“La Vita Nuova” by Dante Alighieri

Dante's_Dream_at_the_Time_of_the_Death_of_Beatrice
Dante’s Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walker Art Gallery

The Death of Beatrice

I was a-thinking how life fails with us
Suddenly after such a little while;
When Love sobb’d in my heart, which is his home.
Whereby my spirit wax’d so dolorous
That in myself I said, with sick recoil:
‘Yea, to my lady too this Death must come.’
And therewithal such a bewilderment
Possess’d me, that I shut mine eyes for peace;
And in my brain did cease
Order of thought, and every healthful thing.
Afterwards, wandering
Amid a swarm of doubts that came and went,
Some certain women’s faces hurried by,
And shriek’d to me, ‘Thou too shalt die, shalt die!’

Then saw I many broken hinted sights
In the uncertain state I stepp’d into.
Meseem’d to be I know not in what place,
Where ladies through the street, like mournful lights,
Ran with loose hair, and eyes that frighten’d you
By their own terror, and a pale amaze:
The while, little by little, as I thought,
The sun ceased, and the stars began to gather,
And each wept at the other;
And birds dropp’d in mid-flight out of the sky;
And earth shook suddenly;
And I was ’ware of one, hoarse and tired out,
Who ask’d of me: ‘Hast thou not heard it said?…
Thy lady, she that was so fair, is dead.’

Then lifting up mine eyes, as the tears came,
I saw the Angels, like a rain of manna,
In a long flight flying back Heavenward;
Having a little cloud in front of them,
After the which they went and said, ‘Hosanna;’
And if they had said more, you should have heard.
Then Love said, ‘Now shall all things be made clear:
Come and behold our lady where she lies.’
These ’wildering phantasies
Then carried me to see my lady dead.
Even as I there was led,
Her ladies with a veil were covering her;
And with her was such very humbleness
That she appeared to say, ‘I am at peace.’

And I became so humble in my grief,
Seeing in her such deep humility,
That I said: ‘Death, I hold thee passing good
Henceforth, and a most gentle sweet relief,
Since my dear love has chosen to dwell with thee:
Pity, not hate, is thine, well understood.
Lo! I do so desire to see thy face
That I am like as one who nears the tomb;
My soul entreats thee, Come.’
Then I departed, having made my moan;
And when I was alone
I said, and cast my eyes to the High Place:
‘Blessed is he, fair soul, who meets thy glance!’

References:

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