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The Divine Comedy
(La Divina Comèdia)
By Dante Alighieri
The original, squashed down to read in about 30 minutes

Dante and the Angels - Gustave Doré's engraving of 1867

(Verona, c1320)

The Jewish and Christian scriptures say almost nothing about what an afterlife may be like. Written by a minor politician exiled from Florence, this allegorical interpretation of heaven - with elements of Ancient Greek and Islamic tradition - has come to define what Christians should expect after death. The Divine Comedy was publicly burned in the infamous 'Bonfire of the vanities' in Florence in 1497.
Based on the verse translation by H. F. Cary, c1838. Abridged: JH

The Divine Comedy

I: Inferno

[Dante loses his way in a gloomy forest, and is hindered by wild beasts from ascending a mountain. He is met by the ancient Roman poet Virgil, who promises to show him the punishments of hell, and afterwards of purgatory; and that he will be conducted by his lost beloved Beatrice into paradise. He follows the poet, and the two come to the gate of hell, where they read dread words:]

Through me you pass into the city of woe,
Through me you pass into eternal pain;
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved;
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.

[They enter. Here, as Dante understands from Virgil, those were punished who had spent their time (for it could not be called living) in apathetic indifference to good and evil. Arriving at the river Acheron, they there find the old ferryman Charon, who takes the spirits to the opposite shore. As they reach it Dante, seized with terror, falls into a trance. Roused by thunder, and following his guide, he descends into Limbo, the first circle of the Inferno. Here are the souls of those who, though they have lived virtuously and suffer not for great sins, nevertheless, through lack of baptism, merit not the bliss of paradise. They pass on to the second circle. Here at the entrance is Minos, the infernal judge, by whom Dante is admonished to beware how he enters those regions. He faints, and on his recovery finds himself in the third circle, where the gluttonous are punished.]

Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce, strange,
Through his wide three-fold throat barks as a dog.
Over a multitude immersed beneath.
His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard,
His belly large, and clawed the hands, with which
He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs
Piecemeal disports.

[They descend into the fourth circle, past Pluto, guradian of the caves. Here the same doom awaits the prodigal and the avaricious- everlastingly to meet in direful conflict, rolling great weights against each other with mutual curses. In the fifth circle they find the wrathful and gloomy, tormented by the Stygian lake.]

We the circle crossed
To the next steep, arriving at a well,
That boiling pours itself down to a foss
Sluiced from its source. Far murkier was the wave
Than sablest grain; and we in company
Of th' inky waters, journeying by their side,
Entered, though by a different track, beneath.
Into a lake, the Stygian named, expands
The dismal stream, when it hath reached the foot
Of the grey, withered cliffs. Intent I stood
To gaze, and in the marish sunk descried
A miry tribe, all naked, and with looks
Betokening rage. They with their hands alone
Struck not, but with the head, the breast, the feet,
Cutting each other piecemeal with their fangs.

[Phlegyas, ferryman of the lake, conveys Virgil and Dante across, and they arrive at the city of Dis, where demons close the portals against them. They enter by the help of an angel and discover that heretics are punished in tombs burning with fierce fire. Going forward between the sepulchres, the pilgrims arrive at the verge of a rocky precipice, which encloses the seventh circle, where the violent who have committed crimes against their neighbours are punished by being tormented in a river of blood. When the tormented souls try to emerge, a troop of centaurs aim arrows at them. One of these instructs the two pilgrims.]

"These are the souls of tyrants, who were given
To blood and rapine. Here they wail aloud
Their merciless wrongs. Here Alexander dwells,
And Dionysius fell, who many a year
Of woe wrought for fair Sicily. That brow,
Whereon the hair so jetty clustering hangs,
Is Azzolino; that with flaxen locks
Oliizzo of Este, in the world destroyed
By his foul stepson ...
There Heaven's stern justice lays chastising hand
On Attila. who was the scourge of the earth,
On Sextus, and on Pyrrhus, and extracts
Tears ever by the seething flood unlocked
From the Rinieri; of Corneto this,
Pazzo the other named, who filled the ways
With violence and war."

