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James Russell Lowell, Among my books 2 0 Browse Search
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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
ene (B. VI. c. 10). He has turned it into a compliment, and a very beautiful one, to a living mistress. It is instructive to compare the effect of his purely sensuous verses with that of Dante's, which have such a wonderful reach behind them. They are singularly pleasing, but they do not stay by us as those of his model had done by him. Spenser was, as Milton called him, a sage and serious poet; he would be the last to take offence if we draw from him a moral not without its use now that Priapus is trying to persuade us that pose and drapery will make him as good as Urania. Better far the naked nastiness; the more covert the indecency, the more it shocks. Poor old god of gardens! Innocent as a clownish symbol, he is simply disgusting as an ideal of art. In the last century, they set him up in Germany and in France as befitting an era of enlightenment, the light of which came too manifestly from the wrong quarter to be long endurable. Beatrice recalls her own beauty with a pride