DANTE IS SUPREME IMAGINATIVE POET
Skill of Poet Shown to Best Advantage in Exact Balance of Conception, Selection, and Expression
Delivering, before a large audience which followed his words with eager interest, the third talk in the series on "Four Great Poets", Professor C. H. Grandgent '83 brought out the fact that Dante merits an outstanding position among the world's literary creators because of his imagination, beyond that given to any other great poet, and because of his artistic skill, second to none and shown to best advantage in the exact balance of the three factors--conception, selection, and expression.
Discussing the more prominent of Dante's works, the lecturer first pointed out that after six hundred years his "Divine Comedy" still is considered the world's greatest poem. Dante has, further, gained the title of "spokesman of the Middle Ages", a period often misjudged by later times, but which made great contributions to the future in science, in government, and in art--"a great age departed, almost forgotten, but still living in us, influencing what we do, what we think, and what we feel". Moreover, Dante was a "creator of beauty, a leader in the realm of the spirit, an example of human potentiality in thought, in imagination, and in artistry".
Considering Dante as an artist and creator, Professor Grandaunt showed that the poet possessed the three factors which combine to make art--conception, selection, and expression--in the highest degree and in nice balance, Dante also offers in this "age of shallow self-expressiveness" a salutary example in "giving to us, by his skill and care in selection, as much by what he withholds as by what he tells".
"To appreciate Dante", he continued, "we must remember how many things to us old and matter-of-course were to him, a Florentine of 1265-1321, new, fresh, and full of zest".
Dante's life, other than its portrayal through the individuality shown in his writings, is a mystery to us, the poet never referring at any length to himself or his family. Information is so scarce that we can not tell the date of his greatest work, the "Divine Comedy".
After advising those students who intended to carry further their consideration of the subject, to study Dante's life and times, to get the substance of his best works, and to do reading as much as possible in the original language, Professor Grandgent concluded, "From such study, derive the conception of a supreme artist, endowed with clearest vision, vivld appreciation of beauty wherever found, love of symmetry; a scholar of orderly mind and insatiable thirst for knowledge; a man of exceptional intensity of feeling; above all, a mighty champion and prophet of justice".
The final lecture in the series, which so far has included talks on Homer and Virgil will be concluded next, Wednesday, when Professor J. L. Lowes '03, professor of English, will speak on "Milton"