[Still in the seventh circle, Dante enters the second compartment, which contains those who have done violence on their own persons and those who have violently consumed their goods. The first become trees, which bleed when a twig is broken, whereon the harpies build their nests; the latter are chased and torn by black mastiffs. The third compartment of this seventh circle is a plain of hot, dry sand, over which fall flakes of fire, slowly waiting down as flakes of snow; here are punished those who have committed sins of violence against God, against nature and against art. And in the eighth circle, among other lost ones are punished those who are guilty of simony. They are fixed with the head downwards in certain apertures, so that no more than the legs can be seen from without, and on the soles of the feet are seen burning flames. Dante is taken down by his guide to the bottom of the gulf, and there finds Pope Nicholas the Fifth, whose evil deeds, together with those of other pontiffs, are bitterly reprehended. The punishment of hypocrites is witnessed. Caiaphas is seen fixed to a cross on the ground so that all tread on him in passing. In the seventh gulf is seen robbers tormented by venomous serpents.]

We from the bridge's head descended, where
To the eighth mound it joins; and then, the chasm
Opening to view, I saw a crowd within
Of serpents terrible, so strange of shape
And hideous, that remembrance in my veins
Yet shrinks the vital current.
Amid the dread exuberance of woe
Ran naked spirits winged with horrid fear,
Nor hope had they of crevice where to hide,
Or heliotrope to charm them out of view.
With serpents were their hands behind them bound,
Which through their reins enfixed the tail and head
Twisted in folds before. And lo! on one
Near to our side, darted an adder up,
And, where the neck is on the shoulders tied,
Transpierced him.

[The two go forward to the arch that stretches over the eighth gulf, and behold numberless flames wherein are punished the evil counsellors, each flame containing a sinner, save one, in which were Diomede and Ulysses. Ulysses relates the manner of his death.]

"When I escaped
From Circe, who beyond a circling year
Had held me near Caieta by her charms,
Ere thus Aeneas had named the shore;
Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence
Of my old father, nor return of love,
That should have crowned Penelope with Joy,
Could overcome in me the zeal I had
To explore the world, and search the ways of life,
Man's evil and his virtue. Forth I sailed
In. to the deep illimitable main,
'With but one bark, and the small faithful band
That yet cleaved to me. As Iberia far,
Far as Morocco, either shore I saw.
And the Sardinian and each isle beside
'Which round that ocean bathes.
Tardy with age were I and my companions when we came
To the straight pass, where Hercules ordained
The boundaries not to be o'erstepped by man.
'O brothers!" I began, "who to the west
Through perils without number now have reached
To this the short remaining watch, that yet
Our senses have to wake, refuse not proof
Of the unpeopled world, following the track
Of Phoebus. Call to mind from whence we sprang;
Ye were not formed to live the life of brutes,
But virtue to pursue and knowledge high."
With these few words I sharpened for the voyage
The mind of my associates, that I then
Could scarcely have withheld them. To the dawn
Our poop we turned, and for the witless flight
Made our oars wings, still gaining on the left.
Each star of th' other pole night now beheld;
And ours so low that from the ocean floor
It rose not. Five times re-illum'd, as oft
Vanished the light from underneath the moon,
Since the deep way we entered, when from far
Appeared a mountain dim, loftiest methought
Of all I e'er beheld. Joy seized us straight,
But soon to mourning changed. From the new land
A whirlwind sprang, and at her foremost side
Did strike the vessel. Thrice it whiri'd her round
With all the waves; the fourth time lifted up
The poop, and sank the prow; so fate decreed,
And over us the booming billow closed"

[In the ninth gulf are seen sowers of scandal, schismatics and heretics, with their limbs miserably maimed or divided in different ways. Amongst these the poet finds Mahomet. After witnessing the tortures of forgers in the tenth gulf. the poets see the agonies of traitors in the ninth circle, which is a frozen realm. In the midst of this is Lucifer, at whose back Dante and Virgil ascend, till by a secret path they reach the surface of the other hemisphere and once more obtain sight of the stars.]

