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MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN ITALY. 1837.
TO HENRY CRABB ROBINSON.
Companion ! by whose buoyant Spirit cheered,
The Tour of which the following Poems are very inadequate remembrances was shortened by report, too well founded, of the prevalence of Cholera at Naples. To make some amends for what was reluctantly left unseen in the South of Italy, we visited the Tuscan Sanctuaries among the Apennines, and the principal Italian Lakes among the Alps. Neither of those lakes, nor of Venice, is there any notice in these Poems, chiefly because I have touched upon them elsewhere. See, in particular, "Descriptive Sketches," "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent in 1820," and a Sonnet upon the extinction of the Venetian Republic.
MUSINGS NEAR AQUAPENDENTE.
Ye Apennines! with all your fertile vales Deeply embosomed, and your winding shores
Of either sea, an Islander by birth,
A. Mountaineer by habit, would resound
Your praise, in meet accordance with your
Bestowed by Nature, or from man's great deeds Inherited:—presumptuous thought!—it fled like vapour, like a towering cloud, dissolved. Not, therefore, shall my mind give way to
sadness;— Yon snow-white torrent-fall, plumb down it
Yet ever hangs or seems to hang in air,
flood Forth flashing out of its own gloomy chasm 15 Bright sunbeams—the fresh verdure of this
lawn Strewn with grey rocks, and on the horizon's
verge, O'er intervenient waste, through glimmering
haze, Unquestionably kenned, that cone-shaped hill With fractured summit, no indifferent sight 20 To travellers, from such comforts as are thine, Bleak Eadicofani! escaped with joy— These are before me; and the varied scene May well suffice, till noon-tide's sultry heat Eelax, to fix and satisfy the mind 25
Passive yet pleased. What! with this Broom
in flower Close at my side! She bids me fly to greet Her sisters, soon like her to be attired With golden blossoms opening at the feet Of my own Fairfield. The glad greeting given, Given with a voice and by a look returned 31
Of old companionship, Time counts not minutes
thence And downward by the skirt of Oreenside fell, And by G-lenridding-screes, and low Olencoign, Places forsaken now, though loving still 50 The Muses, as they loved them in the days Of the old minstrels and the border bards.— But here am I fast bound; and let it pass, The simple rapture;—who that travels far To feed his mind with watchful eyes could share Or wish to share it ?—One there surely was, 56 "The Wizard of the North," with anxious hope Brought to this genial climate, when disease Preyed upon body and mind—yet not the less Had his sunk eye kindled at those dear words That spake of bards and minstrels; and his
Had flown with mine to old Helvellyn's brow,
Years followed years, and when, upon the eve Of his last going from Tweed-side, thought"
turned, Or by another's sympathy was led, To this bright land, Hope was for him no friend, Knowledge no help; Imagination shaped 70 No promise. Still, in more than ear-deep seats, Survives for me, and cannot but survive The tone of voice which wedded borrowed words To sadness not their own, when, with faint
Forced by intent to take from speech its edge,
And more than all, that Eminence which
showed Her splendours, seen, not felt, the while he
stood A few short steps (painful they were) apart From Tasso's Convent-haven, and retired grave.
Peace to their Spirits! why should Poesy 85 Yield to the lure of vain regret, and hover In gloom on wings with confidence outspread To move in sunshine ?—Utter thanks, my Soul! Tempered with awe, and sweetened by compassion For them who in the shades of sorrow dwell, 90 That I—so near the term to human life Appointed by man's common heritage, Frail as the frailest, one withal (if that Deserve a thought) but little known to fame— Am free to rove where Nature's loveliest looks,
Art's noblest relics, history's rich bequests, 96
Thanks poured forth 100 For what thus far hath blessed my wanderings,
thanks Fervent but humble as the lips can breathe Where gladness seems a duty—let me guard Those seeds of expectation which the fruit Already gathered in this favoured Land 105 Enfolds within its core. The faith be mine, That He who guides and governs all, approves When gratitude, though disciplined to look Beyond these transient spheres, doth wear a
crown Of earthly hope put on with trembling hand; 110 Nor is least pleased, we trust, when golden
beams, Reflected through the mists of age, from hours Of innocent delight, remote or recent, Shoot but a little way—'tis all they can— Into the doubtful future. Who would keep 115 Power must resolve to cleave to it through life, Else it deserts him, surely as he lives. Saints would not grieve nor guardian angels
frown If one—while tossed, as was my lot to be, In a frail bark urged by two slender oars 120 Over waves rough and deep, that, when they
broke, Dashed their white foam against the palace
walls Of Genoa the superb—should there be led To meditate upon his own appointed tasks, However humble in themselves, with thoughts