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Coy are the rhymes become, and maiden-shy, That hitherward are wont to come with ease; Now hardly do they come, with shamefast eye.
For knowing how their coarseness will displease, They have not heart to show themselves without On matter so sublime as Fate decrees.
Emperors and Popes I have discoursed about,
But, above all, he's worthy, I suspect,
And among speakers tho' I be more vile
Than e'en among the dates would Vie the thorn, I'll speak just as I can, no trick nor guile."
KISE OF A NEW LYRIC.
ITALY AND PROVENCE—ITALIAN VERSE-FORMS—CHILDHOOD OF ITALIAN POETRY—PARTY SPIRIT—OUrTTONB OF AREZZO—EARLY FLORENTINE POETS— BRUNBTTO LATINI—THE SWEET NEW STYLE—QUIDO CAVALCANTI—CINO DA PI8TOIA—MODISH AND REALISTIC POETRY—THE 'VITA Nuova'— PROBLEMS—DANTE'S DREAM—PETRARCH — CHARACTER OF HIS PASSION—HIS STYLE AND INFLUENCE—WEL8H VERSE
— NEW FRENCH 8CHOOI MACHAULT— DE8CHAMPS — FROISSART
CHRISTINE DB PI8AN—THE 'LIVRE DE8 CENT BALLADES.'
That Italian literature stands in some kind of filial relation to that of Provence, is a fact accepted on all Italy and hands as absolutely certain. When, howPr<nenx- ever, we come to define the exact nature and degree of this relationship — daughter, stepdaughter, or merely god-daughter—the task is by no means simple. Dante's testimony is conclusive that, in his day, Provencal writers were read and admired to the detriment of native poets. He speaks in one place of the "sorry people of Italy," who praise the vernacular of others and disparage their own. "These," he adds, "vilify the Italian speech and cherish that of Provence." On the other hand, he himself is far from undervaluing Provencal literature. He introduces the Provencal language into his great poem, and in it institutes a comparison between two Provencal poets, Giraut de Bornelh and Arnaut Daniel, the latter of whom, in the opinion of most judges, he, as well as Petrarch, unduly exalts.
I shall be well within the mark in saying that Troubadour verse served the early Italian poets as a great inspiration. It may be, as Gaspary observes, that, in their case, imitation seldom extends to plagiarism, though certain parallels adduced by Diez seem to prove that even plagiarism was not unknown. Let the following suffice:—
AlMERIC DE PEGULHAN.
"Si cum l ' albres, que per sobrecargar
"Com' albore, ch' fe troppo caricato,
FoLQUET DE MARSEILLE.
"Co l ' parpaillos, qu' a tan folla natura
Jacopo Da Lentino.
"Si como '1 parpaglion, ch' ha tal natura,
Here the verbal coincidences seem too close to permit of any other explanation than direct borrowing. In other instances, re the later poet merely repeats the idea without the ipsissima verba, one cannot be sure whether he copies a Troubadour model or draws from a common source. While the parallels which Diez cites would favour the former alternative, it were absurd to pretend that observation and reflection are the privilege of any one people. Moreover, there were modes of thought in the air, which naturally and unconsciously found expression, now here, now there, without any question arising of direct communication.
Difference of technique is a strong argument for the original character of the Italian lyric, which,
Evidence of however influenced by Provenqal models, is
originality. probably in its essence a higher development of native folk-song. Though the term occurs in Provencal in the general sense of "ode," the sonnet as a special artistic form is indigenous to Italy, while the canzone has nothing in common with the canson but the name. Again, the ballata differs from the balada in having no refrain. These distinctions are important. They indicate, on the part of Italian poetry, considerable independence of the Troubadour art whether in Sicily or High Italy.
With the exception of terza rima, these three forms, the sonnet, the canzone, and the ballata, are the only Bmdem- kinds of verse on which it is needful to lyWAUs. bestow particular attention; and as the sonnet, according to one theory, is nothing but a canzone of one strophe, it will be best to deal with the canzone first. A canzone, strictly understood, is a poem composed of several strophes, each of which is similarly constructed, save that there is sometimes added a shorter strophe variously known as comiato, congedo, licenza, chiusa, and ritornello. For several reasons the canzone is the typical form of the Italian lyric. In the first place the metre is decasyllabic, or, as the Italians, by virtue of the unalterable feminine ending, describe the lines, endecasillabi. Interposed at irregular intervals, and at the discretion of the poet, are settenarj, or lines of seven syllables. Where such a short line occurs, it may often be regarded as an echo of the preceding long one. Other metres were attempted, of which that of five syllables (quinario) was the most common, but the mixture of endecasillabi and settenarj was always the favourite, and after being adopted by Petrarch, to the exclusion of others, became, with few exceptions, invariable. This dominance of the endecasillabi, not only in lyric poetry but generally, points to something racy and national in their character, and throws doubt on Pio Rajna's conjecture that they were imported from the North of France, where, however, the vers heroique, as Du Bellay named it, was the metre of the Chanson de Roland and by far the larger number of the assonanced chansons de geste.1
This doubt is countenanced by the fact that Italian differs from Old French poetry in some of its funda
1 It has been suggested that the predominance of the decasyllabic metre in all the modern languages depends on natural selection. It U the longest line possible to modern mouths, which does not tend to break into two. Even the French Alexandrine only escapes this tendency through the French faculty of sinking accent.