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Divina Commedia

Written by: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Biography
 | Quotes (130) |
 Oft have I seen at some cathedral door 
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A laborer, pausing in the dust and heat, 
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Lay down his burden, and with reverent feet 
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Enter, and cross himself, and on the floor 
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Kneel to repeat his paternoster o'er; 
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Far off the noises of the world retreat; 
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The loud vociferations of the street 
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Become an undistinguishable roar. 
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So, as I enter here from day to day, 
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And leave my burden at this minster gate, 
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Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray, 
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The tumult of the time disconsolate 
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To inarticulate murmurs dies away, 
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While the eternal ages watch and wait.II.2.
How strange the sculptures that adorn these towers! 
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This crowd of statues, in whose folded sleeves 
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Birds build their nests; while canopied with leaves 
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Parvis and portal bloom like trellised bowers, 
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And the vast minster seems a cross of flowers! 
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But fiends and dragons on the gargoyled eaves 
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Watch the dead Christ between the living thieves, 
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And, underneath, the traitor Judas lowers! 
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Ah! from what agonies of heart and brain, 
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What exultations trampling on despair, 
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What tenderness, what tears, what hate of wrong, 
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What passionate outcry of a soul in pain, 
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Uprose this poem of the earth and air, 
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This medi?val miracle of song!
III.Written December 22, 1865.3.
I enter, and I see thee in the gloom 
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Of the long aisles, O poet saturnine! 
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And strive to make my steps keep pace with thine. 
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The air is filled with some unknown perfume; 
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The congregation of the dead make room 
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For thee to pass; the votive tapers shine; 
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Like rooks that haunt Ravenna's groves of pine 
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The hovering echoes fly from tomb to tomb. 
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From the confessionals I hear arise 
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Rehearsals of forgotten tragedies, 
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And lamentations from the crypts below; 
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And then a voice celestial that begins 
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With the pathetic words, "Although your sins 
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As scarlet be," and ends with "as the snow." 
IV.Written May 5, 1867.4.
With snow-white veil and garments as of flame, 
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She stands before thee, who so long ago 
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Filled thy young heart with passion and the woe 
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From which thy song and all its splendors came; 
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And while with stern rebuke she speaks thy name, 
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The ice about thy heart melts as the snow 
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On mountain heights, and in swift overflow 
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Comes gushing from thy lips in sobs of shame. 
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Thou makest full confession; and a gleam, 
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As of the dawn on some dark forest cast, 
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Seems on thy lifted forehead to increase; 
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Lethe and Euno? -- the remembered dream 
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And the forgotten sorrow -- bring at last 
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That perfect pardon which is perfect peace.
V.Written January 16, 1866.5.
I lift mine eyes, and all the windows blaze 
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With forms of Saints and holy men who died, 
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Here martyred and hereafter glorified; 
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And the great Rose upon its leaves displays 
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Christ's Triumph, and the angelic roundelays, 
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With splendor upon splendor multiplied; 
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And Beatrice again at Dante's side 
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No more rebukes, but smiles her words of praise. 
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And then the organ sounds, and unseen choirs 
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Sing the old Latin hymns of peace and love 
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And benedictions of the Holy Ghost; 
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And the melodious bells among the spires 
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O'er all the house-tops and through heaven above 
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Proclaim the elevation of the Host! 
VI.Written March 7, 1866.6.
O star of morning and of liberty! 
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O bringer of the light, whose splendor shines 
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Above the darkness of the Apennines, 
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Forerunner of the day that is to be! 
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The voices of the city and the sea, 
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The voices of the mountains and the pines, 
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Repeat thy song, till the familiar lines 
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Are footpaths for the thought of Italy! 
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Thy fame is blown abroad from all the heights, 
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Through all the nations, and a sound is heard, 
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As of a mighty wind, and men devout, 
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Strangers of Rome, and the new proselytes, 
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In their own language hear thy wondrous word, 
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And many are amazed and many doubt.



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