I got this book by John Ruskin, patron and critic of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an artistic movement that championed the paintings of those before Raphael. The most prominent member, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, loved the poems of Petrarch and Dante. I would have written something on the PRB, but realised I know precious little about the literary side. So I present this to you: Selections from Ruskin. I should add, these are a collection of articles from his books, and if you want a good idea of Ruskin's seminal work, get hold of Modern Painters. I don't have that book, unfortunately. I happened to be in a second-hand bookshop and saw this book. It was printed in 1871 (there's even the dedication to somebody, March 1871) and an illustration of Ruskin. It cost 14 pounds, by the way. It's a hardcover, leather-bound brown book, in gold lettering and colourful paper inside. (So don't be cheated by expensive antique books online!) It may have been rebound, for the inside paper is in mint condition. It's mainly on painting and the visual arts, but I'll turn to poets.
Two orders of poets. - I admit two orders of poets, but no third; and by these two orders I mean the Creative (Shakespere, Homer, Dante), and Reflective or Perceptive (Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson). But both of these must be first-rate in their range, though their range is different; and with poetry second-rate in quality no one ought to be allowed to trouble mankind. There is quite enough of the best, - much more than we can ever read or enjoy in the length of life; and it is a literal wrong or sin in any person to encumber us with inferios work. I have no patience with aqpologies made by oung pseudo-poets, "that they believe there is some good in what they have written: that they hope to do better in time," &c. Some good! If there is not all good, why do they trouble us now? Let them rather courageously burn all they have done, and wait for the better days. Ther are few men, orfinarily educated, who in moments of strong feeling could not strike out a potential thought, and afterwards polish it so as to be prsentable. But men of sense know better than so to waste their time; and those who sincerely love poetry know the touch of the master's hand on the chords too well to fumble them after him. Nay, more than this; all inferior poetry is an injury to the good, inasmuch as it takes away the freshness the rhymes, blunders upon and gives a wretched commonalty to good thoughts; and. in general, adds to the weight of human weariness in a most woful and culpable manner. There are few thoughts likely to come across ordinary men, which have not already been expressed by greater men in the best possible way; abd it is a wiser, more generous, more noble thing ot remember and point out the perfect words, than to invent poorer ones, wherewith to encumber temporarily the world.
(From Modern Painters, III. Part IV. Note to Chapter XII).
For those of you who are able to keep your eyes on a screen, here's the electronic version of Modern Painters, Volume I. Note this is about painting rather than literature though.