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Dear-for it tells of by-past years,
Long years of war and bravery;
Preferred to peace and slavery;
Of countless wealth, and noble name,
And to the rescue bravely came;
On Freedom's soil, neath Freedom's sun,
Which Freemen's swords had drenched and won,
Were drained for priceless liberty,
The sires and sons he fought to free,
From rock to rock, from shore to shore,
Untiring as old ocean's roar;
* "If I have any where said, a green old age, I have Virgil's authority; Sed cruda Deo viridisque senectus.”—Dryden.
CRITIQUE ON A PASSAGE IN DANTE. [We recommend to the curious in Italian literature, and particularly to the admirers of the Divina Commedia, the following proposed interpretations of several very difficult passages in the Inferno of Dante.* They are decidedly the best explanations we have seen, of the passages referred to, on which, by the way, whole volumes have been written. With regard to the new reading of che i for ch'ei, the merest novice in Italian, will acknowledge the improvement ; and it is really surprising, that a correction so simple, and so perfectly satisfactory, should not have been suggested by any of the Dantesque commentators, who for five hundred years have been striving to outdo each other in variæ lectiones and new interpretations. The other explanations are ingenious, and most probably correct.]
To the Editors of the Atheneum Magazine. GENTLEMEN,- In the course of my investigations of the difficulties which the language and manner of Dante occasionally present, I have been led to believe, that in ten or twelve instances at least, in the Inferno alone, modes of interpretation might be offered, which would reconcile the objections of the critics, and remove all doubts of the meaning of the author. Of these, I now subjoin the first, reserving the others for another opportunity. INF. Cant. I. v. 29, 30.
Ripresi via per la piaggia deserta
Sicchè il piè fermo sempre era il più basso. In order to ascertain the actual situation, position, and movement of Dante, we ought to go back to verse 13.
Ma poi ch' io sui appiè del colle giunto
Love terminava quella valleand give to the expression appiè del colle, a signification, similar to that conveyed by the following line from one of Petrach's sonnets:
Appiè de' colli ove la bella vesta. Here every one will admit that the poet does not speak of a place actually adjoining, but merely of a place very near the foot of the hills, in which place Laura was born, and where too the five pernici, supposed to be referred to by the poet, ranged while they lived “unhindered and unhurt."
There appear to me to be two good reasons for this interpretation. First, Dante in order to express perfect contact, makes use, elsewhere, of a much stronger expression. I refer to the 134th verse, of the 17th canto of the Inferno:
Appiè appiè della stagliata rocca. * We have room only for the discussion of one of these passages in this number.
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 merely 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 deseria 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 piè fermo sempre è il più basso,) and walked toward the hill,--that is, toward the seat of truth; but in such a way, that my 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 means the suminit of the hill, and not the quasi sommità, as Biagioli wishes us to believe ; because if the sun's rays had reached the side of the hill, 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 Ponte.
Beautiful, boundless firmament!
And round the horizon bent,
Far, far below thee, tall gray trees
Arise, and piles built up of old,
In the fierce light and cold.
The storm has made his airy seat,
His stores of hail and sleet:
Smiles sweeter than thy frowns are stern:
at their return:
The pomp that brings and shuts the day,
The sunny Italy may boast
The beauteous tints that flush her skies,
And lovely, round the Grecian coast,
May thy blue pillars rise ;-
That earth—the proud green earth—has not,
That haunt her sweetest spot;-
The heart grows sick of hollow mirth,
Away from this cold earth,
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.