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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
But by the largess of celestial graces, Such had this man become in his New Life Potentially, that every righteous habit Would have made admirable proof in him; Some time I did sustain him with my look (volto); Revealing unto him my youthful eyes,Zzz I led him with me turned in the right way. As soon as ever of my second age I was upon the threshold and changed life, Himself from me he took and gave to others. When from the flesh to spirit I ascended, And beauty and virtue were in me increaseorward pathos, the single and sufficient thrust of phrase, he has no competitor. He is too sternly touched to be effusive and tearful: Io non piangeva, si dentro impietrai. For example, Cavalcanti's Come dicesti egli ebbe? Inferno, X. 67, ZZZ08. Anselmuccio's Tu guardi si, padre, che hai? Inferno, XXXIII.51. His is always the true coin of speech, Si lucida e si tonda Che nel suo conio nulla CI s' inforsa, and never the highly ornamented promise to pay, token of insolvency. No d
James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Milton. (search)
. Thus in a famous comparison of his, the fleet has no definite port, but plies stemming nightly toward the pole in a wide ocean of conjecture. He generalizes always instead of specifying,— the true secret of the ideal treatment in which he is without peer, and, though everywhere grandiose, he is never turgid. Tasso begins finely with Chiama gli abitator della ombre eterne II rauco suon della tartarea tromba; Treman le spaziose atre caverne, E la aer cieco a quel rurtiar rumor,???mbombaZZZ but soon spoils all by condescending to definite comparisons with thunder and intestinal convulsions of the earth; in other words, he is unwary enough to give us a standard of measurement, and the moment you furnish Imagination with a yardstick she abdicates in favor of her statistical poor-relation Commonplace. Milton, with this passage in his memory, is too wise to hamper himself with any statement for which he can be brought to book, but wraps himself in a mist of looming indefiniteness;