"The banners of Hell's Monarch do come forth
Towards us; therefore look,' so spake my guide,
'If thou discern him.' As, when breathes a cloud
Heavy and dense, or when the shades of night
Fall on our hemisphere, seems viewed from far
A windmill, which the blast stirs briskly round;
Such was the fabric then methought I saw.
To shield me from the wind, forthwith I drew
Behind my guide; no covert else was there.
Now came I (and with fear I bid my strain
But night now record the marvel) where the souls were all
Whelm'd underneath, transparent, as through glass.
Pellucid the frail stem. Some prone were laid
Others stood upright, this upon the soles,
That on his head, a third with face to feet
Arched like a bow. When to the point we came,
Whereat my guide was pleased that I should see
The creature eminent in beauty once.
He from before me stepped and made me pause.
'Lo!' he exclaimed, 'lo, Dis! and lo, the place,
Where thou hast need to arm thy heart with strength.'
Then stood forth that emperor, who sways
The realm of sorrow, at mid-breast from th' ice.
How passing strange it seemed, when I did spy
Upon his head three faces: one in front
Of hue vermilion, th' other two with this
Midway each shoulder joined and at the crest;
The right 'twixt wan and yellow seemed; the left
To look on, such as come from whence old Nile
Stoops to the lowlands. Under each shot forth
Two mighty wings, enormous as became
A bird so vast. Sails never such I saw
Outstretched on the wide sea. No plumes had they,
But were in texture like a bat; and these
He flapped i' th' air, that from him issued still
Three winds, wherewith Cocytus to its depth
Was frozen. At six eyes he wept; the tears
Adown three chins distili'd with bloody foam.
At every mouth his teeth a sinner champed,
Bruised as with ponderous engine; so that three
Were in this guise tormented. But far more
Than from that gnawing was the foremost pang'd
By the fierce rending, whence oft-times the back
Was stript of all its skin. 'That upper spirit
Who hath worst punishment,' so spake my guide,
'Is Judas, he that hath his head within
And plies the feet without. Of th' other two,
Whose heads are under, from the murky jaw
Who hangs, is Brutus; lo! how he doth writhe
And speaks not..... But night now reascends,
And it is time for parting. All is seen.”

II: Purgatory

O'er better waves to speed her rapid course
The light barque of my genius lifts the sail,
Well pleased to leave so cruel sea behind
And of the second region I will sing,
In which the human spirit from sinful blot
Is purged, and for ascent to Heaven prepares.

[The poet describes his rapturous delight at escaping a little before daybreak from the infernal regions. He finds himself breathing the pure air of the region round the Isle of Purgatory. The shade of Cato of Utica appears and admonishes the two pilgrims what is needful to be done before they proceed on the way to Purgatory. He then disappears. After having encountered many hovering spirits, they reach the entrance and are admitted by the angel deputed by St. Peter.
Passing along a pathway, they reach an open and level space that extends each way round the mountain. A while marble cornice, on the side that rises, is covered with engravings of many stories of humility. To this approach the souls of those who expiate the sin of pride, bent down beneath the weight of many stones. Dante tells how sin is cancelled by suffering in Purgatory.]

'What I see hither tending bears no trace
Of human semblance, nor of aught beside
That my foiled sight can guess!' He answering thus:
'So bent to earth, beneath their heavy terms
Of torment stoop they, that mine eye at first
Struggled as thine. But look intently thither:
And disentangle with thy labouring view
What, underneath those stones, approacheth; now,
E'en now, mayst thou discern the pangs of each.'
Christians and proud'. O poor and wretched ones!
That, feeble in the mind's eye, lean your trust
Upon unstaid perverseness! Know ye not
That we are worms, yet made at last to form
The winged insect, imp'd with angel plumes,
That to Heaven's Justice unobstructed soars?
Why buoy ye up aloft your unfledged souls?
Abortive then and shapeless ye remain.
Like the untimely embryon of a worm.
As, to support incumbent floor or roof,
For corbel is a figure sometimes seen.
That crumples up its knees unto its breast,
With the feigned posture stirring ruth unfeigned
In the beholder's fancy: so I saw
These fashioned when I noted well their guise.
Each, as his back was laden, came indeed.
Or more or less contracted; and it seemed
As he who showed most patience in his look,
Wailing, exclaimed, 'I can endure no more.'

