Inferno, I, 32
From the twilight of dawn to the twilight of evening, a leopard, in the final years of the twelfth century, looked at wooden planks, some iron bars, men and women who came and went, a wall, and, perhaps, a stone gutter full of dried leaves. He did not know--he could not know--that he longed for love and cruelty and the warm pleasure of tearing something apart and the wind carrying the scent of deer, but something in him was drowning and rebelling, and God spoke to him in a dream: You will live and die in this prison, in order that a man I know will look upon you a certain number of times and not forget you and will put your image and your symbol into a poem, a poem that has its precise place in the drama of the universe. You will suffer captivity, but you will have given a word to the poem. God, in the dream, illuminated the simplicity of the animal, and he understood the reasons and accepted this destiny, but when he awoke, all that remained in him was a dim resignation, a valiant ignorance, because the world is too complicated a machine for the simplicity of a beast.
Years later, Dante would die in Ravenna, as unjustified and alone as any man. In a dream, God revealed to him the secret purpose of his life and his work; Dante, astonished, discovered at last who he was and what he was and blessed his sufferings. Tradition says that when he woke up, he felt that he had received and lost something infinite, something that he could not recover or even get an inkling of, because the world is too complicated a machine for the simplicity of men.