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IL MORGANTE MAGGIORE.

CANTO PRIMO.

I.

In principio era il Verbo appresso a Dio;
Ed era Iddio il Verbo, e 'l Verbo lui:
Questo era nel principio, al parer mio;
E nulla si può far sanza costui:
Però, giusto Signor benigno e pio,
Mandami solo un de gli angeli tui,
Che m' accompagni, e rechimi a memoria
Una famosa antica e degna storia.

II.

E tu Vergine, figlia, e madre, e sposa
Di quel Signor, che ti dette le chiave
Del cielo e dell' abisso, e d' ogni cosa,
Quel dì che Gabriel tuo ti disse Ave!
Perchè tu se' de' tuo' servi pietosa,
Con dolce rime, e stil grato e soave,
Ajuta i versi miei benignamente,
E 'nfino al fine allumina la mente.

III.

Era nel tempo, quando Filomena

Con la sorella si lamenta e plora,
Che si ricorda di sua antica pena,
E pe' boschetti le ninfe innamora
E Febo il carro temperato mena,
Che 'l suo Fetonte l' ammaestra ancora
Ed appariva appunto all' orizzonte,
Tal che Titon si graffiava la fronte.

;

IV. Quand' io varai la mia barchetta, prima Per ubbidir chi sempre ubbidir debbe La mente, e faticarsi in prosa e in rima, E del mio Carlo Imperador m' increbbe ; Che so quanti la penna ha posto in cima, Che tutti la sua gloria prevarrebbe : E stata quella istoria, a quel ch' i' veggio, Di Carlo male intesa, e scritta peggio.

V.
Diceva già Lionardo Aretino,

Che s'egli avesse avuto scrittor degno,
Com' egli ebbe un Ormanno il suo Pipino
Ch' avesse diligenzia avuto e ingegno;
Sarebbe Carlo Magno un uom divino;
Però ch'egli ebbe gran vittorie e regno,
E fece per la chiesa e per la fede
Certo assai più, che non si dice o crede.

Catholic writers had ridiculed popish divines, and that the Bible had been subjected to private Judgment, notwithstanding the popes had prohibited the reading of it. His ardor did not allow him to stop and examine whether this prohibition might not be posterior to the death of Pulci. Milton had studied Pulcs to advantage. The knowledge which he ascribes to his devils, their despairing repentance, the lofty sentiments which he bestows upon some of them, and, above all, the principle that, notwithstanding their crime and its punishment, they retain the grandeur and perfection of angelic nature, are to be found in the as as Paradise Lost. Ariosto and Tasso have imitated other passages. When great poets borrow from their inferiors in genius, they turn their acquisitions to such advantage that it is difficult to detect their thefts, and still more difficult to blame them.

"The poem is filled with kings, knights, giants, and devils. There are many battles and many duels. Wars rise out of wars, and empires are conquered in a day. Pulci treats us with plenty of magic and enchantment. His love adventures are not peculiarly interesting; and, with the exception of four or five leading personages, his characters are of no moment. The fable turns wholly upon the hatred which Gane lon, the felon knight of Magauza, bears towards Orlando and the rest of the Christian Paladins. Charlemagne is easily practised upon by Ganellon, his prime confidant and man of business. So he treats Orlando and his friends in the most scurvy manner imaginable, and sends them out to hard service in the wars against France. Ganellon is dispatched to Spain to treat with King Marsilius, being also instructed to obtain the cession of a kingdom for Orlando; but

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he concerts a treacherous device with the Spaniards, and Orlande is killed at the battle of Roncesvalles. The intrigues of Ganellon, his spit, lä patience, his obstinacy, his dissimulation, his affected humility, and kə is exhaustible powers of intrigue, are admirably depicted; and his character constitutes the chief and finest feature in the poem. Charlemagne, is a worthy monarch, but easily gulled. Orlando is a real hero, chase su interested, and who fights in good earnest for the propagation of the taich, He baptizes the giant Morgante, who afterwards serves him like a fat squire. There is another giant, whose name is Margutte. Morgante ins in with Margutte; and they become sworn brothers Margutte is a very she fidel giant, ready to confess his failings, and fuit of drollery. He sets a a-laughing, readers, giants, devils, and heroes; and he finishes his career by laughing till he bursts."]

1["About the Morgante Maggiore, I won't have a hne omitted. It may circulate or it may not, but all the criticism on earth shan't touch a line, unless it be because it is badly translated. Now you say, and I say, and others say, that the translation is a good one, and so it shall go to press as it is. Pulci must answer for his own irreligion: answer for the translation only."-Lord Byron to Mr. Murray, 1820-"Why don't you publish my Pulci,-the best thing I ever wrote."-lb. 1821.]

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