[They gain a second cornice and an angel invites the poets to ascend the next steep. At the next cornice, where the sin of anger is being purged, Dante witnesses remarkable instances of patience. One of these is described.]

After that I saw
A multitude, in fury burning, slay
With stones a stripling youth, and shout amain
'Destroy, destroy!' And him I saw, who. bowed
Heavy with death unto the ground, yet made
His eyes, unfolded upward, gates to heaven,
Praying forgiveness of the Almighty Sire.
Amidst that cruel conflict, on his foes,
With looks that win compassion to their aim.

[A thick mist envelops the pilgrims. and through the fog the voices are heard of spirits piteously praying. An angel marshals them to the fourth cornice, on which the sin of indifference is purged. Multitudes of spirits rush by, shouting forth memorable examples of the sin for which they are made to suffer. At the summoning of an angel, Virgil and Dante ascend the fifth cornice, where they find Pope Adrian the Fifth, who thus speaks:]

“Late, alas!
Was my conversion; but when I became
Rome's pastor I discerned at once the dream
And cozenage of life; saw that the heart
Rested not there, and yet no prouder height
Lured on the climber; wherefore, of that life
No more enamoured, in my bosom love
Of purer being kindled. For till then
I was a soul in misery; alienate
From God, and covetous of all earthly things;
Now, as thou seest, here punished for my doting.
Such cleansing from the taint of avarice
Do spirits, converted, need.”

[Presently the mountain shakes, and all the spirits shout, 'Glory to God!' The poets mount to the sixth cornice, where the sin of gluttony is cleansed. Turning, they find a tree hung with sweet-smelling fruit, and watered by a shower that gushes from the rock. Voices are heard to proceed from the rock, recording examples of temperance.]

“The women of old Rome were satisfied
With water for their beverage. Daniel fed
On pulse, and wisdom gained The primal age
Was beautiful as gold; and hunger then
Made acorns tasteful, thirst each rivulet
Run nectar. Honey and locusts were the food
Whereon the Baptist in the wilderness
Fed, and that eminence of glory reached
And greatness, which th' Evangelist records.”

[They arrive on the seventh and last cornice, where the sin of incontinence is purged in fire. An angel sends the two pilgrims forward to the last ascent, which leads to the celestial Paradise, situated on the summit of the mountains. Virgil gives Dante full liberty to use his own pleasure and judgement in the choice of his way till he shall meet. with Beatrice. Dante wanders through the forest of the terrestrial Paradise, till he is stopped by a stream. On the other side he beholds Matilda, culling flowers. He speaks with her, and learns that the water, Lethe or Eunoe, flowing between them has power, on her side to take away remembrance of offence, and on the other to bring back remembrance of all good deeds. Matilda moves along the side of the stream, in the opposite direction to the current, and Dante keeps equal pace with her on the opposite bank. A marvellous sight appears, preceded by music. Beatrice descends from heaven, and rebukes the poet.]

I have beheld, ere now, at break of day,
The eastern clime all roseate; and the sky
Opposed, one deep and beautiful serene;
And the sun's face so shaded, and with mists
Attemper'd, at his rising, that the eye
Long while endured the sight; thus, in a cloud
Of flowers, that from those hands angelic rose,
And down within and outside of the car
Fell showering, in white veil with olive wreathed,
A virgin in my view appeared, beneath
Green mantle, robed in hue of living flame;
And o'er my spirit, that so long a time
Had from her presence felt no shuddering dread,
Albeit mine eyes discerned her not, there moved
A hidden virtue from her, at whose touch
The power of ancient love was strong within me.

[Beatrice thus addresses Dante:]

“Observe me well. I am, in sooth, I am
Beatrice. What! and hast thou deigned at last
Approach the mountain? Knewest not, O man!
Thy happiness is here?”

