"I Recognize The Signals Of The Ancient Flame"

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Last Updated on August 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 149

Context: The long-awaited moment finally arrives for the poet Dante when he will see the beatific vision, Beatrice herself. She descends to Purgatory to rebuke the poet for mourning the loss of his great guide and friend Virgil ("Virgil, my best-loved father, Virgil, he To whom I gave me up for safety") who being pagan can go no further into the mystic realms. This is the poet's reaction to first seeing the heavenly vision of one so beloved but hardly spoken to on earth:

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No sooner on my vision streaming, smote
The heavenly influence, which, years past, and e'en
In childhood, thrill'd me, than
panting like a babe,
. . .
panting like a babe,
That flees for refuge to his mother's breast,
If aught have terrified or work'd him woe:
And would have cried, "There is no dram of blood
That doth not quiver in me. The old flame
throws out clear tokens of reviving fire."

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"O Clear Conscience And Upright! How Doth A Little Failing Wound Thee Sore"