The Festival of Beatrice

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Dante, sole standing on the heavenward height,
Beheld and heard one saying, "Behold me well:
I am, I am Beatrice." Heaven and hell
Kept silence, and the illimitable light
Of all the stars was darkness in his sight
Whose eyes beheld her eyes again, and fell
Shame-stricken. Since her soul took flight to dwell
In heaven, six hundred years have taken flight.
And now that heavenliest part of earth whereon
Shines yet their shadow as once their presence shone
To her bears witness for his sake, as he
For hers bare witness when her face was gone:
No slave, no hospice now for grief, but free
From shore to mountain and from Alp to sea.

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