[To the virgins accompanying her Beatrice explains the reason of her rebukes administered to Dante. After she left the mortal vale he languished in his devotion for her whom he had adulated while she lived within his ken on earth. She says: ]

“Soon as I had reached
The threshold of my second age. And changed
My mortal for immortal; then he left. me.
And gave himself to others. When from flesh
To spirit I had risen, and increase
Of beauty and of virtue circled me
I was less dear to him, and valued less,
His steps were turned into deceitful ways.
Following false images of good, that make
No promise perfect.”

[Dante falls to the ground. Coming to himself again, he is by Matilda drawn through the waters of Lethe, and presented first to the four virgins who figure the cardinal virtues. These in turn lead him to the Gryphon, a symbol of our Saviour: and three virgins representing the evangelical virtues intercede for him with Beatrice, that she would display to him her second beauty. She relents, and her virgins lead Dante up to where she stands gazing at the sacred symbol. But they warn him not to gaze on her too fixedly.]

Mine eyes with such an eager coveting
Were bent to rid them of their ten years' thirst,
No other sense was waking, and e'en they
Were fenced on either side from heed of aught;
So tangled, in its customed toils, that smile
Of saintly brightness drew me to itself;
When forcibly, toward my left, my sight
The sacred virgins turned; for from their lips
I heard the warning sounds, 'Too fixed a gaze!'
Awhile my vision laboured; as when late
Upon the overstrained eyes the sun hath smote.
But soon, to lesser object, as the view
Was now recovered (lesser in respect
To that excess of sensible, whence late
I had perforce been sundered), on their right
I marked that glorious army wheel, and turn
Against the sun and sevenfold lights, their front.

[Beatrice darkly predicts to Dante some future events. Lastly, the whole band arrive at a fountain, from which point the streams, Lethe and Eunoe, separating, flow different ways. Matilda, at the desire of Beatrice, causes Dante to drink of the latter stream.]

And, where they stood, before them, as it seemed
I, Tigris and Euphrates both beheld
Forth from one fountain issue; and, like friends,
Linger at parting. '0 enlightening beam!
0 glory of our kind! beseech thee say
What water this, which from one source derived
Itself removes to distance from itself?'
To such entreaty answer thus was made:
'Entreat Matilda, that she teach thee this.'
And here, as one who clears himself of blame
Imputed, the fair dame returned, 'Of me
He this and more hath learnt; and I am safe
That Lethe's water hath not hid it from him.'
And Beatrice: 'Some more pressing care,
That oft the memory leaves, perchance hath made
His mind's eye dark. But lo, where Eunoe flows
Lead thither; and, as thou art wont, revive
His fainting virtue.' As a courteous spirit,
That proffers no excuses, but as soon
As he hath token of another's will.
Makes it his own; when she had taken me thus
The lovely maiden moved her on ....

III: Paradise

[Beatrice, whose glorious spirit has disclosed its grace and beauty to Dante in the mountain of Purgatory, where she had admonished him concerning his errors, and had brought him to acknowledge them, leads him in an ascent towards the first heaven. She also ministers to his soul profound consolation and high enlightenment by relieving him of some of his most perplexing and distressing doubts. Dante and his celestial guide enter the moon. The cause of the spots or shadows which appear in that satellite is explained to him.]

'The virtue and motion of the sacred orbs,
A mallet by the workman's hand. Must needs
By blessed movers be inspired. This heaven,
Made beauteous by so many luminaries,
From the deep spirit that moves its circling sphere
Its image takes an impress as a seal:
And as the soul, that dwells within your dust,
Through members different, yet together formed,
In different powers resolves itself; e'en so
The intellectual efficacy unfolds
Its goodness multiplied throughout the stars.
On its own unity revolving still.
Different virtue compact different
Makes with the precious body it enlivens,
With which it knits, as life in you is knit.
From its original nature full of joy.
The virtue mingled through the body shines.
As joy through pupil of the living eye,
From hence proceeds that which from light to light
Seems different, and not from dense or rare.
This is the formal cause, that generates,
Proportioned to its power, the dusk or clear.'

