Præfatio ad Lectorem

    This is a Florentine volume.

    You’ve come to this country to relax and enjoy this beauty and cultural diversity – not to exhaust yourself searching for the best deals and most evocative experiences.


    It is difficult to characterize in brief compass a span of time as long as that in which Queen Victoria reigned over England and her realms beyond the seas.

    Ruskin was born in the same year as Queen Victoria, who outlived him by twelve months and two days.

    Conceptions of the nature and purpose of art closely parallel man’s conceptions of himself and of his destiny.

    No doubt by now you’ve heard the news of Monk’s death.

    Oscar Wilde: we have only to hear the great name to anticipate that what will be qutoed will surprise and delight us.

    A man’s life is his time: his time a figure in the great historical procession.

    When the Wind is fair and the Planks of the Vessel sound, we may safely trust every thing to the management of professional Mariners: in a Tempest and on board a crazy Bark, all must contribute their Quota of Exertion.

    I first thought of writing this book when I realized hardly any of the students of literature I encountered these days practiced what I myself had been trained to regard as literary criticism.

    The theory of painting, architecture and sculpture which established John Ruskin’s influence in Victorian times scarcely outlived his century.

    An Academy in which the Polite Arts may regularly cultivated, is at last opened among us by Royal Munificence.

    Data float down; the own rate load doles out | a doubt-loud flow into the overload.

    In two small volumes of Poems, published anonymously, one in 1849, the other in 1852, many of the poems which compose the present volumes have already appeared.

    What was Great Britain like when she won the battle of Waterloo?

    ‘When a man writes a preface, he tries only to say an antithesis, and never thinks of the truth’ (Charles James Fox).

    Especially in the development of Passages I have workt with silences – with caesuras as definite parts of the articulation of the line, with turnings at the end of the verse, with intervals of silence in the measures between stanzas – related to phrasings and sequences of the whole.

    My first memories are fragmentary and isolated and contemporaneous, as though one remembered some first moments of the Seven Days.

    In English writing we seldom speak of tradition, though we occasionally apply its name in deploring its absence.

    O Curator!

    That fabulous polymath Samuel Johnson maintained that no man in his right mind ever read a book through from beginning to end.

    The philosophical tradition is never entirely insensitive with respect to a great philosophical theory that often transforms it.

    The most signal impact of feminism on the humanities and the social sciences has been a problematization of sexual difference.

    This book is rather like one of those “Music Minus One” records of a concerto, in which the orchestral accompaniment is present but the solo instrument lacking.

Now that the succeeding century is well advanced into its first decade, it seems a good time to take a purchase and a perspective on the poetry of the twentieth century.

    The History of the Voyages of Scarmentado, set in the years 1615-20, is not one of Voltaire’s best works.

    Style is a terrible thing to happen to anybody.

Mark Scroggins (© 2012)