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Must charm the hearer ; sweetly do they celebrate
His lovely one ; whether the poet raising her
To heavenly height bows down before his angel,
Or leads her through the fields of our poor planet,
Wreathing her brow with earth-born flowers, or when
As she departs he consecrates the turf
Her delicate foot has trod, a very nightingale
He fills each thicket with his soft complaining.
Prin. And when he warbles forth his beauty's name,
Is it not Leonora ?
Thy name also !
A happy ambiguity for him ;
And I am well content that he must thus
Remember me in such sweet moments. This
Is not a common love, whose only aim
Is to possess its object and exclude
All other worshippers from the chosen shrine.
His love for thee need not forbid the poet
From joying in my lighter mode of being.
Neither of us he loves, if, as I think,
He clusters fancies born in other spheres
Around the chosen name of Leonora.
And even so with us, for we too love
Not Tasso, not the man, but the embodying
Of the soaring and impassioned in our nature.
Prin. Thou art learned in these matters, Leonora ;
Much thou hast said has only touched my ear,
And links not with my thoughts.
How say'st thou ? Leon. The scholar of Plato cannot understand
A novice like myself. I meant but this —
In modern days Cupid no longer sports
A mischievous, spoiled child. A manly youth,
Husband to Psyche, counsellor to the gods!
No longer skips he with unseemly haste
From heart to heart. With mien and mind sedate
He chooses now his lodging, nor need fear
To repent his whims in sadness and disgust.
Prin. Here comes my brother. Let us not provoke,
By talking on this theme, more of the jests
Our quaint array already has called forth.
The former persons and ALPHONSO.
Alph. Is't possible that here I seek in vain
For Tasso ? Where, fair ladies, is the poet ?
Prin. To-day we have not seen him.
He retains then
His ancient love for solitude. But though
We cannot marvel that he would escape
The empty babble of a crowd of worldlings
To seek still converse with his secret spirit,
It is not well that he should feel impatient,
And thus transgress the boundary of a circle
Drawn at the spell of friendship.
If I mistake not
Thou wilt soon lay aside all thought of blame.
To-day I saw him walking in the garden,
Carrying his book, and writing in his tablets.
From something that escaped him yester-eve
I think his work is finished, and to-day
He probably is giving the last touches,
And making such corrections as he deems
Needful to fit it for your princely eye.
When he has polished it to perfect symmetry,
He will present it for that approbation
So valuable in his eyes.
Shall he be when he brings it, and left free
To his own will long after. Never yet
Have I so much desired the end of any thing.
I feel unceasing interest in its progress ;
But he is always altering and improving,
And by his over-anxious care how often
He has deceived my hope !
Like a true poet, to give fit expression
To the rich breathings of his favorite Muse.
He understands what means the unity,
The well-ordered fabric of a real poem.
A string of sentiments and romantic stories
Following each other without end or aim,
Save to amuse the moment, nor aspiring
To leave a perfect image in the soul,
Cannot content a taste like that of Tasso.
Trouble him not, my brother. Works of beauty
Are not judged by the time that was consumed
In their production. And his private friends
Ought not to ask that he should sacrifice
The interest of so many future ages
To gratify them some poor moments.
So let it be as it has ever been;
Thy mildness checks my too great eagerness,
And I give impulse to thy gentle wishes.
But I believe that I am right in wishing
To see the poem we have so admired
Known to our fatherland and to the world.
'Tis time that he should feel new influences :
The solitude he loves has cradled him
Too softly. Praise and blame he should encounter,
Bear both, and learn from both. For it is this
Which forms the manly character. The youth
Called into action both by friend and foe
Will learn to use his utmost strength. 'Tis then
That he may claim to be esteemed a Man.
Leon. Thou wilt protect him in this novel scene,
As thou hast ever done. 'Tis true that talent
Is formed in solitude ; but character,
In the resorts of busy men, seeks shape
And aliment. His natural mistrust
Towards his fellow-men might but too probably
Be mixed in time with hate and fear.
Fears men who knows them not — and he who shuns
Their converse soon misunderstands them. This
Is Tasso's case, and thus, little by little,
The freest mind becomes confused and fettered.
He often doubts my favor, although never
Has it been clouded towards him ; and many
Whom he distrusts, I know are not his foes.
A letter lost, a servant who could leave him
And seek another service, seem to him
To mark some bad design — some black conspiracy
Against his peace.
Ah ! let us never
Forget, my brother, that each man is born
With certain qualities that never leave him.
And if a friend, when journeying in our company,
Should lame his foot, is it not best and kindest
To lead him by the hand, and walk more slowly?
Alph. To call some true physician and attempt
A cure were better still ; since then we might
Go gayly forward with the convalescent.
Yet think not I would rudely touch his hurt,
But fain would I give better confidence
To his o'er-anxious heart, and often seek
Public occasions to bestow on him
Marks of peculiar favor. All his troubles
I carefully inquire into; as lately
When he believed his chambers had been entered
With some wrong purpose. Nothing was discovered,
And then I calmly told him what I thought,
But with the utmost gentleness and patience.
Well! as for other matters, I this night
Must leave you, as affairs of consequence
Recall me to the city. Our Antonio
Returned to-day from Rome, and I must therefore
Hold council on the intelligence he brings,
And dictate my despatches. Ere we go
He would pay his respects to you, fair ladies,
And will be with us some few moments hence.
Prin. Is’t not thy wish that we return with thee ?
Alph. No; for I know your pleasure is to be
Here or at Consandoli, and I would not
Break in on your enjoyment of the season. Prin. But why cannot you manage such affairs
As well here, without going to the city ?