112 . Homer, Iliad, VI.:"As is the race of leaves, such is that
of men; some leaves the wind scatters upon the ground, and others the
budding wood produces, for they come again in the season of
Spring. So is the race of men, one springs up and the other
See also Note 82 of the canto.
Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 160, says:--
When Dante describes the spirits falling from the bank of Acheron
`as dead leaves flutter from a bough,' he gives the most perfect
image possible of their utter lightness, feebleness, passiveness,
and scattering agony of despair, without, however, for an instant
losing his own clear perception that these are souls, and those
are leaves: he makes no confusion of one with the other."
Shelley in his Ode to the West Wind inverts this image, and
compares the dead leaves to ghosts:--
"O wild West Wind! thou breath of Autumn's being!
Thou from whose presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts, from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,