lethe

and with my tear-blurred and uncertain vision
I saw Her turned to face that beast which is
one person in two natures without division.

Even veiled and across the river from me
her face outshone its first-self by as much
as she outshone all mortals formerly.

And the thorns of my repentance pricked me so
that all the use and substance of the world
I most had loved, now most appeared my foe.

Such guilty recognition gnawed my heart
I swooned for pain; and what I then became
she best knows who most gave me cause to smart.

When I returned to consciousness at last
I found the lady who had walked alone
bent over me. "Hold fast!" she said, "Hold fast!"

She had drawn me into the stream up to my throat,
and pulling me behind her, she sped on
over the water, light as any boat.

Nearing the sacred bank, I heard her say
in tones so sweet I cannot call them back,
much less describe them here: "Asperges me."

Then the sweet lady took my head between
her open arms, and embracing me, she dipped me
and made me drink the waters that make clean.
Dante Alighieri
The Purgatorio
Canto xxxi

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