[In the moon Dante learns that this satellite is allotted to those who, after having made profession of chastity and a religious life, had been compelled to violate their vows. Dante ascends with Beatrice to the planet Mercury, which is the second heaven, and here he finds a multitude of spirits, one of whom offers to satisfy him of anything he may wish to know from him. This spirit declares himself to be the Emperor Justinian, and after speaking of his own actions, recounts the victories, before him, gained under the Roman Eagle, after which Justinian proceeds:]

“This little star is furnished with good spirits,
Whose mortal lives were busied to that end,
That honour and renown might wait on them;
And, when desires thus err in their intention,
True love must needs ascend with slacker beam
But it is part of our delight to measure
Our wages with the merit; and admire
The close proportion. Hence doth heavenly justice
Temper so evenly affection in us.
It never can warp to any wrongfulness.”

[Beatrice then conducts the poet to the third heaven, the planet Venus. Here he finds the soul of Charles Martel, King of Hungary, who had been his friend on earth, and who now, after speaking of the realms to which he had been heir, unfolds the cause why children differ in disposition from their parents.]

“The roots from whence your operation come
Must differ. Therefore one is Solon born;
Another, Xerxes; and Melchisedec
A third; and he a fourth whose airy voyage
Cost him his son. In her circuitous course,
Nature, that is the seal to mortal wax,
Doth well her art, but no distinction owns
'Twixt one or other household. Hence befalls
That Esau is so wide of Jacob; hence
Quirinus of so base a father springs,
He dates from Mars his lineage. Were it not
That Providence celestial over-rul'd,
Nature, in generation, must the path
Traced by the generator still pursue
Unswervingly. Thus place I in thy sight
That which was late behind thee.”

[In this planet of Venus various spirits speak to Dante. Foico, the Provençal bard, tells him that the spirit of Rahab the harlot is there.]

“Inquire thou wouldst,
Who of this light is denizen, that here
Beside me sparkles, as the sunbeam doth
On the clear wave. Know, then, the soul of Rahab
Is in that gladsome harbour; to our tribe
United, and the foremost rank assigned.
She to this heaven, at which the shadow ends
Of your sublunar world, was taken up
First in Christ's triumph, of all souls redeemed;
For well behoved that in some part of heaven
She should remain a trophy, to declare
The mighty conquest won with either palm
For that she favoured first the high exploit
Of Joshua on the Holy Land, whereof
The Pope recks little now.”

[The next ascent carries them into the sun, which is the fourth heaven. Dante describes the first sight.]

Then I saw a bright band, in liveliness
Surpassing, who themselves did make the crown,
And thus the centre; yet more sweet in voice
Than in their visage, beaming. Cinctured thus,
Sometime Latona's daughter we behold,
When the impregnate air retains the thread
That weaves her zone. In the celestial court,
Whence I return, are many jewels found,
So dear and beautiful they cannot brook
Transporting from that realm; and of these lights
Such was the song.

[Dante penetrates various circles of glorified spirits. Then with Beatrice he is translated into the fifth heaven, the planet Mars; and here behold the souls of those who had died fighting for the true faith. ranged as a cross, athwart which the spirits move to the sound of a melodious hymn.]

O genuine glitter of eternal Beam!
With what a sudden whiteness did it flow,
Overpowering vision in me. But so fair,
So passing lovely, Beatrice showed
Her infinite sweetness. Then mine eyes regained
Power to look up; and I beheld myself,
Sole with my lady, to more lofty bliss Translated.

[Dante ascends with Beatrice to the planet Jupiter, the sixth heaven, where he finds the souls of those who administered justice rightly to the world. There appears an eagle, formed of heavenly spirits.]

Before my sight appeared, with open wings,
The beauteous image, in fruition sweet,
Gladdening the thronged spirits. That which next
Befalls me to portray voice hath not uttered,
Nor hath ink written, nor in fantasy
Was e'er conceived. For I beheld and heard
The beak discourse; and what intention formed
Of many, singly as of one express,
Beginning, “For that I was just and piteous,
I am exalted to this height of glory,
The which no wish exceeds.”

