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1 [121] Would he have us feel the brightness of an angel? He makes him whiten afar through the smoke like a dawn,1 or, walking straight toward the setting sun, he finds his eyes suddenly unable to withstand a greater splendor against which his hand is unavailing to shield him. Even its reflected light, then, is brighter than the direct ray of the sun.2 And how much more keenly do we feel the parched lips of Master Adam for those rivulets of the Casentino which run down into the Arno, ‘making their channels cool and soft’! His comparisons are as fresh, as simple, and as directly from nature as those of Homer.3 Sometimes they show a more subtle observation, as where he compares the stooping of Antaeus over him to the leaning tower of Garisenda, to which the clouds, flying in an opposite direction to its inclination, give away their motion.4 His suggestions of individuality, too, from attitude or speech, as in Farinata, Sordello, or Pia,5 give in a hint what is worth acres of so-called character-painting. In straightforward 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.


2 Purgatorio, XVI. 142. Here is Milton's ‘Far off his coming shone.’

3 Purgatorio, XV. 7, et seq.

4 See, for example, Inferno, XVII. 127-132; Ib. XXIV. 7-12; Purgatorio, II. 124-129; Ib., III. 79-84; Ib., XXVII. 76-81; Paradiso, XIX. 91-93; Ib. XXI. 34-39; Ib. XXIII. 1-9.

5 Inferno, XXXI. 136-138.

And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars.

Coleridge, Dejection, an Ode.

See also the comparison of the dimness of the faces seen around him in Paradise to ‘a pearl on a white forehead.’ (Paradiso, III. 14.)

6 Inferno, X. 35-41; Purgatorio, VI. 61-66; Ib., X. 133.

7 For example, Cavalcanti's “Come dicesti egli ebbe?” Inferno, X. 67, ZZZ08. Anselmuccio's

“Tu guardi si, padre, che hai?

Inferno, XXXIII.51.

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