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  • The Apparition of Dante
    Page 1

    "Musa profonda dei Toscani, il Dante,
    II nobil cittadin, nostro Alighieri,
    Alia filosofia ricco e brillante
    Purgò il linguaggio e corredò i pensieri ;
    E nell' opera sua fatto gigante
    A Campaldino nei primi guerrieri ;
    Lui il Purgatorio, Paradise e Inferno
    Fenomeno terren, poeta eterno!"
    -I.e Statue disotto gli Ufizi in Firemzc. Ottave
    improvisate da Giuseppe Moroni detto Il
    Nicchieri (Illiterato)
    , Florence, 1892.

    IT has been boldly asserted by writers who should know better, that there are no ghosts in Italy, possibly because the two only words in the language for such beings are the equivocal ones of spirito or spirit, and spettro or spectre-or specter, as the Websterians write it-which is of itself appalling as a terrific spell. But the truth is that there is no kind of spuk, goblin, elf, fairy, gnome, or ouphe known to all the North of Europe which was not at home in Italy since old Etruscan days, and ghosts, though they do not make themselves common, are by no means as rare as eclipses. For, as may be read in my "Etruscan Roman Legends," people who will look through a stone with a hole in it can behold no end of revenants, or returners, in any churchyard, and on fine nights the seer can see them swarming in the streets of Florence. Giotto is in the campanile as a gentle ghost with the fairy lamb, and Dante, ever benevolent, is all about town, as appears from the following, which was unexpectedly bestowed on me :


    "When any one is passionately fond of poetry, he should sit by night on the panchina1 in the piazza or square of Santa Croce or in other places (i.e., those haunted by Dante), and having read his poetry, pronounce the following :

    1 Raised footway, high curbstone, causeway, bench.

    Page 2 >

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    Leland, Charles Godfrey. Legends of Florence: Collected from the People And Re-told. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1895. 62-65


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