Beacon Lights of History

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The first great genius who aroused his country from the torpor of the Middle Ages was a poet. Poetry, then, was the first influence which elevated the human mind amid the miseries of a gloomy period, if we may except the schools of philosophy which flourished in the rising universities. But poetry probably preceded all other forms of culture in Europe, even as it preceded philosophy and art in Greece. The gay Provencal singers were harbingers of Dante, even as unknown poets prepared the way for Homer. And as Homer was the creator of Grecian literature, so Dante, by his immortal comedy, gave the first great impulse to Italian thought.

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