By Frederick Burwick, Paul Douglass (eds.)

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With most, who weigh futurity Against time present, passion holds the scales: Hence equal ignorance of both prevails, And nations sink; or, struggling to be free, Are doomed to flounder on, like wounded whales Tossed on the bosom of a stormy sea. (ll. 9–14) So, as one would expect, the Wordsworth in 1837 Italy is very different from the Wordsworth in 1790 and 1792 France. It is not that he opposes reform; far from it. As a liberal neighbor of his wrote in 1839, “The poet on Italian politics is all we can desire .

In 1819 Byron returned to the subject of the posthumous vindication of the Ferrarese poets. Like “The Lament of Tasso,” The Prophecy of Dante takes the form of a proleptic soliloquy. 107), Byron implicitly privileges the epic tradition, but without thereby clarifying his own relation to it: he [Tasso] and his compeer, The Bard of Chivalry, will both consume In penury and pain too many a year, And, dying in despondency, bequeath To the kind world, which scarce will yield a tear, A heritage enriching all who breathe With the wealth of a genuine poet’s soul, And to their country a redoubled wreath, Unmatch’d by time.

He included the early unpublished Guilt and Sorrow (1793–1794), originally called “Adventures on Salisbury Plain,” and his drama, The Borderers (1796). i, 405–410; quoted after the Dedication of “The White Doe of Rylstone,” in the 1836 edition). By publishing these poems at this moment, after his last tour of Italy, he renews his faith in them, as if a rebuke to Dante and his theology. “ The study of human nature,” Wordsworth wrote in the introduction, “suggests this awful truth, that, as in the trials to which life subjects us, sin and crime are apt to start from their very opposite qualities, so there are no limits to the hardening of the heart and the perversion of the understanding to which they may carry their slaves” (Prose Works 1:69).

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