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Secondly, if Dante had been actually at the foot of the hill, in the strict sense of the word, he could not possibly have seen its summit,* “clad in the sun's bright rays." Let us now examine how this construction agrees with the context.
Dante,“ in the middle of the way of life,” finds himself in the forest of Error. He cannot tell how he came there, but mere-' ly recollects, that a moment previous, he was “ oppressed with sleep,” that is, in a state of intellectual unconsciousness, arising from the violence of his passions. In this "rugged, wild, and gloomy” forest, he loses his way, and soon after, finds himself (he either will not or cannot tell how) at the foot of a hill, bounding this valley or forest. Alarmed at this, he raises his eyes to the summit of the hill, and there sees the rays of the
Allor fu la paura un poco queta, and he turns round to look upon
the pass che non lasciò giammai persona viva, that is, lasciò passar, or in other words——the pass which no living soul ever omitted, or was exempted from passing. Then
Riprese via per la piaggia desertaand this brings us to the difficulty.
It would be difficult to persuade me, that this piaggia deserta means the beginning of the ascent. Dante says expressly, that he resumed his previous way, or walked again along the piaggia,
Sicchè il piè fermo sempre era il più basso, and then began to ascend. This ascent is moreover announced by an emphatic Ed ecco, denoting that then, and not till then, did the rise begin. To conclude
Ripresi via per la piaggia deserta, I resumed my way along the solitary plain, (where alone il pie fermo sempre è il più basso,) and walked toward the hill,
that is, toward the seat of truth; but in such a way, that
firm foot was always lower than the other. This I take to mean, I still continued in the path of error, not daring to ascend the hill of truth. After going a short distance, and just as I had reached the beginning of the rise, my further progress is op
* Spalle certainly ineans the suminit of the hill, and not the quasi sommità, as Biagioli wishes us to believe ; because if the sun's rays had ched the side of the bill, the forest would not have been dark, nor would the poet have been obliged to raise his eyes to see the light. VOL. I.
posed by Pleasure, Pride, and Avarice, so much so that, (to repeat Dante's jeu de mots,)
Back to return, at every turn I turned. In this way, the literal sense is abundantly perspicuous, and the allegorical extremely apt and beautiful. L. Da Ponté.
Aye, gloriously thou standest there,
Beautiful, boundless firmament !
That swelling wide o'er earth and air,
And round the horizon bent,
With that bright vault and sapphire wall,
Dost overhang and circle all.
Far, far below thee, tall gray trees
Arise, and piles built up of old,
And hills, whose ancient summits freeze
In the fierce light and cold.
The eagle soars his utmost height-
Yet far thou stretchest o'er his flight.
Thou hast thy frowns--with thee, on high,
The storm has made his airy seat,
Beyond thy soft blue curtain lie
His stores of hail and sleet:
Thence the consuming lightnings break-
There the strong hurricanes awake.
Yet art thou prodigal of smiles-
Smiles sweeter than thy frowns are stern:
Earth sends, from all her thousand isles,
at their return:
The glory that comes down from thee
Bathes in deep joy the land and sca.
gorgeous sun, is thine,
The pomp that brings and shuts the day,
The clouds that round him change and shine,
The airs that fan his way.
Thence look the thoughtful stars, and there
The meek moon walks the silent air.
The sunny Italy may boast
The beauteous tints that Aush her skies,
And lovely, round the Grecian coast,
May thy blue pillars rise ;-
I only know how fair they stand,
About my own beloved land.
And they are fair,-a charm is theirs
That earth the proud green earth-has not,
With all the hues, and forms, and airs,
That haunt her sweetest spot;
We gaze upon thy calm pure sphere,
And read of Heaven's eternal year.
Oh, when, amid the throng of men,
The heart grows sick of hollow mirth,
How willingly we turn us then
Away from this cold earth,
And look into thy azure breast
For seats of innocence and rest.
