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 Canto XXI
      The two Poets are overtaken by the spirit of Statius, who, being
 cleansed, is on his way to Paradise, and who explains the cause of the
 mountain shaking, and of the hymn; his joy at beholding Virgil.
 The natural thirst, ne'er quench'd but from the well[1]
 Whereof the woman of Samaria craved,
 Excited; haste, along the cumber'd path,
 After my guide, impell'd; and pity moved
 My bosom for the 'vengeful doom though just.
 When lo! even as Luke[2] relates, that Christ
 Appear'd unto the two upon their way,
 New - risen from His vaulted grave; to us
 A shade appear'd, and after us approach'd,
 Contemplating the crowd beneath its feet.
 We were not ware of it; so first it spake,
 Saying, "God give you peace, my brethren!" then
 Sudden we turn'd: and Virgil such salute,
 As fitted that kind greeting, gave; and cried:
 "Peace in the blessed council be thy lot,
 Awarded by that righteous court which me
 To everlasting banishment exiles."
 [1: "The well." "The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water,
 that I thirst not." - John, iv. 15.]
 [2: "Luke." Chapter xxiv. 13.]
 "How!" he exclaim'd, nor from his speed meanwhile
 Desisting; "If that ye be spirits whom God
 Vouchsafes not room above; who up the height
 Has been thus far your guide?" To whom the bard:
 "If thou observe the tokens,[3] which this man,
 Traced by the finger of the Angel, bears;
 'Tis plain that in the kingdom of the just
 He needs must share. But sithence she,[4] whose wheel
 Spins day and night, for him not yet had drawn
 That yarn, which on the fatal distaff piled,
 Clotho apportions to each wight that breathes;
 His soul, that sister is to mine and thine,
 Not of herself could mount; for not like ours
 [3: "The tokens." The letter P for Peccata, sins, inscribed upon his
 forehead by the Angel, in order to his being cleared of them in his passage
 through Purgatory to Paradise.]
 [4: "She." Lachesis, one of the three fates.]
 Her ken: whence I, from forth the ample gulf
 Of Hell, was ta'en, to lead him, and will lead
 Far as my lore avails. But, if thou know,
 Instruct us for what cause, the mount erewhile
 Thus shook, and trembled: wherefore all at once
 Seem'd shouting, even from his wave - wash'd foot."
 That questioning so tallied with my wish,
 The thirst did feel abatement of its edge
 E'en from expectance. He forthwith replied:
 "In its devotion, nought irregular
 This mount can witness, or by punctual rule
 Unsanction'd; here from every change exempt,
 Other than that, which Heaven in itself
 Doth of itself receive, no influence
 Can reach us. Tempest none, shower, hail, or snow,
 Hoar frost, or dewy moistness, higher falls
 Than that brief scale of threefold steps: thick clouds,
 Nor scudding rack, are ever seen: swift glance
 Ne'er lightens; nor Thaumantian Iris gleams,
 That yonder often shifts on each side Heaven.
 Vapour adust doth never mount above
 The highest of the trinal stairs, whereon
 Peter's vicegerent stands. Lower perchance,
 With various motion rock'd, trembles the soil:
 But here, through wind in earth's deep hollow pent,
 I know not how, yet never trembled: then
 Trembles, when any spirit feels itself
 So purified, that it may rise, or move
 For rising; and such loud acclaim ensues.
 Purification, by the will alone,
 Is proved, that free to change society
 Seizes the soul rejoicing in her will.
 Desire of bliss is present from the first;
 But strong propension hinders, to that wish
 By the just ordinance of Heaven opposed;
 Propension now as eager to fulfill
 The allotted torment, as erewhile to sin.
 And I, who in this punishment had lain
 Five hundred years and more, but now have felt
 Free wish for happier clime. Therefore thou felt'st
 The mountain tremble; and the spirits devout
 Heard'st, over all his limits, utter praise
 To that liege Lord, whom I entreat their joy
 To hasten." Thus he spake: and, since the draught
 Is grateful ever as the thirst is keen,
 No words may speak my fullness of content.
 "Now," said the instructor sage, "I see the net
 That takes ye here; and how the toils are loosed;
 Why rocks the mountain, and why ye rejoice.
 Vouchsafe, that from thy lips I next may learn
 Who on the earth thou wast; and wherefore here,
 So many an age, wert prostrate." - "In that time,
 When the good Titus,[5] with Heaven's King to help,
 Avenged those piteous gashes, whence the blood
 By Judas sold did issue; with the name[6]
 Most lasting and most honor'd, there, was I
 Abundantly renown'd," the shade replied,
 "Nor yet with faith endued. So passing sweet
 My vocal spirit; from Tolosa, Rome
 To herself drew me, where I merited
 A myrtle garland to inwreathe my brow.
 Statius they name me still. Of Thebes I sang,
 And next of great Achilles; but i' the way
 Fell with the second burden. Of my flame
 Those sparkles were the seeds, which I derived
 From the bright fountain of celestial fire
 That feeds unnumber'd lamps; the song I mean
 Which sounds Aeneas' wanderings: that the breast
 I hung at; that the nurse, from whom my veins
 Drank inspiration: whose authority
 Was ever sacred with me. To have lived
 Coeval with the Mantuan, I would bide
 The revolution of another sun
 Beyond my stated years in banishment."
 [5: "When the good Titus." When it was so ordered by the divine
 Providence that Titus, by the destruction of Jerusalem, should avenge the
 death of our Saviour on the Jews.]
 [6: "The name." The name of Poet.]
 The Mantuan, when he heard him, turn'd to me;
 And holding silence, by his countenance
 Enjoin'd me silence: but the power, which wills,
 Bears not supreme control: laughter and tears
 Follow so closely on the passion prompts them,
 They wait not for the motions of the will
 In natures most sincere. I did but smile,
 As one who winks; and thereupon the shade
 Broke off, and peer'd into mine eyes, where best
 Our looks interpret. "So to good event
 Mayst thou conduct such great emprise," he cried,
 "Say, why across thy visage beam'd, but now,
 The lightning of a smile." On either part
 Now am I straiten'd; one conjures me speak,
 The other to silence binds me: whence a sigh
 I utter, and the sigh is heard. "Speak on,"
 The teacher cried: "and do not fear to speak;
 But tell him what so earnestly he asks."
 Whereon I thus: "Perchance, O ancient spirit!
 Thou marvel'st at my smiling. There is room
 For yet more wonder. He, who guides my ken
 On high, he is that Mantuan, led by whom
 Thou didst presume of men and gods to sing.
 If other cause thou deem'dst for which I smiled,
 Leave it as not the true one: and believe
 Those words, thou spakest of him, indeed the cause."
 Now down he bent to embrace my teacher's feet;
 But he forbade him: "Brother! do it not:
 Thou art a shadow, and behold'st a shade."
 He, rising, answer'd thus: "Now hast thou proved
 The force and ardour of the love I bear thee,
 When I forget we are but things of air,
 And, as a substance, treat an empty shade."