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only read the thirty-three first lines of the sixth canto of that poem, which I do not quote, to avoid too great length, or rather, because I believe it is impossible to translate them with energy equal to the originai.
To sum up ali I have to say on this head, the thirty-four cantos of Dante’s //<?// are wrote with more virility of thought and vigour of st>’le than any other poem ancient or modem; and in this particular no nation has produced its equal, except the Paradise lost of Milton. The most nervous scenes of the great Corneille himself (a poet the least effeminate among the French) do not come near the strength of Dante.
I shall not dwell long on those two parts of the poem, called Purgatory and Paradise; but only say that the thoughts and style of Purgatory have neither too much strength nor too much softness. It is one continued picture of supportable grief; and supportable, because it is mixed with hope, according to the idea the Catholics have of that place. But there is no poet in Italy (deservedly called the mother of sweet poets) so sweet, so harmonious and so affecting as Dante in his description of Paradise. Nor is this a French exaggeration for which any allowance is to be made: it is a certain truth, that Petrarca himself, in the most pathetic descriptions of his passion for the beautiful Laura, does not equal the sweetness of the hymns which Dante makes the angela and blessed spirits sing in the third part of his poem. Ali the images, ali the comparisons, ali the descriptions of this part are as they ought to be; that is to say the very reverse of those of his Hell, as his Purgatory judiciously partakes of both.
I shall not quote any of the lines to prove the truth of what I say, because I do not think it possible to give them the same sweetness in a translation as they have in the originai . Ali the world allows that the music of our syllables cannot be transfused into another language. But there have been so many editions of this poem in Italy and in other countries, that it is not difficult to find it ; and every stranger ma)’ easily convince himself of what I say, by reading it himself, or if he does not understand Italian, making it only be read to him.