Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/269

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By Richard Garnett

disillusioned as his editor thinks. If the poems do not relate to Maria d'Aragona, we have no clue to the ultimate nature of his feelings towards her.

A generally fair estimate of Tansillo's rank as a poet is given in Ginguéné's "History of Italian Literature," vol. ix., pp. 340-343. It can scarcely be admitted that his boldness and fertility of imagination transported him beyond the limits of lyric poetry—for this is hardly possible but it is true that they sometimes transcended the limits of good taste, and that the germs may be found in him of the extravagance which so disfigured Italian poetry in the seventeenth century. On the other hand, he has the inestimable advantage over most Italian poets of his day of writing of genuine passion from genuine experience. Hence a truth and vigour preferable even to the exquisite elegance of his countryman, Angelo di Costanzo, and much more so to the mere amatory exercises of other contemporaries. After Michael Angelo he stands farther aloof than any contemporary from Petrarch, a merit in an age when the study of Petrarch had degenerated into slavish imitation. His faults as a lyrist are absent from his didactic poems, which are models of taste and elegance. His one unpardonable sin is want of patriotism; he is the dependant and panegyrist of the foreign conqueror, and seems equally unconscious of the past glories, the actual degradation, or the prospective regeneration of Italy. Born a Spanish subject, his ideal of loyalty was entirely misplaced, and he must not be severely censured for what he could hardly avoid. But Italy lost a Tyrtæus in him.

The Yellow Book—Vol. I.