thou shalt find the cleft.
 We may not linger: such resistless will
 Speeds our unwearied course. Vouchsafe us then
 Thy pardon, if our duty seem to thee
 Discourteous rudeness. In Verona I
 Was Abbot[8] of San Zeno, when the hand
 Of Barbarossa grasp'd imperial sway,
 That name ne'er utter'd without tears in Milan.
 And there is he,[9] hath one foot in his grave,
 [8: Alberto, Abbot of San Zeno in Verona, when Frederick I was
 Emperor, by whom Milan was besieged and reduced to ashes, in 1162.]
 [9: "There is he." Alberto della Scala, Lord of Verona, who had made
 his natural son Abbot of San Zeno.]
 Who for that monastery ere long shall weep,
 Ruing his power misused: for that his son,
 Of body ill compact, and worse in mind,
 And born in evil, he hath set in place
 Of its true pastor." Whether more he spake,
 Or here was mute, I know not: he had sped
 E'en now so far beyond us. Yet thus much
 I heard, and in remembrance treasured it.
 He then, who never fail'd me at my need,
 Cried, "Hither turn. Lo! two with sharp remorse
 Chiding their sin." In rear of all the troop
 These shouted: "First they died,[10] to whom the sea
 Open'd, or ever Jordan saw his heirs:
 And they,[11] who with Aeneas to the end
 Endured not suffering, for their portion chose
 Life without glory." Soon as they had fled
 Past reach of sight, new thought within me rose
 By others follow'd fast, and each unlike
 Its fellow: till led on from thought to thought,
 And pleasured with the fleeting train, mine eye
 Was closed, and meditation changed to dream.
 [10: "First they died." The Israelites, who on account of their
 disobedience died before reaching the promised land.]
 [11: "And they." Those Trojans, who wearied with their voyage, chose
 rather to remain in Sicily with Acestes than accompany Aeneas to Italy.]