[Dante ascends with Beatrice to the seventh heaven, the planet Saturn, abode of souls who passed their life in holy contemplation. Next they mount to the eighth heaven of the fixed stars; and look back upon the earth. He sees Christ triumphing. The Saviour ascends, followed by His virgin mother, and Dante in the ninth heaven is permitted to behold the divine essence. He is taken up with Beatrice into the empyrean, to see the triumph of the angels and saintly multitude of the souls of the blessed as snow-white roses. Lastly, he is admitted a glimpse of the mystery of the Trinity, and the Union of Man with God.]

In that abyss
Of radiance, clear and lofty, seemed, methought,
Three orbs of triple hue, dipt in one 'bound;
And, from another, one reflected seemed,
As rainbow is from rainbow; and the third
Seemed fire breathed equally from both.
0 speech!
How feeble and how faint art thou to give
Conception birth. Yet this to what I saw
Is less than little. O eternal light!
Sole in thyself thou dwell'st; and of thyself
Sole understood, past, present, or to come;
Thou smiledst on that. circling, which in thee
Seemed as reflected splendour, while I mused;
For I therein, methought, in its own hue
Beheld our image painted; steadfastly
I therefore pored upon the view. As one
Who, versed in geometric lore, would fain
Measure the circle; and, though pondering long
And deeply, that beginning, which he needs,
Finds not; e'en such was I, intent to scan
The novel wonder, and trace out the form.
How to the circle fitted, and therein
How placed: but the flight was not for my wing.
Here vigour fail'd the tow'ring fantasy;
But yet the will roli'd onward, like a wheel
In even motion, by the Love impelled,
That moves the sun in heaven and all the stars.

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Surprise A Christmas Carol A Study in Scarlet A Voyage to the Moon Aesop's Fables Alice in Wonderland An English Opium-Eater Anna Karenina Antarctic Journals Arabian Nights Aristotle's Ethics Barnaby_Rudge Beowulf Beyond Good and Evil Bleak House Book of the Dead Caesar's Commentaries Crime and Punishment Dalton's Chemical Philosophy David Copperfield Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Descartes' Meditations Dombey and Son Don Quixote Dulce et Decorum Est Einstein's Relativity Elements of Geometry Fairy Tales Father Goriot Frankenstein Gilgamesh Great Expectations Gulliver's Travels Hamlet Hard Times Heart of Darkness History of Tom Jones I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud If - Ivanhoe Jane Eyre Jekyll and Mr Hyde Kant Lady Chatterley's Lover Le Morte D'Arthur Le Repertoire de La Cuisine Les Miserables Little Dorrit Lysistrata Martin Chuzzlewit Meditations Metamorphosis Micrographia Moby-Dick My Confession Newton's Natural Philosophy Nicholas Nickleby Notebooks Of Miracles On Liberty On Old Age On The Social Contract On War Our Mutual Friend Paradise Lost Pepys' Diary Philosophy in The Boudoir Piers Plowman Pilgrims Progress Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect Pride and Prejudice Principles of Human Knowledge Principles of Morals and Legislation Psychoanalysis Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs Robinson Crusoe Romeo and Juliet Songs of Innocence and Experience Sorrows of Werther Sovran Maxims Tale of Two Cities Tess of the d'Urbervilles The Advancement of Learning The Adventures of Oliver Twist The Analects The Ballad of Reading Gaol The Bhagavad-Gita The Canterbury Tales The Communist Manifesto The Confessions The Decameron The Divine Comedy The Gospels of Jesus Christ The Great Gatsby The Histories The Life of Samuel Johnson The Magna Carta The Motion of the Heart and Blood The Odyssey The Old Curiosity Shop The Origin of Species The Pickwick Papers The Prince The Quran The Remembrance of Times Past The Republic The Rights of Man The Rights of Woman The Rime of the Ancient Mariner The Rubaiyát Of Omar Khayyam The Torah The Travels of Marco Polo The Wealth of Nations The Wind in the Willows Three Men in a Boat Tom Brown's Schooldays Tristram Shandy Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Ulysses Uncle Tom's Cabin Utopia Voyages of Discovery Walden Wilhelm Meister Wuthering Heights