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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
something like humor in the opening verses of the XVI. Paradise, where Dante tells us how even in heaven he could not help glorying in being gently born,— he who had devoted a Canzone and a book of the Convito to proving that nobility consisted wholly in virtue. But there is, after all, something touchingly natural in the feeling. Dante, unjustly robbed of his property, and with it of the independence so dear to him, seeing Needy nothings trimmed in jollity, And captive Good attending Captain Ill, would naturally fall back on a distinction which money could neither buy nor replace. There is a curious passage in the Convito which shows how bitterly he resented his undeserved poverty. He tells us that buried treasure commonly revealed itself to the bad rather than the good. Verily I saw the place on the flanks of a mountain in Tuscany called Falterona, where the basest peasant of the whole countryside digging found there more than a bushel of pieces of the finest silver, which pe
James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Keats. (search)
feel sorrow with his hands, so truly did his body, like that of Donne's Mistress Boulstred, think and remember and forebode. The healthiest poet of whom our civilization has been capable says that when he beholds desert a beggar born, And strength by limping sway disabled, And art made tongue-tied by authority, alluding, plainly enough, to the Giffords of his day, And simple truth miscalled simplicity, as it was long afterward in Wordsworth's case, And captive Good attending Captain Ill, that then even he, the poet to whom, of all others, life seems to have been dearest, as it was also the fullest of enjoyment, tired of all these, had nothing for it but to cry for restful Death. Keats, to all appearance, accepted his ill fortune courageously. He certainly did not overestimate Endymion, and perhaps a sense of humor which was not wanting in him may have served as a buffer against the too importunate shock of disappointment. He made Ritchie promise, says Haydon, he wou