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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/314

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76
[CANTO IV.
THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

I may not overleap the eternal bar[1]
Built up between us, and will die alone,
Beholding with the dark eye of a Seer
The evil days to gifted souls foreshown,150
Foretelling them to those who will not hear;
As in the old time, till the hour be come
When Truth shall strike their eyes through many a tear,
And make them own the Prophet in his tomb.

Ravenna, 1819.

  1. [About the year 1316 his friends obtained his restoration to his country and his possessions, on condition that he should pay a certain sum of money, and, entering a church, avow himself guilty, and ask pardon of the republic.

    The following was his answer to a religious, who appears to have been one of his kinsmen: "From your letter, which I received with due respect and affection, I observe how much you have at heart my restoration to my country. I am bound to you the more gratefully inasmuch as an exile rarely finds a friend. But, after mature consideration, I must, by my answer, disappoint the writers of some little minds.... Your nephew and mine has written to me ... that ... I am allowed to return to Florence, provided I pay a certain sum of money, and submit to the humiliation of asking and receiving absolution.... Is such an invitation then to return to his country glorious to d. all. after suffering in exile almost fifteen years? Is it thus, then, they would recompense innocence which all the world knows, and the labour and fatigue of unremitting study? Far from the man who is familiar with philosophy, be the senseless baseness of a heart of earth, that could imitate the infamy of some others, by offering himself up as it were in chains. Far from the man who cries aloud for justice, this compromise, by his money, with his persecutors! No, my Father, this is not the way that shall lead me back to my country. I will return with hasty steps, if you or any other can open to me a way that shall not derogate from the fame and honour of d.; but if by no such way Florence can be entered, then Florence I shall never enter. What! shall I not every where enjoy the light of the sun and the stars? and may I not seek and contemplate, in every corner of the earth, under the canopy of heaven, consoling and delightful truth, without first rendering myself inglorious, nay infamous, to the people and republic of Florence? Bread, I hope, will not fail me."—Epistola IX. Amico Florentino: Opere di Dante, 1897, p. 413.]