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Written between the inception of Middlemarch and the completion, seven years later, of Daniel Deronda this book is a charming treatment of a subject taken from Boccaccio; a poem interesting by virtue of its graceful form.
Six hundred years ago, in Dante's time,
Before his cheek was furrowed by deep rhyme;
When Europe, fed afresh from Eastern story,
Was like a garden tangled with the glory
Of flowers hand–planted and of flowers air–sown,
Climbing and trailing, budding and full–blown,
Where purple bells are tossed amid pink stars,
And springing blades, green troops in innocent wars,
Crowd every shady spot of teeming earth,
Making invisible motion visible birth,—
Six hundred years ago, Palermo town
Kept holiday. A deed of great renown,
A high revenge, had freed it from the yoke
Of hated Frenchmen; and from Calpe's rock
To where the Bosporus caught the earlier sun,
'Twas told that Pedro, King of Aragon,
Was welcomed master of all Sicily,—
A royal knight, supreme as kings should be
In strength and gentleness that make high chivalry.
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