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 Canto XXVI
      The spirits wonder at seeing the shadow cast by the body of Dante on the
 flame as he passes it. This moves one of them to address him. It proves to be
 Guido Guinicelli, the Italian poet, who points out to him the spirit of
 Arnault Daniel, the Provencal, with whom he also speaks.
 While singly thus along the rim we walk'd,
 Oft the good master warn'd me: "Look thou
 Avail it that I caution thee." The sun [well.
 Now all the western clime irradiate changed
 From azure tinct to white; and, as I pass'd,
 My passing shadow made the umber'd flame
 Burn ruddier. At so strange a sight I mark'd
 That many a spirit marvel'd on his way.
 This bred occasion first to speak of me.
 "He seems," said they, "no insubstantial frame:"
 Then, to obtain what certainty they might,
 Stretch'd tow'rd me, careful not to overpass
 The burning pale. "O thou, who followest
 The others, haply not more slow than they,
 But moved by reverence; answer me, who burn
 In thirst and fire: nor I alone, but these
 All for thine answer do more thirst, than doth
 Indian or Aethiop for the cooling stream.
 Tell us, how is it that thou makest thyself
 A wall against the sun, as thou not yet
 Into the inextricable toils of death
 Hadst enter'd?" Thus spake one; and I had straight
 Declared me, if attention had not turn'd
 To new appearance. Meeting these, there came,
 Midway the burning path, a crowd, on whom
 Earnestly gazing, from each part I view
 The shadows all press forward, severally
 Each snatch a hasty kiss, and then away.
 E'en so the emmets, 'mid their dusky troops,
 Peer closely one at other, to spy out
 Their mutual road perchance, and how they thrive.
 That friendly greeting parted, ere despatch
 Of the first onward step, from either tribe
 Loud clamour rises: those, who newly come,
 Shout "Sodom and Gomorrah!" these, "The cow
 Pasiphae enter'd, that the beast she woo'd
 Might rush unto her luxury." Then as cranes,
 That part toward the Riphaean mountains fly,
 Part toward the Lybic sands, these to avoid
 The ice, and those the sun; so hasteth off
 One crowd, advances the other; and resume
 Their first song, weeping, and their several shout.
 Again drew near my side the very same,
 Who had erewhile besought me; and their looks
 Mark'd eagerness to listen. I, who twice
 Their will had noted, spake: "O spirits! secure,
 Whene'er the time may be, of peaceful end;
 My limbs, nor crude, nor in mature old age,
 Have I left yonder: here they bear me, fed
 With blood, and sinew - strung. That I no more
 May live in blindness, hence I tend aloft.
 There is a Dame on high, who wins for us
 This grace, by which my mortal through your realm
 I bear. But may your utmost wish soon meet
 Such full fruition, that the orb of heaven,
 Fullest of love, and of most ample space,
 Receive you; as ye tell (upon my page
 Henceforth to stand recorded) who ye are;
 And what this multitude, that at your backs
 Have pass'd behind us." As one, mountain - bred,
 Rugged and clownish, if some city's walls
 He chance to enter, round him stares agape,
 Confounded and struck dumb; e'en such appear'd
 Each spirit. But when rid of that amaze,
 (Not long the inmate of a noble heart,)
 He, who before had question'd thus resumed:
 "O blessed! who, for death preparing, takest
 Experience of our limits, in thy bark;
 Their crime, who not with us proceed, was that
 For which, as he did triumph, Caesar heard
 The shout of 'queen,' to taunt him. Hence their cry
 Of 'Sodom,' as they parted; to rebuke
 Themselves, and aid the burning by their shame.
 Our sinning was hermaphrodite: but we,
 Because the law of human kind we broke,
 Following like beasts our vile concupiscence,
 Hence parting from them, to our own disgrace
 Record the name of her, by whom the beast
 In bestial tire was acted. Now our deeds
 Thou know'st, and how we sinn'd. If thou by name
 Wouldst haply know us, time permits not now
 To tell so much, nor can I. Of myself
 Learn what thou wishest. Guinicelli I;
 Who having truly sorrow'd ere my last,
 Already cleanse me." With such pious joy,
 As the two sons upon their mother gazed
 From sad Lycurgus[1] rescued; such my joy
 (Save that I more repress'd it) when I heard
 From his own lips the name of him pronounced,
 Who was a father to me, and to those
 My betters, who have ever used the sweet
 And pleasant rhymes of love. So naught I heard,
 Nor spake; but long time thoughtfully I went,
 Gazing on him; and, only for the fire,
 Approached not nearer. When my eyes were fed
 By looking on him; with such solemn pledge,
 As forces credence, I devoted me
 Unto his service wholly. In reply
 He thus bespake me: "What from thee I hear
 Is graved so deeply on my mind, the waves
 Of Lethe shall not wash it off, nor make
 A whit less lively. But as now thy oath
 Has seal'd the truth, declare what cause impels
 [1: Hypsipile had left her infant charge, the son of Lycurgus, on a
 bank, where it was destroyed by a serpent, when she went to show the Argive
 army the river of Langia; and on her escaping the effects of Lycurgus'
 resentment, the joy her own children felt at the sight of her was such as our
 Poet felt on beholding his predecessor Guinicelli.]
 That love, which both thy looks and speech bewray."
 "Those dulcet lays," I answer'd; "which, as long
 As of our tongue the beauty does not fade,
 Shall make us love the very ink that traced them."
 "Brother!" he cried, and pointed at the shade
 Before him, "there is one, whose mother speech
 Doth owe to him a fairer ornament.
 He[2] in love ditties, and the tales of prose,
 Without a rival stands; and lets the fools
 Talk on, who think the songster of Limoges[3]
 O'ertops him. Rumour and the popular voice
 They look to, more than truth; and so confirm
 Opinion, ere by art or reason taught.
 Thus many of the elder time cried up
 Guittone, giving him the prize, till truth
 By strength of numbers vanquish'd. If thou own
 So ample privilege, as to have gain'd
 Free entrance to the cloister, whereof Christ
 Is Abbot of the college; say to him
 One paternoster for me, far as needs
 For dwellers in this world, where power to sin
 No longer tempts us." Haply to make way
 For one that follow'd next, when that was said,
 He vanish'd through the fire, as through the wave
 A fish, that glances diving to the deep.
 [2: Dante and Petrarch place Arnault Daniel first among Povencal
 [3: Giraud de Borneil, of Sideuil, a castle in Limoges. He was a
 Troubadour, much admired and caressed in his day, and appears to have been in
 favor with the monarchs of Castile, Leon, Navarre, and Arragon.]
 I, to the spirit he had shown me, drew
 A little onward, and besought his name,
 For which my heart, I said, kept gracious room.
 He frankly thus began: "Thy courtesy[4]
 So wins on me, I have nor power nor will
 To hide me. I am Arnault; and with songs,
 Sorely waymenting for my folly past,
 Thorough this ford of fire I wade, and see
 The day, I hope for, smiling in my view.
 I pray ye by the worth that guides ye up
 [4: Arnault is here made to speak in his own tongue, the Provencal.]
 Unto the summit of the scale, in time
 Remember ye my sufferings." With such words
 He disappear'd in the refining flame.