VERPLANCK'S ADDRESS. MR. Wiley, of this city, has just published a second edition of the Address delivered by Mr. Verplanck, at the opening of the tenth exhibition of the Academy of the Fine Arts, in NewYork. Our readers are already acquainted with the character of this judicious and well-written discourse; and it is only necessary to say, on the present occasion, that the publisher has taken care, that the mechanical execution should be worthy of the style and matter of the work. It is beautifully printed, and embellished with a likeness of West, and a front view of one of the temples of Paestum. It has also undergone a careful revision from the author :-some additions have been made, and the style has been, in several instances, retouched. It is, in short, a publication that cannot fail to give pleasure, to all who have any taste for the luxuries of beautiful writing, and elegant typography.
JULIO AND ADA.
His was the look, the voice, the step, the air,
The bloom of manly beauty,--hers as fair
A form as ever poet dreamed ;-with eyes
Dove-like and beautiful, and gentle brow
White as the fleecy cloud of sun-lit skies.
On her young cheek, health's bright and rosy glow
Was like the morning's softly tinted blush-
Deepened at the full lip, till it became
The richest hue of summer's eve ;-the flush
Of changeful feeling, joy, or hope, or shame,
Gave sweetness to a face, that else had been
Too samely beautiful. None e'er had seen
Her innocent smile, but paused to look again,
She seemed so pure, so free from every stain
Of earthly feeling ;--and young Julio's heart
Scarce trusted its own bliss, when in that face
He read (what nought save looks can e'er impart)
The love, the tenderness that steals new grace
From maiden bashfulness. And yet his proud
And noble spirit had not meanly bowed.
The holy feelings of unsullied youth-
The heart's pure homage consecrate to truth-
The guileless wishes, vague and undefined--
The hallowed fancies of a lofty mind-
The hope that only on fame's mountain height
His eagle spirit e'er should curb its flight;-
All these were his; and all the chains that Love
Around that spirit's daring pinions wove,
Essayed in vain its high and heaven-ward way,
Mid rose-strewn bowers and myrtle groves to stay.
No, the light fetters only served to fling
Unwonted freshness o'er each radiant wing.
And oft he fondly thought, in after years,
When past were all youth’s varying hopes and fears,
And when at last was gained the prize which she
Had bade him win -a high and honored name-
'Twould be so sweet to whisper, “ 'twas from thee,
Beloved one! all the inspiration came."
Now when all thought him happiest, for the time
When he might claim his promised bride was near,
(Alas they know not the heart's changeful clime
Who only see its summer flowers,) a shade
Was seen upon
his brow; he seemed to wear
Less joyous smiles, and his pale lip betrayed
Some secret sorrow; and at length 'twas said
That she was faithless. Though he breathed not one
Unkind reproach, the soul of life was gone
From him for ever:-he had seen her brook
A little while,
And she was wedded-he beheld her smile
Upon another, with the same sweet look
Of love that greeted him. Then first he knew
The misery of his blighted heart, then too
He felt how surely she had wasted all
His spirit's high-wrought energies; in vain
He strove his hopes of glory to recall,-
He felt there was no guerdon now to gain ;
He knew the angel form of happiness
That long had hovered near, intent to bless,
Had fled too far to be recalled again.
Desperate he plunged amidst the haunts of men,
And that pure heart, once filled with holy feeling,
Felt through its frame guilt's subtle poison stealing ;-
His spirit's plumes were sullied; but not long
He paused to hear the tempting Syren's song-
Not long his noble nature deigned to share
In joys where innocence no part could bear.
There was a gentle girl, for whom he felt
A brother's tenderness, and she knew well
His wrongs and sufferings often had she knelt
Beside him, when she marked the fearful swell
Of the blue veins upon his brow, which told
That thought again her tablet had unrolled ;-
And she alone his sadness could beguile,
With soothing voice, and sweetly pensive smile,
And sudden tears she cared not to repress.
She spoke to him of peace, for happiness
She knew he hoped no longer; and she gave
Fresh motives for exertion. Day by day
Her anxious kindness won its silent way,
Until he felt that he again could brave
The world's wild storms. Affection's deepest stream
Was sealed within his heart, but the soft beam
Of sweet benevolence aroand it glowed ;
And then it seemed as if again it flowed
Unfettered. But such thoughts indeed were vain;
Nought now on earth could e'er unloose that chain;
His brow but faint and fleeting smiles might wear,
And memory's waste was ruled by stern despair.
But Ada felt, that deep and passionate love
Was in her heart ;-at first she vainly strove