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After their courteous greetings joyfully Sev'n times exchang'd, Sordello backward drew Exclaiming, "Who are ye?" "Before this mount By spirits worthy of ascent to God Was sought, my bones had by Octavius' care Been buried. I am Virgil, for no sin Depriv'd of heav'n, except for lack of faith." So answer'd him in few my gentle guide. As one, who aught before him suddenly Beholding, whence his wonder riseth, cries "It is yet is not," wav'ring in belief; Such he appear'd; then downward bent his eyes, And drawing near with reverential step, Caught him, where of mean estate might clasp His lord. "Glory of Latium!" he exclaim'd, "In whom our tongue its utmost power display'd! Boast of my honor'd birth-place! what desert Of mine, what favour rather undeserv'd, Shows thee to me? If I to hear that voice Am worthy, say if from below thou com'st And from what cloister's pale?"—"Through every orb Of that sad region," he reply'd, "thus far Am I arriv'd, by heav'nly influence led And with such aid I come. There is a place There underneath, not made by torments sad, But by dun shades alone; where mourning's voice Sounds not of anguish sharp, but breathes in sighs."
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There I with little innocents abide, Who by death's fangs were bitten, ere exempt From human taint. There I with those abide, Who the three holy virtues put not on, But understood the rest, and without blame Follow'd them all. But if thou know'st and canst, Direct us, how we soonest may arrive, Where Purgatory its true beginning takes." He answer'd thus: "We have no certain place Assign'd us: upwards I may go or round, Far as I can, I join thee for thy guide. But thou beholdest now how day declines: And upwards to proceed by night, our power Excels: therefore it may be well to choose A place of pleasant sojourn. To the right Some spirits sit apart retir'd. If thou Consentest, I to these will lead thy steps: And thou wilt know them, not without delight." "How chances this?" was answer'd; "who so wish'd To ascend by night, would he be thence debarr'd By other, or through his own weakness fail?" The good Sordello then, along the ground Trailing his finger, spoke: "Only this line Thou shalt not overpass, soon as the sun Hath disappear'd; not that aught else impedes Thy going upwards, save the shades of night. These with the wont of power perplex the will.